In Mexico, an Epidemic of Fuel Thefts Becomes a Crisis

4/26/2017 The New York Times

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Flickr/Terry Chapman

SAN SALVADOR HUIXCOLOTLA, Mexico — Some of the day’s first customers pull into the produce market at dawn, but not with fruit and vegetables on their minds. They’re looking for cheap, stolen gasoline.

On the edge of the market, dozens of vendors have set up shop, with stacks of five-gallon containers full of stolen fuel and rubber hoses to siphon it.

“How much, cousin?” the vendors holler as they swarm the hundreds of motorists who drive through every day. The price is less than half what customers would pay at nearby gas stations.

The brisk, open gas trade is one of the more obvious manifestations of Mexico’s national fuel-theft epidemic. Thieves are now siphoning gasoline and diesel fuel at record-high rates from the system — often by drilling taps into pipelines under cover of darkness — and are selling it on the black market around Mexico and perhaps even in the United States and Central America.

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US to Fund Mexico Opium Eradication to Hit Heroin Crisis at Home: Report

4/24/2017 InSight Crime

opium_poppy_field_-_mexicoThe United States has reportedly offered to help fund Mexico’s eradication of opium poppy, raising questions about the efficacy of the supply-focused approach to drug control that both countries have adopted.

If the United States and Mexico can reach an agreement on how the major heroin-producing nation would do more and better eradication in the future, then the United States would be prepared to help fund it, US Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) William Brownfield said in recent comments to Reuters.

“That is on the table, but I don’t want you to conclude that it’s a done deal, because we still have to work through the details,” added Brownfield, without putting a figure on how much the United States may be willing to provide Mexico.

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Radioactive material stolen in Mexico, search on: officials

4/24/2017 Reuters

HAZMAT_Class_7_RadioactiveAn unknown amount of stolen radioactive material has prompted an alert in nine Mexican states, the head of national emergency services said on Monday.

The alert and search for the stolen material covers the states of Jalisco, Colima, Nayarit, Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, Michoacan San Luis Potosi, Durango and Zacatecas, according to a post on Luis Felipe Puente’s Twitter account.

Puente encouraged people with information about the stolen material to report it but added: “don’t open it.”

Stolen or lost radioactive material has on several occasions been reported in Mexico, most recently early last year when a container of radioactive substance used for industrial X-rays, a method of non-destructive testing, was taken along with a car.

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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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At least 35 killed in drug violence across Mexico: officials

4/23/2017 Reuters

gun - crime sceneAt least 35 people were killed over the weekend in Mexico, according to local officials, amid a widespread surge in drug gang violence that has driven murders to a level not seen since 2011.

In Sinaloa state, 12 people were killed in different incidents since the early hours of Sunday, according to local officials.

Battles between gangs have increased in the area following the arrest last year of Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who was extradited in January to the United States.

Nine people were killed in what prosecutors said on Sunday was a gun battle between rival drug gangs in the mountains of Mexico’s west coast state of Michoacan.

The shootout took place Saturday in an isolated village of the municipality of Churumuco, which borders on Guerrero state, where eight bodies were found on the main street and another in the nearby sierra, the state prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

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Mexico says 2 top drug traffickers killed near US border

4/23/2017 The Washington Post

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Flickr/Júbilo Haku

MEXICO CITY — Two top drug traffickers have been killed in pre-dawn shootouts Saturday with federal forces in the northern Mexico border state of Tamaulipas, authorities reported.

The Tamaulipas security spokesman’s office said the men were killed in separate confrontations, which left highways littered with burned-out vehicles.

Julian Loisa Salinas, better known as “Comandante Toro,” was killed in a clash with marines in Reynosa, a city across the border from McAllen, Texas.

Loisa Salinas reportedly was the Gulf cartel’s local leader in Reynosa. Authorities had tried to capture him a number of times, leading to gunbattles with his gang. In early April, two U.S. citizens were reported wounded in one such gunfight.

On Saturday, photos showed burned-out cars, trucks and buses littering streets in Reynosa. State authorities said his supporters had set fires and tried to block roads in an unsuccessful effort to help him escape.

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Exclusive: U.S. offers to fund Mexico heroin fight as 2016 output jumps – U.S. official

4/21/2017 Reuters

Opium_poppy_seed_and_flower_at_Budhha_lodge_of_Chaurikharka,NepalThe United States has offered to help fund Mexico’s efforts to eradicate opium poppies, the U.S. assistant secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) said on Friday, as Mexican heroin output increased again last year.

“We would be prepared to support (opium eradication efforts) should we reach a basic agreement in terms of how they would do more and better eradication in the future,” William Brownfield of INL, part of the State Department, said in an interview.

“That is on the table, but I don’t want you to conclude that it’s a done deal, because we still have to work through the details,” he said, without specifying how much money the United States could provide.

The United States has offered to help fund Mexico’s efforts to eradicate opium poppies, the U.S. assistant secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) said on Friday, as Mexican heroin output increased again last year.

“We would be prepared to support (opium eradication efforts) should we reach a basic agreement in terms of how they would do more and better eradication in the future,” William Brownfield of INL, part of the State Department, said in an interview.

“That is on the table, but I don’t want you to conclude that it’s a done deal, because we still have to work through the details,” he said, without specifying how much money the United States could provide.

Read more…