HomeNewsBriefMexico Red Cross Caught in Crossfire of Rival Criminal Groups
BRIEF

Mexico Red Cross Caught in Crossfire of Rival Criminal Groups

HOMICIDES / 26 APR 2019 BY NATASHA CLANCY EN

Red Cross aid workers in Mexico have been forced to accept armed security details following a series of attacks from criminal groups in recent months, underscoring how rising insecurity is affecting the work of international aid organizations in the country.

Volunteers with the Red Cross in Mexico are now operating with state security escorts in the city of Salamanca in central Guanajuato state, El Universal reported, after suffering attacks from criminal groups. The announcement comes shortly after a man with gunshot injuries was dragged out of a Red Cross ambulance and abducted by an armed gang.

The non-governmental organization has called on such groups to respect their lives and work, following an almost identical incident earlier this month. An armed group intercepted a Red Cross ambulance close to Guerrero’s capital of Chilpancingo as it transported a woman with gunshot wounds to the hospital, executing her inside the vehicle and attacking two paramedics, Vanguardia reported.

SEE ALSO: Mexico News and Profiles

Following the attacks, the Red Cross temporarily shut down its efforts, apologizing to its patients but asserting that “all of us who are volunteers in this noble institution believe in our mission, full of the humanitarian spirit that guides us, but at this moment we must take care of our integrity,” according to El Universal.

The following day, however, the organization resumed operations after state authorities in Salamanca agreed to provide armed escorts to accompany paramedics on “high-risk or high-impact calls.” Security forces have so far been unable to identify or locate the perpetrators in either case.

InSight Crime Analysis

The latest attacks are further proof that volunteers with non-governmental organizations continue to be attacked across the country. These attacks are sometimes targeted at specific NGOs but are usually not coordinated acts against humanitarian organizations specifically, being instead crimes of opportunity.

Volunteers often find themselves in the way of a gang’s objectives, such as exerting control over local communities or completing unfinished executions of victims who paramedics were attempting to help.

Indeed, in February of this year, a Red Cross coordinator was murdered in Zihuatanejo on Guerrero’s Pacific coast when an armed man entered his office and shot him in the head. In November 2018, a Red Cross paramedic was killed and four others injured in Guerrero’s small city of Taxco in an incident the state’s governor described as verging on terrorism. A group of gunmen opened fire as volunteers were distributing humanitarian aid to local residents.

If the threats and attacks against Red Cross workers and those they tend to continue, the group may be forced to shut down operations in Mexico altogether. This would be a serious blow to some of the country’s poorest rural communities, where groups like the Red Cross have taken on the role of providing essential healthcare in the absence of government assistance and effective security strategies to protect them from the growing threat posed by organized crime groups.

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

INFOGRAPHICS / 28 SEP 2011

The Mexican border town of Nuevo Laredo has seen three brutal killings in an apparent campaign by the Zetas against…

MEXICO / 8 SEP 2012

Schools and businesses shut down en masse in some parts of Mexico state over fears that a mysterious criminal group…

DRUG POLICY / 25 OCT 2017

The homegrown problem of prescription painkiller abuse continues to be the biggest, deadliest drug threat to the United States, according…

About InSight Crime

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.

THE ORGANIZATION

Combating Environmental Crime in Colombia

15 JUN 2021

InSight Crime presented findings from an investigation into the main criminal activities fueling environmental destruction in Colombia.