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 / 9 JAN 2014

Security analyst Alejandro Hope gives his thoughts about what Mexico's security situation will look like in 2014. Overall, the outlook…

ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME / 10 JUN 2019

Government-regulated crocodile and turtle farms have helped reduce illegal hunting and protect endangered species, but the illicit trade continues.

MEXICO / 15 APR 2015

A series of high-profile takedowns have ensured that the fragmentation of Mexico’s criminal groups has continued apace, with…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Unraveling the Web of Elites Connected to Organized Crime

27 JUL 2021

InSight Crime published Elites and Organized Crime in Nicaragua, a deep dive into the relationships between criminal actors and elites in that Central American nation.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime’s Greater Focus on US-Mexico Border

20 JUL 2021

InSight Crime has decided to turn many of its investigative resources towards understanding and chronicling the criminal dynamics along the US-Mexico border.

THE ORGANIZATION

Key Arrests and Police Budget Increases Due to InSight Crime Investigations

8 JUL 2021

With Memo Fantasma’s arrest, InSight Crime has proven that our investigations can and will uncover major criminal threats in the Americas.

THE ORGANIZATION

Organized Crime’s Influence on Gender-Based Violence

30 JUN 2021

InSight Crime investigator Laura N. Ávila spoke on organized crime and gender-based violence at the launch of a research project by the United Nations Development Programme.

THE ORGANIZATION

Conversation with Paraguay Judicial Operators on PCC

24 JUN 2021

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley formed part of a panel attended by over 500 students, all of whom work in Paraguay's judicial system.