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Old 10-17-2010, 01:00 PM   #2296
eakins
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These two are both "look again" photos
i think the bottom one is prime front page material!
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Old 10-17-2010, 04:27 PM   #2297
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Originally Posted by wegimex
I think the drug cartels certainly do not ride adventure bikes and most probably do not depend on the 50 bucks they steal from a bike traveller. Never had a problem in Mexico ever. 50000 k in 3 years all over the place. Maybe skip the shiny HD. Better serves as a living room table anyway :-) Don't ride at night. Crossing cows and unlighted trucks are the real dangers in Mexico.
Tell that to the guy chasing me through the mountains of Mexico last April. On his GS, I mean.
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Old 10-18-2010, 05:40 PM   #2298
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The good news

The good news. I posted the same article on another thread so if that's a no-no then I apologize but it's appropriate here too.

From http://www.latimes.com/la-fi-1008-me...52,print.story


Tourism to Mexico jumps nearly 20%

More international travelers are visiting beach resort towns that have not experienced much of the country's drug-related violence, officials say.
By Hugo Martín, Los Angeles Times

October 8, 2010



In a surprising turnabout, international tourism to Mexico showed a sharp increase this summer — a sign that tourists may be putting aside worries about the economy and fears of drug-related violence, analysts say.

Foreign visitors arriving by air to Mexico jumped to 7.1 million in the first eight months of the year — up nearly 20% from the same period in 2009 — with most visitors coming from the U.S. and Canada, according to Mexican tourism officials.

The biggest rise came in July, when tourist numbers grew 27.5% over the same month last year.

The increase came in spite of a rash of drug-related violence and kidnappings, primarily along the border, and the August bankruptcy of Mexicana Airlines, the nation's largest air carrier.

The growth in tourism has been focused primarily in Mexican beach resort towns that have not experienced much of the violence.

In the first eight months of 2010, 7.1 million foreign travelers flew to Mexico, up 19.2% from the same period last year. Of those visitors, 4.33 million were from the U.S., 1.3 million from Canada and 200,513 from Spain, according to Mexican tourism officials.

The latest numbers are a significant increase from 2009, when international tourism to Mexico dropped dramatically after the outbreak of the H1N1 virus, or swine flu. But compared with 2008, international travel to Mexico is up only 6%.

Still, analysts say, the latest jump in visitors suggests that U.S. travelers feel more confident about spending on travel again and see Mexico as a good bargain for vacations.

"Memories of last year have started to fade," said Anthony Concil, a spokesman for the International Air Transport Assn., a trade group for the world's airlines.

The sharp increase in visitors to Mexico is also significant because Concil and other analysts have predicted only modest growth in travel worldwide. International air travel, for example, was up 6% in August compared with a year earlier, according to the International Air Transport Assn.

Hawaii has also seen tourism begin to rebound lately, but not enough to overcome the steep drop-off it suffered in 2009. In August, total arrivals by air to Hawaii were up about 11% from the same month last year, marking the ninth consecutive month of growth.

Mexican tourism officials attribute Mexico's tourist increase to a marketing campaign that kicked off in July, with the tagline "Mexico, the place you thought you knew."

"We have had all of these challenges, but we are in the right track," said Alfonso Sumano, regional director for the Mexico Tourism Board for the Americas.

Local travel agents say the growth in tourists' interest in Mexico comes from a pent-up demand to travel.

"I think there's a perception is that it's a good deal," said Carol McConnell, founder of Around the Globe Travel in Huntington Beach. "But it's mostly about being where the water and the weather is really nice."

Jack E. Richards, president of Pleasant Holidays, a Westlake Village travel agency that specializes in vacations to Mexico, agrees. "The all-inclusive resorts offer exceptional value for the vacation dollar, which is still important to American travelers as they emerge from the economic recession," he said.

While reports of drug-related killings and kidnappings continue along the border, most international tourists are staying clear of that area, visiting beach resort towns instead, Sumano said.

