Editorials | Issues
|Key Events in Mexico's Drug War|
Catherine Bremer & Missy Ryan - Reuters
go to original
July 30, 2010
Mexico City - Ignacio "Nacho" Coronel, a top Mexican drug trafficker, was killed on Thursday in a military operation that may prove to be a boon for President Felipe Calderon's struggling war against drug cartels.
|23,000 dead over the last four years. Mexican President Felipe Calerone's war on drug cartels has transformed one major Mexican city into the murder capital of the world. Todd Grosshans reports on the Mexican Drug War in this edition of Now You Know. (VOANews.com)|
Following is a timeline of key events in Mexico's drug war. More than 26,000 people have died in drug violence in the past 3-1/2 years.
2001 - Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman escapes from a Mexican prison in a laundry van. Mexico's most-wanted drug lord, he builds a coalition of drug gangs from the western state of Sinaloa and vows to take control of Mexico's vast drug trade.
2002 - Police weaken the Tijuana cartel by killing drug boss Ramon Arellano Felix and arresting one of his brothers.
2003 - Mexican soldiers capture Osiel Cardenas, leader of the Gulf cartel based in eastern Mexico, after a shootout between troops and gunmen in the border city of Matamoros.
2004 - Trying to take advantage of Cardenas' arrest, Guzman sends well-armed enforcers to border cities south of Texas to take over Gulf cartel smuggling routes. Heavy fighting breaks out before Guzman's fighters are eventually repelled.
2005 - Guzman seeks control of the border city of Tijuana and trafficking routes into California. Violence escalates across Mexico and about 1,500 people are killed over the year.
2006 - Killings spread to the resort of Acapulco, the industrial city of Monterrey and to Michoacan in western Mexico, the home state of Felipe Calderon, who takes office as president on Dec. 1 and immediately sends out troops and federal police to stem the violence. Drug gang killings rise to 2,300 and atrocities like beheadings and torture increase.
2007 - Calderon extradites Gulf cartel leader Cardenas to the United States and makes a historic 23-tonne cocaine seizure. U.S. President George W. Bush pledges $1.4 billion in drug-fighting gear and training for Mexico and Central America. Violence escalates and more than 3,000 are killed in the year.
2008 - Guzman's hitmen take on the Juarez cartel in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas, and quickly becomes the drug war's bloodiest flashpoint. Drug violence kills around 6,300 people across Mexico in the year.
2009 - Calderon sends 10,000 more troops to Ciudad Juarez but killings continue. Violence spills over the border into Arizona. U.S. President Barack Obama visits Mexico and vows to clamp down on smuggled guns but the annual drug war death toll soars above 7,000. In December, an elite navy squad tracks down and kills drug lord Arturo Beltran Leyva, head of the cartel of the same name and one of Mexico's most-wanted traffickers. Six bodyguards also die in the raid on a luxury apartment in the city of Cuernavaca near the capital.
2010 - Police capture drug kingpin Teodoro "El Teo" Garcia Simental, known for having rivals tortured, killed and then dissolved in acid, in January. But drug gangs grow more brazen, killing three people linked to the U.S. consulate in Ciudad Juarez, murdering a gubernatorial election candidate in the increasingly lawless northeastern state of Tamaulipas and setting off a car bomb in Ciudad Juarez. Cartel murders soar to unprecedented levels, exceeding 5,000 by mid-June, as mass killings at drug rehabilitation centers and parties become common. On July 29, top trafficker Ignacio "Nacho" Coronel, No. 3 in Guzman's Sinaloa cartel, dies as soldiers try to arrest him near Guadalajara, the first big win of the year for Calderon.
(Editing by Eric Walsh)