In Mazatlán, a thin blue line separates life and death

Translated by Fulano from an article in JornadaBC.

Mazatlán, January 31, 2017 – Yes, it is possible to divide paradise from Hell. Mazatlán authorities did so with a blue line, a stripe in the streets and avenues in important sectors of this city where Mexican and foreign tourists can go of they don’t want to place themselves in danger, including death.

The line starts at the pier, where tourists arrive on cruise ships. It crosses calle Emilio Barragán, it enters the sector called Playa Sur (between the pier and the historic downtown). It continues on avenida Carnaval, crosses bulevar Miguel Alemán, and ends at the steps of Plaza Machado and the Ángela Peralta Theater.

Whether or not one follows this stripe on a bicycle, afoot, in a taxi or in your own automobile could be the difference between finding yourself in the midst of a gunfight, our enjoying the Mazatlán sun, sea breeze, a cold beer at sunset or a coffee at the old seawall.

Mazatlán has gone rotten. Its violence is on a par with Culiacán, the state capital. In the first 30 days of 2017, there have been at least 106 murders in Sinaloa, 40 of them in Mazatlán and the remainder in Culicán and other municipalities.

The government of Quirino Ordaz Coppel began the last day of 2016, and the drug trafficking groups took note. Commander Juan Antinio Murillo, former Mazatlán chief of police and an official with the state attorney general, were shot two of their three bodyguards died.

Another two police officers, among them an operation supervisor with the Culiacán municipal police, were kidnapped on January 27, a police commander had a gunfight with a group of hit men in the capital.

Mazatlán, once a safe and peaceful port, with inhabitants who get up late and were shorts and sandals to work, of early drunkenness and eternal bohemian lifestyle, is sick with crime and violence caused by drug trafficking.

The Beltrán Levya Cartel, presumable in alliance with cells from the Jalisco Nueva Generación, fight to the death with the Sinaloa Cartel for the drug market in the state.

Up to eight murders in one day.

The crime rate in this region has increased since 2016. Rival cells from the Sinaloa Cartel have entered from the border with Nayarit and operate from Escuinapa, El Rosario, Concordia and Mazatlán. The mountainous area in the north of the municipality is a refuge for armed groups.

On one side is Hell, bullets, and nothingness. On the other side are the patrols, the police operations and the tourist guides. Everybody knows, even those selling tourist services and products, especially cruise ship service people, which leaves more income in the local economy.

Taxi drivers, owners and pulmonia drivers, and those offering small boat trips all know the have to follow the blue line.

The same is done with the violence. Little is said about it so as to not affect tourism. “Don’t even think about going to Lázaro,” said a Sinaloa university student to another who is not from Mazatlán. The Lázaro Cárdenas colonia is a couple of kilometers from downtown and and three or four streets from the blue line. There there are drugs, weapons, assaults, robberies and gunfights.

“It was raining bullets,” said the residents to reporters, when talking about what happened on December 2, 2016, when an armed group attacked the residents of Lázaro Cárdenas on calle Teniente Azueta. Three men died and another was wounded when he tried to flee in a motorcycle. So far this year, there have been up to eight murders in a single day in Mazatlán.

Police operations have been fruitless. With the new state government, around 1,800 military police are in the 18 state municipalities and this started in Mazatlán. January 27, 14 men were captured, most of the assailants, drug dealers, vandals and gangsters. Not one of the was a gunman for any of the bands. They, like a good boxer, enter, hit and go.

“The murders are talked about in hushed voices, so as to not affect tourism,” said a restaurant employee when asked about the wave of murders never before seen in Mazatlán, even less so in such a short period of time.

A taxi driver says it is “a problem between the drug people,” but “unfortunately it affects everybody.” He is fearful that once again the cruise lines will blacklist Mazatlán and tourists will stop coming.

When the cruise ships arrive at port, and before getting off the ships, the passengers are warned to follow the blue line. Along the blue line, the tourists come across municipal and state police, until they get to the main plaza or gardens, the cathedral and the market.

