EPeak Daily

Unlawful Logging in Chihuahua is Now Mexico Cartel Territory

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Among the many most vibrant felony markets in Mexico is unlawful
wooden, and within the northern state of Chihuahua, there may be rising alarm
that drug trafficking organizations are preventing for management of the

The six our bodies, minus their heads, had been dumped simply earlier than daybreak on a
morning in late October. They had been left in entrance of a fuel station on the
outskirts of Creel, within the state of Chihuahua — every corpse wrapped in a
black bin bag and secured with brown tape across the neck, waist and

The scene was typical of the violence that has lengthy performed out throughout Mexico’s drug warfare, now greater than a decade previous. However the message taped to one of many our bodies referred to not drug trafficking, however the native unlawful wooden market.

 *This text is the outcome
of analysis on eco-trafficking within the area executed together with
American College’s Heart for Latin American and Latino Research (

Certainly, the teams concerned in black-market logging and medicines now
look like one and the identical. In current months, violence between
warring cartels within the pine-covered mountains of Chihuahua, across the
cities of San Juanito and Creel, is as tied to the unlawful wooden commerce as
it’s to native drug gross sales and routes.

The overlap started with a surge in unlawful logging.

“Right here in San Juanito, unlawful logging began to actually develop and
change into apparent in 2015. The entire space round San Juanito was logged
illegally and indiscriminately, and afterwards they’d set fireplace to
the woods and never let folks put the fires out,” Citlali Quintana, a
native lawyer working for the Heart for Understanding and Protection of
Human and Indigenous Rights (Centro de Capacitación y Defensa de los
Derechos Humanos e Indígenas), a neighborhood non-profit.

As Quintana drives to the indigenous village of Bahuinacachi in her
four-wheel drive car — the one solution to attain the tiny city dwelling to
some 200 indigenous households — we move pine forests which have been
ravaged by unauthorized loggers. The work is badly executed — bushes have
been left to rot the place they’ve fallen, and swaths of land have been


this scourge has change into more and more harmful. Some activists have had
to flee, and in November, Julián Carrillo Martínez, an activist for
Alianza Sierra Madre, was murdered by armed males in Coloradas de la
Virgen, within the municipality of Guadalupe y Calvo, Chihuahua, the place a lot
of the non-profit’s lobbying actions have targeted.

Carrillo Martínez was below state safety, however authorities measures
did not hold him protected that day. The group he labored for informed us that
hitmen within the space serve the pursuits of economic wooden firms as
effectively as drug traffickers.

The traffickers will not be hiding. Residents of Bahuinacachi informed
InSight Crime how some 40-armed males arrived in February driving dozens of
heavy vans. They proceeded to begin slicing down bushes within the pine
forests on the outskirts of the city. Working day and evening for the
first month, the boys — all of whom had been below 20 years previous in response to
witnesses — moved some 40 truckloads of wooden out of the forests each 24

Villagers stated they may hear the chainsaws working from their
houses, and that the recently-installed chief of the Juarez Cartel, César Daniel Manjárrez Alonso, alias “el H2”, made an look throughout this time, strolling into the city.

Wooden taken from these forests — which continues to be taking place day by day —  is
transported by truck to San Juanito and processed there. San Juanito is a
regional financial hub that’s dwelling to some 25 sawmills that make use of a
important proportion of the city and course of a lot of the wooden taken
each legally and illegally out of the pine forests that coat the hills.
As soon as wooden enters these mills, it successfully turns into authorized, by mixing
into the professional provide.

It’s most frequently transformed into planks for bulk sale to development
firms and others, or made into furnishings. Some might be discovering its
means into Mexico’s paper business, which exports internationally.

Figuring out the beneficiaries is just not straightforward. Half of the sawmills
working in San Juanito are a part of the Juarez Cartel’s community,
in response to sources in native commerce who spoke to InSight Crime on
situation of anonymity. The opposite half, they stated, should pay a “quota”
(an off-the-cuff tax levied by the cartel) to function.

However the crime and violence have a couple of grasp. South of Creel
lies Sinaloa Cartel territory within the Golden Triangle, the place the states
of Chihuahua, Durango, and Sinaloa intersect. The local weather on this half
of the state permits for the poppy and marijuana plantations that
peppering creeks and canyons. Timber are illegally reduce down there largely
to create space for the cultivation of those crops, in response to
interviews with governmental and non-governmental sources.

Unlawful logging round San Juanito, then again, is for the
sale of the wooden itself, and is changing into an more and more profitable
exercise for Juarez Cartel operatives. That’s the almost definitely motive
behind the killing of the six males dumped on the fuel station who,
in response to the state felony investigation company, had been members of
the armed wing of the rival Sinaloa Cartel, Gente Nueva. A Fb video
that emerged after the homicide suggests the identical, and exhibits the
sicarios, now lifeless males, exhibiting off their weapons in entrance of the
digital camera.

InSight Crime was warned to not conduct interviews in San Juanito. A
native businessman we interviewed, who most popular to not be named for
safety causes, stated: “For those who throw a coin within the air it’ll hit
somebody concerned in unlawful logging when it comes down —complete households
are concerned.”


how and when drug trafficking started to intersect with the unlawful
timber commerce is tougher to pinpoint. Native knowledge dictates that drug
trafficking teams embraced unlawful logging partly as a collateral
advantage of their territorial management, and as a solution to diversify their
felony portfolio, which had suffered after a drop in market costs for
poppy paste and marijuana.

“El narco has at all times been right here, and everybody realized to dwell with
them however the ‘drug warfare’ [launched by President Felipe Calderon in 2006]
prompted them to guard their territories extra,” says Isela Gonzales,
director of the Alianza Sierra Madre, who spoke to InSight Crime in
Chihuahua, the place she is below authorities safety after receiving
dying threats. Her non-governmental group has lobbied
efficiently to freeze logging permits in order that people and companies
utilizing them might be investigated for potential abuses.

Specialists consulted by InSight Crime agree that the present allow
system managed by the Mexican authorities is inadequate to manage
unlawful logging in states like Chihuahua, and that companies such because the
Federal Prosecutors Workplace for Safety of the Surroundings
(Procuraduría Federal de Protección al Ambiente — PROFEPA) don’t have
the sources or manpower to curb criminal activity of this scale.

“The police work for [the cartels] — there aren’t any good ones, solely unhealthy ones,” stated Gonzales.

Gonzales’s assertions had been backed by different sources interviewed by
InSight Crime, who stated that locals are as afraid of the state and
municipal police as they’re of the felony teams working within the
space. Gonzales added that political and enterprise elites, in addition to
felony teams, are all working collectively to over-exploit authorized permits
to log.

With the large availability of pine bushes within the space, in addition to a
lack of regulation and persevering with stress on drug costs and routes,
unlawful logging in Chihuahua seems to be set to continue to grow as a revenue
engine for organized crime.

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