Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Ranch or Your Life

Ricardo Ravelo for Proceso 02/07/11

The proliferation of organized crime contradicts the triumphant attitude of the Calderon government that insists on publicizing ever “blow” it deals the narcos. The truth of the matter is, the narcos have opted to expand their operations and have found a gold mine via kidnappings and plundering. In states such as Veracruz, Durango, Coahuila, Chihuahua and Tamaulipas, they “legalize” highway robbery via public notaries. Many are the families that have been dispossessed of their assets, meanwhile the ineffective State authorities who have been overtaken by criminal groups do nothing to prevent it.

The fight against organized crime has not only unleashed killings and tension throughout the country, but has also set off kidnappings of small and medium level business people that, in order to pay the ransom, are obliged to turn over their entire estates in the face of death threats.
This new form of organized crime the drug cartels are employing to obtain great profits has been referred to as “diversification of activities.” To that end, even though narco-trafficking is a buoyant business, it is no longer the only source of profit.

The Zetas were the first to carry out kidnappings and to seize the assets of their victims. Other organizations such as La Familia Michoacana, La Cartel de Juarez and the most powerful Mexican cartel, the Sinaloan Cartel, have followed suit.

In order to carry out the dispossession of property and pass the transaction off as though it were a [legitimate] sale or transfer, the narcos bring along notaries who formalize the transactions. In this manner payment is secured with the hope that the criminals will respect the life of the kidnapped person.

This form of “highway robbery” is evidence of one thing: the Mexican State has been overtaken by organized crime and is incapable of protecting the life and property of its citizens.

An Anecdote
One of the recent cases of dispossession of property at the hands of organized crime involves Teodoro Apolinar Rodriguez, a construction magnate. Here is the story:
The afternoon of December 21, 2010 he drove his vehicle along the Alvarado-Tlacotalpan Federal Highway, on his way home from supervising some of his [construction] projects. A black truck flashed its lights at him. He saw that various subjects were aiming their high powered rifles at him. From the window a masked man yelled, “Pull over, son of a whore, or we will F*** you up!”

He pulled over to the shoulder and got out of the car. He was immediately seized by five men who tied his arms and feet and blindfolded him. “Don’t scream, f***er, because I’ll pierce your head with lead!” They shoved him into the truck.

During an interview with Proceso, the businessman commented that he had already had a similar experience, but in that instance he thought that they were going to kill him. “I felt like I didn’t matter, that my life had reached its end.”

After three hours, the truck stopped. “They took me out of the truck by force, and they took my cell phone away. I heard a door open and felt arms upon me and I was thrown to the ground.

“Here you’ll stay nice and quiet. If you yell, you die,” they warned me.

He remembers that in an adjoining room he heard various voices, including one that asked whether they were going to pay the ransom. It was in that moment, he says, that he became aware that he had been kidnapped. “The hours that had gone by seemed like an eternity. Since I was blindfolded with a hood over my head, I didn’t know if it was day or night.”

The next day, one of the kidnappers entered the room to bring him food. “I wasn’t hungry. But I was thirsty, really thirsty, and very nervous. I heard him load a cartridge into a gun and he put the barrel of the gun in my mouth. He told me that I was not going to get out alive if [my family] didn’t pay and that they had 24 hours to free me or to kill me. He said they were going to bury me alive.”

"How much did you ask for?"he asked [his kidnappers]

"25 million pesos."

"I told them that I didn’t have that much cash on hand, but I could make up the difference with machinery and a few cars. That is when they beat me on the back and in the ribs with the butt of a riffle. The kicked me and they threatened me by cocking their guns. I could hear the cocking of their guns followed by the click of the trigger. It was horrible.

“Not even an hour passed when they beat me again and they stuck the gun all the way to the roof of my mouth. They insisted they wanted 25 million pesos in cash. I made it clear that I didn’t have that sum; that I could pay them 5 million in cash, but they had to give me time so that I could call my wife so she could pay them.

"Time passed, I don’t know how much, and they told me that they would accept the five million. They asked me what else I had and I told them, four cars. They said they wanted the titles. They asked me for my wife’s name and phone number and they called to inform her that she had to pay the agreed upon sum and turn over the cars. She went along with it and agreed to pay them."

