Sunday, June 16, 2024

15 detained in extortion ‘call center’ bust in Mexico state

Fifteen people were arrested at an extortion “call center” in Nezahualcóyotl, México state on Wednesday. 

Earlier this week, the Mexico state Attorney General’s Office (FGJEM) requested a search warrant for a property located in the Raúl Romero neighborhood, where a group of people were committing high-impact bank fraud and placing extortion calls to bank customers.

The “call center” was located in the Raúl Romero neighborhood of Nezahualcóyotl, Mexico state. (Ayuntamiento de Nezahualcóyotl)

“We carried out a search process in this building, where we located a call center … engaged in bank scams and extortion through lists of institutions such as HSBC and Bancomer,” said Elohim Díaz Jimenez, the regional prosecutor for Nezahualcóyotl, a working-class municipality bordering Mexico City. 

Phone extortion in Mexico has long been a difficult crime to bust due to the fact that these criminal operations are largely based out of prisons. Extortionists, the majority of which are inmates, typically convince victims that they have kidnapped a family member. 

The callers have been known to demand upwards of 10,000 pesos (US $560). A recent report estimates that 10,000 extortion calls are made from inside Mexican prisons daily.

In the operation carried out by the FGJEM, the Defense Ministry (Sedena) and the state Security Ministry (SS), found 51 pieces of computer equipment, office furniture, narcotics wrappers, cell phone chips and information about different bank account holders. 


Clandestine call center in Mexico state
Screenshots of a video taken from inside the clandestine call center. (FGJEM)

Security officials sealed the entrances to the property. The FGJEM said it will continue investigating the alleged crimes perpetrated in the call center, emphasizing that those arrested should be considered innocent until they are convicted. 

In March, 22 people were arrested in an operation to dismantle another call center dedicated to bank fraud and extortion in Nezahualcóyotl. In November 2022, 17 people were arrested in a similar operation in Ecatepec, México state. 

According to data from the National Public Security System, extortion in México state increased by more than 25% last year compared  to 2021, rising from 3,302 cases to 4,153.

With reports from Proceso, Sin Embargo and El Financiero

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