Colombians Killed for Loan Sharking in Mexico: Report

handcuffsInSight Crime 11/23/2015

Five Colombians were found dead in Veracruz, Mexico, in what initially appeared to be an organized crime-style killing, although one theory holds that they were targeted for participating in a loan collection scheme.

It remains unclear why these Colombians were in Mexico, much less why they were murdered, and by whom. Given the history and dynamics of Latin America’s regional drug trade, the criminal economies of Colombia and Mexico are inextricably linked, creating numerous possibilities for what these men were doing in Mexico.

According to El Tiempo, however, the five men were possibly involved in informal loan sharking schemes, and may have been debt collectors. This theory is not without precedent, with recent evidence suggesting Colombian loan sharks are expanding operations throughout Latin America. In this practice — known as “gota a gota” or “drop by drop” — creditors offer high-interest loans to poor and working class people with little or no access to formal banking services. A debtor’s inability to repay creditors can lead to violence, even death.

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Mexican state sees surge of violence with dead numbering ‘in the thousands’

11/17/2015  The Guardian

© Tomas Castelazo

A wave of violence has struck Mexico’s southern state of Guerrero, suggesting that the security situation has changed little since 43 teacher trainees were kidnapped and presumably killed in the region one year ago. At least 50 schools were forced to close ahead of a holiday weekend in the resort city of Acapulco, where teachers said criminals threatened to attack classes if they were not given a part of their pay packets.

Earlier this month, armed individuals attacked spectators at a clandestine cockfighting event, killing 12, including two children. In a separate incident, more than 100 members of a community police force, who have organized in indigenous towns rife with violence, were involved in a shootout with criminals, leaving three dead, according to media reports. Villagers later detained 200 soldiers sent to seize the community police members’ guns.

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Mexico’s Governing Party Vows to Stop Using Neuromarketing to Study Voters

11/11/2015 The New York Times

9085212846_3cb274caea_bThe leader of Mexico’s governing party has said that it will stop hiring neuroscience consultants to register voters’ brain waves and read their facial expressions, responding to a political outcry over its use of the tools of neuromarketing to shape its campaign and governing messages.

Manlio Fabio Beltrones, a longtime political boss who in August became leader of the governing party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party, said last week after The New York Times reported on the methods that the party would stick to tried and trusted campaign tools, like polls and political intuition, “the old-fashioned way,” in its future campaigns.

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Drugs, Human Rights, Trade, and Distrust: The Evolution of U.S.-Mexican Relations

11/10/2015 By Tom Long, War on the Rocks

President Obama visits Mexico President Enrique Pena NietoLast month, citing human rights concerns, the United States quietly withheld about $5 million in counternarcotics assistance for Mexico. The State Department declined to certify that Mexico met conditions imposed on the aid by Congress under the Leahy Amendment, triggering the 15-percent reduction in funding for Mexican security agencies. Though more than $140 million of other U.S. funding will continue to flow, the decision — first reported by The Washington Post and confirmed by a deputy spokesman at the State Department — was cheered by human rights advocates. A senior official at Human Rights Watch told The New York Times that the cut was “unprecedented.”

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Cartel Violence Threatens to Destroy the Relative Peace of Mexico City

11/6/2015 Time

crime and drugsThe early morning rush hour often slows traffic to a snail pace in this sprawling megacity, but on Oct. 19, drivers on one road found themselves at a complete standstill. The holdup was caused by a grizzly discovery: a corpse hanging from a bridge. While such public displays of terror have become frighteningly common in parts of Mexico, the capital has long been considered an oasis from the narco violence. It is home to much of the nation’s political and business elite, a third of all foreigners in Mexico, including many Americans, and offices of major corporations. Photos of the dangling corpse on front pages raised alarm bells that the bubble of relative safety could have burst.

Fears were compounded in the following days when more corpses appeared alongside threatening messages, which are another terror tactic of Mexico’s mafias. Under public pressure, thousands of police hit the streets, arresting a 600 suspects. Among the suspects, prosecutors announced, was an alleged assassin involved in hanging the body. “We won’t tolerate impunity or any intimidation against the residents of Mexico City,” the city’s top prosecutor Rodolfo Rios told a news conference. Evidence gathered, he said, indicated that the murders are linked to gangs inside Mexico City’s crowded jails.

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Mexico mass graves to be examined in Guerrero state

11/4/2015 BBC News 

15424774877_785a4e19a8_nForensic experts have been sent to the Mexican town of Carrizalillo to examine human remains found in a number of mass graves. The location was disclosed by a member of a drugs gang who was attacked by residents of Carrizalillo.

The town is 75km (47 miles) south of Iguala, where 43 students disappeared over a year ago. Carrizalillo residents say there was unusually high gang activity on the night of the students’ disappearance. Locals say that over the past years, the town has increasingly come under the control of the Guerreros Unidos (United Warriors) drugs gang, whose members extort local businesses and terrorise residents.

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Mexico Is About To Decide If Access To Weed Is A Constitutional Right

11/3/2015 Buzzfeed News 

9906897843_3bdd271309_zMEXICO CITY, Mexico — Armando Santacruz, a 54-year-old businessman, had been trying to convince congressmen for nearly a year to get Mexico to legalize and regulate drugs, starting with marijuana. It was an uphill battle in a country where drug crime has tore at the fabric of society. In private, congressmen were open to the conversation, Santacruz said, but publicly, they appeared vehemently opposed to discussing the issue.

Santacruz and his colleagues — a businessman, a lawyer, and a 67-year-old grandmother, all members of an NGO called Mexicans United Against Crime — realized they needed a more creative strategy. So they formed the Mexican Society for Responsible and Tolerant Consumption (SMART, in Spanish) and asked a branch of the Health Ministry for permission to grow, carry and smoke their own marijuana.

Now they’re headed to the Supreme Court.

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