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Caribbean-Latin America
Durango side of La Laguna receives federal and state security reinforcements
2013-01-21

For a map, click here. For a map of Durango state click here. For a map of Coahuila state, click here.

By Chris Covert
Rantburg.com

Mexican naval infantry units as well as Durango state police units in the Durango side of La Laguna region have arrived since Friday, according to Mexican news accounts.

Since last Thursday, when a large part of the municipal police forces of Ciudad Lerdo and Gomez Palacio were detained and sent to the Durango state capital to face investigation -- and in some cases charges -- rumors have abounded on Twitter that Mexican naval infantry units had been dispatched to the region to beef up security.

Last Thursday Mexican Army units, probably from the 10th Military Zone, arrived on the Durango side of La Laguna to disarm local police. Under normal circumstances such an action would be routine, as the Mexican Army is charged with enforcement of the Mexican national Firearms and Explosives Act. It appears to be standard operating procedure for Mexican military zone commanders to disarm police units en mass for weapons checks.

Instead, the local police had apparently been disarmed in anticipation of the mass detention of 158 police agents, including two municipal police chiefs from Ciudad Lerdo and Gomez Palacio, Durango.

According to a report posted on the Animal Politico website, the action left the Durango side of La Laguna with no active local police. Since Friday's mass detentions only 30 police agents have been released.

According to a news report posted on the website of El Diario de Coahuila news daily, fresh reinforcements have arrived since Friday, including Durango state ministerial police and Direccion Estatal de Investigacion (DEI) police agents to help with security in the La Laguna region.

The news report said that checkpoints have been erected in the Durango side of La Laguna and that both levels of security -- Durango state and federal units which include Mexican Army, naval infantry and Policia Federal -- are all involved in security operations in La Laguna.

All the renewed security activity is being coordinated by the Vice Fiscalia, the Mexican equivalent of a district attorney, although the Animal Politico report said the Emergency Telephone number 066 in La Laguna is being answered by the army. The report also characterized the Vice Fiscalia as being paralyzed by the severe increase of crime, especially in armed robberies. The report also claimed the Vice Fiscalia offices are without support staff to carry on their work.

The closing of Centro de Readaptacion Social (CERESO) Number 2 in Gomez Palacio by the Mexican interior ministry last month has presented new challenges now that detainees must be transported to the state capital to face trial and charges.

In the previous iteration of the Seguro Laguna security operation, a Mexican Army commander had the task of coordinating security operations among the three levels of government, but news reports seem to point to a paralyzed legal staff forced to coordinate security in the Durango side of the region.

Last Saturday night, Durango journalist Ruben Cardenas tweeted that the Torreon and Coahuila side of La Laguna had been shut down and that night life on the Coahuila side had all but ended because of security concerns.

A day later there were several reports of gunfights, presumably between criminal gangs that operate in the area.

According to a news article posted on the website of El Siglo de Torreon news daily, gunfire was reported in several colonies in Torreon municipality including ejido Ana and Torreon Jardin and Jacarandas colonies. A Sunday tweet by Ruben Cardenas also reported gunfire in "various zones", as he put it, in Ciudad Lerdo in Durango including on Bulevar Miguel Aleman.

Cardenas also reported on Twitter Saturday that several dead were reported in Anna colony as well as the village of Oribe Peralta in Torreon municipality.

In most of the news reports the idea being put forth is that the Durango side has been enjoying reinforced security, albeit with a civilian staff barely able to handle their new task, but the Coahuila side has been all but abandoned. Little activity by the Coahuila state government has emerged even as gunfights and deaths have been reported on the Coahuila side of La Laguna.

Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for Rantburg.com
Posted by:badanov