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31.7.09

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Guatemalan drug boss Juan Jose "Juancho" Leon was summoned by Mexican traffickers for what he was told was business. Instead, dozens of attackers ambushed his entourage with grenades and assault rifles, killing Leon and 10 others in a brazen demonstration of power.
Mexican drug traffickers are branching out as never before — spreading their tentacles into 47 nations, including the U.S., Guatemala and even Colombia, long the heart of the drug trade in Latin America.
The expansion comes amid a military crackdown in Mexico and the arrests of major Colombian suppliers and poses a new challenge for efforts to stop the flow of drugs into the United States.
In dozens of interviews with officials and experts in seven countries, The Associated Press found that the Mexican mobs increasingly buy directly from the cocaine-producing Andes and have begun using countries as distant as Argentina to obtain the raw material for methamphetamine. Mexican gangsters have been arrested as far away as Malaysia as they seek new markets for cocaine and "meth" supply sources.
"There are more Mexican drug traffickers in South America today than at any time ever, period," said Jay Bergman, the Andean regional director for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
The United States has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to help Colombia dismantle its major cartels but may have actually helped the Mexicans gain traction in South America in the process.
In the past two years, Colombia extradited 14 warlords to the U.S. on drug-running charges and another six major traffickers have been killed or arrested. Mexican emissaries and money are flowing into the country to fill the void.
"The belief is that the Mexicans are trying to get closer to the source of supply and take over the transport," said Jere Miles, chief of the unit that tracks trade-based money laundering for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.



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