Mexican Drug Cartel Caught in Heavy Ore Export Business

Mexican drug cartels have been confronted at Lazaro Cardenas port in an illegal export operation involving iron ore that is believed to have been going on since at least 2008.  Mexican drug cartels have extended their reach of power beyond the import and export of illegal goods. An article by Mark Stevenson with YahooNews covered the story.

The Knights Templar cartel and its predecessor, the La Familia drug gang, have been stealing or extorting shipments of iron ore, or illegally extracting the mineral themselves and selling it through Pacific coast ports, said Michoacan residents, mining companies and current and former federal officials. The cartel had already imposed demands for “protection payments” on many in the state, including shopkeepers, ranchers and farmers.”

Cartels are known to be involved in oil theft, pirated goods, extortion and kidnapping, but it had only been considered rumor that they were now involved in larger more profitable enterprises. According to Mark Stevenson’s Article…

Such large-scale illegal mining operations were long thought to be wild rumor, but federal officials confirmed they had known about the cartels’ involvement in mining since 2010, and that the Nov. 4 military takeover of Lazaro Cardenas, Mexico’s second-largest port, was aimed at cutting off the cartels’ export trade.”

Lazaro Cardenas is believed to be the main port that cartels were using to export illegally obtained iron ore. This week an investigation lead by Michoacan state detetectives resulted in an agressive defense by cartels…

Three Michoacan state detectives were wounded in an ambush earlier this week when they were traveling to investigate a mine taken over by criminals. When reinforcements arrived, those officers were also ambushed, part of a string of attacks on police in Michoacan on Wednesday and Thursday that left two officers dead and about a dozen wounded.”

The cartel operation is believed to be large and complex. The majority of iron ore exports from Mexico are to China, China lately has had high demand for iron ore to supply growing industries. Lazaro Cardenas was responsible for merely 1.5 percent of Mexico’s iron ore exports to China in 2008; by 2013, the seaport was shipping out nearly half of all iron ore exports to China. The attorney general’s office estimated that in 2010 the cartels shipped 1.1 million tons of illegally extracted iron ore. The article also stated that the export scheme may have involved other sea ports, and that more military takeovers may be necessary.


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