HomeNewsBrief'Mexico Mining Ops Pay Hefty Extortion Fees to Cartels'
BRIEF

'Mexico Mining Ops Pay Hefty Extortion Fees to Cartels'

ILLEGAL MINING / 8 MAY 2012 BY EDWARD FOX EN

Mexican criminal organizations like the Zetas and Gulf Cartel may be charging mines up to $37,000 a month in "security" fees, a practice more commonly seen in Colombia.

Mexico's Attorney General's Office (PGR) has opened twelve investigations into extortion threats faced by some 300 mines across the country, reported Excelsior. The Zetas, the Gulf Cartel and the Knights Templar (Caballeros Templarios) are identified as the groups mostly deeply involved in running such extortion schemes.

Mining companies are pressured to pay between $11,000 to $37,000 a month for the rights to operate in a criminal group's "plaza," or territory. If this is not paid, the company's directors, family members, and the miners themselves are threatened with attacks, according to an official from the PGR.

The PGR has reportedly created an inter-agency investigative team, made up of officials from the state government level, the Ministry of the Interior, and the Ministry of Public Security, aimed at protecting the mining industry. The threat against the mining sector is serious enough to be considered a national security issue, one official from the organized crime division of the PGR told Excelsior.

InSight Crime Analysis

Mexico is one of Latin America's richest sources for minerals and its mining industry has been growing in recent years, valued at $10 billion in 2009. This has attracted unwanted attention from drug gangs looking to diversify their financial sources. As a 2010 report by Reuters describes, violent gangs attack, kidnap, extort, and sell drugs to miners throughout Mexico.

But extortion and kidnapping are not the only threats faced by mining operations in Mexico. Since 2008, criminal groups have reportedly stolen some $3 million worth in gold shipments, favoring the mineral as a way of laundering "dirty" money. Such thefts become so common that some companies have been forced to switch to aerial, rather than ground, transportation in order to move their mineral extracts.

The extortion of mining operations is a big money-maker for Colombia's criminal groups. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), along with drug gangs like the Rastrojos and Urabeños, have all been linked to the extortion of gold mines, either charging a tax on the machinery or running the mining operations themselves so as to profit directly from mineral sales.

So far it seems that Mexican criminal groups are more focused on charging mining companies the right to operate in their "plaza," rather than taxing the material produced in the mine or the equipment. But groups like the Familia Michoacana have already shown interest in taking on a more direct role in the mining trade, selling illegally extracted minerals as a side business. Mexico's mining trade has long represented a significant part of the national economy. For criminal groups looking for a wealthy and well-developed industry to extort, the mining sector is an attractive option.

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 / 2 DEC 2015

Formulating effective strategies to combat Mexico-based crime organizations requires a nuanced understanding of their economic structures, says award-winning…

DISPLACEMENT / 25 SEP 2012

From September 2011 to February 2012, hundreds of families fled the Sierra Madre in Sinaloa state after criminal gangs killed…

MEXICO / 9 MAR 2012

The United Nations issued strong words on Tuesday, stating that the Mexican state has participated in the kidnapping and disappearance…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Who Are Memo Fantasma and Sergio Roberto de Carvalho?

24 JUN 2022

Inside the criminal career of Memo Fantasma  In March 2020, InSight Crime revealed the identity and whereabouts of Memo Fantasma, a paramilitary commander and drug trafficker living in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…

THE ORGANIZATION

Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…