Saturday, October 27, 2012

Mexican Army commander: Cancún police department infiltrated by narcotics traffickers and organized crime

And the same problem exists in Playa del Carmen, he alleges

*Updates below*
Cancún, Quintana Roo -
A regional military commander's accusation that the city police force here is infiltrated by officers on the payroll of drug traffickers and organized crime lords has set off a local war of words in this gateway to Mexico's lush Riviera Maya.

Earlier this week the commander of the 34th Military District in Quintana Roo state, which is headquartered in Chetumal, said the municipal police departments in Cancún and Playa del Carmen "are infiltrated by the narcotics trafficking industry, 90% of them are narco agents."

General Anastasio García Rodríguez made the same accusation last November, but he emphasized the point again during a Wednesday press conference. "The infiltration is very real, police have been bought," he said.

García Rodríguez maintains that at least 800 officers are working for organized crime. Although some are readily disposed to betray the uniform, most do so because of threats from the drug cartels, the general said (In lush Riviera Maya, Los Zetas tell police: "Join us, or you and your families will die"). The problem is more serious in Cancún than in Playa del Carmen, according to General García, but is present in both.

The commander is worried that narco infiltration in local police forces could also spread to Chetumal, Quintana Roo's capital.

Cancún's mayor, Julián Ricalde Magaña, who last May acknowledged that the city is facing many challenges (Cancún, no longer an oasis for most), was plainly irritated by the latest charges.

"(I don't know whether) this is a formal military analysis or just the general's personal opinion," he said in response. "But I'd qualify it as lightweight."

"You can't say that 90% of our police department is infiltrated without offering some evidence, without something to back it up," the mayor continued. "I've never said we have the best police department in the country. We're trying to improve it every day. I call upon the general - since this is not the first time he's made these accusations - to file a complaint with SEDENA (Mexico's Secretary of Defense) if he believes these things. We can't conduct a legitimate self-evaluation under the circumstances. That's where it has to go," added Ricalde.

But the mayor said he wasn't interested in debating the issue in the press. "We're trying to work with these generals, to cooperate with them." Ricalde complained that General García had chosen to go public with his accusations, which he said had hurt Cancún. "We're in the national press now, with this claim that all of our police are involved with narcos. Who's going to want to come here now?"

A Cancún tourist official echoed the mayor's concerns, and said the general's claims would likely hurt the city's reputation with both domestic and international travelers.

The president of Mexico's Common Cause claims that only 3% of Quintana Roo's almost 7,000 law enforcement personnel have passed background and confidence checks, which often include the use of polygraphs. In Cancún, only 150 of 2,000 police department employees have been through the examination process. The latter number includes administrative staff as well as officers on the street.

The Common Cause president also acknowledged that hundreds of enterprises throughout Quintana Roo have closed their doors in recent years due to pervasive commercial extortion (300 businesses close in Cancún, Riviera Maya due to 2011 narco extortion, threats). "All the focus is on tourists; the authorities forget about the local citizenry," she complained.

Related: Aug. 29 - Honesty checks for Mexican local and state police proceed at a snail's pace.

Nov. 1 - The U.S. security consultant firm Stratfor predicts that if Mexico's Federal Police and armed forces assume primary responsibility for policing Cancún, to the exclusion of corrupt municipal units, the immediate effect will be an increase in violence in the area. Los Zetas and other organized crime groups will strike back if they have to contend with local forces not in their pocket, Stratfor reasons.

Nov. 2 - A 14 year old girl was murdered yesterday in Playa del Carmen by two teen age robbers who demanded her cell phone while she was standing outside her home with younger siblings. When the girl refused to surrender it the pair brutally attacked her, stabbing her repeatedly. Her terrified six year old brother tried to help, but the assailants stabbed and seriously injured him, too. And a 17 year old neighbor who rushed to the girl's aid was wounded. Police soon arrested the juvenile suspects nearby. Another day in volent Playa del Carmen, one of the most under-reported crime centers in all of Mexico.

Nov. 3 - Here's a sad update to this story. It turns out that the girl was actually killed by the 17 year old neighbor who claimed he had tried to protect her from street robbers. The story was a ruse. The assailant was her former boyfriend, whom she had recently spurned for another. He attacked her in a fit of jealous rage, and then her little brother, to eliminate witnesses. He inflicted his own injury as part of the coverup. The suspects first arrested by police have been released.

