This is a post I had hoped never to have to make. While the rest of México seemed to be drowning in drug violence, Baja Sur and the Los Cabos area appeared to be an island of safety. Last week, everything may have changed.
On Tuesday October 25, the commander of the homicide division of the Cabo San Lucas police, Martín Márquez Ruíz, was murdered. He was 48 years old and had been with the police since 1999. It is very difficult for me to read the Spanish used in news reports. I wonder if it is written purposefully to be convoluted. Even my completely bilingual daughter has trouble with it. As best I can tell, the commander was kidnapped around 7:30 am while leaving his home to go to work. He was taken by several armed and masked assailants. Several hours later, his body was recovered in barrio Jardines del Sol. Death was from gun shots.
I was in Cabo San Lucas that day and there were roadblocks set up in various areas on the highway. The police seemed to know what vehicle type they were looking for as most cars and trucks were allowed to pass but small white sedans were stopped. At one point I saw many trucks full of army troops racing from the Costco area back towards the center of town. (Long post and links follow the break. Be sure to read followup post too: New Info on Cabo Violence.)
On Friday night, the police and military forces visited an address in barrio Brisas del Pacifico seeking information about the murder and were themselves fired upon. A four hour battle ensued with small arms fire and grenade explosions. There were two deaths, one suspect and one marine. Three police officers were injured.
Saturday October 29, around 1 pm, members of the police were allegedly attacked while searching the Plaza Sendero Mall (home of Soriana in Cabo San Lucas) for injured suspects from the Friday night encounter. Allegedly 12-15 gunmen were involved. The police and military sent reinforcements and a two hour battle ensued.
Civilians were kept in the mall stores until they could be safely evacuated. Supposedly one gunman entered Soriana and the military followed but there was no shooting inside. No civilians were injured or kidnapped. No hostages were taken. Several people were later treated for shock by the Red Cross. Five gunmen were allegedly taken into custody.
Today, the state police admitted that they have no choice but to acknowledge the presence of organized crime in the form of drug cartels in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur. They do not have any evidence indicating exactly which cartels are involved but suspect Los Zetas and the Beltrán Leyva Cartel.
Why Los Cabos? Some people believe that with all the government pressure on the mainland, cartels are coming here to launder their money by investing cash in the high priced real estate and business market of Los Cabos.
English language links:
Spanish language links:
Official Press Release From the Mexican Federal Government:
Monday, October 31, 2011
Mexican Government Denies Hostages Taken in Cabo San Lucas
Presidency of the Republic
The Public Security Coordination Group in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur, made up of the armed forces and federal and state public security and law enforcement institutions, denies that any hostages were taken during the October 29 afternoon events* in Plaza Sendero, in Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, and confirms that no one was injured.
During the event, three civilians were reported to have had nervous breakdowns and were transferred by Mexican Red Cross ambulances to receive medical assistance.
The authorities arrested three alleged criminals currently in custody of the Municipal Police in Los Cabos, who will transfer them to the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
These arrests were the result of close coordination between the armed forces and the local and federal security authorities in Baja California Sur.
At the moment, there is nothing to suggest that these events were linked with those registered on Saturday morning in the Brisas del Pacífico neighborhood. During those events, two assailants were arrested and a member of the Naval Secretariat and a criminal lost their lives.
Authorities will keep the population informed of the results yielded by the investigations into these events, and they urge citizens to ignore rumors of alarm or danger since the situation in the area has returned to normal.
(If you are reading this post on any blog other than www.todossantos.net then you are reading copyrighted content that was reposted without permission of the author, i.e. Howard Ekman.)