The number of visitors to Cancun, the easternmost coastal city, jumped nearly 31% in August compared with a year earlier; tourism to Los Cabos, on the southern tip of Baja California, increased 30%, according to Mexico tourism officials.

Southern California travel agents say U.S. tourists don't seem too concerned about drug violence because they know to stay far from the border. "As long as you stay in the resort areas, you'll have no problem," McConnell said.

And several Mexican and U.S. airlines have stepped in to fill in the void left by Mexicana Airlines, Sumano said.

"We would like to spread the word," he said. "The resorts are ready for the visitors."
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Old 10-18-2010, 05:46 PM   #2299
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The bad news.

The bad news. I've been through - but not into - this area and normally wouldn't hesitiate to ride here, but it looks like this isn't the right time.

This is along the Arizona border, a bit west of Nogales incidentally. North of San Carlos by quite a bit, but if I were in that area I'd stay on the big road and avoid exploring too many small towns.

~~~

From http://articles.latimes.com/2010/oct...voy-20101017/5

is a huge article about the fighting there.


----

This is Mexico's hidden drug war.

Ciudad Juarez and other violence-torn urban areas may rack up large body counts and capture headlines and presidential visits. But here in the northern part of the state of Sonora, two of Mexico's strongest drug cartels are waging a battle for scores of human and drug trafficking routes into Arizona that may be just as sinister.

One of the gangs is using a slow, bloodless strategy of patience over confrontation: It's trying to starve out its rivals.

The result is a siege of medieval proportions that has cut off a region about the size of Rhode Island from government services, and severed a lifeline to thousands of ranch hands, storekeepers and retirees. Few dare leaving on the roads, and even fewer brave going in.

"Nobody will guarantee my security," said Juan Alberto Lopez, a consultant who was supposed to drive up into the foothills for meetings with pueblo officials. "They told me they would come down to Altar," he said. "But they haven't shown up."

The war escalated this summer when Beltran-Leyva cartel gunmen took over the string of pueblos and ranch lands stretching 50 miles from Altar to the Arizona border. Their foes in the Sinaloa drug cartel have since surrounded them. They patrol the four main winding roads leading in and out of the hills and block almost all food and gasoline shipments.

There have been massacres and scores of kidnappings, but the war has gone largely unnoticed because of its remoteness, intimidation of journalists and the slow-motion tactics.

"The problem is that one gang is hiding out, very well concealed," said a high-level Sonora state law enforcement official. "And the other group wants to get them out, to restore control over that area."

Caught in the middle are an estimated 5,000 people who every day wake up with questions: Were there any kidnappings overnight? Have the gunmen taken over another ranch? Are there any tortillas in the store?

One grandmother in Saric, grief-stricken over the kidnapping of three sons, said she tried to get help from the mayor, but he hasn't been seen in days.

She's losing hope: "Our town is dying."

----

Mexico convoy threads its way through strange drug war in Sonora state

Reporting from Altar, Mexico — With an escort of 60 officers with assault rifles, a convoy heads off to deliver pensions to people caught behind the siege line as one drug cartel tries to wait out another in a sinister battle for scores of human and drug trafficking routes into Arizona.

The police chiefs met in the dusty plaza with a federal official clutching a black bag filled with pesos: $40,000 in government pensions for the senior citizens living in the pueblos of the nearby foothills.

A convoy of seven vehicles rumbled into the plaza, the trucks squeezing between taco and T-shirt vendors who gawked at the 60 or so federal and state police officers toting assault rifles.

The crack squad had captured drug cartel kingpins and battled gangs from Baja California to Michoacan. On this day they slipped on their ski masks to escort the police chiefs on a mission of mercy to a lost corner of Mexico.

They would be heading deep into the scrublands of the Sonora Desert where hundreds of cartel gunmen controlled the pueblos and ambushed intruders on hillside roads that have become blood-spattered shooting galleries.

The convoy was outmanned, outgunned and probably didn't even have the element of surprise. Cartel lookouts — they could be anybody: taxi drivers, store owners, fellow cops — had no doubt already tipped off the organized crime groups. Cellphone conversations were routinely intercepted.

