Things That Matter

Mexican President Tries To Do Good On Promises, Goes After Judges Bribed by Narco Cartels

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador came into office with a slew of promises. Primarily, cleaning up rampant corruption that has plagued the country for years. In a move to restore public trust, Lopez Obrador says he will go after judges aligned with the country’s dangerous drug cartels. It’s been well-documented that various judges in Mexico have either accepted bribes or have worked alongside gangs creating a system of reckless lawlessness from the higher courts.

The move to take down corrupt judges comes after the U.S. took action first against a Mexican judge this past week.

The U.S. placed sanctions on a Mexican judge and a former state governor last Friday due to their involvement in corruption activities. The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) accused them of taking bribes from traffickers and claiming corruption had allowed gangs to operate with consequence.

Santiago Nieto, head of the Mexican finance ministry’s financial intelligence unit, told Reuters that the government is looking at other cases of judges that may have taken bribes. He underscores that this is all part of President Lopez Obrador plan to fulfill his campaign promise to clean up corruption.

“I have received instructions from the president of the republic to go after anybody regardless of their position or party loyalty,” Nieto told Reuters. “This is a clear message. The courts are one of the central values, fundamental pillars of the democratic state. That is why if a judge or magistrate betrays that position they must be sanctioned.”

The U.S. sanctions were imposed on Friday with the cooperation of the Mexican government.

Isidro Avelar Gutierrez, the judge indicted, allegedly accepted bribes from two closely linked cartel groups, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) and the Los Cuinis Drug Trafficking Organization. Gutierrez reportedly gave favorable rulings to the cartels’ senior members while being prosecuted.

Roberto Sandoval Castaneda, the former governor of Nayarit state, is also suspected of accepting bribes from drug cartels. This includes bribes from the CJNG, as well as misappropriating state assets, according to the U.S. Treasury press release.

The U.S. Treasury Department also says that it had designated six other individuals and six Mexican entities as being linked to CJNG or Los Cuinis.

“We are working in coordination with various institutions of the Mexican state in cases related to corruption in the judicial system,” Nieto said. “The Mexican financial system must not be used by criminal groups to launder money.”

This is just the next step in what seems to be a long battle to end corruption in Mexico.

Since taking office in December 2018, President López Obrador has faced criticism that not enough was being done to end continued corruption. This comes as Mexico faced one of its most violent years on record. There was a 14 percent rise in the homicide rate and a growing number of citizens losing trust in the government as almost 70 percent of Mexicans think that judges were corrupt.

Nieto notes, however, that after taking office he began targeting the finances of the CJNG. He says is the start in preventing organized cartel groups from operating with impunity.

Mexico’s drug war has gone on for over a decade, with thousands of citizens being killed on streets. According to the Wall Street Journal, the drug war has taken approximately 200,000 lives while more than 37,000 people have gone missing since 2006.

READ: Millions Of People Are Going To Mexico To Recieve Better And Less Expensive Medical Care Then They Can Find In The U.S.

A 25-Year-Old Woman Was Murdered And Skinned, Then Mexican Newspapers Published Photos Of Her Body

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A 25-Year-Old Woman Was Murdered And Skinned, Then Mexican Newspapers Published Photos Of Her Body

SkyNews/ Twitter

In Mexico, the recent brutal mutilation and slaying of a 25-year-old woman are spurning conversations about the country’s efforts to prevent femicide and laws that protect victims from the media.

On Sunday, Mexican authorities revealed that they had discovered the body of Ingrid Escamilla.

According to reports, Escamilla was found lifeless with her body skinned and many of her organs missing. At the scene, a 46-year-old man was also discovered alive. His body was covered in bloodstains and he was arrested.

As of this story wasn’t troubling enough, local tabloids and websites managed to bring more tragedy to the victim and her family by splashing leaked graphic photos and videos of the victim’s body. In a terribly crafted headline, one paper by the name of Pasala printed the photos on its front page with the headline “It was Cupid’s fault.” The headline is a reference to the fact that the man found at the scene was Escamilla’s husband.

According to leaked video footage from the arrest scene, Escamilla’s husband admitted to stabbing his wife after a heated argument in which she threatened to kill him. He then claimed to have skinned her body to eliminate evidence.

Mexic City’s mayor, Claudia Sheinbaum, revealed that prosecutors will demand the maximum sentence against the alleged perpetrator.

