Mexican State May Criminalize Gang ‘Lookouts’

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The Mexican state of Quintana Roo is considering making it a crime to inform criminal gangs about government operations, although it may not be feasible to prosecute all lookouts, many of whom are minors.

The state’s legislature is debating a proposal which would define and criminalize the practice known as “halconeo,” in which criminal groups pay lookouts — “halcones,” or falcons — to alert them about the operations of the security forces. The legislator who introduced the bill, Eduardo Espinosa Abuxapqui, stated that the law would prosecute those who give “privileged information” to criminal groups, though he admitted that would be impossible to punish those who pass other kinds of information to gangs.

The proposed penalties include fines, being held without bail, and anywhere from two to six years in prison. Espinosa also indicated that the penalties would be more severe if the crime involved the use of official vehicles or involved minors, disabled people, or people who have served as police or soldiers.

InSight Crime Analysis

At least 10 other Mexican states have passed some kind of law prohibiting halconeo. Sinaloa state, for one, passed its own version of this legislation in June. However, as InSight Crime has noted, prosecuting the lowest link in the criminal hierarchy seems like a futile as well as impractical task for an already overtaxed justice system.

Criminal groups frequently pay youths as young as 14 to serve as lookouts, according to reports, with this position often serving as their entry into organized crime.

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