Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Crime gang extortion threats close tortilla makers in Acapulco

Rising violence and threats from gangs demanding extortion are closing down tortilla makers in Acapulco — and not for the first time.

At least 20 tortillerías have decided to suspend operations instead of making expensive extortion payments and facing constant threats of violence from the gangs.

One tortilla maker, who asked to remain anonymous, told reporters that extortion charges that businesses pay for the right to sell products, known as derecho or cobro de piso, have risen rapidly over the past few months.

“In December they asked me for 5,000 pesos (US $254), then they came back in February and asked me for 15,000, and now they’re asking for more, and honestly I can’t do it anymore,” he said. “They say that if I don’t pay the charge they’ll burn down my business, like they’ve already done to other businesses in Acapulco.”

Derecho de piso fees can be as high as 100,000 pesos, and gangs sometimes threaten to kill tortillería employees if payments are not made, tortilla makers say.

The threats have been made in the Acapulco neighborhoods of Libertad, Real Hacienda, Ciudad Renacimiento, Postal, Emiliano Zapata and others.

The tortilla makers have reported the crime to the Guerrero state prosecutor, but the businesses remain closed.

Acapulco’s tortillerías have been targeted by extortionists for years. The owners are usually willing to make the payments to stay in business, but that doesn’t always protect them from violence.

In 2015 and 2016, another period of rising extortion demands left 20 tortillería employees dead in clashes with organized crime.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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