Here is an excerpt from an editorial by Edward Schumacher-Matos in the North County Times:
With over a dozen years of combined experience in military law enforcement, force protection analysis, and writing a variety of professional products for the US Air Force, state government in California, and the general public, Ms. Longmire has the expertise to create a superior product for you or your agency to further your understanding of Mexico’s drug war. Longmire Consulting is dedicated to being on the cusp of the latest developments in Mexico in order to bring you the best possible analysis of threats posed by the drug violence south of the border.
Here is an excerpt from an editorial by Edward Schumacher-Matos in the North County Times:
Here is an excerpt from Josh Meyer's article in The Los Angeles Times:
Here is an excerpt from E. Eduardo Castillo's article in the Associated Press:
Here is an excerpt from Daniel Newhauser and Dan Shearer's article in The Sahuarita Sun:
"Two of the three people arrested in connection with the May 30 murders of an Arivaca man and his daughter headed up a splinter Minuteman group, and were looking for drugs and money to fund their efforts to keep illegal immigrants and drug runners out of the country, sheriff’s officials said.Jason Eugene Bush, 34, was arrested Thursday in Kingman; Shawna Forde, 41, was arrested Friday south of Sierra Vista; and Albert Robert Gaxiola, 42, was arrested Friday afternoon in Tucson. All three have been charged with two counts of first-degree murder, one count of first-degree burglary and one count of aggravated assault in connection with the murders of Raul Flores and his 9-year-old daughter, Brisenia. Flores’ wife was shot during the incident but managed to shoot one of the intruders... Officials said Forde is associated with the Minutemen American Defense group and that Bush and Gaxiola, who is from Arivaca, are associates of Forde. The group is not associated with the national, 12,000-member Minutemen Civil Defense Corps... Within Minuteman group circles, Forde is controversial... Hal Washburn, vetting officer for Washington state chapter of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, said Forde was encouraged to leave the group over questions about honesty and her inability to follow orders, according to the story. San Diego Minutemen lists Forde among people they won’t work with, calling her 'unstable.'" Link to Full Article
Analysis: I was just getting ready to type that this story isn't normally the type of incident I provide commentary for, but the circumstance is so unusual and fascinating that I just couldn't resist. Forde is obviously a disturbed individuals with paranoias and extreme views regarding immigration and border security. It's incredibly sad that a man - regardless of his involvement in the drug trade - and his nine year-old daughter had to die because Forde felt justified in funding her operation by stealing drug money and killing drug dealers.
Regardless of how you feel about the official Minutemen organizations, I think it's important that they've made a quick and concerted effort to distinguish themselves from Forde's group. The MCDC does not condone murder or even violence (as far as I know), and I believe their funding comes primarily from donations. Forde's kind of vigilantism makes her and her group no better than the narco-thugs she claims to abhor. Reportedly, the plan was to kill all witnesses, and it's difficult to think that Forde and her two accomplices were sick enough to include a nine year-old in that plan; it can't be said if they knew a child would be in the home. When bullets are flying (the male victim's wife returned fire), anything can happen. But, regardless of how bad drug dealers and DTO members and enforcers are, nothing (in my opinion) justifies this kind of counter-drug vigilantism on US soil.
Here is an excerpt from Andrew Beatty's article on Agence France Presse:
Here is an excerpt from Ben Conery's article in The Washington Times:
Here is an excerpt from the first article by Dane Schiller in The Houston Chronicle:
Here is an excerpt from this article on KETV.com:
Here is an excerpt from Sara Carter's article in The Washington Times:
The publicity surrounding this up-and-coming Mexican DTO has been increasing in the last year, and it appears that La Familia is making plays to put the organization on the forefront of organized crime groups in Mexico. Even the US government has recently acknowledged the group’s power and influence, placing it on the Kingpin Designation Act list in April 2009. While La Familia has several things in common with the major Mexican DTOs, there are a few things that set it apart, making it a unique organization as organized crime groups go.
First, let’s take a look at their beginnings, which are pretty recent. George Grayson of the Foreign Policy Research Institute wrote a really nice backgrounder on La Familia, some of which I’m paraphrasing here. La Familia came about in 2004 with the goal of eradicating the trafficking of crystal methamphetamine, or “ice,” and other narcotics, kidnapping, extortion, murder-for-hire, highway assaults, and robberies. This is all according to one of La Familia’s founders, Nazario “The Craziest One” Moreno Gonzalez. They may have come about to thwart the trafficking efforts of the Milenio cartel, associated with Sinaloa’s Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. La Familia may also have appeared to prevent Los Zetas from entering what they considered their territory.