Following the line can be all the difference. Deviate from the blue line painted on the streets and sidewalks of the malecón means going into the backyard of this city, the second largest city in Sinaloa, stained with bodies with messages pinned to them, disrupted by the Hellish steps of gunmen from both bands.

For all this, the taxi drivers, tourist service providers and tourists follow the blue line. One has to follow it to remain apart from the Hell which adjoins the precarious and wounded paradise of Mazatlán.

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Three murdered today in La Paz, one was a 60-year old man

Translated by Fulano from an article in Colectivo Pericu.

January 25, 2017 – The sound of firearms broke the silence this morning in colonia Esterito, at the corner of Serdán and Guerrero. There was a parked white and black Explorer, with license plates 072PMX4, with three people inside. It appeared they had been waiting for somebody, as they had been there for more than 10 minutes. Suddenly a dark pick-up approached and three people got out of its, surrounded the Explorer and started to shoot its occupants. The three lay there dead from the assassins’ bullets.

There were few witnesses. Those nearby ran for cover where they could. “Nobody saw anything, we don’t know, the truth is we were afraid, we protected ourselves as best we could,” some of the people told us and then left the location. They didn’t want to know more about what had happened.

“It was a black or grey pick-up, and the three assassins got out of it, shot many times. The people inside the SUV had no time to do anything, they could not defend themselves, they were left inside,” said a person who did not want to reveal his name.

Residents started to come and look through the doors. We are curious, one of them told us, “he’s a relative, his name is César Armando Meza Hirales, he is 25 years old, he worked for API at Pichilingue.”

César Armando lay on the street beside the SUV he was driving when he arrived at the corner. He was wearing a blue shirt, blue jeans and black shoes. On the front passenger side was another body, a young man wearing a yellow shirt, black jacket, blue jeans and brown shoes. He was on his knees on the street, laying against the car seat. In his right hand was a cell phone. As of the moment he has not been identified.

With his feet on the street and leaning against the rear seat of the Explorer lay another body, which appeared to be 60 years old, and who was identified by the state attorney general, but we could not obtain his name. He wore a burgundy shirt, black pants and brown shoes.

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The other attacks on bars and discos in Cancún and Playa del Carmen

Translated by Fulano from an article in El Mexicano.

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MEXICO CITY – The attack early Sunday morning on the bar-discotheque Blue Parrot in Playa del Carmen, where five people died, one Mexican woman and four foreigners, is not an isolated event according to the criminal history of Quintana Roo. Mainly, this is caused by the struggle between cartels looking to dominate drug sales.

There have been eight recorded attacks on bars and discotheques since 2010.

In September, 2010, a criminal group set fire to the Castillo del Mar bar in Cancún and eight people died, among them two pregnant women.

In March, 2013, several armed men entered the La Sirenita bar to kill deputy secretary for Union Conflicts of the Taxi Guild, Francisco Achach Castro, Seven people died.

In October, 2016, two Cancún bars were attacked at the same time. The first was La Oficina and two people were killed and another two wounded. The second was El Xtabay, where a man selling gum died from gunshots.

On September 27, 2016 the head waiter at the Black and White bar, located in Region 221, on avenida 20 de Noviembre, was killed by gunfire by a group of men as he left the bar to make a phone call.

On November 27, 2016 there was a gunfight at the Mandala Club, located in the Cancún hotel zone. The presumed hit men used silencers and shot at point blank range, so the attack was not noticed until two people fell dead another was wounded.

Last December 22, 2016 at avenida Xcaret at Kabah, in Cancún, two people attending a fair were threatened by two people, who then started to shoot and then fled. Authorities reported one person dead and two wounded.

On January 9, 2017 there was gunfire at the El Ejecutivo Bar by two presumed hit men who came on motorcycles and a vehicle. They all managed to flee. Two police guarding the location were wounded.

