The extortion and collection of a fee in La Paz went from calls to the physical presence of presumed criminals, as reported by relatives of workers at the La Vianda store, located in the Las Garzas neighborhood.
According to the complainant, the authority took up the case immediately and treated it with complete secrecy, according to them, to prevent the investigation from getting out of control, but more than a month after the case, nothing is known about the detainees.
“This happened at my partner’s workplace, last night they came PERSONALLY to the La Vianda room to make a threat to charge a flat. The worrying thing is that we have already moved from the telephone threats that, of course, we have received, to the face-to-face threat. The fee is going to be $30,000 per month, ” said the relative of an employee.
He shared with ZETA the conversation and the video of the moment the alleged extortionists arrived aboard a white Honda CRV truck.
On Wednesday, October 5, two young-looking men went to the establishment dedicated to special events, restaurant service, and banquets at around 7:44 p.m., leaving the quota message.
When they got out of the unit, they headed to the main door of the store, one of them stopped and took a photo of the place and the name with a flash, which was demonstrated in the recording.
When they go to the gate, they notice the surveillance camera and, as they approach the point, it can be seen that one of them is already wearing a mask.
“We know that the bosses are the most concerned, they manage it, but we are exposed and there are several employees, what is the authority going to do to protect us, if they deny it from the start and we fear for the lives of our partners,” added the complaining party.
Moments after the alleged extortionists left, the call was made to the Emergency numbers or service officials to come “and they were attended.”
However, Monday, November 7, Governor Víctor Manuel Castro Cosío denied the existence of a formal complaint for them to act, he maintained that “there is not one of extortion”, which prevents them from activating the immediate action protocol of the State Security Bureau.
Although the Federal Criminal Code considers extortion as a crime that is prosecuted ex officio, and when the Emergency numbers are alerted, the authority must prosecute the criminals.
Instead, they denied that in Baja California Sur there is a single case of this crime.
“As soon as it happened, we informed the authorities, they themselves made an appearance at the facilities, so they have a formal call and it is true, all the information, they have everything, what are they waiting for to stop them and end this martyrdom. There is fear and many of the merchants have already decided to close their doors at a certain time, you arrive and verify, and they give you access, mainly OXXO stores, ”said a member of the National Chamber of the Restaurant and Seasoned Food Industry (Canirac) La Paz.
According to the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System, in 2020, BCS reported 89 cases of extortion; in 2021, 99 research folders were started; and in nine months of 2022, 127 investigation folders were recorded, that is, an increase of 42.69% more than in 2020 and 31.46% than in 2021, but the year is not over yet.
GOVERNOR DENIES APARTMENT CHARGE
At the beginning of 2022, Bishop Miguel Ángel Alba Díaz denounced the collection of land from fishermen and some merchants, something that the Government of the State of Baja California Sur ignored, even the president Víctor Castro himself asked the religious to stop “alarming the people ”.
For August, the head of the National Chamber of Commerce (Canaco) La Paz, Juan Carlos Esqueda Hampl confirmed that “there is a floor charge ” in shops mainly selling alcohol. In the same month, the governor dismissed the matter, assuring that “there is nothing formal.”
In his meeting with the media in the first week of November, he revealed that he had another meeting with businessmen from Los Cabos, “they raised the opportunity to strengthen security, especially against extortion and in everything we can, and the topic that is extremely important and we cannot leave it as if nothing had happened: violence against women. Domestic violence has grown, unfortunately, we cannot leave very calm and that everything has been pacified, there is no violence like in other states, unfortunately, “said Castro Cosío.
On the other hand, despite the graphic, testimonial and recidivist evidence, he insists that in La Paz there are still no complaints, and for this reason, they have not worked on the matter.
According to the Criminal Code, a complaint is not required to act, but they should act ex officio and the Intelligence areas raise the issue, but to date there is no information.
“There is not one of extortion, there has not been a formal complaint, remember that a minister of a religion there, I told them ‘help us with an anonymous complaint to work it out’, because if they talk like that on the air, I beg you to use that system for them to help us, it doesn’t have to happen, if it is installed it’s like putting a handkerchief over our eyes, it’s not worth it, we shouldn’t ignore any problem, let alone the one you tell us about,” Castro commented.
