Taxi drivers in Chilpancingo, Mexico, are demanding authorities take action against the more than 150 organized crime linked "narcotaxis" that operate in the city, amid finger-pointing and buck-passing from government officials.
The director of the state Technical Commission of Transportation and Viability, Juan Maria Larequi Radilla, denied having issued permits to the so-called narcotaxis, which began operating in the Guerrero state capital last year, reported Proceso. The narcotaxis are unregulated taxis which reportedly act as lookouts for drug gangs and carry out robberies and kidnappings. They are characterized as late model vehicles, many of which lack plates or have distinct plates numbered from 500 to 600, reported Proceso.
The mayor of Chilpancingo, Mario Moreno Arcos, recognized the existence of at least 150 taxis linked to organized crime in March, but argued that the state government had responsibility for public transportation, adding that he could not be "Superman, Batman or the Lone Ranger" and fix the problem on his own.
The state government, in turn, has placed the responsibility on the federal government by arguing that the narcotaxis are a security problem rather than a transportation issue, while Larequi Radilla blamed the federal authorities and the Army for failing to intervene.
At a meeting on the issue in the state legislature, leaders in the transport sector accused a senior state Department of Transportation official of telling taxi drivers to confront criminal activity themselves because the "government is overwhelmed."
InSight Crime Analysis
The use of taxi drivers as "halcones" or lookouts for organized crime is common in Mexico; criminal groups also frequently use taxis to move drugs for micro-trafficking. As a result, transport workers have often been the targets of criminal violence.
The debate over the issue of the narcotaxis in Guerrero, one of Mexico's most violent states, illustrates the confusion and conflict that often occurs among the three levels of government in Mexico in relation to public security problems. Frequently underfunded and outgunned, municipal officials must rely on the federal government for aid with local security problems, while federal officials characterize local and state governments as inept and corrupt.