Shooting up with coal: a criminal fix « Mining Blog

Shooting up with coal: a criminal fix

22. November 2012,

Now here’s an unusual spin on the notion that coal is a sort of narcotic, used to satisfy our widespread addiction to carbon-fired electricity.

According to Australia’s Herald Sun newspaper, Mexican drug cartels have been engaged in the direct ownership and operation of mines along the coal-rich US-Mexican border.

“The cartels reap immense returns from the sale of the solid fossil fuel to state-owned companies, often obtaining profits as high as 30 times their initial investment, while also obtaining an effective channel for money laundering.” [Mining.com 19 November 2012].

The “Zetas” – founded by renegade members of the Mexican special forces and renowned for “some of the most heinous acts of violence during regional drug wars – are, says the newspaper,”believed by experts to be the first cartel to make a foray into the mining sector.”

Heriberto Lazcano, a Zetas head honcho, was killed during a gun battle with the authorities in the coal mining town of Progreso on October 7th. He allegedly “owned his own coal pit in the region, while the cartel has reportedly long engaged in illegal coal mining in the mineral-rich state of Coahuila.

“The entry of Mexico’s drug cartels into the mining sector has a nearby precedent in Colombia, where local drug barons often took up stakes in gold and coal mines”.

In addition to gsinng “immense profits” from their mining ventures, Mexico’s drug cartels are also said to”avail themselves of a convenient means of legitimizing and diversifying their earnings. Licit high-income businesses make it easy for the cartels to launder their illegal proceeds”.

According to the November issue of CTS Centinale – a monthly security newsletter from the Combatting Terorrism Center at West Point (USA) – the Zetas aren’t exactly a cartel. As well as making money by trafficking narcotics from Guatemala to the U.S. border, they also ” engage in extortion, kidnapping and smuggling…

“After a split with the Gulf Cartel in 2010, the Zetas applied their military training and loose structure to create an entire nationwide criminal enterprise. The formula worked regardless of the fact that few Zetas today have any military training, [and] because of who held the whole structure together: drug boss Heriberto “Z-3″ Lazcano”.

But this doesn’t mean the exploitation of coal or other noxious substances have come to an end with the kiling of Lazano, since, says CTW Centinale, the Zetas “are more like a decentralized network of criminal cells…”

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