Mexican federal troops captured a major drug lord in an early Tuesday morning raid at La Paz, which is in the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula. Teodoro Garcia Simental, known as ‘El Teo’ was flown to Mexico City and displayed to the public. Authorities say he was responsible for the killings of at least 300 people over the past two years.
The Mexican federales were provided intelligence from U. S. Drug Enforcement Administration, who used sophisticated electronic surveillance techniques to track down the drug lord. A turf battle in the Tijuana area had caused many of the deaths. El Tio had once worked exclusively for the Arellano Felix cartel, but had branched out to Sinaloa traffickers and to the powerful La Familia.
El Teo’s primary role was that of the enforcer. His henchmen would murder people and leave them on the streets of Tijuana to put fear in his rivals, the police or even public office holders. Garcia would have them beheaded, hang their bodies from bridges or dissole their bodies in acid. This method is known as pozoles, a human stew, where barrels would be left on the street for the authorities to find.
“Today another Mexican cartel leader was taken off the street and is no longer able to carry out his bloody turf war,” said DEA Acting Administrator Michele Leonhart. “This was not an isolated event: It exemplifies the growing effectiveness of our information sharing with the Calderon administration, and our continued commitment to defeat the drug traffickers who have plagued both our nations.” (Los Angeles Times-Mexican drug lord Teodoro Garcia Simental…-by Richard Marosi and Ken Ellingwood-1/12/2010)
Just last month, on December 16th, Mexican marines killed another major drug lord, Arturo Beltran Leyva. They nabbed him in the colonial city of Cuernavaca, which is just south of Mexico City. The DEA had helped with this operation as well. On January 2nd, federal officials arrested Leyna’s brother, Carlos Beltran Leyva. (The Washington Post-Reputed Mexican Drug Lord…-by Elliot Spagat-1/13/2010)
My understanding of El Teo’s drug trafficking operation is that he worked primarily in marijuana and methamphetamines, which would come to Baja California, and be smuggled into the United States. Garcia branched out to kidnapping and extortion rings also; these were his specialties. But most of all he ran a team of hit men for the Sinaloa cartel. Al Capone’s Murder Incorporated comes to mind when picturing his misdeeds.
You might remember one of his henchman, Santiago Meza, who worked for El Teo, was arrested last year. This was most shocking, he had spent a good amount of his time (over nine years) dissolving some 300 bodies in acid. Unemployment is way up, but this is not a good way to stem the tide of rising unemployment!
While these drug lord strikes are great accomplishments, they can not curtail the core of the problem: a voracious appetite for drugs in the United States. As quick as one kingpin tumbles, another will take his place. The money we are talking about is too big; the profits are the backdrop for these epidemic drug wars.
“Until now the tendency has been that these blows are important but their impact is relatively fleeting,” said Patricia Escamilla Hamm, an expert on border security at the Colegio de la Frontera Norte in Tijuana. (NY Times-Marc Lacey) The cartels will simply regenerate like a jellyfish, adapt to the changes, then return to a smooth functioning machine.
The statistics of death tolls are staggering. Just last weekend alone, 69 people died violently in Mexico. One third of those died in Ciudad Juarez. 283 people have died already in 2010. Early last Friday a victim was found and his face had been stitched onto a football. 7,700 people were murdered in Mexico in 2009. Until the underlying cause of this carnage is dealt with, economical in nature, the killing will continue.