HomeNewsBriefMexico’s Oil Thieves Have Moved Into Extortion in Guanajuato
BRIEF

Mexico’s Oil Thieves Have Moved Into Extortion in Guanajuato

EXTORTION / 15 NOV 2019 BY SUKANTI BHAVE EN

While the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel has faced the brunt of the Mexican government’s war against oil theft, it has used its remaining clout in the state of Guanajuato to fall back on another successful criminal economy: intimidation and extortion.  

The cartel’s move into extortion first caught headlines in September when eight of its members were arrested for extorting tortilla and taco restaurants in Celaya, Guanajuato, reported Televisa. Authorities also allegedly discovered the gang’s main operation center, seizing money, computers, weapons and vehicles, as well as records of the businesses they had been extorting. The findings showed that the gang was also active in extortion in other cities in the state, including Salamanca and Villagran.

Carlos Zamarripa, the Attorney General of Guanajuato, told the press that “our analysts are now processing documents and spreadsheets with lists of victims and shops.” 

These arrests came after a series of attacks on tortilla bakeries and restaurants in Guanajuato, stretching back to August. According to owners of tortilla shops in the city, the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel ask for one-time payments of between 30,000 and 500,000 pesos ($1,500-$26,000) as well as monthly payments of 3,000-5,000 pesos ($150-260), reported El Sol del Bajio.

SEE ALSO: Cartel Takedown Won’t Solve Mexico’s Oil Theft Problem

A series of attacks in Celaya in August appeared linked to these extortion tactics. Armed attacks at two establishments resulted in the death of four people and left one person wounded, reported Milenio. At the Indita restaurant at Lake Zirahuén, gunmen opened fire, killing three women who were working at the establishment. The fourth victim was a customer at a construction materials shop on the Panamerican highway. Another attack at the Perlita tortilleria ended up causing damage to property, but no casualties were reported. 

This led to a widespread strike among tortilla shops in Celaya, with many of them shutting down to protest the violence against them.

Guanajuato, one of Mexico’s industrial heartlands, has seen extortion of restaurants, butcher shops, and other businesses skyrocket of late. But homicide rates have also doubled since 2017, largely as a consequence of the war between the Jalisco Cartel and CSRL, and the government’s muscular intervention as a result. While the state saw 1,084 homicides in 2017, that number had already reached 2,000 by September 2019, reported Animal Politico. 

InSight Crime Analysis 

Despite promising not to go after the cartels, Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador has made it a priority to bring the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel down, due to their dependence on oil theft. By July 2019, authorities had reportedly arrested or killed 62 suspected cartel collaborators in Guanajuato. But the cartel was formed and rose to power inside this state, making it no surprise that it has since pivoted to other criminal economies such as extortion.

Born out of a coalition of local gangs to fight the encroaching Jalisco Cartel New Generation (Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación – CJNG), the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel has deep roots in much of Guanajuato. Despite being relatively unknown at the time, it allegedly warned the president in January to remove security forces fighting oil theft in the area or people would die. The note that was left near the Pemex refinery in Salamanca and was seemingly signed by José Antonio Yépez Ortiz, alias “El Marro,” the leader of the cartel. Despite the crackdown, El Marro remains at large.

SEE ALSO: Mexico’s Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel Risks Burning Too Bright, Too Fast

In March 2019, state and federal armed forces launched operation Golpe de Timón against Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel. However, villages torched vehicles, blocked roads, and impeded the execution of search warrants.

Nevertheless, Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel’s strength is localized, and is not believed to have diverse revenue streams. While the government has targeted its oil theft operations, extortion has provided a relatively easy alternative.

Compartir icon icon icon

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.

Related Content

DRUG POLICY / 15 FEB 2019

On October 22, 2018, authorities pulled over a Dominican national identifying himself as Angel Javier Morell-Oneill as he drove in…

HEROIN / 16 SEP 2016

Falling coffee production in Mexico's Guerrero state, in part due to a devastating plant fungus, has reportedly contributed to rising…

COCAINE / 2 APR 2020

Crude oil siphoned from Colombia's pipelines is increasingly being processed by clandestine refineries that manufacture a low-quality fuel, known as…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…