December 21, the captors received their payment and the cars with their titles. But it didn’t end there. Once the deal was all but closed, the kidnappers spoke with their victim; this time they demanded that he turn over his firearms that, according to them, he kept in his home.

With tears in his eyes and his voice trembling, Teodoro Apolinar continues his account:

"They entered the room where I was and they told me that they had received the cash and the cars, but now what they wanted was for me to turn over my weapons. I told them that I didn’t have weapons and that I didn’t even know how to shoot a gun.

"They yelled at me and told me not to play the fool, and that they knew that I had weapons. The truth is, I didn’t have any weapons, I only kept an old pistol at my ranch. I told them that that was the only gun I had and that if they wanted it, I would give it to them. They called my wife and she agreed to turn it over to them. My wife went out to the ranch, found the pistol, and handed it over to them and they all agreed that it was an old gun.”

Even though the agreed upon sum was paid and the gun was handed over, the nightmare did not end there. The criminals said they liked his ranch and they wanted it for themselves. They ordered the hired help to clear out, and they took up residence in the house.

"I didn’t have any alternative but to sign the ranch over to them,” says Apolinar Rodríguez, who realizes he made a mistake by telling his kidnappers that he had a gun, “I mean, they were going to let me go, but everything went down the tubes because of the gun.”

“Is your ranch that fantastic that it attracted the attention of your kidnappers?”

“We are talking about a property made up of a couple of acres, with a few head of cattle, and a house where I used to relax during the weekends with my family. That’s it. It wasn’t that big of a deal, but it was worth a bit of money.”

“And what happened after?”

“They let me go the 24th of December and I went home to have a drink. I didn’t want to even think about that nightmare. I couldn’t find peace. I would wake up frightened in the middle of the night. I thought I was still captive and that they were going to kill me.

"Those guys went to live at the ranch, and from there they operated. I didn’t do a thing about it out of fear that they would kill me or kill my family. The worst part about it is that another criminal group showed up and they got into it at my ranch. Ten people died and my property was seized by the PGR.”

A few months since this has happened, Apolinar Rodríguez still hasn’t been able to get his ranch back. He explains why:

"The authorities think I am part of the criminal group and now the whole world is asking me for money. The district attorney and the soldiers are asking me for money saying they will help me, but I think that getting my ranch back is going to cost me as much as if I were to buy it all over again.”

He kept his ranch, but he lost his life
Stories like this are common particularly in Veracruz, Durango, Coahuila, Chihuahua y Tamaulipas, places where abandoned properties abound since their owners had to flee the country or change their place of residence after being set free after a kidnapping.

Sometimes the ranchers have decided to get into a shootout with the narcos and kidnappers in
order to defend their property since the authorities don’t want to respond to these cases.

November 21, 2010, Alejandro Garza Tamez, a businessman from Tamaulipas, received a phone call, presumably from Los Zetas, demanding he turn over his property, el Rancho San José, located 15 km from Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas.
"We want your ranch. Get the papers in order,” they told him. Supposedly Zeta people had already arranged for a public notary to facilitate the fraudulent deal.

77 year old Don Alejo, as he was known by his friends, got everything ready: he gave his hired help the day off. He prepared his weapons and barricaded himself in one of the rooms in the house, waiting for the criminals.

When the armed men arrived at the ranch, Alejo Garza received them with gunfire. In the firefight four presumed narcos died, two were injured, and Don Alejo perished after receiving various gunshot wounds.

When elements of the Marina arrived, the scene was impressive: the exterior of the main house was destroyed by the bullet rounds and grenade explosions. At the back part of the property, there were four bodies. The soliders explored the area and discovered two wounded and unconscious subjects.

In the interior of the house there was just one body: that of Don Alejo, owner of the finca and a lumber magnate, with his two weapons at his side, pierced by two bullets. At each of the doorways and windows there were weapons and ammunition.

