The Battle for Mexico City’s Corners Heats Up

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There are trends that InSight Crime is tracking regionwide, one of which is the increasing fragmentation of the large drug trafficking groups and the resulting battle “for the corner” that often leads to more violence than even the fight between the mega-cartels that grabs the headlines.

El Universal newspaper offers a glimpse into that fight with a story and a map (that InSight reproduces below), which is playing out in the northeast part of Mexico City. The squabble, according to the newspaper, is happening in the municipality of Nezahualcóyotl between the Familia Michoacana and the Zetas.

According to one theory, the Zetas founded the Familia in the early 2000s, but the latter broke away from their teachers in 2006. The two operate similarly, so it’s not surprising that they would fight over the same business. They have diversified their businesses to include things such extortion, kidnapping, human trafficking and piracy.

In this case, the business at stake is “narcomenudeo” or what we call microtrafficking.  The newspaper says the fight for the corner has led to a spike in murders, including the massacre of eight people earlier this month. Added to this complicated scenario is the fact that two parts of the Familia Michoacana appear to have broken away and are seeking control of their own territories.

It is a pattern InSight Crime sees repeated in many places across the region. From Ciudad Juarez to Monteria, Colombia, larger groups are increasingly fragmenting and battling each other.

Part of this trend can be explained by the way in which the smaller groups are paid by the larger groups, who use them as muscle and transporters, which now comes in merchandise rather than cash. The smaller groups that receive payment in bricks of cocaine, for example, often reprocessed them into crystals that resemble crack. These are sold by the stone. This has upped consumption rates and profits for the smaller groups who then begin their battles “for the corner.”

Authorities in Mexico say fights like these have made Ciudad Juarez one of the most violent places in the world. And while this is only partially true, security officials must be wondering if things in Mexico City are starting to spin out of control.

The battle for the

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