Mexico Is Selling Off Jewelry And Property Seized From Narcos To Build Necessary Roads
Close to 2,000 of pieces of jewelry were auctioned off this past Sunday by the Mexican government. From gold watches to bullet-shaped pendants encrusted with diamonds, the collection is a special set of items that have a place in Mexico’s dark criminal history. This is due to the items once belonging to Mexican drug lords and other sought after criminals. Hundreds of people came from all over the country seeking these exclusive and hallowed items that once belonged to the whos-who of Mexico’s narco world.
The auction is a chance to show the new government’s transparency and also support a good cause. the money from the auction will help fund building roads in western Mexico.
This past weekend was the third such auction organized by the government, which has announced that the fourth one will sell off land and cash confiscated from drug dealers. The fundraising goal for the auction was 21.8 million pesos, about 1.14 million U.S. dollars, according to the AP. Proceeds from the auctions will be used to repair roadwork near the border between Michoacán and Colima.
Mexico’s austerity-minded President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who took office last December, is behind the auction. These jewelry sell-offs have been taking place outside Los Pinos, a mansion that was the former residence of the Mexican president. One of López Obrador’s first orders was making the estate in the capital’s Chapultepec Park into a cultural center designated to the open public.
Back in April, López Obrador announced his “Robin Hood” institute, a government agency that would return wealth seized from corrupt politicians and gangsters back to the people.
“Let’s quickly return everything to the people that’s been stolen,” he said then at a news conference announcing the bill.
While many of the items are high in value, government officials have so far failed to meet some of their fundraising goals.
The System of Administrative Allocation of Assets (SAE), who is heading the auctions, is expected to host it’s fourth event in the coming weeks. But so far, exceptions have yet to be met in regards to their 21.8 million-peso minimum goal set by SAE head Ricardo Rodríguez.
The SAE has so far raised 10.3 million pesos ($540,000 USD), which is far short of its goal. This past weekend, the government expected between 250 and 350 people to take part in the auction but only 70 signed up to participate. Many of starting prices set forth by the government have yet to matched and buyers have been weary bidding on higher prices items.
The upcoming auction will feature the properties allegedly confiscated from human trafficking activist Rosi Orozco and accused drug trafficker Xen Li Yegon.
Jewelry items bidding prices range from $655 to $155,000. These high prices are due to the one-of-a-kind nature of the jewelry collection.
One of the biggest draws to the auctions have been people’s curiosity for the narco treasures. Thousands of people have visited Los Pinos just to have a look at the jewelry collection. Felipe Palma, who came to auction with his family Sunday, was one of those curious onlookers.
“They had some very strange things made,” Palma told the AP. “I imagine the guy that had that type of jewelry made was one of the bosses.”
The most expensive piece of jewelry that is listed is a men’s Piaget watch, valued at $155,000. The watch features an 18 karat, white gold timepiece that features 49 baguette-cut diamonds and an additional 160 baguette-cut diamonds on its side.
While some of the items are high in value, many of the items that aren’t sought after are often purchased to be melted down to be sold again. Jorge Camacho, who was winning bidder on a Cartier watch and other assorted gold items, will be one of those trying to cash in by selling the items at a secondhand shop.
“There’s a market for everything,” Camacho told the AP.