A lack of effective policing leaves increasing risks of theft and extortion to cargo and grain warehouses by drug cartels unopposed

Perils: Terrorism
Sectors, Assets or Individuals Affected: Cargo, Agriculture

Analysis: On 22 March 2011, the Mexican warehouse association Aagede reported that organised criminals had started to targeted warehouses containing corn and vegetables in Mexico’s northern Sinaloa state. Their statement follows a 15 March robbery of 250 tonnes of corn from a warehouse owned by Graneros Unidos Jova in the industrial area of Los Mochis, Ahome, Sinaloa, and the 11 February hijacking of a lorry owned by Aspros Company, loaded with 20 tonnes of corn, at Sinaloa’s Navolato municipality. Mexico’s drug cartels are increasingly resorting to kidnapping, extortion and theft to finance their war against the Army and other rival cartels. This presents challenges not only to warehouses loaded with food, but also to road cargo. Organised gangs generally target lorries loaded with goods that are easy to sell at the black market such as electronic goods, cement, pharmaceutical products and fuel. Cargo association Canacar reported on 22 March that it estimated an average of 28 cases of road cargo theft per day in the states of Michoacán, Jalisco, Veracruz and DF alone. This has forced lorries to mobilise in groups in places such as Matamoros, Tamaulipas to avoid being targeted by the cartels.

Risk Implications: Mexico’s security forces are overstretched in their fight against drug cartels and unable to effectively prevent businesses from being robbed or from facing extortion. Corn producing states such as Sinaloa and Zacatecas face the highest risk of warehouse theft. Cargo theft is spread throughout the country. The main hotspots for cargo theft in Mexico State are the Indios Verdes-Ecatepec, Río Frío-Cárcel de Mujeres, and Jilotepec-Arroyo Zarco highways. Hotspots in Veracruz include the Villa Aldama-Xalapa and Nautla-Emilio Carranza highways, as well as the Coatzacoalcos road near Tabasco. Similarly, the Amozoc-Quecholac high way is a danger zone in Puebla. Highways in Sinaloa, Guerrero, Queretaro, Zacatecas and Michoacán are also high-risk areas.

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