A Coahuila coal mine

Citing links to organized crime, the Attorney General's Office (PGR) in Mexico has frozen the accounts of 12 mining companies so far this year, underscoring how criminal groups may be moving to diversify their criminal portfolios.

El Siglo de Torreon reported on January 25 that investigations into the possible drug trafficking ties of mining companies in Coahuila state were underway. The 12 businesses are also being investigated for money laundering, tax evasion and breach of federal regulations.

According to Justice in Mexico Coahuila is Mexico's biggest mining state and a key producer of coal; the state supplies Mexico's Federal Electricity Commission with over 3 million tons of coal annually.

InSight Crime Analysis

As Justice in Mexico notes, the allegations of organized crime ties to mining in Coahuila state first emerged in October last year when the state's former governor, Humberto Moreira, declared that the then recently killed leader of the Zetas, Humberto Lazcano, alias "Z-3,"had run coal mining operations there. Details on the current investigations have not been released, so it is unknown if any of the companies under investigation are suspected of ties to the Zetas.

As well as allegations of running their own mining operations, Mexico's criminal groups -- among them the Gulf Cartel and Knights Templar -- have been accused of extorting mines, charging them up to $37,000 a month for the right to operate in the gang's territory.

While organized crime may be extending its reach into the Mexican mining business, criminal involvement appears to be some way off that seen in Colombia. There, drug trafficking groups and leftist guerrilla organizations have been found to both extort and run their own illegal gold mines, and may be doing so in half of the country, according to Colombian police. What's more, the practice has become so lucrative in certain areas -- notably in northern Antioquia -- that it has likely overtaken the drug trade as the primary source of income for criminal gangs.

Illegal mining in Mexico is certainly a long way off reaching this level. However, as authorities continue to increase pressure on drug trafficking operations, it would be unsurprising if the country's larger, more sophisticated gangs move to diversify their sources of revenue further.

Investigations

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

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 of ...

The Victory of the Urabeños - The New Face of Colombian Organized Crime

The Victory of the Urabeños - The New Face of Colombian Organized Crime

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.

50 years of the FARC: War, Drugs and Revolution

50 years of the FARC: War, Drugs and Revolution

The possibility of ending nearly 50 years of civil conflict is in sight. While the vast majority of the Colombian public want to see peace, for themselves and especially for their children, the enemies of the peace negotiations appear to be strong, and the risks inherent in the ...

Mexico’s Security Dilemma: Michoacan’s Militias

 Mexico’s Security Dilemma: Michoacan’s Militias

Well-armed vigilantes in Mexico's Michoacan state have helped authorities dismantle a powerful criminal organization, but now the government may have a more difficult task: keeping Michoacan safe from the vigilantes and rival criminal groups.

Uruguay, Organized Crime and the Politics of Drugs

Uruguay, Organized Crime and the Politics of Drugs

After the lower house passed the controversial marijuana bill July 31, Uruguay is poised to become the first country on the planet to regulate the production, sale, and distribution of the drug, and provide a model for countries looking for alternatives to the world’s dominant drug policy paradigm. ...

The Zetas in Nuevo Laredo

The Zetas in Nuevo Laredo

After the capture of Zetas boss "Z40," Nuevo Laredo is bracing itself for the worst. This investigation breaks down what makes the city such an important trafficking corridor, and what it will take for the Zetas to maintain their grip on the city.

El Salvador's Gang Truce: Positives And Negatives

El Salvador's Gang Truce: Positives And Negatives

Whether it is sustainable or not, the truce -- which the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and the Barrio 18 put into place March 2012 -- has changed the conventional thinking about who the gangs are and what is the best way to handle the most difficult law and order ...

FARC, Peace and Possible Criminalization

FARC, Peace and Possible Criminalization

The possibility of ending nearly 50 years of civil conflict is in sight. While the vast majority of the Colombian public want to see peace, for themselves and especially for their children, the enemies of the peace negotiations appear to be strong, and the risks inherent in the ...

Corruption in El Salvador: Politicians, Police and Transportistas

Corruption in El Salvador: Politicians, Police and Transportistas

Since the end of El Salvador's civil war, the country's police has become a key player in the underworld. This series of five articles explore the dark ties between criminal organizations and the government's foremost crime fighting institution.

Juarez after the War

Juarez after the War

As a bitter war between rival cartels grinds to an end, Ciudad Juarez has lost the title of world murder capital, and is moving towards something more like normality. InSight Crime looks at the role politicians, police, and for-hire street gangs played in the fighting -- asking who ...