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Violent Crime in Mexico
Wednesday, 13 September 2006 09:21


VIOLENT CRIME IN MEXICO 


Introduction

This is the March 7, 2006 State Department Hearing of the House International Relations Committee entitled Law Enforcement, Fight Against Organized Crime and Border Security. If possible, I’d encourage you to become familiar with the entire document, especially part 2. Mexico’s page 7: COSTS OF MEXICO’S EFFORTS AGAINST ORGANIZED CRIME

U. S. investments in Mexico are about $ 61 billion, making this country the second most important trading partner, following Canada. Further, the U. S. is Mexico’s most important customer, receiving about 87 % of American exports and providing 77 % of Mexico’s imports. As of 2004 the US had 5.3 million Mexican undocumented workers, accounting for 57 % of the total estimated illegal alien population of 9.3 million.

Above paragraph contains selected parts from the January 20, 2006 report presented to the 109th Congress by K. Larry Storrs, Latin American Affairs Specialist, Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Division. You are invited to explore such a valuable document. On December 16, 2005 HR 4437 was introduced to Congress requiring the deployment of a fence and surveillance equipment along the Mexico –U. S. border: The Wall Interesting enough is this article about corruption in INS. What was interesting is that in no part of Storrs’ report to Congress I found any reference to the ongoing wave of crime plaguing Mexico these days or this even being .. an issue.

Mexico, a Growing Community for U. S. Expatriates 

El Universal, March 26, 2006With its narrow sidewalks, cobblestone streets and chalky colonial buildings painted the color of Easter eggs, Mérida is home to a growing number of expatriates. They are mostly North Americans, but a contingent of Europeans and Middle Easterners are usually there, too. Foreigners are not only buying and rehabilitating real estate in Mérida's central district, they are also snapping up decrepit haciendas in the surrounding countryside Mérida: Finding a Home (Cheerios Included) in Mexico By KATE MURPHY

On March 22, 2005 The Dallas Morning News in a well documented, long article entitled US EXPATRIATES FLOCK TO MEXICO by journalists Alfredo Corchado and Laurence Illif it was reported, on quote: “The U.S. State Department estimates that the number of its citizens in Mexico has increased from about 200,000 a decade ago to between 600,000 and 1 million today. Analysts say the influx of Americans is fueled by such factors as a lower cost of living, more affordable housing, warm weather, a more relaxed pace of life and a different political atmosphere. More than 76 million American baby boomers are expected to reach retirement age in the next 20 years, and 25 percent of them have no health insurance or savings, according to an AARP report. A significant number of those future retirees will likely be heading south, said Viviana Rojas, a researcher at the University of Texas in San Antonio. The country also is drawing younger Americans looking for a different way of life and Americans who regard Mexico as part of their heritage. Up to 10 million Americans live abroad, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures. Because of its proximity, Mexico has drawn a significant portion of that group.” Brighten the Spirit in Morelia and Patzcuaro revealing fascination for Michoacan by Judy Wiley, April 9, 2006, El Universal is an article that reemphasizes these points: Mexico, destination point for North Americans. In summary, to analyze the Subject of Violent Crime in Mexico –with this background- is no easy task. I’ll start by placing on the table of discussion what is evident.

CIA Assessments: Mexico 

Because Central Intelligence Agency is the U. S. Governments’ strong arm in terms of national security, their views are normally viewed with respect. This is what CIA has to say about MEXICO.

Selected lines in their January 10, 2006 read on quote: “The next government that takes office in December 2006 will confront the same challenges of boosting economic growth, improving Mexico's international competitiveness, and reducing poverty.” In addition, “Ongoing economic and social concerns include low real wages, underemployment for a large segment of the population, inequitable income distribution, and few advancement opportunities for the largely Amerindian population in the impoverished southern states. Vicente Fox of the National Action Party (PAN) was sworn in on 1 December 2000 as the first chief executive elected in free and fair elections.. “ CIA utilizes these figures: Population: 106,202,903. Population growth rate: 1.17% (2005 est.). Labor force: 37.38 million (2005 est.). Unemployment rate: 3.6% plus underemployment of perhaps 25% (2005 est.). POPULATION BELOW POVERTY LINE: 40% (2003 est.)”..