“Femicide is an absolutely condemnable crime. It is appalling when hatred reaches extremes like in the case of Ingrid Escamilla,” Sheinbaum wrote in a tweet according to CNN. According to reports, Mexico broke records in 2018 when its homicide record reached over 33,000 people that year.

The publication of Escamilla’s mutilated body has sparked discussions regarding the way in which reports about violence against women are handled.

Women’s rights organizations have lambasted the papers that originally published photos of Escamilla’s body and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador also expressed criticism of the media’s response to the brutal slaying.

In a press conference on Thursday, President López Obrador expressed his determination to find and punish anyone responsible for the image leaks. “This is a crime, that needs to be punished, whoever it is,” he stated.

Conservationists At Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Reserve Are Being Murdered And Investigators Aren’t Sure Why

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Conservationists At Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Reserve Are Being Murdered And Investigators Aren’t Sure Why

Alan Ortega / Getty

Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Reserve is one of the world’s most famous wildlife hotspots. Hundreds of thousands come each year to view the annual migration of millions of beautiful butterflies that call Mexico’s Michoacan state home during the winter.

However, this iconic and majestic habitat for one of the world’s most endangered animals is now the backdrop for a dramatic murder mystery that is unfolding in international headlines. Two conservationists have been discovered dead just days apart and investigators still aren’t sure why.

A second victim has been pronounced killed by authorities in Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly reserve.

Credit: Alan Ortega / Getty

One of the world’s most beautiful wildlife spots is now the backdrop for a dramatic double murder after two nature activists are discovered dead at Mexico’s El Rosario monarch butterfly sanctuary.

The deaths of Homero Gomez Gonzalez, manager of the butterfly reserve, and Raul Hernandez Romero, a tour guide at the sanctuary, have sent shockwaves across the world of wildlife conservation.

Hernandez Romero’s body was discovered on Saturday near the highest point of the mountainous sanctuary, which sits 9,000 feet above sea level in the state of Michoacan, about 130 miles west of Mexico City, according to a statement from the Michoacan state prosecutor’s office. Hernandez Romero’s family reported him missing on Friday, officials said.

The new victim was found just days after the first victim’s body was found after being missing for 16 days.

Credit: Alan Ortega / Getty

Authorities discovered his body about three days after the Hernandez Romero’s body was found in a pond near the Central Mexico town of El Soldado, prosecutors said.

An autopsy performed in the presence of State Human Rights Commission representatives determined Gomez Gonzalez died from “mechanical asphyxiation” after suffering head trauma and being submerged in water.

Gomez Gonzalez, whose family reported him missing two weeks ago, was one of the region’s most prominent conservation activists and a vocal defender of the monarch butterflies. He had launched a campaign against illegal logging that threatens the butterflies nesting grounds.

Although petty crime and theft is common in these parts of Mexico, authorities don’t believe this to be the case in Gonzalez’s death. He was found with about $9,000 pesos (or about $500 USD) on him when his body was discovered.

Mexico’s Monarch butterfly preserve is a UNESCO Biosphere reserve that draws hundreds of thousands of tourists each year.

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

Each winter, millions of monarch butterflies make their home at the El Rosario reserve in Mexico — one of the best places in the world to see them. Local guides lead tourists up the mountainside on foot and horseback to where the monarchs cluster in fir and pine trees. Their bright orange wings flit amid the mild weather of Michoacán, and signs ask for silence as visitors enter the nesting areas.

The El Rosario sanctuary is part of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, which was enshrined as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008, calling the overwintering concentration of butterflies there “a superlative natural phenomenon.” It noted that more than half of overwintering colonies of the monarch butterfly’s eastern population are found in these specific areas of Mexico.

But the same forests that draw butterflies to migrate thousands of miles each winter are under threat from illegal logging and clandestine avocado farms.

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

Officials in the state of Michoacán said they were unsure if the two deaths were linked – or related to the men’s work in the butterfly reserve. The state has seen a rising tide of violence in recent years, and the region around the monarch butterfly reserve has been rife with illegal logging, despite a ban imposed to protect the monarchs, which winter in the pine- and fir-covered hills.

Some illegal clearcutting is also carried out to allow for the planting of avocado orchards – one of Mexico’s most lucrative crops and an important part of Michoacán’s economy.

The deaths again called attention to the disturbing trend in Mexico of environmental defenders being killed as they come into conflict with developers or local crime groups, who often have political and police protection.