Mexico: Gimme Shelter (I Can Pay)

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May 1, 2017: One thing foreign and local observers agree on is that one of the key reasons for the economic and political problems in Mexico is the epic levels of corruption. This can be measured. Mexico was recently rated one of the more corrupt (123 out of 176 countries) nations in the world for 2016 while neighbor United States was 18 out of 176 and Canada was nine. In 2013 Mexico was 103 out of 175 showing that the corruption has been getting worse, or at last easier to measure. Corruption in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index is measured on a 1 (most corrupt) to 100 (not corrupt) scale. The most corrupt nations (usually North Korea, Somalia or, since 2011, South Sudan) have a rating of under fifteen while of the least corrupt (usually Denmark) is often 90 or higher. The current Mexican score is 30 compared to 74 for the United States, 82 for Canada, 28 for Guatemala, 36 for El Salvador, 37 for Colombia, 40 for Brazil, 35 for Peru, 31 for Ecuador, for 17 Venezuela, 36 for Argentina, 66 for Chile, 11 for South Sudan, 12 for North Korea, 40 for China, 29 for Russia, and 72 for Japan. A lower corruption score is common with nations in economic trouble. African nations are the most corrupt, followed by Middle Eastern ones.

There are other measures for comparison. Both the United States and Mexico have federal government with the states having a lot of independence and power, especially financial. Mexico has 31 states and 120 million people while the U.S. has 50 states and 323 million people. Both countries have problems with state governors being so corrupt that they popular calls for investigations leads to prosecution. Thus from 2000 to 2013 nine American governors were accused of corruption and all nine were prosecuted, convicted and punished. In Mexico nearly all Mexican governors were accused of corruption but only 16 were investigated and only four were convicted and punished. Another measure of corruption is how much more difficult it is to start a business and improve your economic situation in Mexico than in the United States. This can be seen from any number of studies as well as frequent comments by legal and illegal Mexican migrants to the United States.

April 29, 2017: U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in the Tucson Sector have discovered another abandoned (because of a collapse) tunnel. Since 1990 security forces on both sides of the border have discovered over 200 tunnels crossing the Mexico-U.S. border. Last month U.S. authorities criticized Mexico for failing to permanently close tunnel entrances. The U.S. usually fills them in with concrete so they cannot be re-used. Mexican officials say that is too expensive. As a result, smugglers have put some of the tunnels back to use.

April 27, 2017: Mexico’s Senate approved proposed legislation that increase the penalties on kidnapping (enforced disappearances). The proposed legislation would also help non-government organizations who search for lost individuals.

April 26, 2017: Security forces in Tamaulipas state have conducted a series of raids on jails and prisons. This was a pre-emptive effort to prevent riots and organized escape attempts by incarcerated cartel members. This operation targeted prisons in Altamira, Reynosa, Matamoros and Nuevo Laredo.

April 23, 2017: The government has alerted nine states that a truck carrying a special x-ray machine has been stolen. The theft occurred in the town of Tlaquepaque (Jalisco state). The machine utilizes Iridium-192, a radioactive material.

April 22, 2017: Security forces in Tamaulipas have killed two senior cartel leaders. Julian Loisa Salinas was killed in the city of Reynosa where he was the local Gulf Cartel commander. In Ciudad Victoria, security forces killed Francisco Carreon, a senior commander in the Zetas Cartel.

April 21, 2017: During March 2,020 people were murdered in Mexico. That brings the total murders since January 1, 2017 to 5,775. That is about a 30 percent increase over the first three months of 2016. This is the first time since mid-2011 the country has had more than 2,000 murders in one month. Guerrero has had 550 murders in 2017.

April 20, 2017: Unidentified gunmen killed Demetrio Saldivar, Guerrero state’s party leader of the left-wing Democratic Revolution Party (PRD). There is little doubt he was targeted for assassination. Officials said two gunmen blocked Saldivar’s car so it couldn’t move, then shot him as he tried to escape.

April 19, 2017: Italy has decided to extradite former Tamaulipas state governor Tomas Yarrington to the United States. Yarrington was arrested in Italy on April 9. The attorneys general of both the U.S. and Mexico approved the agreement. Yarrington is wanted in the U.S. on charges of taking millions of dollars in bribes from the Gulf Cartel and other drug cartels. In Mexico he is wanted on narcotics trafficking and corruption charges in Mexico.

April 16, 2017: Authorities in Tamaulipas state believe drug cartel gunmen murdered a family of four in Ciudad Victoria. One of the dead was a two-year old boy. Investigators described the murders as execution-style.

