El Universal reports on the emergence in Mexico City of thugs-for-hire who impersonate cartel members in order to intimidate their clients' rivals.

For a price, these fake cartel hitmen can be used to carry out evictions, ward off jealous ex-boyfriends, and discourage workers from filing lawsuits against their bosses. According to the El Universal video report below, they have imitated members of the major drug trafficking organizations, from the Familia Michoacana to the Zetas.

Many are open about their services. One of the impersonators interviewed by El Universal, “Hector,” solicits clients right next to the Mexican Supreme Court, in the center of the city. Although he masquerades as a mover, his real occupation is an open secret amongst local police. His wife passes out business cards bearing his cell phone.

Their services are not limited to intimidation, and many actually follow up on their threats. One, “Anibal,” recounts as part of his pitch how he sent three individuals to hospital.

As for the nature of their clients, El Universal reports that while some are individuals with personal disputes, most have business matters to settle. Many are representatives of development companies, interested in buying up real estate at sub-market prices. The biggest portion of their income comes from lawyers, however, who hire the intimidators to recover property, carry out evictions, and even to deliver subpoenas.

InSight Crime Analysis

The existence of such a service is a testament to the level of fear associated with drug trafficking organizations like the Zetas and the Familia Michoacana.

The identity of the clients of these impersonators is equally disconcerting. If lawyers must rely on thugs and extortionists to enforce justice, it does not bode well for the future of Mexico’s already rickety justice system.

By capitalizing on the reputation of groups like these, however, intimidators are putting themselves at considerable risk. None of these organizations is likely to take kindly to imposters using their name. If discovered, they risk incurring the very wrath with which they threaten others.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

The power of Colombia's elites is founded upon one of the most unequal divisions of land in the world. As of the early 21st century, one percent of landowners own more than half the country's agricultural land.1  Under Spanish rule, Colombia's agriculture was organized on the hacienda...

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Honduras is currently one of the most violent countries on the planet that is not at war. The violence is carried out by transnational criminal organizations, local drug trafficking groups, gangs and corrupt security forces, among other actors. Violence is the focal point for the international aid...

Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Organized crime and the violence associated with it is the preeminent problem in Latin America and the Caribbean today. The region is currently home to six of the most violent countries in the world that are not at war. Four of those countries are in Central America...

Special Report: Gangs in Honduras

Special Report: Gangs in Honduras

In a new report based on extensive field research, InSight Crime and the Asociacion para una Sociedad mas Justa have traced how Honduras' two largest gangs, the MS13 and the Barrio 18, are evolving, and how their current modus operandi has resulted in staggering levels of violence...

Bolivia: the New Hub for Drug Trafficking in South America

Bolivia: the New Hub for Drug Trafficking in South America

Transnational organized crime likes opportunities and little resistance. Bolivia currently provides both and finds itself at the heart of a new criminal dynamic that threatens national and citizen security in this landlocked Andean nation.

Justice and the Creation of a Mafia State in Guatemala

Justice and the Creation of a Mafia State in Guatemala

As Guatemala's Congress gears up to select new Supreme Court Justices and appellate court judges, InSight Crime is investigating how organized crime influences the selection process. This story details the interests of one particular political bloc vying for control over the courts and what's at stake: millions...

The FARC 2002-Present: Decapitation and Rebirth

The FARC 2002-Present: Decapitation and Rebirth

In August 2002, the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) greeted Colombia's new president with a mortar attack that killed 14 people during his inauguration. The attack was intended as a warning to the fiercely anti-FARC newcomer. But it became the opening salvo of...

The Urabeños - The Criminal Hybrid

The Urabeños - The Criminal Hybrid

The mad scramble for criminal power in the aftermath of the demobilization of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) is over. The Urabeños, or as they prefer to call themselves, the "Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia," have won.

Mexico's Security Dilemma: The Battle for Michoacan

Mexico's Security Dilemma: The Battle for Michoacan

Faced with the government's failure to rein in the criminals, communities across crime-besieged Mexico have been trying for years to organize effective civic resistance. Michoacan's vigilantes express the most extreme response by society to date, but other efforts have been less belligerent. In battle-torn cities along the...

Uruguay's Marijuana Bill Faces Political, Economic Obstacles

Uruguay's Marijuana Bill Faces Political, Economic Obstacles

If Uruguay's proposal to regulate the production, sale and distribution of marijuana is properly implemented and overcomes political and economic hurdles, it could be the most important drug regulation experiment in decades.