Teaser Teaser Nuevo Laredo's top law enforcement officer was executed Feb. 2, while the security situation in Monterrey continued to deteriorate. Mexico Security Memo: Feb. 8, 2011 Nuevo Laredo Public Safety Chief Executed Manuel Farfan Carriola, the chief of the Public Safety Secretariat for Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state, was executed along with one of his top aides in an ambush by a group of armed men in several vehicles minutes before midnight Feb. 2. Farfan Carriola, a retired Mexican Army brigadier general, had been in his role as the top law enforcement officer in Nuevo Laredo since just Jan. 1, the day Nuevo Laredo's mayor appointed him when the mayor himself took office. Farfan Carriola was in the process of selecting his staff for the Nuevo Laredo Public Security Secretariat, and STRATFOR security sources have advised that some of his personnel decisions led to his assassination. The killing comes as the Gulf Cartel has been conducting an increasing number of operations against Los Zetas in the Zeta stronghold of the Greater Nuevo Laredo region. Farfan Carriola was reportedly traveling in a three-car convoy with several bodyguards and a senior staff aid when five to six pick-up trucks carrying an undisclosed number of armed members of Los Zetas intercepted him. The Zeta pick-up trucks reportedly surrounded the vehicle containing Farfan Carriola and his senior aid, forcing his vehicle to stop before several of the gunmen dismounted and disarmed Farfan Carriola's bodyguards. The gunmen then removed Farfan Carriola and his senior aid and promptly shot them executionstyle next to the vehicle they were traveling in. STRATFOR security sources reported that in the weeks leading up to his assassination, Zeta members had approached Farfan Carriola and told to name a Los Zeta associate within the Nuevo Laredo municipal police department as his second in command. When Farfan Carriola refused to comply and instead appointed his own choice, he and his appointed aid were targeted for assassination. Los Zetas have penetrated much of the Nuevo Laredo municipal government, especially the local police force, making it very likely members of Farfan Carriola's own department aided in his assassination. One detail indicating such complicity that stands out is that none of his bodyguards were killed, or even injured for that matter; instead, they were simply disarmed -- something that cannot easily be dismissed. It is also noteworthy that the gunmen did not feel the need to ambush the motorcade with small-arms fire to force the security personnel's surrender. Farfan Carriola's assassination is surprising given the tumultuous security environment in Nuevo Laredo and the nature of his position. Given the recent fighting with elements of the Gulf Cartel in Nuevo Laredo contesting Los Zetas' power in the region, Farfan Carriola's assassination sends a clear message to the Mexican government and the rest of the region that Los Zetas are still the reigning power -- and that therefore their demands must be respected Monterrey Update The Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, metropolitan area remains beset with violence as members of Los Zetas and the New Federation continue battle each other for supremacy in the region. The New Federation, an alliance between the Gulf Cartel and the Sinaloa Federation against Los Zetas in northeastern Mexico, has augmented its resources in the region in the last few weeks with an influx of foot soldiers supplied by the Sinaloa Federation. The New Federation's strategy largely has involved targeting the Zeta support structure of corrupt municipal police elements from the various municipalities surrounding Monterrey proper. Los Zetas have largely been on the defensive in the region for the past few months, as the group has lost numerous regional commanders to <Mexican military and Federal Police operations> 169878 in the region. In response, Los Zetas have increased the number of other criminal activities, such as kidnapping and various forms robberies, in the region to bolster their finances and help them maintain their ability to defend their hold on the Monterrey region. Meanwhile, various types of robberies have been on the increase in recent weeks in the Monterrey region. There also have been indications that the number of carjackings and vehicular theft also has increased. This has led the U.S. State Department to issue a Warden Message alerting U.S. citizens to the increase, especially the increased robberies in restaurants in the Monterrey area. We have continued to see the Los Zetas organization delve further and further into other more common criminal activities as the screws have been tightened on the organization by the Mexican security forces and the New Federation. With the new influx of Sinaloa Federation resources to the region, along the continued elevated presence of Mexican security forces as part of Coordinated Operation Northeast, we will likely see the security environment degrade even further in the weeks to come. The Zetas also have targeted non-complicit law enforcement and correction entities, including the Topo Chico prison in the northern section of Monterrey. Topo Chico generally houses the more dangerous