Mexico: The organized crime under impunity


For the time being in the current administration the Attorney’s General Office (PGR) has started only 2,803 investigations of organized crime; among them only 84% for crimes against health. Mexico is the world’s third producer of opium and main exporter of methamphetamines to the United States.

Between December 2012 and January 2015, the Attorney’s General Office (PGR) has barely incorporated 2,803 pretrial investigations for offenses linked with the organized crime, as reveals a report delivered by the dependency to Contralínea, throughout the Federal Transparency and Access to the Public Government Information Act.

Out of these, 84% correspond to crimes against health related with drug trafficking, in spite of the fact that Mexico is the world’s third producer of the opium plant or poppy (Papaver somniferum), according to the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report 2015 (INCSR 2015); and presents high levels of cultivation of poppy (Papaver rhoeas), according to the Presidential determination on major drug transit or major illicit drug producing countries for fiscal year 2015 of the White House.

In the aforesaid document the government of Barack Obama states that Mexico is the main supplier of the illegal derivatives of this plant in the United States.

Another fact that contrasts with the scarce 84 pretrial investigations for crimes related with drug trafficking, is the statement done by the US Department of State within the INCSR 2015, under which Mexico is the main exporter of methamphetamines to the northern neighbor.

The rest of the pretrial investigations, 2,719 cases, refer to other offenses contemplated by the Federal Law against Organized Crime, among which are, abduction, human trafficking, trafficking of illegal aliens, the money laundry, the traffic of human organs and terrorism.

In an interview with Contralínea, Carlos Antonio Flores, researcher at the Center for Research and Superior Studies in Social Anthropology, indicates that the strategy used against the organized crime by the current government has had a very similar tendency as in the past administration in the sense of locating the most actively operating actors.

Therefore, according to the Doctor in Political and Social Sciences by the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), thinks that the strategy remains badly focused. It should be “focusing the attention in the more significant actors, which are not those operating, but rather those that provide protection [to criminals] from the municipal, state and federal institutions; who are those that provide the possibility to merge their money to the [formal] economy. While this is not done, the strategy alone is equal to fireworks”.

Investigations for years

According to the response of the information request 0001700060515 done by Contralínea in December 2012-the first month of the government of Enrique Peña Nieto- the Attorney’s General Office opened 121 pretrial investigations for illegal activity perpetrated by organized crime. Only three of them were for crimes against health.

In 2013 1,302 investigations of criminal organizations were opened, of which solely 57 corresponded to drug trafficking.

And despite that the president Peña assured in his Third [Annual] Government Report that crime is being fought vigorously, in 2014 only 1,299 investigations were held, of which 22 relate to crimes against health. And in January 2015 they were 81, out of which only two were for illegal drug trafficking.

The poor numbers that offers the PGR around the open investigations of organized crime contrast with the official discourse: “We are disarticulating their operating structures and financial capacities and we have undertaken thorough modifications to prevent the criminal incidence and to strengthen the security and justice institutions”, assured Peña.

It is also revealed that the dependency led by Arely Gómez remains without investigating thousands of homicides linked with organized crime (mainly drug trafficking) and with the use of arms of exclusive use by the armed forces.

This happens despite that officially it is acknowledged that between December 2012 and November 2014 34,470 cases of intentional homicide have been perpetrated Mexico, according to the report Figures of intentional homicide, abduction, extortion and car theft 1997-2004, drafted by the Executive Secretariat of the National System of Public Security. Reportedly 1,726 cases occurred in December 2012; 18,311 cases in 2013, and from January until November 2014, 14,413 cases.

Despite these official data the presidency presume in its Third Government Report that “the homicides have dropped by 24% and in 2014 it was the lowest rate in 6 years”.

According to the report Figures of intentional homicide, abduction, extortion and car theft 1997-2004 between December 2012 and November 2014 3,158 abductions have been denounced, considered among the offenses that the Federal Law against Organized Crime punishes.

The criminals on the street

The number of drug lords detained is another indicator that reveals that in Mexico organized crime has not been fought face-to-face. As it seems in 2013 barely 130 people have been detained with proved links to drug trafficking cartels, as refers the response of the PGR in the information request 0001700007214 made by Contralínea.

According to these data the Sinaloa Cartel –considered to be the most powerful in the country and which is again led by Joaquín Guzmán- only one member was detained. The organization that suffered the most losses for imprisonment was La Familia Michoacana, barely accounting for 39 detained. Next are the Gulf Cartel with 25 members; the cartel of the Caballeros Templarios, with 23 members; and the cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación and Los Zetas with 21 respectively.

Out of the cartels of Los Beltrán Leyva, of Tijuana and Los Valencia have not had any detained members in this time lapse.

Dr. Carlos Antonio Flores observes that, in the facts, the number of criminals that really are subject to a judicial process, not to mention those sentenced, is very low. “As one thing is to be judicially processed and another to be declared guilty. Thus the numbers are totally different: they are the least in relation with the effort invested in it [the “fight” against crime] in terms of institutional investment and the uncertainty for the society”.

In this sense he warns that this type of strategy of massive deployment of the Armed Forces has been very harmful for the society that has suffered grave costs of the violations of Human Rights, as an indirect result of this type of efforts.

 The researcher indicates that before the big numbers that are usually offered to the media outlets and with the continuous presentation of allegedly detained criminals, in reality what remains is that the judicial system is not able to process a significant number of them. Occasionally he deepens, it is due to the fact that their detention is irregular, or in other cases, because the amount of drugs is irrelevant and they are detained because of possession for consumption purposes.

“In the national effort against drugs and drug trafficking that is reported in the annual report of the Presidency, of the executive Branch, it can be seen that the vast number of allegedly detained persons is not related nor reasonably linked [or] asserted in terms of the number of people sentenced. This gives an idea that the type of efforts is being focalized in people that most likely are being accused for possession, not necessarily for drug trafficking, or maybe small-scale sellers, but that are not the most significant actors of the organized crime dedicated to drug trafficking in Mexico”.

Mexico, with all evils

The INCSR 2015 drafted by the US Department of State describes Mexico as a great illegal drug producing country as of transit of those, but also of money laundering, as a result of the corruption, abduction, extortion, copyright violations (or piracy),human trafficking and fire arms trafficking.

As it seems, effectively all offenses listed in the Federal Law against organized crime finds a fertile ground in Mexico. In the case of money laundering, it is estimated that it ascends between 19 billion and 29 billion dollars annually.

Another crime that is perpetrated frequently in the country is the human trafficking. According to the Trafficking in persons Report 2015, drafted by the Department of State, Mexico is a transit and destination country for men, women and children subjected to sexual and labor trafficking (enforced labor in agriculture, domestic services, production of processed food, construction activity, informal economy and begging).

The most vulnerable groups, he details, are women, children, the indigenous people, physically or mentally disabled people, migrants and the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transsexual community. The report adds that in Mexico the underage sexual tourism persists, and is not limited to the touristic areas, but is also found in cities of the northern border.

For the US Department of State, the Government of Mexico does not comply entirely with the minimal norms for the eradication of human trafficking. Furthermore it criticizes the official complicity, that “remains a serious problem and to a great extend unresolved”.



Nancy Flores, @nancy_contra

 (Translated by: Axel Plasa)










Contralínea 455 / del 21 al 27 de Septiembre 2015