Mexico Fights Wave of Common Crime

By Weissenstein, Michael | Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque), October 21, 2012 | Go to article overview

Mexico Fights Wave of Common Crime


Weissenstein, Michael, Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque)


MORELIA, Mexico - On a cool September evening, about a half-hour after the sun set on the rose-colored Baroque cathedral of this colonial city in western Mexico, three men burst into a Coca-Cola distribution center on the edge of town.

The robbers pistol-whipped three security guards, grabbed thousands of pesos in cash and fled into a poor neighborhood of crumbling brick houses. Sirens screaming, state police arrived to find the white Nissan Sentra they believe was the getaway car being engulfed in flames.

"You can't even go out at night here," homemaker Yolanda Villa said, poking her head out the door of her home around the corner. "They beat you, kidnap you, rob you," her 9-year-old son Luis said, finishing her sentence.

In cities and towns across Mexico, a nearly six-year offensive against drug cartels has been accompanied by a surge in common crime: assaults and robberies that grab no headlines but make life miserable for ordinary citizens.

Some experts blame the drug war for distracting law enforcement from pursuing common criminals. Others say drug cartels have turned to common crime as a way to fund their clashes with each other, and with troops and federal police.

Some of the first effects were felt in Morelia, the once-sleepy capital of Michoacan state, where Mexico launched its war on drugs.

The clashes in Michoacan began when local traffickers who had worked with the Gulf cartel became disenchanted with the tactics of that cartel's brutal enforcement wing, the Zetas, and formed their own gang with the avowed intention of keeping the Zetas out. …

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