This Is Your War On Drugs

Of all the shootings that have happened in the last day, I suspect this one–of two US government employees in a diplomatic car in Mexico–may get the least attention in the US. The shootout occurred between what has been reported alternately as members of Mexico’s Marines and/or their Federal police (or not described at all) and the two Americans–whose names have been reported as Jess Hoods Garner and Stan Dove Boss. Mexico’s press say the vehicle carrying the Americans was hit by at least 60 bullets. The Americans are now in a hospital in Cuernavaca being treated for gunshot wounds. The site of the shootout–on the two-lane free highway between Mexico City and Cuernavaca–is being guarded by Mexican police and military forces. Here’s AP’s report on the shootout (which doesn’t mention the reported involvement of Mexican personnel).

The report comes after two recent revelations of US intelligence involvement for the drug war in Mexico. First, Statfor emails detail US military presence in and intelligence sharing beween the US and Mexico.

Then there’s the recent report that there exists a SEAL Team 6 plan to capture or kill the Sinaloa cartel boss, El Chapo Guzmán. Of particular interest, news of the plan pissed off Mexico’s military.

Given how difficult it’s been to catch Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, the U.S. government has prepared a plan to capture the drug kingpin, in an operation similar to that held in Pakistan last year in the assassination of Osama Bin Laden.

Military sources in Mexico and the U.S. confirm the existence of the plan, which was developed by the Pentagon several months ago and now is being held back because it is an operation that was designed with only Americans in mind, an idea that is not viewed with pleasure by their Mexican counterparts.

The plan was introduced to Felipe Calderon who promoted it among the armed forces. And although there was a sharp rejection by the Mexican Army and Navy, Washington has not thrown away the plan and propose to show it to the next Mexican president, Enrique Pena.

Until recently, the DEA was cooperating with key members of the Sinaloa cartel in an effort to shut down Sinaloa’s competitors, though recently US law enforcement has been cracking down on Sinaloa directly. Cuernavaca, however, is (as far as I understand it) far from Sinaloa turf.

Now, all these data points may be unrelated. The shooting in Mexico may have a less suspicious explanation than what it, at the moment, seems–it could be “just” a kidnapping attempt (though AP reports the shots were focused at the front passenger), or reports of Mexico Federal involvement could be false, or it may have to do with another cartel or nothing to do with the “war on drugs” at all. But we know the US has been putting more intelligence and military resources in Mexico to fight drug trafficking–which often means fighting corrupt members of Mexico’s law enforcement. Our actions have become increasingly aggressive throughout Latin America.

Maybe Latin American countries are getting less and less happy with our “war on drugs” because it seems to have less and less to do with actual drugs?

Update: The Mexicans are beginning to solidify their story, now claiming that the Federales who shot the Americans were in the location investigating another crime. But it sounds like the Americans were trying to enter some location and that’s when the shooting–and a four vehicle car chase–started. They’re claiming the Navy showed up later just to protect the site which sounds … dubious. Also remember the driver of the American car was also from Mexico’s Navy.

Meanwhile, here’s what the CIA said when asked whether the guys who got shot were theirs.

CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood declined to comment and referred reporters to the State Department.

And this CNN story is useful not for any indication of what happened, but for a jumble of assertions, none of which appear to match the known facts. This AP story appears to be the most complete in English–it even notes that the Mexican Navy story leaves out key details.

The Mexican stories appear to have taken the names above (which didn’t seem very credible in any case) out of their stories.

Update: OK, the official story appears to be that the Americans–who are clearly “trainers”–and their Mexican Marine captain driver were pulling into a naval base when they were ambushed by 1 carload of Federales. A chase ensued, and 3 more cars of Federales joined in, during which the driver called for backup. By the time military backup arrived, the shootout was over.

Local witnesses, though, say there were 6 cars, not 4, and one of the reasons the area was shut down all day was to find everyone involved, which suggests there may actually have been 2 cars of non-Federales in Federales cars who got away. Then there’s the claim that the Americans and their driver were unarmed. Not only don’t I believe the driver would be unarmed, sources say there were at least 60 casings found at the scene, and only 30 bullets that hit the car. Note, too, that pictures don’t show the bullet-proof glass having been pierced, yet both Americans were wounded. And a couple of the stories wonder how they Americans got hurt if they had such a fancy bullet proof car, which is something I had been wondering, as well. So there are likely several reasons why the military shut down the shootout scene all day.

