Mexico: Corruption, Cartels And Continuity

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November 6, 2017: The government is once again under intense criticism for the poor performance of National Anti-Corruption System. A major study conducted by an international anti-money laundering association sounds like complaints voiced in Mexican media. The new study estimated that in 2014 criminal activity in Mexico generated $58.5 billion. Narcotics trafficking contributed to that figure but so did tax fraud and illicit monetary transactions (money laundering be one of them). The study relied on data supplied by the Bank of Mexico as well as major government agencies. $58 to $60 billion is just about seven percent of Mexico's GDP. The figure is in line with other estimates including one by a major non-governmental organization. The study recommended the government increase transparency and standardize penalties for tax fraud and illicit financial operations. Another recent study, this one conducted by Transparency International, focused on corrupt public sector employees in the federal government and state governments. That study concluded 51 percent of Mexican citizens must pay kickbacks to state sector employees in order to receive basic services within the education system, court system and medical (hospital) system. Policemen also demand kickbacks in return for routine police services. The Transparency International report documents complaints Mexican citizens have been making for decades. Last year another study estimated nine out of ten crimes in the country go unreported because the people don't trust the police. (Austin Bay)

November 5, 2017: This year has been a bloodbath and authorities believe the carnage will continue for the rest of 2017. The murder rate has been around 2,300 victims a month. Do the math. That means the yearly total will be somewhere between 27,500 and 28,000. In 2016 470 people were murdered in Ciudad Juarez. That was the yearly increase since 2012. Security officials believe 95 percent of the homicides involved organized crime -- meaning cartel-related violence. From January 1 to September 30 this year, 446 people were murdered in Ciudad Juarez. The official figure for November is not yet available.

November 4, 2017: In the north (Tamaulipas state) cartel gunmen assassinated a man identified as a government informant in Piedras Negras. This place is just south of Eagle Pass, Texas. The assassins also killed the driver of the SUV in which the informant was traveling. The targeted individual worked for Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office (PGR).

November 3, 2017: In central Mexico (Puebla State) Jesus Martin, leader of a local gang in Puebla was murdered in a clinic in the city while undergoing plastic surgery. The surgery would change his face and disguise his fingerprints. Gunmen broke into the clinic while Martin was undergoing the procedure. The gang Martin ran is involved in fuel theft schemes in the state.

U.S. prosecutors confirmed the sentencing of a former U.S. Army sergeant who pled guilty to six federal weapons charges in December 2016. The man was sentenced to 16 year and 8 months in prison for obtaining over 40 assault rifle in the U.S. and then smuggling the weapons to Mexico. The weapons went to members of the Gulf Cartel. The convicted sergeant recruited three other soldiers to help him buy the weapons. Earlier this year those three soldiers pled guilty to charges of "straw purchasing" weapons. These men received two years’ probation. The sergeant who masterminded the operation knew the weapons were going to the Gulf Cartel.

October 31, 2017: Cartel War violence is once again driving away tourists. In the south (Quintana Roo state) Cancun has seen a ten percent decline in hotel occupancy in 2017. Since the US State Department issued a travel warning in late August, the Pacific resorts on the southern tip of Baja California have also seen a steep decline in bookings. The government also reports that international passenger arrivals dropped two percent in September. Officials believe the drop is due to the State Department warning though hurricanes and earthquakes also played a role. Tourism earns Mexico about $20 billion per annum.

October 28, 2017: In the west (Michoacan state) security officials believe that during October 26-27 members of the cartel murdered at least 20 people in the state. The executions followed four to five days of gun battles involving cartel members of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) and Los Viagras cartel. Early on the morning of October 27 police in the town of Buenavista Tomatlan found the body of a victim. Near dawn another body turned up in the city of Apatzingan, gunmen left a body behind near the municipal graveyard. A note threatening Los Viagras was found with the body. The body was in the same place another corpse was found on October 26. That corpse had a note threatening the CJNG. Another body turned up near the town of Antunez. In Puruaran, authorities found the body of a local leader of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and his party secretary. They were kidnapped on October 23. Later during the day, police found the bodies of three executed victims in Morelia (the state capital) and two in the town of Chucandiro. All five victims were tied up with plastic and rope and shot in the head with a pistol. A body found in the city of Zamora had a note claiming the deed was done by Nueva Familia Michoacana.

October 26, 2017: Government officials announced the arrest of Victor Manuel Felix. He is identified as the chief of financial operations for the Sinaloa Cartel. The arrest took place in central Mexico (Mexico state).

