For some families in the northern border city of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Santa Claus is a narco.
Local news outlets reported that members of the Cártel del Noreste (CDN) delivered truckloads of toys and Christmas dinners on December 26 to some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods.
“This Christmas, let joy be your best outfit, your smile the best gift, your goals the best destiny and your happiness my best wish. CDN wishes you all a Merry Christmas 2016,” read stickers attached to each of the gifts given to residents of Unión del Recuerdo, La Joya 1 and Blanca Navidad.
Witness accounts said children took home two toys each, while mothers were given blankets and a Christmas dinner that consisted of turkey, mashed potatoes and other side dishes.
“We are very thankful for these gifts. My children weren’t going to receive anything this year, but now each has two toys and we can dine on turkey as a family,” said a woman from Blanca Navidad.
It was not the first time a criminal organization has helped people with limited resources celebrate Christmas.
It was reported in 2006 that the leader of the Gulf Cartel held a party for the Day of the Child at a baseball stadium in Reynosa, which 17,000 people attended. The event was held for four years in a row.
Gifts were handed out along with an accompanying card that read, “Perseverance, discipline and effort are the foundation of success. Continue your studies and be a good example.”
It was signed, “with all my affection,” by drug lord Osiel Cárdenas Guillén.
Cárdenas is now serving a 25-year prison term in the United States for money laundering, drug trafficking and murder.
In 2006, the federal Attorney General’s office put authorities of the Tamaulipas municipalities of Reynosa and Victoria under investigation for allegedly providing local stadiums where the cartels could stage the gift-giving events.
The Tamaulipas Attorney General’s office issued a press release on Wednesday to announce an investigation into this year’s distribution of gifts.