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Key drug trafficker reportedly nabbed
MEXICO CITY – A major military operation in northeast Mexico near the Texas border Saturday has netted another major drug trafficker, a leader of the Gulf cartel, according to an armed forces officer.
The officer, who was not authorized to speak to the press, would not name the person arrested but said he is being transported to Mexico City.
Mexican media reported that it is Mario Armando Ramirez Trevino, leader of the Gulf Cartel in Reynosa, who is responsible for much of the violence in the border city across from McAllen, Texas. 23 bodies found; drug link suspected
MORELIA, Mexico – At least 23 bodies were found in two neighboring states in western Mexico where drug cartels, vigilantes and security forces have been fighting for much of the year, authorities said Saturday.
The state prosecutor in Michoacan said that nine bodies, hands bound and shot, were found on an abandoned property near the town of Buenavista Tomatlan along with a sign indicating they may have been members of the Knights Templar cartel.

Drug lord’s release agonizes families of victims

Quintero

– On a sunny winter morning in 1984, two young American couples dressed in their Sunday best walked door to door in the western Mexican city of Guadalajara, trying to spread their faith as Jehovah’s Witnesses. A few hours later they disappeared.

The next month an American journalist went out with a friend at the end of a yearlong sabbatical writing a mystery novel. The two men also vanished.

Within 10 days, Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena was kidnapped too, then tortured and killed by Mexico’s most powerful drug cartel, setting off one of the worst episodes of U.S.-Mexico tension in recent decades.

As DEA agents hunted for Camarena’s killers, some witnesses told them that the cartel had mistaken the other six Americans for undercover agents and killed them just like Camarena.

Cartel leader Rafael Caro Quintero walked free this month, 12 years early, after a local appeals court overturned his sentence for three of the murders. For the U.S. and Mexico, Caro Quintero’s secretive, pre-dawn release has set off a frantic effort to get the drug lord back behind bars. For the families of the six Americans slain before Camarena, the decision has awakened bitter memories of the brutality that ushered in the modern era of Mexican drug trafficking.

“I just never imagined that this would happen, that Caro Quintero would be walking around free at the age of 60,” said journalist John Clay Walker’s widow, Eve, who lives in Atlanta. “There’s probably not been a day in the last 30 years that I haven’t missed my husband and wished that he was here to see the girls grow up.”

The systematic killing of seven Americans in three months stands out even in the long and bloody history of the U.S.-backed effort to quash Mexican drug trafficking. Tens of thousands of Mexicans have died, and dozens of Americans have been killed in cartel-related violence, often because of ties to people involved in drug trafficking. But assassinating U.S. law-enforcement agents remains a taboo for most Mexican organized crime, as does the deliberate targeting of Americans with no ties to the drug war.

Walker was 37 when, according to some witnesses, he and his friend Alberto Radelat, a dentist from Fort Worth, Texas, walked into The Lobster, a high-end Guadalajara seafood restaurant where Caro Quintero and his companions were holding a private party.

Walker and Radelat’s tortured bodies were found a little more than five months later in a park outside Guadalajara. Walker’s wife Eve helped identify the bodies. Their daughters Keely and Lannie were in elementary school at home in Minneapolis.

Under intense U.S. pressure, Caro Quintero was arrested along with the two other heads of their Guadalajara drug organization, splitting the monolithic cartel into smaller groups, including the Sinaloa cartel that has come to dominate Mexican drug trafficking along the Pacific Coast and much of the rest of the country.

Caro Quintero was sentenced to 40 years in prison for the murders of Camarena, Walker and Radelat, among other crimes.

On Aug. 7, however, a three-judge federal appeals court in the western state of Jalisco found that he should have been tried in state, not federal court, and vacated his sentence. The U.S. has issued a new arrest warrant for Caro Quintero’s arrest, and Mexico’s federal court says it is trying to find him again. Both governments say they disagree with the court decision and some U.S. officials believe corruption is a likely explanation for the otherwise inexplicable ruling.

“It’s salt in a wound,” Keely Walker said of Caro Quintero’s release. “I thought it was all over with, he’s in prison.”

A Catholic by birth, Benjamin Mascarenas became a Jehovah’s Witness through conversion and met his wife Pat at a church function. They did janitorial work in Reno, Nev., before moving to Guadalajara, where they house-sat for a wealthy acquaintance. Dennis and Rose Carlson moved from Redding, Calif., to support a church effort to spread their faith in Mexico.

The bodies of the two couples were never found.

Dennis Carlson was “just an all-around good person” dedicated to spreading his faith, recalled his brother, Stanley, a 58-year-old semi-retired mortgage banker.

He said his family rarely talked about the murders, and relied on their faith to cope with the pain.

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