October 23, 2017: Get this. Media report that following the series of earthquakes that rocked southern Mexico in September 2017, the Gulf Cartel sent "humanitarian aid" to some of the damaged area. Another small cartel faction, Gente Nueva del Tigre, sent aid to Cuauhtemoc City borough of Mexico City.

October 20, 2017: Federal police seized a drone carrying an improvised explosive device. The police called a "drone bomb." The seizure took place after the police stopped a vehicle Guanajuato state on the Salamanca-Morelia highway. Police arrested the four men in the vehicle. Subsequent analysis confirmed small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) was indeed a weaponized drone. Security officials did not identify the criminal organization the men are associated with. The Gulf Cartel, the CJNG, La Familia Michoacana, Los Zetas and the Knights Templar cartels all operate in the state.

October 19, 2017: In central Mexico (Guanajuato state) Enrique Eguia Lopez, a senior commander in the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) was killed during a gunfight with police in the town of El Terrero.

October 16, 2017: Mexico's Attorney General, Raul Cervantes, resigned his office. Cervantes is a close political ally of president Pena and a leading member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Critics regarded Cervantes as ineffective. He was also prone to protecting PRI interests and protecting PRI members from anti-corruption investigations. In September, media discovered that Cervantes was evading Mexico City taxes. That discovery put pressure on Pena who continues to face allegations of conducting shady business deals and receiving potentially illicit gifts. Critics of Pena's administration want the attorney general to be de-politicized. The "independent" attorney general would have no political affiliation. Cervantes resignation is something of a victory for Mexicans who oppose the "culture of impunity" epitomized by the September 2014 Iguala Massacre, the murder of journalists and the inability of the government to end the drug war. (Austin Bay)

In the north (Tamaulipas state) five gunmen died in a firefight between two factions of the Gulf Cartel. The battle took place near the town of Rio Bravo, just south of the Rio Grande River near the city of Reynosa. Reynosa is across the border from McAllen, Texas. Gulf Cartel gunmen also fought a series of battles with the Mexican military and other security forces. Four gunmen died in a firefight with a military patrol. The gunmen were in a gas station near Reynosa when the patrol approached.

October 15, 2017: In the west (Guerrero state) a senior member of a small left-wing political faction, his driver, and two members of his family were found murdered and their bodies burned. Ranferi Hernandez Acevedo was a former member of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) who quit the party to form his own group.

October 10, 2017: In the north (Tamaulipas state) security officials reported that 13 prisoners were killed in a riot at the Cadereyta state prison. The prison is near the city of Monterrey. Some of the prisoners were killed in the riot, others died when police had to use lethal force to stop the melee. Police tried to end the riot using non-lethal force but those attempts failed. The prison houses 4,000 inmates. About 150 prisoners were involved in the riot. A policeman was seriously wounded during the riot.

October 7, 2017: The new U.S. government has made combating transnational criminal organizations that operate in America a priority. The Drug Enforcement Administration reported last year that the drug-trafficking organizations with the most influence in the U.S. are the Sinaloa Cartel, Jalisco New Generation Cartel, Juarez Cartel and Gulf Cartels and the Beltran Leyva Organization. These six control a large portion of the illegal drugs that are produced outside the U.S. They also control the transportation (smuggling) process. However, once the drugs are in the U.S., the cartels rely on "operational ties" with domestic gangs and other criminal organizations. The cartels let American criminals handle retail distribution.

October 6, 2017: In the north (Durango state) a military helicopter crashed near the town of El Salto. Seven people were killed. The lone survivor was seriously injured. The helicopter was on a training mission.

Eugenio Hernandez, former governor of Tamaulipas state and a leading member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), was arrested in the state capital, Ciudad Victoria. Hernandez was governor from 2005 to 2010. He faces money laundering charges in the U.S.

In east central Mexico (San Luis Potosi state) security personnel found the dead body of photojournalist Edgar Daniel Esqueda near the city of San Luis Potosi's airport. Esqueda had been tortured before he was murdered. He is the eleventh journalist murdered in Mexico this year. Witnesses claim that men claiming they were policemen enters Esqueda's home on October 5 and then seized him. Since 2000, 111 journalists have been murdered in Mexico.

October 5, 2017: A recent government report emphasized that crime organizations within Mexico continue to fragment. Nine major cartels continue to operate. However, the government has identified 43 "criminal groups" in the country. In some cases the criminal groups operate as "subsidiaries" of the cartels. Some of these criminal groups are cartel factions who regard other factions as competitors. Some of the criminal groups had loose-knit alliances.

 

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