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Small stores such as this have seen their extortion charges rise. Small stores such as this have seen their extortion charges rise.

Merchants group signals skyrocketing extortion costs for small retailers

The crime often goes unreported due to lack of trust in police

Extortion costs for small retailers have surged across the country during the coronavirus pandemic, according to an organization that represents their interests.

Pre-pandemic, extortion costs hovered around 200 pesos (US $10) per business, but shot up to 500 pesos minimum during the pandemic, says the National Alliance of Small Businesses (ANPEC), which estimates that extortion generates US $11.3 billion for criminal groups throughout the country.

“Extortion operates with total impunity in practically the entire country due to the growing wave of insecurity and violence … in the Tierra Caliente region of Michoacán and Guerrero; Bajío; Huasteca, Rivereña Tamaulipeca; the northeast of Chihuahua to Mexicali, passing through Magdalena de Quino, San Luis Río Colorado, Navolato, Culiacán, Los Mochis, Tijuana, Rosarito; towns in Zacatecas, San Luis Potosí, and near Monterrey; Mexico City … among others,” ANPEC said.

For small businesses, that insecurity means dealing with both petty theft and armed robbery while local and state officials demand bribes. But a “culture of not reporting” remains, ANPEC said, due to lack of trust of the police.

“There is a justified suspicion that [the police] are colluding with criminals in many cases, leading thousands of small businesses to close their doors, since nobody likes working only to have the money they spent so much effort earning taken away by people threatening their families,” said alliance president Cuauhtémoc Rivera.

With reports from Milenio

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