A new video provides an inside look at the operations of small-scale drug trafficking groups on the campus of Mexico’s biggest university, suggesting that the general lack of control security forces have over criminal groups has permeated the country’s top academic institution.
The video, filmed by Mexican journalist Humberto Padgett for Grupo Imagen, appears to show drugs being sold in plain sight in front of the engineering school on the main campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México – UNAM), whose sprawling complex accomodates nearly 350,000 students and more than 30,000 staff each academic year.
In the video, at least two groups of microtraffickers appear to sell drugs to Padgett without any concern or difficulty. Padgett was able to purchase marijuana, crack cocaine, powder cocaine, heroin and LSD from the group, adding that there was “nothing he couldn’t buy.” (See video below)
However, one individual discovered Padgett was filiming the transaction with a small camera as he was purchasing drugs from one of the groups.
“Are you recording there with your cell phone?” one of the sellers asks.
Pedgett repeatedly denies the accusation, asserting that he is not recording. The apparent drug dealers then take out three pistols and proceed to threaten and physically attack Padgett.
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“What do you want more, your work or your life?” they taunt him.
After the video surfaced online and reports of the incident were widely shared by various Mexican news outlets, UNAM denounced the attacks against Padgett in a statement and filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República – PGR).
In the statement, UNAM claims that the individuals are “unaffiliated” with the university and have already been reported to the proper authorities “numerous times.” The university added that it will “continue to promote the necessary measures needed to combat the sale of illegal substances in university spaces.”
InSight Crime Analysis
The latest video appears to further prove the inability of security forces — whether federal or campus police — to control organized crime groups in Mexico.
UNAM and other large universities are, of course, not strangers to petty drug dealing. In June of this year, 13 presumed microtraffickers in possession of various drugs, primarily cocaine and marijuana, were arrested on UNAM’s campus. And shortly after that, a network of at least 20 individuals linked to the Tláhuac Cartel — a group engaged in drug trafficking, extortion, kidnapping and homicide in and around Mexico City — was discovered to be operating on the campus. The network allegedly sold marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, LSD and hashish, earning more than 100,000 pesos (more than $5,600) per day.
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However, authorities have struggled to curtail the group’s activities, despite the fact that they have been linked to violent and sophisticated criminal activities. Campus security forces have carried out two operations to try and arrest the network’s leaders, but have been unsuccessful as the individuals allegedly use other students as “shields” to exit campus property, using scooters to then disappear into Mexico City’s busy streets.
The failure to drive microtraffickers from UNAM’s campus reflects a broader struggle by authorities in Mexico City to deal with such crime groups. Officials have resisted acknowledging the presence of organized crime in Mexico City in the past despite evidence suggesting otherwise, and seem at a loss for a strategy for how to deal with their increasingly brazen operations.