Mexico Criminal Groups Use Violence to Control Meat Industry: Report

4/21/2017 InSight Crime

meat2Criminal groups are coercing butchers at a food market in western Mexico to buy meat from them at elevated prices and are killing those who do not comply, a new report finds, illustrating one of the many ways predatory crime hinders economic activity in Latin America.

Criminal groups supply most of the 60,000 kilos of meat sold every week at a market in the city of Chilpancingo, Guerrero, according to a report by El Universal. The criminal groups buy the meat at 50 Mexican pesos per kilogram and sell it to the market’s butchers for 60 pesos per kilogram, for earnings of 600,000 pesos (roughly $32,000) each week.

One of the butchers told El Universal that competitors offer lower prices than the criminal groups, but that buying from a competitor carries the risk of violent reprisals. Four butchers were killed in the past year alone, according to El Universal. Two vendors who worked at the market were also killed last year.

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Treasury targets two Mexican companies connected to drug cartel

4/20/2017 The Hill

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Flickr/Roman Boed

The Treasury Department targeted on Thursday two Mexican companies that property management authorities say are connected to a drug cartel.

Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Yorv Inmobiliaria and Grupo Segtac, S.A. de C.V., property companies based out of central Mexico. Each company manages a Mexican shopping center that serves as a front for Los Cunis Drug Trafficking Organization.

The companies were designated as narcotics traffickers by OFAC, cutting them off from United States financial system and banning U.S. persons and companies from financial transactions with them.

OFAC designated the Los Cuinis DTO and its leader, Abigail Gonzalez Valencia, on April 8, 2015.

“OFAC will continue to target new front companies that have been created, or coopted, for the purpose of concealing the interests of Gonzalez Valencia, the Los Cuinis DTO, and their allies in order to evade sanctions,” said OFAC director John E. Smith. “In coordination with law enforcement and the Mexican government, OFAC will work tirelessly to expose and disrupt these organizations’ operations and assets.”

The Treasury Department action comes as the Trump administration focuses on hindering Latin American drug cartels and gangs, specifically MS-13.

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Mexico ex-governor arrested in Italy to face charges in U.S.

4/19/2017 Reuters

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Reuters/Daniel Aguilar/File Phot

A former state governor for Mexico’s ruling party who faces charges in Mexico and the United States will be prosecuted by U.S. authorities first, the U.S. and Mexican attorneys general said on Wednesday.

Tomas Yarrington, a former governor of Tamaulipas state for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), was accused in 2013 by a federal grand jury in Texas of taking millions of dollars in bribes from the Gulf Cartel and other drug traffickers. He was arrested in Italy earlier this month.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Mexican Attorney General Raúl Cervantes Andrade said in a joint statement that the plan to extradite Yarrington to the United States depended on agreement by Italian authorities.

A former state governor for Mexico’s ruling party who faces charges in Mexico and the United States will be prosecuted by U.S. authorities first, the U.S. and Mexican attorneys general said on Wednesday.

Tomas Yarrington, a former governor of Tamaulipas state for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), was accused in 2013 by a federal grand jury in Texas of taking millions of dollars in bribes from the Gulf Cartel and other drug traffickers. He was arrested in Italy earlier this month.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Mexican Attorney General Raúl Cervantes Andrade said in a joint statement that the plan to extradite Yarrington to the United States depended on agreement by Italian authorities.

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Corruption at a Level of Audacity ‘Never Seen in Mexico’

4/19/2017 The New York Times

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Flickr/PresidenciaRD

MEXICO CITY — When the authorities caught up with him at a lakeside hotel in Guatemala this past weekend, Javier Duarte, a fugitive former Mexican governor, went quietly.

Less than a week earlier, the Italian police had surrounded another former Mexican state governor, Tomás Yárrington, as he finished dinner at a restaurant on a Florentine piazza, ending his five years on the run.

At least three other former Mexican state governors are missing, and more than a half-dozen are under investigation or fighting prosecution on corruption charges. Whatever the accusations, the governors in this rogues gallery share at least one trait: All behaved as if they were untouchable.

“The decades of impunity have generated a level of audacity and absurdity that we have never seen in Mexico,” said Max Kaiser, an anticorruption expert at the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness, a research organization.This excess is more public than ever, pushing Mexicans to a boiling point.

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Report Analyzes Advances of Criminal Justice Reforms in Mexico

4/18/2017 InSight Crime

justice - gavel and bookA new report by a US-based research group offers a rare look at how Mexico’s judges, prosecutors and public defenders view the criminal justice system, which has traditionally struggled with high levels of impunity but is currently undergoing sweeping changes.

The report by Justice in Mexico, a program affiliated with University of San Diego, used surveys to compile data about the perceptions of judicial operators in 11 states across Mexico. Many of the questions centered on the country’s transition from an inquisitorial system to an oral-based model similar to that of the United States. The surveys, conducted last year, came during the final phases of implementation of the new system.

A slight majority of judges (51 percent) believe the new justice system will help reduce crime, while 82 percent believe it will help lower corruption. An even higher number (90 percent) of all judges, prosecutors and defenders said the reforms have had a positive impact on their state.

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Mexico oil boss at center of Citi loan fraud exits jail -source

4/17/2017 Reuters

energy - oil barrelsThe former chief executive of a Mexican oil services company arrested over a loan scandal that inflicted hefty losses on Citigroup Inc’s local Banamex unit was released from prison on Thursday, an official in the city government said.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official confirmed media reports that Amado Yanez, who was CEO of the Oceanografia firm when the scandal over bogus loans broke in 2014, left the prison in Mexico City early on Thursday.

Mexican media said that a Mexico City judge had ordered Yanez’s release after payment of bail of 7.5 million pesos ($404,000), and that the investigation against him would continue. The city official could not confirm this detail.

A federal judicial source said media reports about the release of Yanez, which occurred at the start of a four-day holiday weekend, appeared correct, but that no notification had been submitted by the court.

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Mexico Arrest of Fugitive Ex-Governor Is Result of Politics, Not Ethics

4/17/2017 InSight Crime

hands in handcuffsThe capture of a fugitive ex-governor shows that Mexico is capable of netting its most wanted if there is sufficient political will. But if authorities want to eliminate the abuse of power by officials, ethics rather than politics must be the key force behind these manhunts.

“Yes sirs, I am Javier Duarte de Ochoa, I’m the governor, there’s nothing left but to tell the truth.”

Those were the words uttered by Javier Duarte, ex-governor of the state of Veracruz, when he was taken into custody in Guatemala on April 15 after six months on the run, reported BBC Mundo.

Duarte initially tried to deny his identity to Guatemalan police when he was nabbed in the lobby of a luxury hotel in Panajachel, in Guatemala’s Sololá department, where he had been holed with up his wife for two days, reported the BBC. He left his room to buy a bottle of liquor, which was when he was seized by authorities working as part of a bilateral effort with Mexico’s government and Interpol.

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