by Bernd Debusmann Jr.
Thursday, January 12
In Nuevo Leon, military personnel captured a high-ranking Zeta boss. Jesus Sarabia Luis Ramos, "El Pepito," was considered by authorities to be the fourth most important leader in the organization. He was known to operate in Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas.
Sunday, January 15
In Culiacan, a Canadian national was gunned down. Salih Adabulazizz Sahbaz, 35, was apparently of Iranian or Iraqi origin and was carrying a large amount of cash on his person when he was murdered. The motive remains unknown. He is the third Canadian known to have been killed in Mexico so far this year.
Monday, January 16
In Cuernavaca, seven gunmen were killed in a fire fight with federal police. One officer was wounded in the clash. The gunmen were traveling in three stolen vehicles when police intercepted them.
In Zacapetec, Morelos, the local police chief was shot and killed by three men on motorcycles while he was at a gas station. He survived the initial shooting but later died in a local hospital.
Tuesday, January 17
In Little Rock, Arkansas, authorities indicted 22 individuals on trafficking charges for being part in a meth operation with links to Mexican cartels. Seventeen of those are now in custody. Police also seized 13.3 pounds of "ice" meth and seven vehicles, five weapons and $163,590.
In Ciudad Juarez, gunmen stormed a home and killed four individuals inside. Three of the dead were found in a bathroom where they had attempted to hide. Local media reported that at least some of the men had been released from prison six months ago.
In Nayarit, police arrested a local cartel boss. Benigno Ibarra Valle, 30, "El Guero Pelocho," was the head of the "Pelochos," a local branch of the Sinaloa Cartel. He is suspected in the deaths of at least five police officers in recent weeks. Nine other individuals were also taken into custody.
In Lazaro Cardenas, authorities seized 194 tons of meth precursor chemicals on a ship from China. The containers were all headed for Guatemala or Nicaragua.
[Editor's Note: We are no longer going to keep a running tally of the death toll; the figures are too unreliable. The latest figures below were released by the Mexican government in January.]
Total Body Count for 2007 (approx.): 4,300
Total Body Count for 2008 (approx.): 5,400
Total Body Count for 2009 (approx.): 9,600
Total Body Count for 2010 (official): 15,273
Partial Body Count for 2011 (official): 12,093*
Total Body Count (official): 47,705*
* Official figures through September 30, 2011. Unofficial estimates put the entire year's death toll at around 16,000, meaning more than 50,000 people have been killed.