"Efecto cucaracha" - the cockroach effect, says Diario de Yucatán
The state of Yucatán is statistically one of the very safest in all of Mexico, with a homicide rate of just two or three persons per 100,000, depending on whose stats you accept. But if the main newspaper in this capital city of Mérida is accurate, the Mayan peninsula is becoming the new national hideout-of-choice for criminals on the lam. The paper calls it the "cockroach effect," as Mexico's Most Wanted scurry to this dry, out of the way territory to escape federales hot on their trail. And not a few settle down right here in Mérida.
According to the Mar. 18 Diario de Yucatán, at least 15 offenders on a federal wanted list are being sought in Yucatán. The paper says they usually enter the area via Cancún, rather than overland. In the busy and bustling international resort city they attract less attention. They acquire vehicles there with local tags, Diario claims, and then drive west on lesser traveled and lesser patrolled Quintana Roo roads until they arrive in Yucatán. The trip from Cancún to Mérida is only about four hours.
There's no question that this peninsula is not on the main route to anywhere. We've got ocean on three sides, and anyone driving from south to north through Mexico (the obvious direction of drug traffickers headed to the border) can easily bypass the area altogether. Some believe that's why there's been far less narco violence here. A spirit of regional pride may be another reason. Mayans were and are the indigenous people in Yucatán, with their own distinct culture, customs and language. It's not uncommon to encounter Mayans, especially older people in villages, who speak little or no Spanish. Because of these factors, in the 19th century there was a movement to declare independence from Mexico, and an autonomous Republic of Yucatán existed for awhile.
Among the sought after offenders are several murderers. One was captured a few days ago, and is accused in the killing of a prominent transsexual activist in Puebla, Mexico. Diario says federal authorities have asked Yucatán state police to help them track down others on a short list who are believed to be hiding out here.
In footnotes to the story, Diario claims that the families of many major criminals, including drug lords, reside in north Mérida. I happen to live near by, and that's a story I've heard since the first day I arrived in this city. Supposedly retired narcos move here to settle down in peace. Or if they're still actively involved in drug trafficking, they send their families here to escape the horrific violence which daily wracks so many other regions of Mexico. According to the legend, there's a "gentlemen's agreement" that acts of brutality are prohibited, and that you never ask a casual associate about the nature of his present or former business. Fitting, given the city's designation in 2011 as a World City of Peace.
One other note of interest in Diario's report. State authorities recently captured in Yucatán a 29 year old man who they say was the chief accountant for the brutal Los Pelones gang, about which I have written many times (see posts below). Los Pelones operate in Cancún and Quintana Roo state. They started out as a murder-for-hire business but now they're peddling street drugs, competing with Los Zetas (leading to much violence there as a result). Yes, narcotics traffickers have accountants, many of them with degrees, as well as computers and the latest software to assist in the work. In the final analysis it's just a business like any other, albeit with considerably more on-the-job casualties.
U.S. intensely focused on Yucatán security in 2008-2009: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.mx/2011/11/us-greatly-disturbed-by-yucatan.html.
Mexico home to 5 of the 10 most violent cities in the world: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.mx/2012/01/mexico-is-home-to-5-of-10-most-violent.html.
Quintana Roo and Riviera Maya violence:
"Narco Notaries" - the professionalization of drug trafficking & organized crime: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.mx/2012/03/narco-notaries-professionalization-of.html.
In Riviera Maya, Los Zetas tell police: "Join us, or you and your families will die": http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.mx/2012/03/in-lush-riviera-maya-los-zetas-tell.html.
Lawyer allegedly tied to Los Zetas drug cartel executed in Quintana Roo: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.mx/2012/03/lawyer-allegedly-tied-to-los-zetas-drug.html.
Los Pelones violence:
Los Pelones executions continue in Quintana Roo: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.mx/2012/03/los-pelones-executions-continue-in-qr.html.
In Cancún, drugs and death conveniently delivered to your doorstep: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/03/in-cancun-los-pelones-happily-deliver.html#more.
Why are Los Zetas spies hanging out near Cancún hotel zone?: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/02/southern-zetas-operate-in-cancuns-hotel.html.
Drugs float ashore at Playa del Carmen: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/02/drugs-float-ashore-on-playa-del-carmen.html.
Brutalized bodies of two men found in Cancún: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/01/brutalized-bodies-of-two-men-found-in.html.
Mexico's Riviera Maya in the hands of drug cartels and extortionists: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/02/mexicos-caribbean-riviera-maya-in-hands.html.
Chief of Tourist Police executed in Playa del Carmen: http://mexicogulfreporter-supplement.blogspot.com/2011/11/chief-of-tourist-police-executed-in.html.
Two women executed in Isla de Mujeres hotel room: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/10/two-women-executed-in-plush-isla-de.html.
53 year old woman decapitated in Cancún: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/10/woman-53-decapitated-in-cancun-police.html.
Christmas greetings left with bodies: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/12/two-executed-in-cancun-and-killers-left.html.
Another Cancún decapitation: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/12/decapitation-in-cancun.html.
Former Playa del Carmen police officer executed: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/12/former-municipal-police-officer-in.html.
Double AK-47 execution in Cancún: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/12/ak-47-attack-in-cancun-leaves-two-dead.html.
300 Quintana Roo businesses shut down in 2011 due to narco extortion: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/12/300-businesses-close-in-cancun-riviera.html.
Los Pelones hit man with Mérida connection admits to 30 executions in Cancún: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/12/hit-man-with-possible-merida-connection.html.