April 15, 2017: Police in the Guatemalan tourist town of Panajachel arrested Javier Duarte the former governor of Veracruz State. Duarte was a member of PRI, which is currently the ruling party in Mexico. Duarte disappeared in October 2016 and faced charges of bribery, theft (graft) and facilitating organized crime. For many Mexican’s Duarte’s case represented the entire problem of corruption in the highest levels of government. Investigators suspect he protected drug gangs from law enforcement and may have been indirectly involved in the deaths of several journalists and political critics during his time in office (2010-2016). Three other former state governors face major criminal charges. Cesar Duarte (no relation to Javier Duarte), the former governor of Chihuahua, and Roberto Borge, another former governor of Veracruz, have both been charged with graft. However, they have not been arrested. Both men belong to the PRI. Former Tamaulipas state Governor Eugenio Hernandez Flores has been a fugitive from justice since 2015. He went into hiding after being indicted on money laundering charges. Recently a court added several more counts of money laundering to Hernandez’ charge sheet as well as charges of bank fraud. Hernandez served as governor from 2004 to 2010. He is also a member of the PRI and has ties to another former Tamaulipas governor, Tomas Yarrington (who was arrested in Italy on April 9). Another former PRI governor (of Nuevo Leon) Rodrigo Median, is being investigated for corruption. Two former National Action Party (PAN) governors are also under investigation. Guillermo Padres, former PAN governor of Sonora (2009-2015), has actually been charged with graft. He turned himself in to federal law enforcement officials in November 2016 but claims he is innocent. Former governor of Aguascalientes state and PAN member, Luis Armando Reynoso Femat, is also under investigation but as yet faces no specific charges. (Austin Bay)

Cartel gunmen in Acapulco began shooting into a crowd of tourists in Acapulco (Guerrero state). Two people were killed, six wounded. Cartel gunmen also burned several tourist-related businesses in Acapulco, reportedly targeting bars frequented by tourists. The actions may involve extortion (protection rackets) by a cartel faction. They may also be related to a gangland turf war.

April 14, 2017: Another journalist has been killed in Mexico. The latest victim was political and crime reporter Maximino Rodriguez Palacios. He was murdered in a shopping center in La Paz (Baja California Sur state). At one time he worked as an official spokesman and press secretary for the state attorney general’s office.

April 9, 2017: Law enforcement agents in Florence, Italy arrested former Tamaulipas state governor and PRI member Tomas Yarrington. This came after evading arrest for almost five years on numerous charges, including organized criminal activity, drug trafficking and money laundering. Those are the charges he faces in Mexico. In the U.S. he is wanted on money-laundering and drug trafficking charges. He was charged in both countries in 2012. Many Mexican citizens believed that the federal government didn’t really want to arrest him since he was at one time a major figure in the PRI. Some media speculated Yarrington had information on other corrupt government officials and they feared he would implicate them if arrested. There is evidence for it. For example, state of Tamaulipas bodyguards were still assigned to him until late 2016. Media reported that security forces determined his location in Italy by tracking calls he made to his family in Mexico. When he was arrested he had false identity documents, indicating he was living in Italy under a false name. Both the U.S. and Mexico want to extradite Yarrington. Italy said it will make an extradition decision later this month.

April 7, 2017: The army is now allowing U.S. and UN monitors observe its heroin poppy eradication operations. So far the foreign monitors have observed operations in Sinaloa and Chihuahua states.

April 6, 2017: It is estimated that at the end of 2016 at least 30,000 people should be classified as “disappeared” under suspicious circumstances. In 2013, the official figures was 26,000. Tamaulipas has 5,563 missing people and this is believed to be the highest state total. Over the last ten years, 855 mass grave sites have been discovered. So far 1,548 bodies have been identified or exhumed. About half of the dead have been identified. Most of the dead were men.

April 2, 2017: Police are investigating an attack on a bus taking tourists to the Palenque (southern Chiapas state). Palenque is a major Mayan archeological site. German tourists and three Mexicans on the bus were robbed by a group of seven armed men. The bus driver took a long detour to avoid a road block erected by protestors. Police initially provided an escort but left the bus just outside of the Mayan ruin. The armed men stopped the bus, boarded it, and robbed the passengers at gun point.

April 1, 2017: Kidnappers in Tamaulipas state freed a Catholic priest who had been abducted (in the town of Altamira) during March 28. A fellow priest said that media and public pressure had help secure the abducted priest’s release.

March 30, 2017: Former President Calderon has accused the former governor of Coahuila state, Humberto Moreira, of attempting to protect Los Zetas cartel members while he was serving as governor. Moreira’s brother, Ruben Moreira, is the current governor of Coahuila. Calderon said that Humberto Moreira asked him to withdraw marines from the state. The marines were conducting very successful anti-cartel operations in Coahuila. Calderon said that the cartel’s most senior leaders were “living comfortably” in Coahuila while Moreira was governor and Moreira wanted to protect them. Calderon said he employed Mexican military forces in the fight with drug cartels because the criminal syndicates had infiltrated federal, state and local police forces. Moreira is a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), current president Pena’s party. Calderon belongs to the National Action Party (PAN).

March 28, 2017: A riot in Nuevo Leon state’s Cadereyta Prison left two inmates dead and 11 injured. Two guards were also injured. Violence on March 27 left nine injured. Prisoners were supposedly protesting the use of x-ray machines to screen prison visitors.

 

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