Extortionists operating in Salamanca, Guanajuato, have diversified: they are now targeting doctors in addition to business owners.
Several doctor’s offices have recently closed in the city due to extortion demands made by suspected members of criminal groups, according to a report published Wednesday by the newspaper Milenio. Some clinics are not operating at night as a result of the same threat.
“They’re not opening anymore,” an unidentified doctor told Milenio. “My patients tell me, ‘when we went to clinics at night, they used to treat us, now the clinics are closed . . .’”
The doctor said there have also been cases in which patients’ vehicles have been stolen while they are receiving treatment, adding that some people are too afraid to seek medical attention at night and attempt to treat their problems themselves.
The doctor also said that he was once contacted by suspected members of a criminal group who asked him to treat a person who had been shot.
“I told them that I wasn’t a surgeon and that in these cases [the person] should be taken to a clinic,” he said.
Salamanca Mayor Beatriz Hernández said the city is affected by a range of crimes, including extortion, and that business owners bear the brunt of the scourge.
“. . . Those who have had the greatest number of problems with crime are shopkeepers . . . We’re reviewing the security strategy that will be applied by this new generation of police,” she said, referring to 30 recently graduated municipal police officers.
“. . . We have a high rate of vehicle theft . . . and of course, [we also have] homicides, shootings . . .”
According to the crime monitoring website elcri.men, Salamanca was the 16th most violent municipality in Mexico between April and September with a per-capita homicide rate of 84.1.
But according to Guanajuato Security Commissioner Sophia Huett López, the extortion problem in Salamanca is not as bad as in Celaya, where many businesses including tortilla shops and a Ford dealership have closed.
Source: Milenio (sp)