Mexico Cartels Threaten Australia National Security: Report

5/25/2016 InSight Crime

drug_war_02Mexico’s cartels are making inroads into Australia as Latin American drug trafficking organizations continue to look for lucrative markets far from home, a new report says.

The Strategic and Defence Studies Centre (SDSC) report (pdf) identifies the Sinaloa Cartel as the main organization consolidating its influence and contacts in Australia.

Mexican cartels are selling drugs wholesale to local groups including “Lebanese, Chinese and Albanian diaspora groups, and Australian biker gangs,” the report says. The cartels have reportedly been setting up connections throughout the Asia Pacific region, with Australia as their primary “target.”

SEE ALSO:  Coverage of Criminal Migration

The report warns that the Mexican model of consolidating strong ties with local criminal groups in new markets is a threat to Australia’s national security. One of the dangers involves what the report calls “sweeteners” — cartels providing locals with handguns and other weapons as incentives for their business deals.

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Bank of Mexico Sticks to 2016 Growth Outlook, Trims 2017 Forecast

5/25/2016 The Wall Street Journal

380px-Agustin_CarstensMEXICO CITY—The Bank of Mexico said Wednesday that it still expects the country’s economy to grow between 2% and 3% this year, but lowered its growth forecast slightly for 2017.

In its quarterly inflation report, the central bank forecast gross domestic product would expand between 2.3% and 3.3% in 2017, less than its previous estimate of 2.5% to 3.5%. The economy grew 2.5% in 2015 and expanded 2.6% in the first quarter of this year.

The main reason for the 2017 change is the lower outlook for U.S. industrial production, which is a driver of Mexican output, Bank of Mexico Gov. Agustín Carstens said at a news conference.

Growth could be better if private consumption in Mexico continues to gain strength, or the economy sees favorable effects from overhauls in areas such as energy, telecommunications and the financial sector. On the other hand, a slowdown in the global economy, and particularly the U.S., and more complex international financial conditions restricting investment could lead to lower growth than expected, the bank said.

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Bank of Mexico Sticks to 2016 Growth Outlook, Trims 2017 Forecast

5/26/16 Wall Street Journal 

Agustin_Carstens

MEXICO CITY—The Bank of Mexico said Wednesday that it still expects the country’s economy to grow between 2% and 3% this year, but lowered its growth forecast slightly for 2017.

In its quarterly inflation report, the central bank forecast gross domestic product would expand between 2.3% and 3.3% in 2017, less than its previous estimate of 2.5% to 3.5%. The economy grew 2.5% in 2015 and expanded 2.6% in the first quarter of this year.

The main reason for the 2017 change is the lower outlook for U.S. industrial production, which is a driver of Mexican output, Bank of Mexico Gov. Agustín Carstens said at a news conference.

Growth could be better if private consumption in Mexico continues to gain strength, or the economy sees favorable effects from overhauls in areas such as energy, telecommunications and the financial sector. On the other hand, a slowdown in the global economy, and particularly the U.S., and more complex international financial conditions restricting investment could lead to lower growth than expected, the bank said.

The central bank still expects the inflation rate, currently at 2.5%, to remain below its 3% target in coming months, possibly rising temporarily above that level toward the end of the year.

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Mexico’s Arca Continental to Bottle, Distribute Coca-Cola in Southwest U.S.

5/26/16 Wall Street Journal 

14716049305_62495b73a5_bCoca-Cola Co. said Wednesday it plans to transfer its soda manufacturing and distribution in Texas and parts of Oklahoma to a joint venture headed by Mexico’s Arca Continental SAB.

The letter of intent with Arca, Coke’s second-largest bottler in Latin America, comes as Atlanta-based Coke accelerates efforts to divest plants and trucks in order to focus on marketing and its more profitable concentrate business.

