Can Crocodile and Turtle Farms Reduce Mexico’s Eco-Trafficking?

Government-regulated crocodile and turtle farms have helped reduce illegal hunting and protect endangered species in Mexico, but the illicit trade continues. Illegally hunted and possibly illegally bred animals and their byproducts still circulate, and are also leaking out into the international market.

The humble house in the rural village of Simón Sarlat in the tropical Mexican state of Tabasco has a sign hanging outside offering fish for sale. Inside, the front room is dark, the walls robin egg blue and dirty. In the corner sits a large freezer, full of frozen fish, but there are other goods available if the right questions are asked.

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Read the rest of this article, co-authored with Deborah Bonello, in its entirety at InSight Crime (o aquí en español).

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US Drug Probe Lands Guatemala President in Hot Water

Controversy is swirling in Guatemala after evidence emerged showing that President Jimmy Morales used a helicopter owned by a presidential candidate recently arrested in the United States on drug charges — a case that has turned up the heat significantly on the Central American nation’s head of state.

Jimmy Morales llega a San Rafael Pie de la Cuesta en el helicoptero que Mario Estrada ha usado en su campaña electoral. (Foto: Twitter del Mingob)

Guatemala President Jimmy Morales stepping off a plane owned by recently arrested presidential candidate Mario Amilcar Estrada Orellana (Photo: Mingob Twitter)

President Morales, who will be replaced after elections this year, reportedly used a helicopter owned by candidate Mario Amilcar Estrada Orellana for official business in January 2018 and possibly on at least one other occasion, Prensa Libre reported. Morales claimed in an April 23 press release that the helicopter was contracted by his government with a company called Maya World Tours, which brokers helicopter flights.

However, a legal representative for Maya World Tours said that the company never provided the use of Estrada’s helicopter to Morales, and that the president used the aircraft through some other arrangement, according to Prensa Libre.

Read the rest of this article in its entirety at InSight Crime (o aquí en español).

Guatemala Presidential Candidate Solicited Sinaloa Cartel for Campaign Cash

US authorities have charged a Guatemalan presidential candidate with soliciting campaign funds from Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel and even asking the group to assassinate his rivals, in a case that highlights that politics in Guatemala, despite efforts to clean it up, remains a seriously dirty business.

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Former Guatemalan presidential candidate Mario Amilcar Estrada Orellana (Photo: La Hora/UCN)

Prosecutors say Mario Amilcar Estrada Orellana was seeking between $10 million and $12 million from the Sinaloa Cartel in exchange for providing “state-sponsored support” for the group’s drug trafficking activities, according to a federal indictment unsealed April 17.

Read the rest of this article in its entirety at InSight Crime (o aquí en español).

‘Juku’ Mineral Thieves Pilfering Bolivia State-Owned Mining Company

Mineral thieves in Bolivia are enticing vulnerable workers to rob one of the state-owned tin ore mining companies, in what looks like a significant development in the South American nation’s illegal mining activities.

Oruro. Ingreso a la mina de Huanuni. Los jucus entran a este sector desde túneles detrás de Posokoni. Foto: Jorge Quispe

Foto: Jorge Quispe

Known locally as “jukus,” mineral thieves in Bolivia rely on “coyotes,” or recruiters, to form bands of 20 to 30 people to steal tin from the Huanuni tin mine operated by the state-owned Bolivian Mining Corporation (Corporación Minera de Bolivia — COMIBOL) in the southern cities of Oruro and Potosí, El Deber reported.

Those recruited are charged a $300 fee to become part of the thieving ring. The fee covers the logistics of stealing the minerals and provides access to a password used by the group once inside the mine, which serves as a “lifeline” should the group encounter any adversaries. The stolen tin has a value of $30 per kilogram on the marketplace, according to El Deber.

Read the rest of this article in its entirety at InSight Crime (o aquí en español).

Honduras President Selective When Targeting Criminal Crackdowns

While he cracks down on gangs, the president of Honduras has largely ignored drug trafficking charges leveled at his family members and officials within his governing party, raising questions about his desire to take on corruption that implicates his inner circle.

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Photo c/o Reuters

Beginning in late January, President Juan Orlando Hernández sent military and national police into the streets to take on gangs like the MS13. Amid this show of force, Hernández said that the Central American nation needed to increase the presence of its security forces, including elite units.

In addition, Hernández is pushing to create a remote maximum security prison with no satellite communication, saying that the country’s current prisons are “insufficient for so many captured criminals,” La Prensa reported.

The president’s focus on hard-line security measures and combating the gangs comes shortly after federal US prosecutors accused two Honduran mayors of importing “massive quantities of cocaine” into the United States and using “heavy weaponry” like machine guns to protect drug shipments while working with other traffickers in Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.

Read the rest of this article in its entirety at InSight Crime (o aquí en español).

US Jury Finds El Chapo Guilty, But Mexico Drug War Wages On

A US jury has found former Sinaloa Cartel kingpin “El Chapo” Guzmán guilty of heading a massive, murderous drug trafficking organization. The landmark conviction, however, has not shaken Mexico’s political actors accused of corruption, nor has it managed to take down the cartel itself.

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Courtroom sketch c/o Jane Rosenberg

The former head of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel, Joaquín Guzmán Loera, alias “El Chapo,” was convicted on all 10 counts included in a federal indictment, the US Justice Department announced on February 12.

Read the rest of this article in its entirety at InSight Crime (o aquí en español).

New Year’s Bloodshed Casts Doubt on Honduras Security Gains

Authorities in Honduras have touted a decline in homicides in recent years, but a series of massacres to start 2019 raises questions about the ongoing security situation in the Central American nation.

During the first two weeks of the new year, at least 30 people were killed in eight massacres that took place across the country, from the northern Caribbean city of Puerto Cortés to western Olancho department and the capital Tegucigalpa, El Heraldo reported.

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Read the rest of this article in its entirety at InSight Crime (o aquí en español).