After reconstructing the events, the “marinos” concluded that Don Alejo had a strategy to protect his property. That is why he positioned weapons at strategic places within the house. He saved his property, but he lost his life. Because of his [brave] attitude, he has been immortalized in a corrido:

Hombre bragado y valiente /No le importó su dolor /Nació norteño hasta el tope /Como tal defendió su honor… /Salvó primero a sus hombres /Por los matones guardó /Llegaron a amedrentarlo /A balazos les contestó /Desde su noble trinchera / cuatro adelante se echó / Era su vida y su rancho /Era cuestión de su honor /Por eso murió a balazos /Por eso nunca se hincó /En la gloria está don Alejo /Él solito a su rancho salvó /Y los guachos (soldados) están sorprendidos / Pues a ninguno necesitó.

Powerless Government (Estado impotente)

In Durango—territory of the Sinaloan Cartel—gangs of kidnappers have gone to the extreme by receiving ransom in installments [think layway!!!]

According to Ramiro Ortiz Aguirre, state attorney general, they choose this method because their victims are chosen at random. He gives an example: "One gang asked one of their victims what he had at his disposal and he responded: ‘Well, I have just one cow,” and this same cow was exchanged for the freedom of this person.”

In other cases, according to Ortiz Aguirre, the kidnappers extend the victims a line of credit. They set them free so that they can get the agreed upon sum together which, in some of these shorts of cases, is 5,000 pesos.

He explains: "On one occasion, the kidnappers abducted a person from whom they demanded an unattainable sum. In this instance, the kidnappers let the person go so that he could get the money. There was an agreement between the kidnappers and the victim. He got the money and paid. In these cases there are never police complaints because the victims fear being murdered.
That is not the full extent of it. There are other gangs who force the victims to put a down payment on their freedom, then pay the rest of the ransom in payments which they receive according to a payment plan.

In many cases the extortion is carried out with a notary public who, under threat of force, gives an air of legitimacy to property transfer transactions. Because of this, last year the Mexican Senate considered an initiative as part of the Anti-Kidnapping Law that would cover narco-extortions validated by notaries.

The idea was that all of the transactions involving the use of threatened public notaries by criminal entities would be nullified. Even still, the practice of this type of extortion abounds in the country in the face of authorities who do nothing to prevent it.

30 comments:

  1. What is the fascination over what's happening in Mexico? It's not our country.

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  2. Because it's in your backyard and it does impact the US in many ways, if you have to ask, you obviously have no clue how and I dont have to the time explain it!

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  3. They're our neighbors you idiot

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  4. I hate to say it, but I dont see Mexico ever being at peace.

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  5. Why are you here if your not intrested in what is happening in Mexico. Go back to reading your readers digest, idiot.

    TE

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  6. This has been going on in Cuidad Miguel Aleman since the the late 90's It all started with the express kidnappings - many of the wealthy business men went to live across the border, because of this. There are many. many disappeared people from Miguel Aleman Tamps and are not even counted as victims from all this anarchy.

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  7. We are witnessing a leap backwards in the medieval Mediterranean time, when Moorish pirates were preying on their neighbors. But it happens in 21st century Mexico, with Mexicans preying on Mexicans. What a disgrace. We are witnessing the failure of a country as a social, political and judiciary system.

    Although, there is July 2012, with a chance for Mexico to change all that. What will Enrique Peña Nieto do differently? Any insights?

    Thanks Tiangera for bringing this paper to our attention. Welcome and brace yourself for a storm of criticism from the right-winger dinosaurs here because of Proceso being the origin of the paper. Dinosaurs only see in black and white.

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  8. @anon

    i can give you three reasons

    1: it is next door...

    2: many of us have ties to Mexico..

    3: there are 15 million illegal Mexicans in the USA

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  9. we need to fight these people the same way you fight terrorists, they are only driven by money no ideology or religion. what a shame that mexico being a country with 300 million people allows a few thousand cowardly thugs to ruin its counrry. kill them the same way you kill Al-Qaedan send in the marines and really show them who's boss. fucking pussies

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  10. Hey idiot, Who cares about what happens in mexico? Its true its our back yard. But it must have been the same feeling when illegal white people made themselves comfortable in mexicos terriotory a couple of hundreds of years ago. Don't trip we have gotten over. I'm sorry you don't feel bad for another human being that is being robbed and stripped from everything that he has. And to think american militias think they could go up against the cartels. American militia you need to stop watching john wayne movies and feriy tale disney movies.