Arca is the first Mexican bottler to acquire Coke territory in the U.S. but not the first foreign partner. Hong Kong-based Swire Pacific Ltd. is a major Coke bottler and distributor in the Western U.S. and Japan’s Kirin Holdings Co. owns a Coke bottler in the Northeast.

Coke said in February it would sell all of its U.S. manufacturing and distribution by the end of 2017, part of a broader global divestment drive. It paid $12.3 billion in 2010 to acquire the U.S. territories of Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc., its biggest domestic bottler at the time.

With the latest deal, Coke said it has struck deals to refranchise territories representing about 60% of bottler-delivered volume and 41 of 51 cold-fill production plants in the U.S.  Coke still owns bottling and distribution in California and parts of the Northeast, in addition to other territories.

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Body Count Points to a Mexican Military Out of Control

5/27/2016 The New York Times

MEXICO CITY — In the history of modern war, fighters are much more likely to injure their enemies than kill them.

But in Mexico, the opposite is true.

MEXICO, Ciudad de México, 12AGOSTO10. En el centro de mando de la Policía Federal fueron presentados 12 personas detenidas en dos operativos distintos en la República Mexicana. Foto: Jesús Villaseca P/Latitudes Press.
 Foto: Jesús Villaseca P/Latitudes Press.

According to the government’s own figures, Mexico’s armed forces are exceptionally efficient killers — stacking up bodies at extraordinary rates.

The Mexican authorities say the nation’s soldiers are simply better trained and more skilled than the cartels they battle.

But experts who study the issue say Mexico’s kill rate is practically unheard-of, arguing that the numbers reveal something more ominous.

“They are summary executions,” said Paul Chevigny, a retired New York University professor who pioneered the study of lethality among armed forces.

In many forms of combat between armed groups, about four people are injured for each person killed, according to an assessment of wars since the late 1970s by the International Committee of the Red Cross. Sometimes, the number of wounded is even higher.

But the body count in Mexico is reversed. The Mexican Army kills eight enemies for every one it wounds.

Corruption and car fumes clog up Mexico City

Financial Times 5/25/2016 

cars in trafficUnder Mexico City rules designed to reduce pollution, José’s 1994 Ford Explorer should stay off the road one day a week and every Saturday. Instead, he slips 500 pesos ($27) to a friendly mechanic, who in turn takes it to a friendly vehicle verification centre for its mandatory six-monthly emissions test. Problem solved.

“I think [the mechanics] pour a mixture of paint thinner and water into the tank to reduce the exhaust fumes,” says José matter-of-factly, although he asks to use this pseudonym rather than his real name. He reckons the mechanic keeps only 100 pesos, using the rest to pay test centre staff to turn a blind eye.

As bribes go it is cheap but, as José points out, this business is about volume. “It’s a generalised custom, really, especially if you have a car over 15 or 20 years old . . .  If your car is more than 10 years old, you always have to pay. I’d say 60 per cent of those that pass the verification paid 500 pesos at least.”

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Luis Álvarez, Leading Figure in Mexico’s National Action Party, Dies at 96

5/24/2016 The New York Times

Luis_H._AlvarezMEXICO CITY — Luis H. Álvarez, a leading figure in the conservative National Action Party in Mexico who dedicated his life to the fight for democracy there, died on May 18 at his home in León, Mexico. He was 96.

The cause was complications of pneumonia, his nephew Fernando Álvarez said.

Mr. Álvarez, who was originally a textile executive, was steadfast in his efforts to end the long rule of Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party, known as the PRI.

In 1958, he ran unsuccessfully for president against that party’s candidate, Adolfo López Mateos, in what seemed like a quixotic campaign.

Almost three decades later, with the ruling party still immovable, he rallied opposition in Chihuahua, his home state, to protest voting fraud, undertaking a long hunger strike that helped focus international attention on the Mexican opposition’s struggle for democracy.

But it was not until 2000, when the National Action Party, or PAN, won the presidency, that the PRI’s 71-year rule ended.

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