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Recent Cartel Attacks In Guadalajara Are A Bad Sign For One Of Mexico's Economic Success Stories

On May 1, Mexico's army announced the launch of Operation Jalisco, an initiative designed to confront the rising New Generation cartel that operates out of the Pacific Coast state that is famous for producing tequila. Cartel gunmen allegedly responded by shooting down an army helicopter, and burning cars to block avenues and disrupt traffic in Guadalajara, Jalisco's capital city.

Since entering office in late 2012, Mexican President Peña Nieto's government has captured 93 cartel "capos" and disrupted the leadership structures of groups such as the Zetas, the Templarios, the Sinaloa organization, the Beltran Leyva group, and the Juarez Cartel. The New Generation cartel of Jalisco, however, has been able to expand its reach to control operations and territory ceded by battered groups such as the Caballeros Templarios. According to Luis Carlos Nájera Gutiérrez de Velasco, Jalisco's attorney general, over the course of Peña Nieto's presidency, the New Generation "group has gotten very strong."

In one attack in early April, New Generation gunmen reportedly assaulted and killed 15 police officers outside of the resort city Puerto Vallarta.

John E. Smith, the acting director of the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control, explained that the New Generation Cartel of Jalisco has "rapidly expanded their criminal empire in recent years through the use of violence and extortion [and] now rank among the most powerful drug trafficking organizations in Mexico."

Mexico's National Commissioner of Security, Monte Alejandro Rubido, has said there will be "a significant effort by the government" to detain the New Generation's leader Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes.

The recent attacks in Guadalajara are a step back for a city that has emerged as one of Mexico's industrial success stories. As I have previously explained, Jalisco's capital has become a hub of industrial production, not just in manufacturing, but also in high tech services.

When I visited the Centro de Software, a startup incubator for tech companies in Guadalajara, 26-year-old tech entrepreneur Luis Cosio told me, "we're not talking about call centers. It's not a maquila. It's a question of intellectual property. We do web platforms, e-government."

At a time when Mexico's economy is reporting underwhelming growth, Jalisco's economy is expected to expand by 4 percent in 2015 thanks in part to continued growth by Imbev, HP, Honda, IBM and other major companies with operations in the state.

Guadalajara, Mexico's second largest city, reported 895 murders in 2013. But aside from a case in 2012 when police discovered 26 bodies in downtown Guadalajara, the city has largely avoided the type of highly visible conflict that was seen a few years ago in cities such as Acapulco and Monterrey.

The recent spate of violence, however, is a clear sign that the presence of organized crime in Jalisco has not been eliminated.

According to Gerson Hernandez Mecalco, a Mexico City based political analyst, the recent incidents in Guadalajara are "a very negative message, on the part of organized crime, of the possible impact and strength that they continue to have."

[Source: By Nathaniel Parish Flannery, Forbes, NY, 04May15]

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Human Rights in Mexico
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