Thirteen mayors in the state of Morelos have allegedly been paying extortion fees to the crime gang known as Los Rojos, buying protection for themselves and their families, the state Security Commissioner charged yesterday.
Appearing before the state Congress, Jesús Alberto Capella Ibarra said officials in the 13 southern municipalities are currently under investigation.
“If derecho de piso extortion has not been denounced within a year of [the mayors’] taking office, we can assume that they’re collaborating with criminal groups,” said Capella.
He said the payments by mayors ranged from 50,000 to 100,000 pesos (US $2,600-$5,200) a month.
Capella mentioned no names but urged them to come forward. “I respectfully urge those mayors who have been victims of these circumstances to approach immediately the State Public Security Commission” to further the investigations that are already under way.
A close collaborator of Santiago “El Carrete” Mazari Hernández, leader of Los Rojos, was arrested earlier this month.
According to federal reports, Guillermo Mercado Brito, also known as “El Memo” and “Martín,” was in charge of coordinating and collecting extortion payments from mayors and other municipal officials and business owners.
In January 2016, state police sources revealed that Mazari was intending to gather several mayors together and give them a dressing-down to bring them in line and do his bidding.
Mazari was to demand that the mayors reject the Mando Único, or Single Command, a system that replaces local police forces with those of the state, because he intended to name his own, trusted municipal police chiefs.
The leader of Los Rojos also wanted to be able to choose which construction firms were selected for public works projects, and was going to demand payment of up to 10% of municipal budgets as derecho de piso.