It is evident that CIA The World Factbook is prepared for use by U. S. Government: the style, format, coverage and content are primarily designed to meet their specific requirements. In Mexico, this information resource is so well received, it appears in this Site meant for Kids, with - I suppose- the authorization by the Mexican Presidency.

Intelligence –according to CIA- is information that has been collected, integrated, evaluated, analyzed, and interpreted. Finished intelligence is the final product of the Intelligence Cycle ready to be delivered to the policymaker 

Mexico’s Illicit Drugs

Mexico is –according to CIA – “a major supplier of heroin and largest foreign supplier of marijuana and *methamphetamine to the US market; continues as the primary transshipment country for US-bound cocaine from South America, accounting for about 70 percent of estimated annual cocaine movement to the US; major drug syndicates control majority of drug trafficking throughout the country; producer and distributor of **ecstasy; significant money-laundering center”

Definitions by Wikipedia: *METHAMPHETAMINE is a a synthetic stimulant. It can can cause a strong feeling of euphoria, thus creating the potential for addiction. ECSTASY is also a synthetic drug, causing a general sense of openness, empathy, energy, euphoria, and well-being. Acute dehydration is a risk among users, it may mask one's normal sense of exhaustion and thirst.

Supplementary Information


  • 2005 State Department’s Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs covering the areas of Canada, Mexico and Central America reported that its next-door neighbor, north of the US: “is a significant narcotics-consuming country. Reported use of alcohol, cannabis and other drugs has increased in Canada over the past decade, nearly doubling in some cases. RCMP estimates that the drug trade in Canada generates criminal proceeds in excess of $3 billion at the wholesale level, and $ 13.5 billion at the street level.
  • In the past fifteen years, Canada's cannabis culture and its commercial infrastructure -- grow ops, grow shops, fertilizer companies, seed companies -- have expanded largely unimpeded. Details about what Canadian entrepreneurs in the marijuana business have to say about recent busts , here: FEATURE: CANADA CANNABIS SEED CRACKDOWN? .
  • United Nations World Drug Report released on March 10, 2006 shows that the global drug trade is worth about US $ 321 billion
  • The U. N. Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention recently reported that Crime threatens the safety of citizens around the world and hampers countries in their social, economic and cultural development. Further, multinational criminal syndicates have significantly broadened the range of their operations from drug and arms trafficking to money laundering. Traffickers move as many as 4 million illegal migrants each year generating gross earnings of between 5 and 7 billion US dollars.

IN ADDITION:

Self - Evaluation 
Above reliable sources of information, to include the media, United Nations Organization, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) hopefully have just provided Security Corner readers a useful tool to make YOUR OWN CONCLUSIONS. This is what the CIA defined as collecting, integrating, evaluating, analyzing, and interpreting facts publicly known. Finished intelligence is the final product of the Intelligence Cycle ready to be delivered to you (the policy maker).

Travel Warnings 
 
If you are a U. S., British or Canadian citizen these are warnings issued by the State Department, British Embassy and Canadian Consular Services in their official page: “Crime in Mexico continues at high levels, and it is often violent, especially in Mexico City, Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, and the state of Sinaloa. Visitors should be aware of their surroundings at all times, even when in areas generally considered safe.  Women traveling alone are especially vulnerable and should exercise caution, particularly at night. Criminal assaults occur on highways throughout Mexico; travelers should exercise extreme caution at all times. Americans have become victims of harassment, mistreatment and extortion by Mexican law enforcement and other officials.” Please compare these Travel Warnings on Mexico: US, UK, Australia, Canada vs. Option A, B, C or D

Their messages read almost identical (the first 4). Being concerned about the safety of all Americans, British (every year some 250,000 visit Mexico, mostly incident-free), Australians & Canadians is a valid point. Mr. Anthony O. Garza, Jr., U. S. Ambassador has issued several travel warnings himself. Further, Ambassador Garza ordered the temporary closure of the American Consulate in Nuevo Laredo, as a form of pressure against the Mexican Government to make authorities pay attention to this problem. Protection of U. S. interests in Mexico is his responsibility. The same with his British and Canadian colleagues.

Enhancing International Communication

So-called First World countries leading the fight against crime, terrorism would serve their citizens better by providing information about international travel that is based on the grounds of what is first assessing their own levels of Violent Crime, internal Corruption before finger-pointing nations –such as Mexico- that badly need the opening of jobs, investment by those who intend to visit us.

Providing official unilateral alarmist information, especially after the implementation of NAFTA only promotes the lucrative business of private security. Firms that specialize in this activity located in Mexico and Latin America make fabulous sums of money, pay as little as possible to local employees, creating a rich world of intelligence for the kidnapping industry. If to this scenario we add inflammatory remarks by candidates to Mexico’s Presidency–in an election year- about who’s to blame for the ongoing Public Safety problems we face today to include serious economic problems, we really have a complicated situation. As reported by Bill Conroy of NarcoSphere: Make no mistake about it. Mexican narco-thugs, like the gangsters of the Prohibition era in the United States, are cold-blooded killers — when it comes business. But that’s just it: They kill to enforce contracts, gain or protect territory, and to command respect in the practice of their very special brand of extreme capitalism. In the fight against the cartels, however, Mexico should not stand alone; the United States must help. In 2004 Texas received $40 million from Homeland Security, I wonder how much of this money was received by law enforcement in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.  
 
Mexico, Isolated from Acts of Terrorism, as Result of 9/11 

So far, thanks to the Lord, Mexico has been incident FREE from acts of terrorism, consequence of the no avail policy in Iraq’s invasion. However, those responsible –in Mexico- of preventing these incidents lots to be desired. I recommend that you become familiar with my article on Hotels in international resort areas. 

THE MEXICAN WAR ON DRUGS

I believe that we are now ready to start addressing the topic of Violent Crime in Mexico. This is a direct result of drugs nowadays floating around in Mexico after 9/11 :

So, we’ll start by asking you to assess what the locals –those who live here- have to endure to cope with a terrible situation that began recently.

  • Gunmen riddled the pickup of 4 Federal Preventive Police agents shortly after 2 p.m. on Thursday, March 16, 2006 across from a grade school in Nuevo Laredo, a border city plagued by drug violence since last summer: U.S. ambassador offers condolences to families Only a few days earlier suspected drug hit men with assault rifles killed a police chief on Tuesday, March 7, 2006 in a shootout that left two others dead in this crime-ridden city on the U.S.-Mexican border, police said.
  • The Mexican War on Drugs has left an impressive growing number of journalists murdered in Mexico for publicly exposing  their local drugs lords, a sad reality:
  • Ricardo Ravelo, Proceso magazine journalist, wrote an aye-opening report by the name Narco War, a Year (2005) Filled with Crosses. Details are contained in its issue 1521 dated December 25, 2005:

A summary of this article reveals this statistical information, a survey of the last 4 years on the number of drug-related murders, mostly executions, identifying the Mexican State of Michoacán as the most violent:

2001 ................... 1,080 murders

2002 ....................1,230

2003 ................... 1,290

2004 ....................1,304

2005 ....................1,716

TOTAL ................ 6,620 murders in a period of 5 years

How can we explain the following recently released State Department figures for the six-month period ending June 30 of 2005? Highest count: 6 in Baja -- 4 of which were in Tijuana. The number of U.S. citizens murdered in Nuevo Laredo for the first six months of 2005 is exactly the same as it was for the same period in 2004. While the State Department and commercial media were frightening U.S. citizens with stories of violence and death in Nuevo Laredo over the first half of this year, it appears it was Mexicans, not “Americans,” who were again doing the + dying in the narco-turf war

Comparing what goes on from the standpoint of Violent Crime in the U. S. please make your own conclusions. You have two Sources of Information you can select from

  • United States Crime Rates 1960 – 2004: 16,137 murders in the territory of the United States just in 2004 with a population of about 290,788,976.. no indication if these were drug related.
  • October 17, 2005 official FBI Statistics: In 2004 a total of 1,367,009 Violent Crimes were committed in the USA. Forcible rape increased to 0.8 percent. Please NOTE that these figures indicate “the estimated volume of violent crime in the United States declined 1.2 percent, and the estimated volume of property crime declined 1.1 per cent..” meaning the level of violence previously registered was even worse!

Origin of Violent Crime in Mexico – to its Current Levels

After 9/11 the U. S. as never before in history reinforced its security along the borders of its two neighbors: Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America. In the case of Mexico, while victim of increasing violence and undeniable governmental corruption, bilateral cooperation resulted in the apprehension of dangerous drug lords who to date are behind bars, subject to judiciary proceedings. This created a vacuum of criminal power over the control of this illicit market. A number of these will be extradited to the States, where they are wanted. The US, on the other hand, is not exempt from official corruption. The combination of these facts has produced an unprecedented BLOOTH BATH among the 9 drug cartels known to be fighting to death over such a control. So that our readers have an enhanced view on this topic, I suggest that you become familiar with the local scene:

Mexico City and Violent Crime 
 
Indeed, Mexico’s police officers, compared to what First World countries pay to their own, make very little while risking their lives daily. To make things worse, they have a poor image, are ill-trained and do not have any support from society. This is what supervisors, middle and high-ranking officers in Mexico Police Department earn on a monthly basis.

A Reuters article dated June 30, 2004 that provides, in Spanish, additional details about this is here.  
 
The article reveals that a recent survey showed Mexican cops who work the streets make an average of $ 250 US a month. Mr. Rudy Giuliani, former New York City Mayor, recommended a 12 % increase (?) only. According to Mexico Solidarity Network, Giuliani received US $4.3 million from private sources to advise Mexico City on crime prevention. Carlos Slim, the wealthiest man in Mexico, heads a group of entrepreneurs who paid the tab. Giuliani is famous for his "zero tolerance" policy that reportedly reduced crime by 65% during his administration, but increased complaints of police misconduct by a similar percentage. The former mayor is famous for outlawing car window washing, panhandling and other "quality of life crimes." In Reuters article this scenario attract men and women to work as police officers who hardly have any education, are easily corruptible and facilitate the work by the private security industry. Companies promoting security business systematically attack the government using the media to declare Mexico as a world champion in crime.

Mexico City Crime Statistics 
 
These are not reliable as many citizens in Mexico do not file reports. Same problem occurs in other countries. However, these reflect what the citizens of Mexico use as means to demand justice when they become victims of crime.

In this link, stats start in 1994 ending in 2004, contain a summary that covers up to May 2005.


Maestro Bernardo Batíz, former Mexico City AG pointed out evidence confirming that the number of crimes has decreased in general. However, according to Televisa news, kidnapping express has increased. In 2004 the Attorney General’s Office registered a total of 66 kidnappings, 36 cases ended up in the hands of a judge and 83 individuals were charged for this crime. Reportedly, in average 7 express kidnappings occur daily and only two are reported. Curiously, this international information resource with statistical data containing sources such as CIA, UN, etc. reported a total of 1,269 kidnappings during same period. Requested from them specifics about their sources, but never got a reply. I have two web documented articles on the issues of Kidnapping that I recommend my readers to become familiar with. Below is what in terms of Violent Crime is more common, in this case in Mexico City.

Take note that by following these suggestions you may actually save your life. I hope you NEVER have to use these in a real scenario. If you find these agreeable, please make sure to recommend this article.  

WHAT TO DO TO PREVENT YOU BECOMING A STATISTIC!!! 

Carjacking 
 
Always leave your house, work with the idea that you may become a victim, anytime, day or night. However, contrary to the rest of the population, because you are always alert, well prepared, the losses will be minimal.

Remember to safely keep at home, work, inside your wallet this information: A) your insurance company’s emergency number & license plates' number, B) Tarjeta de Circulación no., your C) Driver's license number and if possible E) your car engine serial number, useful information for police reports. All this information is very important when filing a complaint.  
 
My 10 suggestions:


  1. Always drive with windows closed and doors locked
  1. Leave visible valuables in trunk
  2. Plan your routes to and from work avoiding crime-ridden areas. If late at night, try to stay away from streets that have traffic lights. If unable to do this, carefully, without creating an accident or getting into a traffic violation, run through these.
  3. Should you find yourself looking at the barrel of a gun facing you, while somebody is screaming to GET OUT!!! do as told.
  4. Try to remain calm. Do not panic, follow instructions given to you carefully. Your assailant may be as much in a state of shock as you. He may be drugged, drunk or both
  5. What you do with your hands is indicative of your intentions. People lose their lives by making SUDDEN MOVES, unknowingly setting off an alarm to the robber that may end fatally, in a matter of SECONDS. Move your hands slowly and visibly.
  6. Inform the assailant you are releasing your safety belt and do so, SLOWLY, calmly
  7. If it's just the car he wants, let him take it. Your insurance company will reimburse you, no one will revive you, if shot to death. The same if your throat or a vein is sliced with a sharp knife.
  8. Once you feel safe, relax and THINK of your moves. Also keep in mind, though you may not see them, the assailant may be just part of a gang watching your moves. Walk to a nearby business, house or hotel, where if you explain what has happened they will allow you to use the phone. An office colleague or family member could pick you up or you can call for a 24-hr. radio taxi 5516-6020. Whatever is safer, easier for all involved. Once in a safe heaven, IMMEDIATELY report the problem to your insurance company. Then, with the assistance by your insurance adjustor, file a police report.
  9. In all cases -should other cars be involved- try to discreetly memorize description, license plates. Outstanding characteristics of your assailants.

Break-In, Hold Up .. Office, Residence

The more prepared you are at your office, home to deter the unlawful access to your premises, the less chances exist you will ever suffer a break-in or hold up. Most importantly, always be on the alert at the time you arrive or leave. Make sure before you open your office building gate, main entrance or garage door that no one is waiting to rob you. If necessary, continue driving around the block, call 060 or simply delay your entrance by contacting family or the building attendant. They can assist you on this. 
 
If in a public place, 10 NEW RULES:

  1. Do not panic!! Robbers work against the clock , soon the opportunity will pass
  2. People daily get killed in the streets by involuntarily making the armed assailants believe they are resisting.. PLEASE DO NOT! Understand that the criminals may be drugged, drunk or inexperienced as well as nervous and uptight as you are
  3. If you resist, you’ll incite their ire, better be prepared for the consequences: you will pay dearly because they are in a more advantageous position, that is: armed. If you see that are in with no doubt in a position of ADVANTAGE, go for it, but ask yourself if you are physically & emotionally fit to fight with your own hands for your life.
  4. Do not make any sudden moves. Especially if you see deadly weapons such as a knife, a sharp blade or firearms. Your hands are the most important element criminals worry about, have them up on the air, well visible. Try to remain calm
  5. Physical, verbal violence or aggression can be avoided, if you cooperate. REMEMBER: this is a test that soon will pass. What matters most is your life and the family you left behind. More so if they are with you.
  6. This is no joke. Expect to be shouted at and insulted. They will kick you or slap you if you do not obey or respond. They mean what they say. Do not stare or study their features, but only in a discreet manner. 
  7. If the criminal/s address you directly, pay close attention to what they are saying. If you see them approaching you, ask what they want
  8. If your valuables, money, you are prepared for this situation -by following our suggestions in Security Corner with Crime Prevention rules- give them what they want. By facilitating this process, the criminals and those under threat will end this shocking experience, faster
  9. Life is the most precious thing you have. Do not put yourself or anybody around you unnecessarily at risk.
  10. GO to your police station and file a police report.

Car Thefts

If your car is no longer where you left it parked –whether in the street or in a public parking lot- most likely it was stolen. Report it to your insurance company IMMEDIATELY. Always follow your adjustor’s instructions. If this occurred at odd hours of the morning, inform him you’d prefer to go home, rest and file the police report (Ministerio Público or DA’s Office closest to the place where it was last seen) at a convenient time the following morning. Your insurance agent has police contacts to report the theft, begin a search. He will have to prepare a report for his company. This person will become your ally. You’ve paid to have your car covered in a special case like this. So, try to use his/her expertise as much as you can. Recently, well organized gangs acting commando style, armed with shoulder weapons have targeted public parking lots and condominium buildings, neutralizing guards or attendants. They’ve left with not one but several cars, mostly luxurious types. Your insurance covers circumstances like this as long as theft is included. This type of criminal activity is not common. Mexico City does have an efficient police force and chances are your car may be retrieved, though this is not always the case, as in other parts of the world. Sometimes stolen cars are used for other related criminal activity and later left abandoned in the streets. My sources indicate that those hand-picked in private or public parking lots transported over night to Mexico’s ports, illegally sent by ship to Central America and Eastern Europe through a complicated network. International organized-crime gangs are behind this. 
 
Theft of Auto Parts in the Street

The most common problem in Mexico City is with car parts stolen from vehicles left in the street. This is something that you can prevent easily and cheaply. Follow these suggestions:

  • The hood, headlights, wheels, steering wheels and car doors can be equipped with inexpensive, efficient enhanced security locks that are available locally. While I do not believe in alarms because these do go off accidentally, will ruin your battery and are a public menace, this is still a valid
  • A reliable, trusted small family business -not a fancy place, operating on the street-, is located at Manuel Ma. Contreras 71, behind the TelMex building. For years they have assisted several diplomatic missions in their car problems. They specialize in automotive electrification. However, if they can assist you in other areas, to include specific steps to enhance automotive physical security, they will. Arrange an appointment by calling them ahead of time. Ask for Javier or Pedro Castillo. Tels. 5546-9340 or 5535-6501
  • The prospective thief will pick a car that is easier to break-into than having to go through series of barriers or technical complications. Your budget is the limit to the number of deterrents in your car
  • Do not leave your car in the street or with valet parking. Pay for a public, well-lit parking lot with a 24-hour attendant. The safest is where you park the car yourself. Lock it up
  • If the car was towed away by the police, try Locatel, dial 5658-1111, and be prepared to provide exact information on where the vehicle was left. Pertinent information, here.

Closing Comments

Mexico City

The D. F. is a fascinating place. Like in many parts of the world, you have to follow common sense rules to prevent crime. Founded in 1521 it is the largest city in the planet. We have more than 22 million inhabitants, which include the metropolitan area and its neighboring states. We are as large as Australia. Its size is directly proportional to the number of security incidents. Many of us do not feel the threat, until something does happen because most do not take Crime Prevention seriously. If you are a tourist, BIENVENIDO!! These are some of the most useful, practical & fun sites that I recommend:

In closing, if the contents of this article were useful, please tell your friends about the Security Corner monthly help column, and help us make the world just a little safer for everyone.


 ABOUT Security Corner: Legal Notice is found in Featured Articles page. This monthly column is the result of intensive research by Mr. Mario González-Román to serve as support to the International Community. We do not pursue commercial or political interests. If a product or service is mentioned is because we believe it is in your own benefit. In some cases, per our request, official information was received from the Mexican Government. Contributions include those coming from non-profit private organizations and individuals volunteering to the usefulness of the objective of each article. In others, information was acquired by navigating in the Internet, by personal interviews or other channels. In each case, credit is given to information sources. While this information is for public use, it would be appreciated that when you reproduce or share its contents, that you include the name of its author and a link to Security Corner. All suggestions are welcome. If we made a mistake, we’ll be happy to correct it. English is not my native language. Readers have been extremely useful in the past: Welcome to edit articles. THIS IS TRULY A JOINT COLLABORATIVE EFFORT. Thanks to your input, messages we are be able to determine what topics interest our audience the most. Mr. González-Román is a retired FSN employee from the Embassy of the United States of America, where he worked per prior consent by Mexican Congress as evidenced in Federal Official Diary no. 16, dated September 23, 1981. Please become familiar with his Biography.

Important Notice: Should you report a crime, neither Solutions Abroad nor myself are able to take any legal, otherwise official liability or become personally involved in any case. We only intend to serve as a possible bridge of communication between foreign visitors requiring assistance and the officers charged with responsibility to provide it. We reserve the right to publish only selected materials that meet our criteria of objectivity for the benefit of the community. Should you require professional and private advice, feel free to write to me: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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Last Updated on Saturday, 09 December 2006 02:37
 
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