The gang leader killed in a confrontation with Marines in the Mexico City borough of Tlahuac two weeks ago had a range of business interests — both legal and illegal — that included a fleet of 1,000 moto-taxis and an extortion racket, bringing him profits of up to half a million pesos (US $28,000) a week.
The suspected head of the Tlahuac Cartel, Felipe de Jesús Pérez Luna — known by his alias “El Ojos” (the eyes) — along with seven of his sicarios, or hitmen, was killed in a joint operation by Marines and police on July 20.
Pérez Luna began buying moto-taxis five years ago to use them for drug deliveries, an investigation by the Mexico City Attorney General’s office (PGJDF) established. That coincided with the growth of his control over three boroughs in the south of the capital as well as the municipality of Chalco in the state of México. His son and brother were also allegedly involved in the moto-taxi operations.
The large fleet was distinctive for the black and yellow canvases that covered the carriages attached to the bikes. Pérez Luna rented them out for 300 pesos a week, each agreement meticulously detailed in a notebook.
The PGJDF investigation into the network indicates that operators of the moto-taxis, in addition to delivering drugs for the slain capo, also worked as halcones — hawks or lookouts — for him to monitor rival groups. Another criminal group in the area allegedly had plans to kidnap his niece.
The investigation also reveals that the gang leader charged other moto-taxi operators who didn’t rent the vehicles from him an obligatory security service charge of 200 pesos per week to ensure that they didn’t suffer an “accident” in the streets of Tlahuac.
The protection money was paid in local beer bars known as chelerías, at a safe house or in restaurants in the southern borough, according to moto-taxi operators who paid it.
Those who refused to pay were stopped from operating and in some cases disappeared. The PGJDF also has an investigation open into the disappearance of at least 30 young people in the area.
On the day of Pérez Luna’s death, about 50 moto-taxis were used to form narco-blockades. It was the first time the tactic, designed to slow or impede the movement of security forces, had been used in the capital.
The Mexico City legislative assembly is expected today to seek the immediate removal of Tlahuac Mayor Rigoberto Salgado, suspected of having links to the deceased cartel leader, a complicity that allowed crime to increase in the borough since he took office two years ago.
Source: Milenio (sp)