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  11. @"Welcome and brace yourself for a storm of criticism from the right-winger dinosaurs here because of Proceso being the origin of the paper. Dinosaurs only see in black and white."

    Black or white or see the truth here is the originally article...also posted by BB "El Grande and the Vicious Media Dispute" here is the link: http://www.borderlandbeat.com/2010/12/el-grande-and-vicious-media-dispute.html

    I actually back my shit up with fact where are yours? Oh wait you have none right??


    Also why in the hell was my comment censored?? I did not violate any comment of the moderation of comments which are:

    1.) Any comment that gets personal with attacks using offensive language,
    2.) Racially motivated content that has nothing to do with topic and is hateful toward a particular group.
    3.) Any comment that incites and is inflammatory just for the sake of it.
    4.) Comments that do not add anything to a topic and are not constructive, cluttering the comment section unnecessarily

    What lil Tiangera couldn't handle a bit of criticism? At least Overmex or Buggs actually contradict my statements from time to time and have enough balls to debate me but to censor me?? Now that is really pathetic...SERIOUSLY if you cant handle a bit of criticism with facts then I guess this is the wrong site for you Tiangera....

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  12. I was just about to suggest that maybe all transactions involving property valued at over a certain amount of money (10,000 U.S / 100,000 Pesos) should be done before govt officials and maybe even recorded to be legitimate. But then reality set in and I realized that the piece of sh!t govt officials of Mexico are the biggest thieves of them all...

    777

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  13. pretty damn good article

    nothing annoys me more than a bully. especially someone who uses violence to force you to submit to them. i remember when i was a kid, even up until high school, i always knew that you gotta stand up to the bully. if you don't, he'll keep picking on you and others will think that you are weak, and they will pick on you too. then you become everyone's bitch. if you stand up to the bully, even if you get your ass whooped, you at least earn everyone's respect. but in mexico, you have only yourself to rely on and eventually, you will be murdered if you fight back. and then you're family will see you in the noticias with your head and penis cut off. to me, that is an unfair fight. the cartels have so much power that they've submitted an entire country.

    a good hard-working man who works all his life to live in a nice home to retire in, and then some lazy piece of shit wants to take it in an instant. i know that if a gang of thugs came to my house and told me to leave, i would tell them to go to hell. they would have to kill me first. that's why i respect DON ALEJO. he stood up to these bullies by himself, went out in a blaze of glory and took a few scum with him. he should be remembered as a brave man with morals and should be also remembered as a martyr. he is 100 times more of a man than el chapo and he possesed true morals that pendejo calderon should learn from.

    r.i.p. DON ALEJO

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  14. Did any of you guys read this? We have another Don Alejo in our hands, but this time he survived..
    http://laparadadigital.blogspot.com/2011/01/don-alfredo-mato-3-ladrones.html

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  15. It really has come down to this for many people in these war zonez.... their property or their lives? This dirty war is paralyzing much of the already slim economic life in these free fire zones as people have had to relinquish control over their houses, their farm properties, and their businesses to unknown groups of gangsters. Overheard innocent words said in phone conversations to relatives can easily lead to the loss of somebody's life. Talking innocently to the military or one faction or the other can also lead to losing one's life.

    I honestly don't see how many people, especially in the rural zones, manage to hang on?

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  16. Lil Tiangera was busy putting down a new floor in her spare bedroom so she hasn't been paying attention to you, but she would, nontheless, like to thank the BB community for so valiantly defending her, against what, or for what, she is not quite sure, but she certainly appreciates the gesture. Now, if you will excuse her, she has to go and bake a cake and paint her nails. Buenas noches.

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  17. @ Tiangera,
    when your nails are dry, I will kiss both your hands and wish you a good night.
    MFG

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  18. ''lito'brito @ http://www.litobrito.blog.com/February 8, 2011 at 9:28 PM

    good article...gives a feel for the depth of criminality in Mexico

    good raps Matanzas y Ajulio

    dang we got some vicious any mouses here ...where did all the hate come from?

    even picking on girls (tiangera)..very macho

    and hating on militias

    must be embarrassing to be so afraid of the almighty narcos ..

    when some other people are willing to take them on

    sure would like to get one of these any mouses over and administer a little discipline

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  19. whoa there Matanzas...not so fast amigo

    hey Tiangera..i will help you with your floor, and can whip up some good icing for that cake...