Finally, the head of the Federales ordered that the Americans be transferred from the private hospital in Cuernavaca back to Mexico City. And there seems to be some question whether the government of the local state, Morelos, is cooperating or not. One report notes that the shootout ended right at the border of Morelos (on the Morelos side) and DF. Finally, earlier reports noted there had been a guy (an electric company worker) killed the night before in a shootout in Cuernavaca itself, which seems unrelated but may not be.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

18 replies
  1. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The “war” on drugs was an early rationalization for the US’ militarization of its foreign relations, especially with Latin America and SE Asia. It was also an early pretext for the nascent federalization of US local police forces, one that has been vastly superseded by the current “war” on terrorism. The billions of dollars spent under the auspices of these programs would have been far harder to obtain from Congress and US taxpayers had the need not been portrayed as a fight of existential proportions.

    Alfred McCoy did some of the best early academic work on this topic (c. 1972) and is still at it.

  2. emptywheel says:

    Btw, I’m really sad that none of you commented on how implausible these names are: Jess Hoods Garner and Stan Dove Boss. Didn’t find them on the State site, nor in any US reports. So, uh, yeah.

  3. phred says:

    Where’s BSL when you need him??? Sorry EW, but since bmaz is shirking and I’m about to bust with excitement… and with all due condolences to rosalind…

    Dear Dodgers, please don’t break my heart. Please please please please give Becket a new home. I’ll even throw in a bunch of coupons for KFC.

    Sincerely,
    A Red Sox Fan

    P.S. bmaz, I missed the game last night myself, but I hear the Pack looks promising. A Packer win and a deal for Beckett, can a week end better than this? : )

  4. rosalind says:

    @emptywheel: heh. several news accounts have the names as “Stan Dave Boss” and “Jeff Hoods Garner”.

    for giggles I found a “Jeffrey Garner” in a NCIS fanfic piece, where his character is described as “a mercenary, an ex-SEAL dishonorably discharged after being implicated in arms smuggling. There was no way to prove his involvement, but Garner had a record of insubordination and other offenses, making it easy to kick him out of the service. He made his living selling his military expertise to the highest bidder.”

    there’s also a Jeffrey Garner who shows up in a Booz Allen release from last summer when Anonymous released a bunch of their defense contractors’ e-mails. This Garner has a Hickham e-mail address.

    fun with google.

    http://www.fanfiction.net/s/2708110/5/Lets_Get_Tony

    http://74.6.117.48/search/srpcache?ei=UTF-8&p=%22jeffrey+garner%22+navy&fr=moz35&u=http://cc.bingj.com/cache.aspx?q=%22jeffrey+garner%22+navy&d=4608878553858233&mkt=en-US&setlang=en-US&w=d2dd23bd,11bfd36e&icp=1&.intl=us&sig=VO1MX7uVxtLIcrAS8K0xYQ–

  5. rosalind says:

    @phred: i may live in L.A., but born & bred in the Bay Area, I still cannot root for the Dodgers (see: Wheeler, Marcy).

    the radio has been all atwitter with all the Red Sox dealings, think your dream will be coming true!

  6. phred says:

    @rosalind: I’m delighted to hear it — now I can root for Beckett donning a Dodger uniform with a clear conscience ; )

    I hope I hope I hope I hope I hope… : )

  7. Gimme Shelter says:

    Collateral Damage of a Drug War

    On May 11, 2009, four boat passengers were shot dead during a counternarcotics operation that involved Honduran and USA Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents. Although Honduran authorities announced that drug traffickers had been killed after agents had fired in self-defense, survivors of the incident, as well as local authorities, insisted that innocent people had been killed, including two women, a fourteen year-old boy and twenty-one year old man.

    In late July of 2012, analysts from Rights Action and CEPR visited the region where the shooting took place. Their report summarizes and analyzes the extensive testimony and other information obtained during the visit. It presents detailed narratives of the sequence of events on May 11 and provides detailed background profiles on the boat passengers who were fired upon as well as on key witnesses. It also describes the region and context in which the shooting incident occurred, in order to better understand its impact on the local community. Finally, it offers a series of key findings and formulates recommendations of measures that the USA government and international community should take to address the May 11 incident as well as the broader consequences of USA-sponsored drug policies in Honduras and the Central American region.

    http://www.cepr.net/index.php/publications/reports/collateral-damage-of-a-drug-war

    http://www.cepr.net/documents/publications/honduras-2012-08.pdf

  8. Marco says:

    It is really sad that all this is happening…there is no one to belive anymore from the government and police institutions…the truth is that we will never know the truth about what is going on… I am mexican and I am just tired of all this war on drugs nonsense… everywhere there´s only corruption and lies… the worst thing is that there is many people dying and many more that will die because no government has been able to find a reasonable and logical solution to the drug problem… despite the development of all sorts of sciences, technologies, philosophies… human nature remains uncertain…

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