"I'm talking here and the mafia is listening," said one commander who, like many police, residents and officials, spoke on condition of anonymity out of security concern. "They already know we're coming."

The convoy turned past the small church and the local newspaper office, its windows blasted out, and ran every red light and stop sign leaving town.


Before heading out on its 40-mile journey into the foothills, the convoy took over all the pumps at a Pemex gasoline station. The officers bought sodas and chips, and stuffed them into their bag lunches; food might be scarce along the way.

The police chiefs shook hands with some of the officers. It wasn't clear whether they were greetings or wishes of good luck.

Few reporters have ventured into the area, and public officials refuse to provide much information, fearing retaliation. Since September, two mayors, a police chief and at least 11 officers have fled, joining hundreds, perhaps thousands, of residents who had abandoned the region because of the tightening siege.

Hungry, encircled gunmen have invaded ranches to slaughter cattle. They roam pueblos in large convoys, kidnapping people and tossing their tortured bodies into the road. Many residents stay indoors when night falls, avoiding contact with the Beltran-Leyva gunmen, and stay off the roads for fear of being stopped at highway checkpoints set up by the Sinaloa gang.

"We're living desperate times here. They're not letting supplies through.... We're down to basics, beans and potatoes," said one longtime female resident of Tubutama, a pueblo perched on a mesa and known for its white-washed mission church and plaza, where locals and visiting Americans on mission tours once sipped drinks and listened to bands on summer nights.

----

The two cartels are warring over Mexico's most valuable region for smuggling people into the United States, with an infrastructure of drivers, guides, suppliers and fleabag hotels that has pumped millions of immigrants across the border. Each cartel has allied itself with local gangs with names like the Wild Boars and the Masked Ones.

In the scorching valley south of the foothills, most residents appear to have sided with the Sinaloa group, saying they at least have brought order to the messy business of smuggling drugs and people across the border.

Cartel toll takers monitor the Altar-Sasabe highway leading toward the frontier, making sure each immigrant-loaded van has paid the $100 fee for each. Rogue gangs that preyed on vulnerable immigrants have been chased out by the cartel, say some residents and immigrant safety groups.

Life in the valley follows a relatively secure, if hyper-vigilant, routine. When a pair of reporters walked through the town of Pitiquito a day before the convoy hit the road, a pack of teenagers and men wielding a club and a baseball bat descended on them.

"Whose side are you on? What are you doing here?" one of them asked.

A middle-aged woman walking with her teenage daughter later explained that the town was controlled by a young Sinaloan crime boss greatly respected by residents. Two of his gunmen had joined hundreds that afternoon in a funeral procession for a popular musician killed in an accident. The crime boss probably paid for the funeral, she said.

"He's the one on our side" of the war, one woman said. "He is a generous man and protects us. Nobody is even allowed to sell drugs here. Everybody loves him here."

In the sparsely populated foothill towns known as the pueblos de arriba, the towns up above, expressing such sentiments can be lethal.

-----

The government force began its steady ascent on the two-lane road and passed through the pueblo of Atil, where many residents avoid using telephones, believing the cartels can listen in.

One former resident, a middle-aged woman, said her son was kidnapped and killed this year, and that the family had to flee with a mattress strapped to their pickup truck. Though she's concerned for family members left behind in Atil, she won't call them.

Her son, she said, was slain execution-style and left on the side of the road.

"We haven't taken sides. We're not with one group or the other," said the woman, who asked that her identity and new home not be disclosed. "That's why I don't understand what happened. There are no answers."

The convoy passed Atil without incident, but as the road ascended further, the landscape began revealing signs of neglect and cartel activity. Vegetation and rocks from landslides encroached on the roadway; signs were defaced and gasoline stations abandoned.

Outside the community of Cerro Prieto, the roadway cut through a hilly area where the war's grisliest massacre occurred.