Note: An anonymous reader objected to an MGRR comment on Oct. 26 (see The drug dealer in pinstripes), by responding as follows: "I would hardly refer to Playa Del Carmen as a 'deadly city,' relative to Juarez." The reports below are some - not necessarily all - of those published in 2011-12 which support MGRR's argument. While Ciudad de Juárez undoubtedly remains Mexico's deadliest urban area, that will be of little consolation to drug war and organized crime victims in Playa, Cancún, Cozumel, Isla de Mujeres and elsewhere along the increasingly dangerous Riviera Maya. Such cases are almost never reported in the U.S. or mainstream English press, which is why many readers are unaware of them. Even most of the Spanish media pays little attention to the daily Q.R. crime blotter.

MGRR reports on Cancún, Playa del Carmen and Riviera Maya violence
Two executed in Cancún hotel zone
Los Zetas are "dominant force" in Central America and have foothold in Belize, says United Nations
Cancún International Airport was used as key narcotics distribution hub
Routine traffic stop in Mérida yields "Boss of the Plaza" in Cozumel and Playa del Carmen
On Playa del Carmen's famous Fifth Avenue, drug market openly flourishes and "anarchy prevails"
Los Zeta boss in Playa del Carmen behind hotel owner's murder
Machine gun fire in upscale Cancún mall terrifies hotel zone shoppers
British tourist raped and robbed on beach in Tulum, Quintana Roo
Playa del Carmen police officer executed, after hit men arrive by taxi
Riviera Maya hotel owner refuses to pay the "rent," so extortionists execute him
More dope comes ashore in Quintana Roo
Attorney murdered in Quintana Roo office
Cancún Zetas extort even street vendors, and run sex trade, too - with INM help
Crooked Cancún cops shake down New Yorkers, who swear they'll never return
Attack on Cancún sports bar leaves young waitress dead, several others injured
50 Matazeta executioners in Cancún to "recover the plaza" for El Chapo Guzmán
Los Matazetas - the "Zeta killers" - may have arrived in Cancún
AK-47 attack leaves two dead in Cancún; both worked for Zetas, one a taxi driver
Cancún police fear latest execution victims could be members of their own force
Los Zetas executioner arrested near Hotel Oasis Cancún; hit team members captured
Los Pelones strike again in Riviera Maya
Execution in Cancún hotel zone
"Narco Notaries" - the professionalization of drug trafficking and organized crime
Lawyer allegedly linked to Los Zetas land transfers executed in Quintana Roo state
Mexican governor will travel to Texas to challenge travel alert for spring breakers
Los Pelones executions continue in Q.R., with "corrupt police support"
In Cancún, Los Pelones happily deliver drugs by taxi and death on demand
American student nearly killed in Cancún tells his story to NBC Today show
Spring Break nears, but U.S. students are not headed to Cancún (or much of Mexico)
"Southern Zetas" operating in Cancún's hotel zone
Drugs float ashore on Playa del Carmen
Mexican armed forces raid drug houses in Playa del Carmen tourist zone
Cancún 24 hour narco death toll rises to three, with six victims since Jan. 1
Cancún narco violence claims fifth victim in 2012
Mexico's Caribbean Riviera Maya in the hands of drug cartels and extortionists
Brutalized bodies of two men found in Cancún - one a Yucatán native
Hit man with Mérida connection arrested in Cancún admits to 30 executions
300 businesses close in Cancún, Riviera Maya due to 2011 narco extortion, threats
Former municipal police officer in Playa del Carmen executed by drug cartel
U.S. intensely focused on Yucatán security in 2008-2009, diplomatic cables reveal
Cancún narco executions at steady pace
Who's buying the drugs in Quintana Roo's Riviera Maya?
Two women executed in plush Isla de Mujeres on Mexico's Riviera Maya
More deadly attacks in Quintana Roo state on Mexico's Gold Coast
Presumed narco murder on Mexico's famed Riviera Maya
New attack against mayor in Quintana Roo
Chief of Tourist Police executed in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo
The Cancun Police Dept. is 90% corrupt, says a Mexican general in charge of the Quintana Roo military district. A local paper says most work for Los Zetas or Los Pelones - bitter rivals - and claims the problem is compounded by the fact that only 10% of all Q.R. law enforcement personnel are originally from the state. Inflitrada por el crimen organizado desde el 2007.

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