Early in the morning of Monday, January 16, 2017 a person was attacked inside the Blue Parrot bar, during the closure of the BMP Electronic Music Festival. This left five people dead, three of whom were security staff members.

According to information collected by El Universal, on the street is sold “pills, perico, acid and marijuana. I spent 4,000 pesos on perico and tachas, it is all at hand,” said one of the locals attending the event.

“Everyone is going around selling, there are about 200 drug dealer per event,” added another witness.

This Tuesday, an armed squad attacked the Cancún office of the state Attorney General, and two other sites simultaneously, with the result of one police officer and three attackers dead.

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Loreto restaurants could close due to the increase in costs of fuel

Translated from an article in BCS Noticias.

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La Paz, Baja California Sur – Some Loreto restaurants could close or change business lines due to the increase in the cost of fuel, which has caused increases in transportation for supplies, according to the Loreto Hotel Association.

“Although some prices are stable, we know that starting with the new year, all our providers have started to send price lists with increases,” said Norman Beatriz García, president of the association.

The restaurant entrepreneur admitted that, “we cannot pass on all the price increases to our customers, or we will be left with no customers,” she said in an interview with BCS Noticias. “Profits are dropping more and more,” she maintained.

Due to this, some restaurants “will have to close or change business lines,” she warned.

Loreto faces the problem of poor local production, which means that most of the products “are shipped in from La Paz or Los Cabos, so the cost of freight is going to increase for us,” she said.

In Loreto and Mulege, according to the Energy Regulatory Commission, the maximum price for a liter of gasoline for January will be 18.33 pesos (US$3.30 per gallon at 21 pesos to the dollar), meanwhile the price of diesel is 17.67 pesos (US$3.18), the highest prices in the state.

Increase the menu prices “makes us less competitive” and will make Loreto an even more expensive destination. “Loreto is not a cheap destination, getting here is not cheap,” she stated.

“We have to adapt, better to adapt our menus adn try to find new methods as we cannot increase prices,” she insisted.

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Do you rent a home in Baja California?

By Fulano

Does your lease require your rent be paid in dollars?  Boy, do I have news for you. Read about one of the best kept secrets in Baja California.

Every state in Mexico has its own laws, including a Civil Code (Codigo Civil) which defines the laws by which people can legally conduct business, among many other legal concerns. Many expatriates have sat by the sidelines and watched the peso slide from around 10:1 some ten years ago to the current exchange rate of close to 21:1, while they continued to pay their rent in the dollar amount specified in the lease. It is commonly believed that for a lease which specifies rent in dollars, it is unhinged from any movements in the dollar-peso exchange rate.

Not true!

Even if your home lease specifies that rent shall be paid in dollars, the Civil Code of Baja California says otherwise. Article 2273 of the Civil Code for the State of Baja California states:

The rent or lease price may be a sum of money or anything else equivalent, provided it is a sum certain and determined.

The agreed rent for leasing a house intended for your residence should be defined in national currency. In the case where it is defined in foreign currency, it shall be understood to be payable in the equivalent amount in local currency at the exchange rate prevailing on the date the respective contract was concluded.

The above provisions are of public order and social interest and, therefore cannot be waived.

This means, if you have a lease which requires the rent be paid in dollars, you can legally look to the peso exchange rate in existence at the date the lease was executed, and pay a fixed rent in the equivalent amount in pesos. This following graphic is an example of a 4-year home lease signed on January, 1, 2013 for $1,000 dollars per month. It shows the amount the tenant should have paid if Article 2273 was followed:

Do you have to pay your landlord in Mexico in dollars? No, you do not. Aside from Article 2273 of the Civil Code for the State of Baja California, which specifically says rent can be paid in the equivalent amount in local currency, there is also Article 8 of the Monetary Law of the United Mexican States, which says:

Foreign currency shall not be legal tender in the Republic, except in those cases where the law expressly determines otherwise. Payment obligations in foreign currency contracted for within our outside the Republic, to be fulfilled in it, will be settled by delivering the equivalent sum in national currency, at the exchange rate which exists at the place and time payment is made.

