Thursday, October 10, 2013

Spain again warns its citizens about dangers of Mexico

"Both tourists and residents are potential victims of Mexico's insecurity" - Spanish Foreign Ministry

Guadalajara -
For the second time in seven months, Spain has issued a formal alert warning its nationals about the risks of travel to Mexico.

It did so the first time in early March, a month after six young Spanish tourists were robbed and repeatedly raped in an Acapulco beach house. Huge cancellations in Acapulco, as spring breakers go elsewhere and Spain issues new warning.

In its latest public statement the Foreign Ministry noted that "the problem of insecurity which affects Mexico is unfolding with an increased incidence of kidnapping (both real and "virtual"), extortion, and assaults on motorists and passengers using public transportation systems. Victims have included tourists and residents."

Virtual kidnappings, or attempts at such, are increasingly common in Mexico. An extortionist may phone the potential victim, telling him or her that a family member has been seized and will be killed within hours unless a large sum of money is electronically transferred to an account. The extortionist may know enough about the victim, the family member or both to believe that they will not be able to communicate for hours. Hoping his victim will be so intimidated that the electronic ransom is quickly delivered, or that the victim agrees to disclose financial information and account details enabling the criminal to carry out the theft himself, the extortionist is always betting against heavy odds. But he wins just enough to make it a profitable scheme, he needs no affiliates and he faces little risk.

A Mexican news service reported recently that 70% of virtual kidnapping and extortion plot phone calls originate within prison walls.

The Foreign Ministry addressed such extortion in its latest warning, advising citizens to terminate such calls immediately and to report them to local authorities and the nearest Spanish consulate.

It also warned travelers about the possibility of encountering highways blockaded by organized crime, ATM machines under surveillance by teams of robbers and simple street assaults (stories below).

Spain's advisory came the same week the administration arrested 13 Mexican Federal Police officers in Acapulco and accused them of working with organized crime, routinely carrying out kidnappings and hired executions. It was a serious blow to the 10 month old PRI administration, which has placed much emphasis on expanding the federales by 35,000 agents while simultaneously creating a new, and entirely separate, National Police, scheduled to make its first appearance in July 2014. Officials announce delay in arrival of federal gendarmerie, as Peña Nieto claims major progress in drug war.

Secretary of government and key Peña Nieto cabinet member Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong yesterday told Mexico's lower legislative chamber, the 500 member house of deputies, that the plan to weed out corruption in local and state police forces by polygraph evaluations and background checks is still far behind schedule, with 30% of the nation's 450,000 officers yet "unverified." The process, a linchpin of the drug war strategy implemented by former president Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, began in January 2009 and was supposed to end on Jan. 3, 2013. But local officials were far from finishing, so Mexico's congress moved the deadline to Oct. 29. It's unclear if deputies might be willing to postpone it again, but yesterday Osorio Chong warned that some communities could end up without local police, under automatic termination provisions which provide for the dismissal of any officer not validated by the end of this month. Deadline looms for completion of police background checks, many fail to measure up.

Constables on patrol in southwestern Mexico . . . their uniforms may give pause to some visitors

Local communities self-police in dozens of counties in almost half of Mexico's 31 states, although they have no legal authority to do so. Civilian militias soar. Mexico's policías comunitarias have prompted some to argue Failed State theories.

Neither the Acapulco Federal Police arrests nor Osorio Chong's testimony before the federal deputies yesterday will help instill confidence in Mexico's domestic security. The drug war enters its seventh year on Dec. 1.

Dec. 19 - Mexican Attorney General hands over domestic security reports to Associated Press
Oct. 20 - Secuestro virtual, un "negocio" que se expande desde México
Oct. 11 - "Zeta killers" behind gun battle which killed three Jalisco police officers
Oct. 15 - Mexican senators seek yet another delay in police vetting

Feb. 24 - Murder of Belgian in Acapulco tourist district further damages already tarnished image
Mar. 5 - Canadian tourists, 60 and 65, injured in Acapulco assault
July 26 - Common crime, Guadalajara style
Sept. 27 - Mexican police suspect robbery was motive in brutal beating that killed Canadian artist

Rapes of six Spanish tourists in Acapulco on Feb. 4
Feb. 4 - Spanish tourists raped, robbed on Acapulco beach front
Feb. 5 - USA Today story, quoting Mexico Gulf Reporter: Six tourists raped in Acapulco
Feb. 8 - Today could bring arrests in Acapulco rape case, as more disturbing details emerge
Feb. 8 - Serial rapists may be responsible for Acapulco attacks - but do police have the right men?
Feb. 13 - Mexican prosecutors announce arrests in Acapulco rapes

© MGRR 2013. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

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