Monday, August 30, 2010

Estimates on Kidnapped Migrants

A handful of Mexican NGOs, using data from the CNDH, say that 20,000 immigrants passing through Mexico are kidnapped each year, which (even if the figure is exaggerated) is why we have protests like the one jarringly photographed above. The CNDH says that three quarters of all migrants who are kidnapped are victimized in Veracruz, Tabasco, and Tamaulipas. These are, not coincidentally, three states with a strong presence of the Zetas. This tendency to expand into extortion and other activities harmful to non-combatants is often associated with the Zetas, who I've read are the organized crime group with the shallowest roots as drug traffickers. They formed as a group of gunmen, so they didn't tease together a smuggling network or forge relationships with Colombian cocaine producers. They could get rich without doing so. When they broke away from their erstwhile sponsors, i.e. those people in Tamaulipas who were drug traffickers first and foremost rather than all-purpose gangsters, the Zetas still had the guns and the will to wreak havoc, but no drug connections and the consequent profit margins. As a result, to keep their wallets fat, they've gotten into much more alarming activities, and have made northern cities where they operate much more violent. This is something to remember and plan for if Mexico (or the US) moves toward legalization at some point.

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