In July, Beltran-Leyva gunmen took positions above the road where 20-foot embankments provided an ideal ambush overlook; a convoy of Sinaloa gunmen approached. As the cars passed, the gang blockaded both ends of the road and opened fire on their boxed-in enemies. Twenty-one Sinaloa cartel members were killed. Based on the thousands of spent bullet casings, police estimate that there were more than 100 attackers.

New patches of black asphalt cover the blood. The convoy's drivers speeded through the embankments, careful not to bunch up their vehicles and leave them vulnerable to a similar ambush.

Attempts to root out the criminals have been frustrated by the rough terrain and guerrilla-style tactics used by the shadowy force, say federal and state agents. The gunmen strike and then rush back into the gullies and hills dotted with towering saguaro cactuses and mesquite patches.

"When we go up after them, there's nobody there. We can't find them," the high-level Sonora law enforcement official said.

The gangs seem to know everything. The federal police, who wear blue uniforms, overhear the chatter of cartel lookouts on their radios, reporting their positions with unsettling exactitude.

"They say, the blues … are heading your way," one federal police officer said.

"We know they're watching us, but we can't see them."

----

Turning onto a dirt road, the convoy approached the village of Saric, the deepest point in cartel-held territory.

They planned it so they'd arrive there early, wouldn't be caught after dark in the region considered the hardest-hit by the siege. The day before, people answering phones at the town hall didn't know the whereabouts of Mayor Fidel Lizarraga Celaya, and couldn't say when, or if, their 10 police officers would return.

Dozens of children, women and senior citizens were waiting for the convoy at the town hall. Many of the elderly pushed walkers across dusty streets. Some leaned on their weathered canes or sat in scratched-up wheelchairs. Conspicuously absent were young men. Residents said most had either fled, been killed or joined the cartels.

The federal official toting the black bag strode into the town hall, past the town's lone police car, a battered Nissan with a flat tire whose only apparent purpose was to provide shade for a sleeping, flea-infested dog. As officials began distributing the money — for the first time in four months —citizens gathered outside.

Several elderly women, speaking in hushed tones, said their town was controlled by gunmen who emerge at night and patrol the town in convoys of 20 to 30 vehicles. The gang members, hiding behind masks and tinted windows, stop for any "suspicious activity," such as using a cellphone or carrying food, questioning and in some cases kidnapping residents, they said.

Mail carriers, produce and soda distributors, even ambulances, have stopped going to the town, they said. They pointed to several abandoned homes. A middle-aged grocer looked at the dwindling stock on her shelves, saying two months had passed since her last deliveries. There was no meat or soda, or flour to make tortillas.

The only food supplies were brought in by older, longtime residents who shopped in Altar and were allowed through the cartel checkpoints, apparently trusted by gunmen to not pass along the food to rivals.

The meager supply was distributed among a close-knit circle of older, relatively well-off residents, said one woman. A few pesos could buy some food, toilet paper and medicine, but not much.

"I don't know what the poor people are doing for food," she said.

Seeing the federal police posted around the perimeter of the town hall emboldened the despairing Saric grandmother. She barged into the one-room police station and demanded that the authorities investigate the kidnappings of her sons.

A top police official, speaking privately later, made it clear that no investigation was likely. "I don't arrest any of them. That's how I stay alive."

Back in the town hall, the crowd parted for the arrival of the town's oldest resident. Manuel Aureliano, 100, was wheeled into a cramped office, where he presented his I.D. and was given a stack of 500-peso notes, for a total of about $450.

The great-great-grandfather clutched one 500-peso bill in his hand, kissed it and raised it over his head. Born during the Mexican Revolution, the deaf man celebrated the arrival of the government force like another national triumph, instead of a rare, small victory against the cartels.

"Gracias a Dios!" he yelled. "Viva Mexico!"
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Old 10-20-2010, 02:36 PM   #2300
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And the honorary huevos de laton goes to:

Chica Cop

Valles Garcia, a criminology student, became the police chief this week of Praxedis G. Guerrero, one of the most violent municipalities in the border state of Chihuahua. She was the only person who accepted the top job in a police force whose officers have been abducted and even killed.