criminals in the Monterrey area, to include several known members and associates of Los Zetas. In recent weeks, the prison facility has come under attack numerous times, and the prison security director, Francisco Martinez Ramirez, was found dismembered in a box Feb. 4 after being kidnapped and tortured. The attacks thus far on the facility have been very crude (tossing grenades over the prison walls, rifle fire on observation towers and the perimeter and attacks on prison guards outside the facilities), but were most likely meant to send a message rather than to achieve any sort of tactical objective. Los Zetas have been known to stage massive prison breaks in the past in Zacatecas and Nuevo Laredo, with their main objective to augment their human resources in times of need. In any event, Mexican prisons are notorious for allowing criminals to continue operating from behind bars, so perhaps this facilitated the string of attacks or probes for a potential prison break. Jan. 31 Police found the body of an unidentified man covered in a blanket in southern Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state. The victim bore signs of torture. Soldiers in the municipality of Tiquicheo, Michoacan, state seized approximately 2.5 tons of marijuana from a truck. The drugs were hidden under a shipment of vegetable sacks. Soldiers in the Santa Maria neighborhood of Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz state, arrested nine suspected kidnappers and freed four kidnapping victims. Federal police in Acapulco, Guerrero state, arrested Miguel Gomez Vasquez, the suspected leader of a group of gunmen linked to the Independent Cartel of Acapulco. Gomez Vasquez was allegedly linked to the deaths of 20 Michoacan state tourists in September and 15 decapitations in Acapulco in January. Feb. 1 Suspected cartel gunmen used stolen vehicles to block several roads in Santa Catarina, Nuevo Leon, state after a firefight. Unidentified gunmen in Allende, Nuevo Leon state, opened fire on a police patrol vehicle, killing one officer and injuring another. Unidentified gunmen shot and injured the mayor of San Felipe Xochiltepec, Puebla state. The mayor's brother and an alderman were killed in the attack. Unidentified gunmen used stolen vehicles to set up roadblocks in the municipality of Guadalupe, Zacatecas state, after a firefight near the state governor's residence. One police officer and two suspected gunmen were killed in the incident. Unidentified gunmen set up approximately seven roadblocks in the Guadalajara, Jalisco state, metro area. The roadblocks were reportedly due to the arrests of two leaders of cartel alliance La Resistencia by police. Feb. 2 Authorities announced the arrest of a group of suspected kidnappers linked to La Familia Michoacana in Mexico state. The suspects allegedly were responsible for the death of the mayor of Ixtapan de la Sal, Mexico state. Authorities in the Reyes Ixtacala neighborhood of Tlalnepantla, Mexico state discovered the severed arms and head of a woman in a plastic bag. Feb. 3 Police arrested three suspected kidnappers linked to La Familia Michoacana in Tarimoro, Guanajuato state. Two of the suspects were arrested while driving in a car and the third was located based on intelligence obtained from the first two suspects. Municipal police officers in the Cantaros III neighborhood of Nicolas Romero, Mexico state arrested a suspected kidnapper of immigrants. The suspect is wanted for the kidnappings of migrants in Tecate, Baja California state. Feb. 4 Unidentified gunmen opened fire on a police patrol vehicle in Vista Hermosa, Michoacan state, killing two police officers and a civilian whom the officers had arrested. Soldiers in Sabinas Hidalgo, Nuevo Leon, state killed two suspected criminals during a firefight. Three other suspects were arrested after the incident. Police in Tumbiscatio, Michoacan state, arrested a suspected plaza leader of La Familia Michoacana for Acalpican and Playa Azul. The suspect reportedly was involved in firearms smuggling from Apatzingan to Lazaro Cardenas and in extortion activities. Feb. 5 Police in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, discovered the dismembered body of the Topo Chico prison security chief in a box inside an abandoned vehicle near the prison. Soldiers killed 13 suspected criminal gunmen in the municipalities of Valle Hermoso, Nuevo Laredo, and San Fernando, Tamaulipas state. One person was arrested in the attacks. Federal police officers in Cadereyta, Nuevo Leon state arrested a suspected member of the Gulf Cartel in a vehicle. Intelligence obtained from the suspect led to the arrests of 14 other alleged Gulf Cartel members in the municipality of Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon state. Feb. 6 Soldiers in Morelia, Michoacan state, arrested a man with several firearms, approximately 1,500 rounds of ammunition and more than 1 million in counterfeit pesos. Five dismembered bodies were discovered in the municipality of Los Ramones, Nuevo Leon state. One of the victims' severed heads had three letters written on its forehead. Unidentified gunmen shot and killed the police chief of Cochoapa el Grande, Guerrero state. The chief's bodyguards reportedly killed three of the attackers.