Well that summarizes the law for Baja California. Now, getting your landlord to go along with it is entirely another matter!

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Water at the La Paz Malecón contaminated

Translated by Fulano from an article in BCS Noticias.

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La Paz, Baja California Sur (BCS).- The operations director at the Citizens Observation Network, Alberto Guillén, said hat after a study of the bacteria levels in the waters at the La Paz Malecón, they indicated more than 6,000 enterococcus, where the health limit is 200. These bacteria present on the coast at the Malecón could cause serious health problems for those who swim in the area.

He said the high presence of these bacteria in direct contact with the human skin can cause skin infections in the eyes, ears and mouth, and if the water is swallowed, it can caused grave gastro-intestinal illnesses.

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Street vendors extort motorists in San Ysidro

Translated by Fulano from an article in Zeta Tijuana.

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Pretending they are security authorities, informal vendors trick people who by mistake end up in the Sentri Lane to cross the border. Every day, about 30 drivers who do not have the Sentri pass are victims.

Such is the case of Ricardo Saucedo, a resident of Baja California Sur, who on Sunday, December 3, while using his GPS system on his cell phone, ended up in the Sentri Lane, in spite of not having a Sentri pass.

At that moment, some illegal merchants, pretending they were border security guards, who even “had a badge,” and wearing burgundy and with a badge, told him to continue ahead in the same lane to help him exit it. Ricardo ended up a few meters from the access module, and in US territory.

The man and his wife were closed in between retaining walls and cones to identify the lanes that the illegal merchants had placed.

He had no way out. The fake guards then offered to move the cones so he could change lanes to the Ready Lane, in return for 8,500 pesos (US$425), and that way he could avoid paying a fine of up to $5,000 to the US government.

The extortioners told him that the security cameras at the border crossing would detect he had no Sentri card and he would have to face US justice, risking his right to enter the US.

Ricardo pulled his car to the left, to not block the lane, and went to an ATM to remove 6,000 pesos, and along with that and 1,500 peso and US$50 dollars from his wife, paid the bribe. Then the blanket vendor moved the cones to allow him to pass.

In a poll by ZETA at the busiest border crossing in the world, drivers as well as Tijuana municipal police, said that this type of extortion happens daily, “at least two cases of this are reported every week,” said a police officer named Arredondo, who opted to not state his full name for fear of reprisals.

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Old animosities between Gringos ends in murder

Translated by Fulano from an article in El Mexicano.

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SAN FELIPE – And old argument between two American residents ended in murder, when this morning there was a verbal fight at first, and then in another encounter one of the participants shot at Rodney William Rhoden, 38 years old.

The police were alerted via the emergency phone number, that two residents in the Villa de Las Palmas subdivision were fighting, and one of the participants, Darrell “N,” 70 years old, shot the man who is now dead.

Witnesses to the events told the police that Darrell argued with the dead man, he then left the location of the incident in his vehicle, a Dodge pick-up, headed towards downtown San Felipe. A few minutes later he returned, parked and returned to argue in the middle of the street. Next, Darrell pulled out a .22 caliber revolver and shot until the gun was empty.

Rodney William Rhoden had a bullet wound in his left side, in the abdomen, and was transported by the Red Cross from the Villas de Las Palmas project, south of the city, before the pier, to the health center, where he died.

After the attack, Darrell “N,” got back in his vehicle and headed back towards downtown San Felipe, and was intercepted at the entrance to the pier by the police as his vehicle matched the description. They found the firearm in the pocket of the shorts he was wearing.

The murderer and his victim had problems derived from the purchase of an automobile and both has accused the other of harassment and had filed complaints with the public minister. Instead of waiting for the authorities to resolve the matter, they both took an aggressive posture, according to what the neighbors said, as they were both residents of Villas de las Palmas, and lived across from each other.

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