8 taxi drivers killed in Mexico: why are they targeted by cartels?
Taxis often serve as lookouts for criminal groups, warning of police deployments. If drivers were working for a cartel, they could be targeted by rival gangs, writes a guest blogger.
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It remains unclear precisely why the taxi drivers were targeted, but initial reports fingered the Zetas. The group has steadily encroached upon a growing list of illicit activities, from pirate merchandising to oil theft. It would not be out of character for the Zetas to move into the pirate taxi racket as well, which could provoke violent incidents like the Guadalupe attacks.Skip to next paragraph
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Taxis also often serve as "halcones" or lookouts for criminal groups, warning of police deployments and guarding against other groups making inroads into a given city. If the pirate taxis were working for a criminal group, they would be targets for retribution from rival gangs. Some reports, citing anonymous police sources, alleged that the murdered men worked as lookouts for the Zetas (in Spanish).
Taxis also frequently serve to facilitate retail drug sales, and another explanation links the killings to a taxi driver who was recently fired after being caught with drugs (in Spanish). According to this version, based on testimony from a surviving taxi driver, the fired employee threatened his co-workers with vengeance from the Zetas.
Whatever the motive for the crime, it is not the first time that transport workers have been targeted by organized crime groups in Mexico; indeed, this has grown increasingly common. The same day as the Guadalupe killings, five taxi drivers were killed in the southern resort city of Acapulco. In February, five Monterrey taxi drivers were gunned down as they chatted while waiting for fares outside of a furniture store. Last year, scores of taxi drivers were murdered in Acapulco, with organized crime groups presumed to be responsible (links in Spanish).
Buses have also been targeted. Last year, for instance, two buses in Juarez were burned after their owners refused demands from extortionists (in Spanish). The long-distance bus system has been linked to some of the most brutal incidents of the previous year: most of the hundreds of bodies found in mass graves in San Fernando, Tamaulipas, last spring had been passengers on buses passing through the region.
– Patrick Corcoran is a writer for Insight – Organized Crime in the Americas, which provides research, analysis, and investigation of the criminal world throughout the region.. Find all of his research here.
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