By KELIN DILLON
Reports of extortion have reached record highs in Mexico this year under the administration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), with figures from the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System (SESNSP) revealing shortages across the country in products like produce and poultry have resulted in price gouging and extortion nationwide, adding to Mexico’s widespread telephone extortion issues.
According to the SESNSP, there were 4,673 victims of extortion in Mexico during the first five months of 2022, a 28.8 percent increase year-over-year. April was particularly ripe with extortion with a reported 1,142 victims, closely followed by May, when there were a reported 1,116 extortion cases.
Most reports were concentrated in the State of Mexico, followed by Veracruz, Nuevo León and Guanajuato.
“It has terrible implications in terms of economic and social effects, market operations, investment decisions, that is, it has very long-term consequences,” said security specialist Alejandro Hope. “Extortion exists because there is fear, there are threats that are credible, so the fight would have to be based on the credibility of the threat, and for this, homicides and kidnappings must be reduced.”
Figures from the Secretariat of Security and Citizen Protection (SSPC) have similarly revealed Mexico’s enduring telephone extortion and fraud issues, noting 427,627 complaints filed by citizens with the National Base of Presumed Extortion and Fraud Numbers.
“This is the main obstacle for the country to grow and improve income,” said economist Luis de la Calle. “In Mexico, when people or companies begin to be successful, they are immediately subject to extortion, so many, instead of investing to grow, prefer to stay small or in the informal sector to be less subject to extortion. The great national issue is to eliminate the incentives to extort”.
In order to combat this problem, the SPPC’s National Information Center (CNI) launched Denuncia Anónima 089, a fraud-preventing mobile phone application, though further efforts at combating extortion at the street level have yet to be announced.