Sunday, January 22, 2012

Murder of another taxi driver has Mérida police on alert in "immune City of Peace"

Mérida local news

The murder of a taxi driver in most Mexican cities might earn modest column space deep in the interior metro section. But in a state such as Yucatán, which many are convinced is all but immune to the ravages of the country's 61 month old drug war, such events get front page attention. The homicide rate here is about two per 100,000, considerably lower than in the United States (although more than Canada, where it's a mere 1.6).

Last Thursday (Jan. 19) a taxi driver who regularly picked up fares at Mérida's bus station, known as the ADO CAME, disappeared. The CAME is a 10 minute walk southwest of the city's main plaza, which is teeming with locals and tourists alike 18-20 hours a day. Many visitors who travel to Mérida fly in to Cancún International Airport, and then take the ADO bus over to Mérida. The trip is four hours, cheap, and buses conveniently leave downtown Cancún for Mérida every hour on the hour (and more frequently during peak travel times). So almost everyone who travels to this city is familiar with the CAME station downtown.

The 42 year old driver was found dead in his cab about 24 hours later in a western suburb of the city. The initial police press release said that he had been strangled and left in the backseat, but a subsequent report said that he had been stabbed in the neck and was found in the trunk. Whatever the exact nature of his death, plainly it was a homicide. Police believe that the cabbie picked up his last passenger(s) at the CAME, although that does not exclude the possibility that someone else attacked him at another location.

Mérida's main daily, El Diario de la Yucatán, reports today that the driver may have been involved with narcomenudeo -- the sale or distribution of drugs. Cabbies sometimes work as drug retailers, delivery boys, messengers and "spies" reporting on the movements of police and other drug dealers. Numerous cab drivers have been executed by warring cartels in Acapulco in recent years, as that city experiences severe narco violence.

Last October another tax driver was found murdered in his cab on Mérida's most prestigious avenue, the Paseo de Monetjo. His killer, a young Mexican man from Veracruz, was quickly arrested and admitted guilt. It seems as though the cabbie had picked him up in the early morning hours in the main plaza. The man had no cash on his person, so he asked the driver to take him to the nearest ATM (which are all over this city). The driver complied, but the machine was out of service. So they went to another ATM, and then on to a third, with the same result both times (so the man told authorities). Eventually, the young customer decided just to shoot the driver in the back of the head, "because that's the way we handle such things in Veracruz." Although the case had no connection to drug activity, the latest incident has both local taxistas and police on edge.

Is Yucatán immune to drug war violence?:
In Cancún, Los Pelones happily deliver drugs by taxi and death on demand:

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