Saturday, November 25, 2023

Retailers, transport services report extortion on rise in Acapulco

A plan to reduce extortion and homicide in Acapulco, Guerrero, is proving ineffective and working continues to be a dangerous activity, local business owners say. 

Refuerzo 2021 (Reinforcement 2021) was announced on November 8, shortly after Morena party Mayor Abelina López took office. The plan coordinates federal, state and municipal security forces to enable more patrols and establish road checkpoints in high-crime areas.  

But attacks on the workers most exposed to extortion have multiplied: eight transport workers were killed, and three service workers were murdered on the beach in López’s first 100 days as mayor, the newspaper Reforma reported.

From January through November, there were 1,260 homicides in Guerrero, of which 418 occurred in Acapulco, according to data from the National Public Security System (SENSP)The most violent state in the country, Guanajuato, saw 3,239 homicides over the same period. 

The head of the Acapulco federation of chambers of commerce, Alejandro Martínez Sidney, said the program’s failure was self-evident. “This operation has not provided any results, and the proof is that the violence is unstoppable because the murders, extortion and collection of rental fees continue.” 

Guerrero state police in Acapulco
Guerrero state police reinforcements on Acapulco’s streets in late December. Guerrero state police

He added that at least 28 business people in Acapulco were being extorted by phone and that there was a spike in demands due to the commercial success of the holiday season. “This occurs at the end of the [festive] season. A great effort was made [by business owners] to have a successful season, and these criminals, taking advantage of the situation, have attacked our sector,” he said. 

The leader of a taxi drivers’ collective in Acapulco, who remained anonymous, said a change in tactics was needed. “We are asking that the strategy to confront organized crime is applied with intelligence and that checkpoints in the streets are not installed. Wherever they are put, there are lookouts who warn their bosses,” he said

Meanwhile, another business owner in Acapulco was killed on Sunday morning. Roberto Morales Silva, 48, the owner of a chain of 14 pharmacies, was found dead on the Acapulco-Coyuca de Benítez highway after being kidnapped the previous day.

It is likely that he was a target of extortionists.

With reports from Reforma and El Universal

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