Handwritten, poorly-spelled, enigmatic missives showed up in 2006 next to decapitated heads in Uruapan as part of an intense Familia propaganda campaign designed to intimidate both foes, terrorize the local population, and inhibit action by the government. Like Los Zetas, La Familia disseminates news of its deeds nationally by conventional media as well as by internet videos and carefully placed banners. On the heels of the Uruapan atrocity, La Familia took out a half-page advertisement in newspapers claiming to be crime-fighters. El Sol of Morelia and La Voz de Michoacan both ran the group’s manifesto. Such expressions of civic virtue aside, 18 of 32 police officers in the Tepalcatepec area resigned after receiving death threats from La Familia, while local newspapers exercise self-censorship concerning the sinister band.
In all, authorities attributed 17 decapitations to La Familia in 2006 alone. Between the murder of Rodriguez Valencia that August and December 31, 2008, La Familia killed scores, if not hundreds, of people. What may have begun as a small group of armed men on the prowl to protect their children from meth has turned into a major criminal outfit that is just as well-armed and organized as any top-tier drug smuggling organization in Mexico. The Attorney General’s Office claims that elements of organization not only sell narcotics in many of the municipalities of their home state, but also seek to dominate the distribution route to the US border that snakes through territory traditionally in the hands of the Sinaloa cartel. To this end, they have established safe houses as refuges for their traffickers at strategic points along the route northward. While originating in Michoacan, La Familia has extended its activities to Mexico State, where it controls or has conducted operations in numerous municipalities.
According to the Southern Pulse Intelligence Network, Moreno Gonzales revealed that La Familia had some 4,000 members working in various parts of Michoacan. Everyone received a salary of between $1,500 and $2,000 a month, and all were born in Michoacan. La Familia reportedly pays millions in bribe money every month, and offers protection to various business owners in Michoacan, the state of Mexico, and the Federal District. The protection, however, mostly translates to extortion, where some business owners are taxed every week, others once a month. In August 2008, the Mexican Attorney General’s office made an announcement, revealing that La Familia intended to control the drug smuggling market in Michoacan and open a route all the way north, passing though the traditionally held lands of the Sinaloa Federation, where many claim Joaquin Guzman has been weakened by the Mexican government’s constant focus on dismantling his organization and his ongoing battles with Los Zetas and other rival groups.
In May 2009, The Los Angeles Times reported that La Familia is undermining the electoral system and day-to-day governance of Michoacan, pushing an agenda that goes beyond the usual money-only interests of drug cartels. In late May, it became clear how deeply embedded La Familia is in the political machine. Federal authorities detained 10 mayors and 20 other local officials as part of a drug investigation, saying the group has contaminated city halls across the state. Unlike some drug syndicates, La Familia goes beyond the production and transport of marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine and seeks political and social standing. It has created a cult-like mystique and developed pseudo-evangelical recruitment techniques that experts and law enforcement authorities say are unique in Mexico. No party has been spared its influence or interference, politicians of all stripes said in a series of interviews conducted before the arrests of the mayors. Generally, though, traffickers' political influence in Michoacan has less to do with winning office and more with controlling officeholders, to create a buffer of protection that allows their business to proceed unimpeded, said a security advisor to Calderon. La Familia reportedly recruits at drug rehab centers and indoctrinates followers with an ideology akin to religious fundamentalism, complete with group prayer sessions. Some armed guards wear uniforms with the Familia logo, witnesses say. Failure by a recruit to live by the rules is said to be punishable by death.
This cult-like behavior and extensive interference in politics portrays La Familia as a hybrid organization; a cross between organized crime syndicate, terrorist organization, and insurgency. Grayson mentions that La Familia has a lot in common with the former United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), a disarmed umbrella group of paramilitary organizations that was designated a foreign terrorist organization by the US government in 2001. I believe that almost all Mexican DTOs can be compared to the AUC, and I did so in an article my husband and I co-wrote for Henley Putnam University’s Journal of Strategic Security. La Familia comes eve closer to the AUC because the AUC did try to dabble in politics, albeit in a different way. The AUC tried to gain some status as a legitimate political party in Colombia (it failed), whereas La Familia just wants to influence politics. With its current methods, La Familia may be more successful in the political scene than the AUC ever was. Regardless, it will be interesting to see the result of the inevitable future clashes between elements of La Familia and its rivals, as well as how the Calderon administration and the Mexican army modify their strategies to counter the group’s growth.
Here is an excerpt from Linda Diebel's article in The Star: