Mexico has stepped up its effort to crack down on one of the most powerful and feared criminal organizations in the country, with arrests and seizures this week aimed not at drug trafficking or extortion but at the gang’s lucrative infiltration of mining and smuggling iron ore to China. The gang, the Knights Templar, has become a violent menace in western Mexico, giving rise to vigilant groups that formed to stop its reign of extortion, kidnapping and murder. That, in turn, forced the government to send the federal police and the military to try to take back a region it conceded had fallen out of state control.
The impounding of 337 mostly foreign-owned sailboats and yachts at 11 marinas around Mexico on Nov. 26 has affected not only hundreds of American and Canadian boat owners but also marinas, crews, dry docks and, more broadly, Mexico’s reputation as a safe and reliable destination for boat lovers. Nearly half the vessels have subsequently been freed. But at least 190 remain impounded, tied up in red tape and confusion in raids that initially seemed aimed at rooting out tax cheats and boat thieves.
La detención de “El Chapo” es de enorme importancia pero su trascendencia dependerá de lo que se haga a partir de ahora. Todavía es prematuro aventurar conclusiones, pero sí es posible elucubrar sobre sus potenciales implicaciones.
La propaganda en torno al Chapo me ha hecho recordar la caracterización que de Adolph Eichmann hizo Hannah Arendt cuando cubrió su juicio en Jerusalém. Aunque es evidente que el holocausto nada tiene que ver -en dimensiones, escala, trascendencia, horror o maldad- con el narco, la fotografía del personaje de Sinaloa permite observar que se trata de un mero eslabón de una larga cadena donde el individuo, aislado de su mafia, no es más que un simple “funcionario” mas. Por eso, por más que sea meritoria su captura, el problema que asedia a la población –extorsión y secuestro- no cambia con la detención de un capo sino exige atención a todo el sistema que lo hace posible. La gran pregunta es si esta detención envalentonará al gobierno para enfrentar el verdadero desafío.
Mexico has stepped up its effort to crack down on one of the most powerful and feared criminal organizations in the country, with arrests and seizures this week aimed not at drug trafficking or extortion but at the gang’s lucrative infiltration of mining and smuggling iron ore to China.
The gang, the Knights Templar, has become a violent menace in western Mexico, giving rise to vigilante groups that formed to stop its reign of extortion, kidnapping and murder. That, in turn, forced the government to send the federal police and the military to try to take back a region it conceded had fallen out of state control. Aside from extortion, one of the gang’s chief sources of income has been its infiltration of the mining industry in Michoacán State and, until the arrival of the Mexican Navy in November, near total control of the Pacific port of Lázaro Cárdenas, the country’s second largest.
Citigroup Inc. is seeing the limits of its global reach. The New York bank said Monday it received subpoenas from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and U.S. prosecutors, three days after the bank disclosed it had found allegedly fraudulent billings at its Mexico unit that cost it up to $400 million. A regulatory filing Monday disclosed that Citigroup and related parties—including the U.S. unit of its Mexico business, Banco Nacional de Mexico, or Banamex—have received grand-jury subpoenas issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts tied to anti-money-laundering requirements.
Meanwhile, Citigroup’s exposure to Russia and Ukraine came under the spotlight. The instability in the region hammered stocks and bank stocks in particular. Of major U.S. banks, Citigroup shares fell the most Monday, losing 2.1% to $47.61. So far this year, they are down 8.6%, also last among the big six U.S. banks. Citigroup executives are fond of saying their “large global footprint is an asset, but it’s looking like a liability,” said KBW analyst Brian Kleinhanzl. He pointed to Citigroup’s exposure to places like Argentina, where investors have harbored concerns due to emerging-market volatility.
With the arrest of Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the leadership of Mexico’s largest and most sophisticated illegal drug operation has probably transferred to Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, a 66-year-old former farmer with a knack for business — and maintaining a low profile. But Zambada is likely to discover, much as Guzman did, that inheriting the throne of top capo comes with a series of complications worthy of a Shakespearean king.
Like his predecessor, Zambada is a country boy made good who hails from the badlands of Sinaloa, the traditional heart of Mexican drug-smuggling culture. Though he has enjoyed less publicity than Guzman, he has long been considered a high-level target for U.S. and Mexican authorities, who have managed to nab a number of his family members and close associates in recent years. Now that pressure is likely to increase substantially.
Mexico seized more than 119,000 tonnes of minerals suspected of being part of illegal export operations in a port where a powerful drug gang allegedly has been shipping iron to China, the government said on Monday.
More than 400 federal agents, police and military personnel raided 11 sites around the Pacific port of Lazaro Cardenas in the state of Michoacan, and troops seized minerals without proper documentation, Alfredo Castillo, the federal government commissioner in the state, said in a statement. The Mexican Navy took over the port in November to combat an illegal iron ore exportingbusiness to China allegedly run by The Knights Templar drug cartel.
Mexican vigilante groups in the western state of Michoacan have pledged not to enter more cities, municipal seats or other urban areas, authorities said. They made those commitments in a meeting Friday in Apatzingan with the federally appointed commissioner for security and development in Michoacan, Alfredo Castillo, the Government Secretariat said in a statement. These militias will only be present in designated checkpoints, always working jointly with federal forces, and must receive permission from authorities before making “any movements whatsoever,” the statement read.
With Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman now back in a cage many analysts and ordinary Mexicans alike fret about the expected knock-on effects. What those effects are, and how bloody they might be, will depend on President Enrique Peña Nieto’s next moves in dealing with both the power vacuum Guzman leaves and the political and financial networks that supported his grip.
As Guillermo Valdez, former head of Mexico’s premiere spy agency, explained at a Washington DC conference in the week following his capture, much of the violence this past decade can be explained by the efforts of Guzman and his cartel allies to rebuild the dominion Sinaloans had held over Mexico’s drug trade for a century.
Schools and universities have been subjected to increasing violence in recent years, an international study has found. The survey of conflicts in 70 countries between 2009-13 – published on Thursday by the US-based Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) – reveals that violent assaults on educational establishments are far more widespread than previously reported. It also found at least 500 cases of attacks were recorded in Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Israel and Palestine, Libya, Mexico and Yemen.