For a little over a month, in talks with businessmen and restaurateurs, they affirmed that nothing has been heard from the extortionists after this incident, in fact, the authorities acted but denied that such an investigation file exists.
Given the refusal and lack of detainees, merchants and workers made a public complaint to show proof that “there is a charge for the apartment and it is not only by call, they have already made an appearance.”
To which the governor refuted: “They did touch on this issue, but not as something relevant, I also ask the businessmen not to delay, well, to tell us, not to allow that, if we do not attack quickly if we do not dissolve any cell that is doing that… What is happening and I asked my colleague the Secretary of Security and the attorney, is about the hacking of telephones that is happening throughout the State”.
All public servants have the obligation to comply with the guidelines established in the Federal Law on Public Servants’ Responsibilities, which according to its Article 47, must “… comply with the utmost diligence with the service entrusted to them and refrain from any act or omission that causes the suspension or deficiency of said service or implies abuse or improper exercise of a job, position or commission”.
The sanctions to which they could be creditors for breaching their obligation consist of a private or public warning; private or public reprimand; suspension, removal from office; economic sanction and temporary disqualification to perform jobs, positions or commissions in the public service.
YES THERE ARE COMPLAINTS: MILENA QUIROGA
It seems that in BCS, the authorities try to minimize the problems that some merchants in La Paz are going through, which has them plunged into anxiety and fear that something will happen to them or to their own families.
Months ago, Mayor Milena Quiroga Romero confirmed to the media that they had received complaints, “not many”, for the collection of a flat fee and/or extortion.
“We had already discussed it at the Security Tables, there has already been a presence, (complaints) had already been received, not many, we know that it is being discussed and we have to promote the (formal) complaint a little more, but we understand that sometimes it does not happen due to other situations,” confirmed the mayoress of La Paz, implying that the merchants do not formally report to the State Attorney General’s Office “due to other situations” such as fear of reprisals from criminals, but that they “understand”.
However, to date no one has done anything about it, they insist that there is no such incident because they do not have a physical investigation folder. It is here where merchants and citizens wonder about intelligence work since the collection of a flat fee and/or extortion is prosecuted ex officio and this is established by the federal Penal Code.
Article 390.- To the one who without right forces another to give, do, stop doing or tolerate something, obtaining a profit for himself or for another or causing patrimonial damage to someone, will be applied from two to eight years in prison and from forty to one hundred and sixty days fine.
The penalties will be increased up to a certain amount if the restraint is carried out by a criminal association, or by a public servant or former public servant, or by a member or former member of any police force or of the Mexican Armed Forces.
Precisely in August, Canaco La Paz reported cases of tolling, and the mayor confirmed that it originated mainly from the restriction of hours in bars and nightclubs, where criminals found “a market.”
“With this Log Operation, we hope for the trust and closeness of the businesses, that we can strengthen trust above all. This grew with the pandemic, because the businesses closed very early and there was still demand, they found a market, right now with the economic recovery it will be very difficult for this to continue because all the businesses are now open, and there are no restrictions, the hours are us We released it and at no additional cost, precisely because of the economic reactivation and now we are going to reinforce with security,” Milena Quiroga said at the time.
Despite the statements made on video through social networks, curiously Rut de la Fuente Velázquez, general director of Public Security, Preventive Police and Municipal Traffic of La Paz, denied that there are complaints in the municipal instance, clarifying that she does not know “if in other dependencies there are “complaints for collection of floor fee, but that to date “does not exist”, despite the fact that the issue has been constantly dealt with in the municipality’s Security Tables.
“The operation arises from various issues that were analyzed at the State Security Table, it is carried out through the Municipal Police in conjunction with the State Preventive Police, to date we have, since the operation began a month ago, more than 400 surveys that have been carried out, the invitation in this type of case is to file a complaint, there is 089 for Anonymous Complaints, this helps us to have records and measurements for specific patrols in these areas that demand; The Municipal Police does not have these types of complaints,” De la Fuente reiterated.