HomeNewsBriefUnderreporting Helps Extortion Thrive in Mexico, Latin America
BRIEF

Underreporting Helps Extortion Thrive in Mexico, Latin America

EXTORTION / 1 NOV 2018 BY PARKER ASMANN EN

Citizens in Mexico are extorted once every hour and 15 minutes, underscoring how fundamental this activity is for the country’s criminals and how severe underreporting makes it increasingly difficult for authorities across the region to combat this crime.

Organized crime groups in Mexico extorted 6.6 million people and 525,000 businesses -- 93.2 percent of the time via telephone -- in 2017, in what has become one of the most commonly committed crimes in the country, according to Mexico's National Statistics Agency (Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía – INEGI), Milenio reported.

The money demanded by extortionists was handed over in 448,800 individual cases, and businesses that were extorted paid up in 8.3 percent of reported cases in 2017, according to Milenio.

SEE ALSO: Mexico News and Profiles

However, authorities are struggling to hold those responsible for carrying out these crimes accountable. Extortion demands go unreported in 97.4 percent of cases, according to authorities. Only acts of corruption are underreported at a higher rate.

Nationwide, extortion ranks as the third most common crime in the country. On the state level, however, extortion is the most common crime in criminal hotspots like Guanajuato, where crime groups are currently in a violent battle over control of oil theft activities, and the second most common crime in states like Guerrero, where authorities have for years struggled to combat the control that organized crime groups wield, according to the 2018 National Survey of Victimization and Perception of Public Security (Encuesta Nacional de Victimización y Percepción de la Seguridad Pública – ENVIPE).


(Graphic courtesy of Milenio)

InSight Crime Analysis

The severe underreporting of extortion crimes in Mexico is part of a broader regional phenomenon throughout Latin America, and is the main obstacle for authorities when trying to hold those responsible to account.

Through field research in Central America’s Northern Triangle region of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, InSight Crime found that citizens fail to report these crimes for fear of reprisal from the gangs due to the possible leaking of information from corrupt police forces, or simply because they believe that it won’t be of any use because the crime has become so widespread and falling victim to it has become nearly inevitable.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Extortion

But what makes it even more difficult to hold extortionists responsible is the fact that a large number of these extortion calls are made from prison using cell phones that have been smuggled inside. Even if authorities knew who made the demands, it’s very hard to gather enough evidence to build a case that is strong enough to prosecute those behind them.

share 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.

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 / 18 DEC 2020

Lawmakers in Mexico have passed a new law that limits the power and restricts the operations of foreign law enforcement…

JUDICIAL REFORM / 25 JAN 2012

Some 90 percent of people arrested during Felipe Calderon’s first five years as president of Mexico went free, according…

EXTORTION / 6 JUL 2015

With great fanfare, Guatemala has launched a cellular phone application intended to combat extortion. But is an app really an…

About InSight Crime

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.

THE ORGANIZATION

Collaborating on Citizen Security Initiatives

8 JUN 2021

Co-director Steven Dudley worked with Chemonics, a DC-based development firm, to analyze the organization’s citizen security programs in Mexico.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Deepens Its Connections with Universities

31 MAY 2021

A partnership with the University for Peace will complement InSight Crime’s research methodology and expertise on Costa Rica.

THE ORGANIZATION

With Support from USAID, InSight Crime Will Investigate Organized Crime in Haiti

31 MAY 2021

The project will seek to map out Haiti's principal criminal economies, profile the specific groups and actors, and detail their links to elements of the state.

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.