Sheesh! Hope she doesn't end up like some of the others. But then, nothing else has really worked. Maybe being unarmed, they won't see her as a threat. But what's logical near CJ?
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Old 10-20-2010, 02:43 PM   #2301
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I hate to say it, but a 20 year old student saying that she was going to talk to the bad guys seems like a recipe for disaster.

In other news, hasn't the President proposed dissolving all of the local police forces?
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Old 10-20-2010, 04:18 PM   #2302
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It was my understanding that Calderon proposed doing away with all municipal police and having only state police. But I doubt if it will ever happen. Probably a good idea though at least for the time being. I was south near Arteaga, Michoacan when the local municipal police kidnapped, tortured, and murdered 12 federal police officers in June '09.



Zirahuen near Uruapan:



Definitely a country of contrasts.

Calderon, who is from Michoacan, had 35 fellow Michoacanenses arrested soon thereafter in '09 who had ties to La Familia, but later a judge let all but one of them go free. Go figure.
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Old 10-20-2010, 04:41 PM   #2303
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiko
Calderon, who is from Michoacan, had 35 fellow Michoacanenses arrested soon thereafter in '09 who had ties to La Familia, but later a judge let all but one of them go free. Go figure.

Witnesses vanished, right?
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Old 10-21-2010, 07:25 AM   #2304
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PirateJohn
Witnesses vanished, right?
My guess is either the judge:

1) has familiy in La Familia,
2) works for La Familia,
3) or is just scared that La Familia will kill him or his family if he did not make the right ruling.

Or the most likely scenario is all of the above.
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Old 10-23-2010, 04:15 PM   #2305
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Greetings from Cd Victoria

Heading downrange, in Victoria at the moment

Superb dinner in McAllen last night with Arte & Paloma

Tuxpan tomorrow

Zero issues/observations crossing @ Pharr, other than its great to be back in Ole' Mexico again

Going to Veracruz to eat ten pounds of langosta, then jump the Sierra over to Oaxaca

Stay tuned
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Old 10-23-2010, 04:59 PM   #2306
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SR
Have fun! Perfect time of year to ride, green but not hot or rainy, what more could you want?
What are you riding?
Will there be a RR?
I'm on the GSA, and yes, por supuesto que si
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Old 10-23-2010, 08:49 PM   #2307
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My new main man, Jesus. Note the tootsie pop he's holding. I've got 4 bags of those with me, plus a bunch of soccer balls ready to be inflated with the bike's air pump.

Hardly anybody smiles in the U.S. anymore. Here, they smile eveywhere you go.
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Old 10-23-2010, 10:42 PM   #2308
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiko
My guess is either the judge:

1) has familiy in La Familia,
2) works for La Familia,
3) or is just scared that La Familia will kill him or his family if he did not make the right ruling.

Or the most likely scenario is all of the above.

"Bribe or bullet" ... what a choice.
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Old 10-23-2010, 10:46 PM   #2309
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tricepilot
Heading downrange, in Victoria at the moment

Superb dinner in McAllen last night with Arte & Paloma


Damn. I forgot all about that. Sorry that I missed you guys.


Quote:
Originally Posted by tricepilot
Tuxpan tomorrow

When I rode down to Santa Ana with Arte and Andres last year I was impressed with how beautiful Tuxpan was. Have fun - I'm jealous as hell.
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Old 10-24-2010, 09:40 AM   #2310
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US Murders

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gordy
Murders per capita might be a better guage.

http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cr...ers-per-capita
Murders per capita is deceiving due to our superior emergency medical care. I'd venture to say that if we in the US had third world emergency care, our murder rates would be even higher.
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