HomeNewsBriefImmigration Crackdowns Drive Cuban-on-Cuban Crime in South Mexico
BRIEF

Immigration Crackdowns Drive Cuban-on-Cuban Crime in South Mexico

CUBA / 9 SEP 2019 BY CAT RAINSFORD EN

Cubans now top the list of foreign criminals in the southern Mexican state of Quintana Roo, with the region’s shifting migration landscape having serious impacts on organized crime in the country.

Quintana Roo’s security secretary, Alberto Capello Ibarra, stressed that while most criminal activity in the state was at the hands of major Mexican gangs, foreign groups had been increasingly involved in human trafficking, money laundering and drug dealing.

The tourist hubs of Cancún and Playa del Carmen are home to around 10 foreign criminal groups, especially Cubans, although Romanians and Israelis are present as well, Capello Ibarra stated at a security conference.

SEE ALSO: Trump’s Border Policies Strengthen Organized Crime. Here’s How.

“The criminal groups made up of Cubans often single out their own countrymen as targets in frauds, kidnappings, and robberies,” he was quoted as saying by Cubita Now. “The cases of Cubans kidnapping other Cubans to demand ransoms from their relatives in the United States are ever more common.”

This phenomenon is not restricted to Quintana Roo. Several Mexican states have seen a wave of crimes committed by Cubans against their own compatriots in recent months.

In August 2018, 39 Cuban migrants were rescued from a house in Cancún, where they had been held captive by a group of four Cubans and one Mexican. A similar case in January 2019 saw eight Cubans rescued from a Cuban kidnapping gang in Mérida, Yucatán, just north of Quintana Roo.

InSight Crime Analysis

The proliferation of Cubans as both perpetrators and victims of organized crime in Quintana Roo directly reflects how changes in US migration policy have left migrants stranded and increasingly vulnerable to gang exploitation.

Cuban migration through Mexico has surged in recent years, following President Obama’s repeal of the so-called “Wet Foot, Dry Foot” policy in 2017. Under this policy, Cubans had been guaranteed political asylum in the US. Now, they are resorting to clandestine overland routes.

Although most investigations into how migrants are affected by crime in Mexico have focused on Central Americans, recent reports suggest that Cuban migrants are valued targets for gangs, due to the higher likelihood that they will have relatives in the US prepared to make protection payments.

For the unscrupulous or desperate among their compatriots, this can provide an easy route into crime. Capello Ibarra highlighted that a common criminal modality in Quintana Roo is for Cubans to pass information on their fellow nationals to Mexican kidnappers, in exchange for a share of the ransom.

The number of Cuban migrants falling victim to crime in Mexico is only likely to spiral further. In July 2019, Mexico’s National Migration Institute (Instituto Nacional de Migración – INM) reported a staggering thirty-fold increase in Cuban arrivals compared to the previous year. Cuba’s proximity to the coast of Quintana Roo makes this state a key entry point.

SEE ALSO: Migrants Easy Prey Under US ‘Remain in Mexico’ Program

Furthermore, Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy now obliges migrants to wait in Mexico while their claims are processed. This leaves many stuck in migration limbo, in a country racked by criminal violence, where they are vulnerable to both gang predation and cooptation.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

MEXICO / 13 MAR 2015

Under Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto's national defense plan, the army is supposed to phase out 121,000 German G3 H&K…

MEXICO / 17 JAN 2012

Statistics released by the Mexican government showed that criminal groups' attacks on army and federal police helicopters have increased since…

JUAREZ CARTEL / 19 NOV 2010

The Mexican army will again patrol the streets of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, announced the Mexican Government's general secretary,…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.