Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
12 killed in Mexico's drug war -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

MARK COLVIN: For all the violence, murder and mayhem that have haunted Mexico in recent years, its capital has remained essentially untouched.

Now, though, the recent kidnap and murder of 12 young people from a nightspot in the heart of Mexico City has many worried that's about to change.

Peter Lloyd reports.

PETER LLOYD: It happened a block away from Paseo de la Reforma, the main street of Mexico City, at a club called Heaven. It was broad daylight, 12 weeks ago, when eight men and four women were taken at gunpoint and driven away. Last week, human remains were uncovered on a farm half an hour from the city centre.

Correspondent Adriana Gomez Licon is covering the story for the AP (Associated Press) newsagency.

ADRIANA GOMEZ LICON: We still don't know a cause of death. We know that they, there was a mass grave found in this ranch east of Mexico City, it's at least 35 miles from the bar where they were taken. Their heads had been decapitated and some bodies were already, they were chopped off; there were torsos without arms.

PETER LLOYD: The killings are a milestone, gangland slaughter has arrived in the capital, and not just any old part of the city says Gomez Licon.

ADRIANA GOMEZ LICON: We see crime here. We see robberies and we see what we call express kidnappings, which is you get kidnapped and they rob your money and then they let you go. But relatively we have not seen the wild drug gang shootouts or decapitations or bodies hanging from bridges that we see in northern states or in, like near the US-Mexico border.

PETER LLOYD: The drug trade in Mexico is a massive criminal enterprise. It's the gateway for 90 per cent of Columbian cocaine consumed in the United States. Profits are estimated at $15 billion a year, and that's conservative. The trade could be worth as much as $50 billion.

Rival cartels fight for control of lucrative border routes into the United States. Mexico, though, is more than a transit country for coke, it's also a drug producer, manufacturing methamphetamine and huge amounts of cannabis, grown in the Pacific state of Sinaloa.

Eradication operations are carried out by the military, and led by men like General Noah Sandoval.

NOAH SANDOVAL (translation): We can't destroy all the drugs. We can't get to every corner. We're doing our best, and eradicating a lot of the crops, but the drugs we don't destroy are the ones that reach consumers.

PETER LLOYD: The man who profits from the vast illegal trade in Sinaloa is the most wanted man in Mexico - Joaquin Guzman Loera, better known as El Chapo. He's the boss of the Sinaloa cartel. It's easily the most powerful and most violent drug trafficking organisation in the world.

Anabel Hernandez is, rather bravely, writing a book about him. She described El Chapo in a BBC documentary.

ANABEL HERNANDEZ (translation): Chapo Guzman was born in community that has always made a living from the drug trade. You need to understand this to understand why Chappo would enter this business when he was a child. This is a region where most people don't actually look down on the drug trade.

PETER LLOYD: In Mexico it's said that El Chapo is so charming that he could convince God to sit down with the Devil.

It may be that his gang, the Sinaloa cartel was behind the Mexico City hit, an act of revenge and a warning to other gangs trying to claim turf in some of the city's trendiest neighbourhoods.

AP correspondent Adriana Gomez Licon says two of the 12 victims had ties to gangs.

ADRIANA GOMEZ LICON: I think that the most important thing is location, where it happened. People go to this area, it's a tourist friendly area.

PETER LLOYD: Officials in Mexico City insist the killings are not a sign of a broader problem of insecurity in the capital. But Mexico's drug war has a way of defining itself.

No one's even sure about the number of people who've died. It's somewhere between 60,000 and 100,000 people. It's impossible to be precise because of the large number of people who've vanished, never to be heard of again.

MARK COLVIN: Peter Lloyd.