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Why am I not surprised?

19 May 2012

I originally drafted this post this last week, but was waiting to see if there were further developments… boy howdy, were there ever!

Mexican army soldiers detained 17 suspected Gulf cartel members and a Cuban man who was allegedly providing them with weapons training in the northeastern state of Nuevo Leon, officials said.

In mid-March, army soldiers detained two Honduran ex-military men, 41-year-old Roger Ivan Lopez Davila and 21-year-old Carlos Alfredo Herrera Gomez, who had been in Mexico for two years training gunmen with Los Zetas.

Fox News Latino, Mexico Nabs 17 Suspected Gulf Cartel Members, Cuban Trainer

Back in September 2008, I mentioned Cuban gangsters working with one of the organized crime groups in the Yucatán. One got the sense — especially given that the gangsters were involved in smuggling Cubans to the United States — that the Cubans were more connected to groups in the U.S. than on the Island. Both Mexican and Cuban investigators suspected as much.   The Cuban investigators spoke of the “Miami Mafia”, although whether they meant organized criminals in the pay of political dissidents, or the political dissidents themselves wasn’t always clear.

I don’t say that to denigrate Cuban exiles.  Although I’m not likely to be in favor of their goals (or their methods),  it would be foolish to pretend that  even the most honest and upright of insurgents are by definition on the wrong side of the establishment that makes the laws, and — in the long run — the criminals sometimes end up on the side of the angels.  My favorite example is the “Conspiracy of the Righteous” —in which the very brave, stern   Calvinist villagers of Prélenfrey-du-Guâ in the French Alps worked with Parisian forgers and counterfeiters as to shelter Polish Jews during the Nazi Occupation.   Conversely, the Cristero movement came to an inglorious end in good part because they depended on incompetent smugglers to supply weapons from the United States —  specifically the Knights of Columbus.  The K of C just didn’t know the right wrong people.  Gorostieta should have contacted Al Capone instead.

That Cuban political dissidents are involved in smuggling people through Mexico is no secret.  That apolitical criminals working with political dissidents are likely engaged in other enterprises isn’t anything new either.  Trading narcotics for weapons, as a political tactic, goes back at least to Pancho Villa (who was something of an exception to the rule, rejecting the advice from his respectable financial advisers to trade opium for weapons in the United States… and, as we know, Villa eventually was cut off from U.S. weapons, so maybe he should have listened to his advisers).

So… with the Mexican gangsters all in narcotics, weapons and people smuggling business (and having become quite successful at it), why would anyone be surprised to it would be no more surprising to find criminals turning political as it would be to find political people going rogue.  I don’t think anyone was shocked when Cubans were thought to be involved in all three in the Yucatán, which only came to light after investigation into the beheadings in the Yucatan in August 2008. Nor, should anyone be shocked when another mass execution and beheading comes to light, also involving Zetas and Gulf Cartel rivalries, and what appears to be a people-smuggling operation … and a Cuban “trainer”.

Roberto Rodríguez Sánchez, the alleged trainer, is described in Mexican news reports as a native of Cuba, but not a Cuban, and it doesn’t appear he’s been living on the Island in a some time.  As it is, popping up in China, Nuevo Leon (about half way between McAllen, Texas and Monterrey) makes it seem unlikely that his criminal activities had anything to do with Cuba… or at least Cubans in Cuba… directly.

China, Nuevo Leon, is on the smuggler’s highway to and from the United States, and there is a lively trade in weapons, narcotics and undocumented workers going back and forth through that community.

Espionage?  Univision quotes  Jorge Domene Zambrano, the government spokesman on public security as saying Rodriquez’ capture dismantled an important espionage web working for organized crime.

… and this is where things got really weird and makes me glad I waited before posting …

With three generals arrested this week (including  former deputy secretary of defense, Tomas Angeles Dauahare), and another high ranking officer also detained, allegedly for ties to the Beltran-Leyva gang, which despite supposedly having been wiped out, is actively allied with the Zetas, and at war with the Gulf Cartel.

The forty-nine (so far) anonymous dead … who may have been Central American migrants … appear to have been victims of a particularly nasty exchange —  human beings for weapons or cash — which had the apparent support of Mexican military and government officials, and the complicit support of the Cubans.  That the only beneficiary of all this is Chapo Guzmán (who despite being labeled public enemy #1, and said by those who write about gangsters, scheduled to be “eliminated” ahead of the election,  seems to have been forgotten by all reports about this), the Beltran-Leyva gang being an insurgent group within his own organization that went over to the Zetas, and appears to have enjoyed some support within the government.

None of which surprises me in the least.

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