A New Business for Mexican Drug Cartels: The COVID-19 Vaccine

PHOTO BY REUTERS/JOSE LUIS GONZALEZ

Mexico’s security cabinet sent an alert message to police departments across the nation to be on the lookout for the rise in interest in the COVID-19 vaccine by organized crime groups. Specifically, cartels. Mexico rolled out its vaccine program on the 24th of December and already there are concerns that cartels may be using this new opportunity to infiltrate themselves in the distribution of the vaccine.

Cartels may be looking into using false web pages to look for potential victims, making it look like they are in grave danger, or even going as far as kidnapping these potential victims for extortion.

Since many years ago, Mexico’s travel routes have been plagued by drug cartels and their infamous roadblocks in many parts of the country. According to the National Chamber of Freight Transportation (CANACAR), highway crimes involving thievery increased in the time of COVID-19 lockdowns. Also, the states with the most crimes of this nature were the State of Mexico, Veracruz, Puebla, and Guanajuato.

To make matters worse during a crisis that has ripped apart the Mexican health care system, organized crime groups have sequestered the Pfizer and Moderna logos to swindle people who believe they have COVID-19…when they do not have the virus at all. For example, last January in Juarez, Chihuahua, over 12,000 false COVID-19 tests were caught crossing from the United States into Mexico using a truck with double flooring like those used by cartels to transport products. This raises the question as to the extent of the criminal activity involving COVID-19 vaccine fraud in both countries.

Even the Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) headed by Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes (better known as “El Mencho”) appears to have staked an interest in the vaccine. The Attorney General’s Office of the State of Jalisco decommissioned two labs to detect COVID-19, operated by the CJNG. These were the Hospital Puerta de Hierro Andare and the Laboratorio Análisis Clínico. Both of these “clinics” turned out to be phony and were geared towards giving false diagnosis.

The problem has become so much so that the Mexican government is already proposing transporting the vaccines under the protection of the armed forces.

Mexico also forecasts that medical personnel and people over 60 years of age would have already been vaccinated by April. With organized crime groups seeking to take advantage and profit off the pandemic, who knows if this forecast will even be made possible. The groups have shown a level of impunity against the Mexican populace that their thirst for mischief seems to be never-ending. Coupled with corruption at the highest levels of the Mexican government, the Mexican people are in for a troublesome rollout of a much-needed vaccine to combat the scourge of coronavirus.

(This story first appeared in infobae.com)

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