In Mexico, lopsided death tolls draw suspicion

July 8, 2014

7/8/14 The Washington Post

crime sceneBullet marks and blood spatters on the walls inside a grain storage warehouse deep in the mountains of southern Mexico tell a grim story of death involving soldiers and alleged criminals. It may not be the same story officials tell, however.

Mexico’s Defense Department says soldiers were patrolling in one of the most violent, lawless corners of the country on June 30 when they came under fire from a warehouse where a gang of 21 men and one woman were hiding. One soldier was wounded, but all of the suspects were killed.

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How Safe Is Mexico? President Enrique Peña Nieto Says Violence Fell 25 Percent Last 4 Months, Public Disagrees

June 10, 2014

Latin Times, 06/09/14

youth with handgunMexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said at a forum in Madrid organized by several Spanish corporations and newspaper El País on Monday that although insecurity and violence remain serious problems in Mexico, especially the states of Michoacán, Tamaulipas and Guerrero, his government has made considerable progress on the issue. Between 2012 and 2013, Peña Nieto told the audience, violence and insecurity fell 12 percent, and 25 percent in the first four months of 2014. “They’re encouraging numbers,” he said before cautioning against early celebrations. “The issue hasn’t been resolved.”

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Mexico doubles prison sentences for kidnapping

June 4, 2014

BBC, 06/04/14

hands in handcuffsMexico has published new sentencing guidelines that will double prison sentences for kidnapping. The minimum prison term has risen from 20 to 40 years.

It will apply for all abductions, including those that last only a few hours or days, so-called “express kidnappings”. The maximum prison sentence will rise from 50 to 140 years for those who kill their victims.

Kidnappings committed by a public security official, such as a member of the police or military, will be punished with up to 100 years in prison. Kidnappers will also have to pay heavy fines.

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Crime still a widespread concern in Mexican cities, poll finds

January 10, 2014

new-york-cityThe Los Angeles Times, 01/09/2014

Nearly seven in 10 Mexican city dwellers believe that crime has rendered their cities unsafe, according to a new poll that underscores the ongoing challenge facing President Enrique Peña Nieto, who took office more than a year ago promising to beat back the lawlessness that affects law-abiding Mexicans.

The December poll was released late Wednesday and is the second of its kind to be produced by Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography. [Link in Spanish] It also found that 65% of city-dwelling adults had witnessed a robbery or assault in the last three months, and 39% had witnessed a drug deal. Moreover, 62% of respondents believed that conditions would remain the same or worsen in the coming year.

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After president’s first year, Mexico still a mess by many measures

December 2, 2013

Los Angeles Times, 12/1/2013

Enrique PeñaNieto 2To President Enrique Peña Nieto’s supporters, his first year in office has been a time of bold promises kept as he pursues an ambitious agenda of reforms designed, in the long term, to bring peace and economic growth to Mexico.

But in the short term, by many measures, his country remains a mess. Though he promised to focus on Mexico’s economic potential, Peña Nieto has presided over an economy that has hardly grown at all. Though he vowed to reduce the kind of violence that affects innocent citizens, his record has been mixed, with kidnappings and extortion rising nationwide even as the number of homicides drops.

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As Crime Drops, Americans Begin To Return To Mexico’s Baja

December 2, 2013

Fox Latino News, 11/30/2013

ocean waves and beachOnce centered on timeshares and rowdy bars largely frequented by Americans and Canadians, northern Baja California’s tourism industry is rebounding with the exploding fame of local chefs, the expansion of boutique hotels and a burgeoning art scene creating a buzz in travel magazines.

This year, foreigners made up more than 45 percent of all visitors, after dropping to a low of less than 25 percent when cartels unleashed unprecedented bloodshed, leaving beheaded bodies on Tijuana’s streets. Sport fishing licenses — which are almost exclusively sought by Americans — have increased more than 75 percent during that time, according to Baja California’s tourism department.

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Count of bodies in Mexico mass graves rises to 42

November 26, 2013

crime sceneThe Washington Post, 11/26/2013

The number of bodies found in almost two dozen clandestine graves in western Mexico has risen to 42, after five more corpses were discovered over the weekend.

Many of the bodies were bound or gagged. Some showed signs of torture, according to a federal prosecutor who spoke Monday on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to the news media.

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Facebook beheading video: Who was Mexico’s Jane Doe?

November 4, 2013

BBC News, 11/3/2013

crime sceneA film of a woman being beheaded in Mexico caused an international outcry in October when Facebook refused to remove it from its site. There have been hundreds of reports about the video – but why has no-one identified the victim in it?

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In Mexico, Extortion Soars Amid Crackdown On Drugs

October 15, 2013

gun - crime sceneThe Huffington Post, 10/14/2013

When the threatening phone calls demanding $20,000 in protection money began in December, Dr. Roman Gomez Gaviria shrugged them off, believing his clinic on the outskirts of Mexico City couldn’t possibly be of interest to criminal gangs. A few months later, his sense of security was shattered when three armed men barged into his office screaming “Dr. Ramon, you bastard, where are you?”

“They tried to tackle me, to take me out of the clinic, when I saw that each one had a pistol tucked into his belt,” said Gaviria, recounting the ordeal. “They thought that, because I’m a doctor, I wasn’t going to resist.”

Such shakedown rackets have long targeted businesses in the most violent corners of Mexico. Now the practice is spreading. One anti-crime group estimates that kidnapping across the country has jumped by one-third so far this year compared to 2012. And as the extortion industry expands, it has drawn both experienced criminals and imitators.

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What Does A Recent Mass-Kidnapping / Murder Mean For Mexico City’s Longstanding Fight Against Crime?

August 27, 2013

hands in handcuffsForbes, 8/26/2013

In 2011 and 2012 as organized crime-related violence claimed thousands of lives in states such as Guerrero, Jalisco, and Tamaulipas, Mexico City remained a relative oasis from violent crime, reporting a murder rate roughly on par with New York City’s.

But, a series of violent incidents have occurred in 2013. In addition to the mass kidnapping in May there have been a number of other disturbing organized crime-style assassinations. While cartel battlegrounds in Acapulco and the surrounding state of Guerrero continue to be hotspots of organized crime-related violence. There has also been a notable increase in violence in and around Mexico City. Mexico State, for instance, the state surrounding Mexico City, reported 1,217 homicides between December 2012 and July 2013. During this time period, Mexico City reported 525 homicides, second only to Acapulco in terms of total murders reported.

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