Thursday, March 15, 2012

"Narco Notaries" - the professionalization of drug trafficking and organized crime

Los Zetas make local lawyers offers they can't refuse

The local Riviera Maya press is still on the topic of this week's organized crime execution of an attorney in Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo. They refer to such shady professionals as "narco notaries." They point out, and quite correctly in my estimation, that the drug cartels are not only getting bigger and richer, but smarter too, as they diversify into all sorts of collateral industries, such as extortion and kidnapping of prosperous businessmen. Such crimes are every bit as serious as narcotics trafficking, and the victims are just ordinary Mexicans trying to survive in a country where the cartels were ignored for decades by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which allowed them to attain monolithic power.

Follow up reports today say that organized crime strike force prosecutors in Q.R. state are investigating at least 20 law firms which allegedly perform services for Los Zetas, primarily in the real estate arena. The families of kidnap victims often are unable to pay ransoms in cash, but the cartels will gladly accept houses and/or commercial properties in lieu. The attorneys who work with them prepare land title deeds and related documents. Eventually, the Zs may become the main landlord along Mexico's Caribbean coast. Wouldn't you love to have your money locked up in a Cancún condo or small business?

Observation: Perhaps these attorneys are motivated only by the opportunity to make money. Or perhaps Los Zetas make them an offer they can't refuse. I'd bet on the latter. Yes, they earn some legal fees by participating very directly in a kidnapping-for-ransom scheme. But sometimes they end up dead, too, as did the Puerto Morelos lawyer earlier this week. It's a dirty business, with no way out.

Yesterday's lead story is here:
Lawyer allegedly tied to Los Zetas drug cartel executed in Quintana Roo

Extortion in Mexico: one way it's done:
Extortion on a grand scale, with business owners the usual targets:
300 businesses close in Cancún, Riviera Maya due to 2011 narco extortion:
DEA says the dreaded "derecho de piso" has arrived in the United States:

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