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Mouriño only “collateral damage”?

8 November 2008

While the focus of world attention on last week’s crash of a government Lear Jet into the periferico was on Juan Camilo Mouriño’s death … and speculation that IF the crash was intentional, Mouriño was the target.

I don’t know enough about aircraft (I know zilch about aircraft) to do any more than accept the “official” statements on the crash. As of today, an explosion has been ruled out, and my understanding is that small aircraft have had problems with cross winds and tail winds (especially if a large plane is right in front of them, creating more turbulence), which could just mean the plane went out of control. It slammed into the periferico doing between 400 and 500 Km/Hr. I don’t know if that’s “normal” or indicative of something else.

The victims of the crash (remember, it hit a busy freeway at rush hour) now are about 15 to 20, including the people on board. Among them was José Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, the former Deputy Attorney General who stepped down recently because of perceived failures in the war on (some) drugs.

Malcolm Beith, in The (Mexico City) News quotes Ricardo Ravelo, who wrote for Proceso:

Vasconcelos was a key figure in combating drug trafficking: Amongst other detentions, he is credited with the investigations that resulted in the detention of Osiel Cárdenas Guillén (the imprisoned head of the Gulf cartel). … He also went after Amado Carillo Fuentes, the so-called “Lord of the Skies,” the boss of the Juárez cartel. … He combatted Los Zetas, as well as the Beltrán Leyva organization…

Beith adds:

His efforts against the Beltrán Leyva brothers, who purportedly ordered two attempts on Vasconcelos’ life earlier this year, have prompted much theorizing over Tuesday’s plane crash.

In television interviews this week, former anti-organized unit chief Samuel González Ruiz, who worked with Vasconcelos over the years, questioned why such a key man in the war on drugs would not have had a better security detail.

Carlos Puig, in Milenio, describes Vasconcelos as “a man who looked the devil in the eye.  During Vasconcellos’ term as Attorney General, he was largely responsible for the changes in the legal code that have allowed for prosecution of the “drug lords” and had been the point-man on pushing through the Constitutional changes that allowed for a reform of the entire justice system.  He was, at the time of the crash, a “special advisor” to Felipe Calderón on narcotic trafficking prosecutions. The security threats from the cartels to Vasconcelos were allegedly such that he never slept in the same place two nights in a row.

Mouriño was the political face of the anti-narcotics war and a political figure, rather than a prosecutor or strategician in what is usually described as a “war.”  If Mouriño was the target of a “hit” it could easily have been in retaliation for any number of political reasons — or to shut up the very serious allegations of financial irregularities from his tenure at the oil ministry overseeing PEMEX contracts — rather than the narcotics dealers.

But, given the string of recent high-profile “victories” for prosecutors — the capture of an alleged Zeta “commander” (who, despite the myths of rogue special forces soliders, was ex-Air Force, not Army and not a member of any special forces unit) and another major arms seizure in Reynosa — both indicate long-term planning, and were operational rather than policy functions.  In other words, something Vasconcellos rather than Mouriño would have been involved with.

Throw in the today’s arrest of Rodolfo de la Guardia García, the former Interpol director, and a high level investigator for the Federal anti-narcotics squad of the Federal Investigative Agency (AFI, somewhat similar to the FBI in the United States) for taking bribes and passing along information to the Beltrán Leyva brothers’ in Sinaloa, Vasconcellos seems a more and more tempting target for a “hit” all the time… if it wasn’t an accident.

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