Zetas commander Raul Lucio Hernandez Lechuga, alias “Lucky,” was captured by Mexican marines, reported the Associated Press yesterday. ”A founder” of the cartel, Hernandez was detained in eastern coastal Veracruz state, which has seen increased violence in recent months between the Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel.
Further north, across the Texas border, a firefight between the army and unknown cartel gunmen hiding inside a building resulted in the deaths of 11 gunmen and the seizure of 73 rifles. One soldier was wounded. In Acapulco, federal police arrested “Comandante Gil,” real name Gilberto Castrejon Morales, who is the suspected head of the Independiente de Acapulco cartel, a local drug trafficking organization.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced a drawdown of National Guard troops along the U.S.-Mexico border. Currently, 1,200 troops are stationed from California to Texas, now expected to drop next year in place of more aircraft and intelligence gathering operations. DHS has not announced how many troops will leave in the coming months, but it’s a sign the National Guard’s border mission is coming to an end. Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported concerns the operation is “a waste of money” in a tight budget environment.
In other news, a 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck the state of Guerrero on Saturday. The quake reportedly killed at least two — possibly three — people and damaged dozens of buildings. Parts of Mexico City lost power and news reports said people ran into the streets, fearing a repeat of the 1985 earthquake which killed more than 10,000 people.
The U.S. government announced last week it will donate more than $1 million in equipment and training to Paraguay. The reason: a small but determined band of guerrillas called the Ejercito del Pueblo Paraguayo, or Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP), remains entrenched despite a concerted military campaign by the authorities in Ascuncion. The aid includes vehicles and radios, “improvements to police facilities in the jungle” and “police training for rural operations,” according to Americas Quarterly.
“The violence by and against the EPP has moved forward in fits and starts. However, there has been a subtle escalation as both sides attempt to gain the upper hand,” Professor David Spencer of the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies at the National Defense University told World Politics Review. “By the end of 2009, no more than a dozen people from all parties had been killed. Since then, fewer than another dozen more have perished — in other words, this is still a very low-level conflict.”