Mexico Drug Cartels Move Into ... Mining?

Criminals tighten hold on country's economy

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 29, 2013 1:54 AM CST

(Newser) – Mexican drug cartels are expanding their Mafia-like hold on the country's economy by diversifying into many other sectors, even including mining, the AP finds. Officials say that in addition to stealing shipments of iron ore and extorting payments from transport and mining companies, the cartels are now illegally extracting and exporting ore themselves to get a bigger share of the huge profits from demand in China. "They weren't content with getting our money and robbing our trucks, so they began secretly extracting our minerals," says a resident of a mining village that rose up to kick the gangsters out.

For the cartels to become so involved in the industry, "they managed to impose a Mafia-style control of organized crime, and the different social groups like port authorities, transnational companies and local landowners, had to get in line," says the former head of the country's domestic intelligence agencies. China's foreign ministry declined to comment on whether controls are in place to prevent the country's industries from buying ore from the cartels—which often import methamphetamine precursor chemicals from Chinese firms.

Mexican army soldiers enter the iron ore mine in the town of Aquila, Mexico.   (AP Photo/Agencia Esquema)
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