July 21, 2015
7/20/15 Pro Publica
Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán
The slight man at the breakfast table seemed more like an evangelical minister than someone who once brokered deals between Mexican drug lords and state governors. He wore a meticulously pressed button-down, a gold watch, gold-rimmed glasses, and a gold cross around his neck. His dark brown hair was styled in a comb-over. And when his breakfast companions started to tuck into their bowls of oatmeal and plates of salmon benedict, he cleared his throat and asked for a moment of silence.
“Would you mind if I say grace?” he asked.
The gathering last week at Le Peep café in San Antonio would seem unusual almost anywhere except south Texas, where Mexico kind of blends into the United States — and so does the drug trade. Seated next to the cartel operative was a senior Mexican intelligence official. And next to him was a veteran American counternarcotics agent. They bowed their heads for prayer and then proceeded to talk a peculiar kind of shop.
June 30, 2015
During June, 2015 Mexico’s went to the polls for mid-term elections and also witnessed a number of grisly organized crime related attacks. In May 2015 Mexico saw a month on month increase in murders for the first time in over three years, a sign that president Enrique Peña Nieto’s security strategy may not be working as smoothly as expected.
On June 1 I tweeted this article I wrote for Americas Quarterly. In the article I explain, that as organized crime groups have threatened and killed political candidates and radical protest groups promised to disrupt the election, the southwestern state of Guerrero presented unique challenges for Mexico’s June 7 mid-term election. “Security problems are certainly not isolated to Guerrero, but Guerrero does present a unique profile of challenges. The state is home to a mix of drug trafficking groups, their offshoots and affiliated street gangs, as well as militant teachers groups and armed leftist guerrilla groups,” I explained.
May 28, 2015
5/27/2015 InSight Crime
Major US banks have recently closed branches along the southern border with Mexico in an attempt to crack down on money laundering, a reflection of the ease with which Mexican drug traffickers can legitimize illicit proceeds north of the border.
In recent months, major banks such J.P. Morgan and Bank of America have closed their branches in the border town of Nogales, Arizona, reported The Wall Street Journal. Other banks, including Wells Fargo and Chase, have reportedly closed hundreds of customer accounts, many of which belonged to Mexican nationals.
May 11, 2015
5/11/2015 InSight Crime
Mexico is weeks away from a landmark midterm election, but many analysts worry that the nation’s electoral authorities are dropping the ball as far as criminal organizations financing their preferred candidates.
On June 7, Mexico will elect the entire lower house of congress, nine governorships, and local offices in more than half the country. While the Senate and the presidency are not in play, it is the most important date in the electoral calendar prior to the 2018 election.
Against that backdrop, some analysts are worried that the nation’s campaign regulatory agency, the National Electoral Institute (INE), is not doing enough to prevent the flow of money stemming from organized crime into candidates’ campaign war chests. Jesus Tovar Mendoza, the Executive Director of the think tank Red de Estudios sobre la Calidad de la Democracia en America Latina, recently complained to E-Consulta that the statutes enforced by the INE are insufficient.
For more analysis on Mexico’s 2015 midterm elections, visit the Mexico Institute’s 2015 Elections Guide.