Luxury cars, mansions, mobile phones, jewels and other assets seized from suspected members of Mexican criminal organisations are auctioned well below market prices, according to a report by El Universal.
The report found that the average price at which the government sells a confiscated piece of real estate fell from 592,000 pesos ($47,000) in 2008 to 199,000 ($15,000) in 2010. The government has sold off some 1,720 properties between 2008 and May 2011, including those which weren't seized from organized criminal groups.
The newspaper obtained data on the auctioning of these goods via an application to the Federal Institute for Access to Public Information (IFAI).
In an editorial, El Universal criticized the lack of transparency in the process of selling of confiscated property, and said that it appeared to be at the discretion of a small number of individuals.
The inventory of over 20 million items held by the Management and Disposal of Assets Service (SAE) as of June this year included 263 aircraft, 671 ships and 17,000 vehicles. One storage point, near the capital, holds more than 900 “narco-vehicles,” 100 of which are armoured, reports El Universal.
The state of Sinaloa, one of the regions worst hit by drug violence, tops the list of real estate that has been confiscated by federal authorities, accounting for 25 percent of the country's total.