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  20. @ tiangera

    i love a woman who paints her nails.

    another great article.

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  21. prob'ly wont be no body picking on Tiangera anymore huh?

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  22. Classic example of lack of a second amendment and a criminal government, plain and simple. Somehow Don Alejo got around the Mexican anti-gun for law abiding citizen laws. Unfortunately He gave his life but if kidnappers thought they'd be met by a hail of gunfire every attempt, they might consider going back to run of the mill drug smuggling or other less overt types of crime.

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  23. @moron
    "Classic example of lack of a second amendment and a criminal government,"

    If you knew anything is that Mexicans are allow to have guns but of coarse you wouldn't know anything about that would you??

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  24. In the US kidnapping is a capital DEATH offense. While liberals fuss over the death penalty in Mexico summary execution appears to be the only effective method of dealing with the collapsed law enforcment,so quit acting as tho the judicial system exists declare open season and start eliminating those responsible. The welfare and functioning of the country as as a whole trumps the HUMAN RIGHTS arguments that are always made about rough treatment of criminals. I truly believe that if the Mexican public could be empowered ,owning guns,911,vigalantes,support of public by military,Govt media blitz, that the tradition of tolerating crime in Mexico could be changed.

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  25. To the idiot that said who cares about Mexico it's not our country. Y'all talk about how bad immigrants are and y'all are trying to pass laws in several states like Arizona. But what y'all fell to realize is that y'all always talk about how mexicans and blacks do alot of crimes and are bad. Y'all fell to realize that all the big killings ard done by white folks. Look at what happened in Arizona with that white crazy killer who killed all them people and y'all are worried about passing a bill. Look at what Timothy mcvay did in Oklahoma city or the BTK killer in Kansas and also Columbine high school and that's just a few and y'all are worried about immigrants and colored people. Come on worry about tour own people first then you can talk about how bad we are.

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  26. @ any mouse

    well when ya'll have 15 million illegals then ya'll will pass laws allowing ya'lls police to check peoples id's...

    ohhh i forgot ya'll already have laws like that don't ya'll

    ya'lls police check my permiso everytime i am in ya'lls country and i don't get upset because i don't feel entitled to be in ya'lls country illegally

    maybe if ya'lls schools would stop teaching bullshit like the USA stole a big part of ya'lls country, ya'll wouldn't feel like ya'll have some right to be in our country without ya'll having permission

    and yeap nunca olvides ..before ya'll figure ya'll just gonna take over ..ya'll will have to deal with all our maniacs

    ya'll had enough now?

    "L"B

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  27. All that said "L"B. All that need to be said.

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  28. Ask the communists, or any dictatorship, about the expropriation of personal property.

    Then ask yourself if they (cartels, gangs of thugs, whatever) don't want to take over!!

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  29. Classic example of lack of a second amendment and a criminal government, plain and simple. Somehow Don Alejo got around the Mexican anti-gun for law abiding citizen laws. Unfortunately He gave his life but if kidnappers thought they'd be met by a hail of gunfire every attempt, they might consider going back to run of the mill drug smuggling or other less overt types of crime.

    THE SAD PART OF THIS IS HE DIDNT HAVE HIS NEIGHBORS AND OTHERS WITH HIM. IF HE DID HE MAY HAVE WON THE BATTLE...BUT as it was he died honorably with a warm gun in his hand and blood in his mouth. May his soul rest in peace with the other Warriors that proceeded him.

    Mexico if you are going to survive you must band together and fight these fat bastards until they are grips of hell!!! rtc

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  30. "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing"

    I respect the few who empathize or sympathize with the situation. I dearly respect and admire the very, very few who demonstrate courage and conviction by taking appropriate action - at whatever the price.

    To the rest who demonstrate indifference, look-the-other-way and do nothing YOU, PERMIT EVIL TO TRIUMPH ! God help you when you, your friends or your family needs help - anywhere!

    ReplyDelete

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