viernes, 28 de junio de 2013

Figures show fall in crimes in Mexico in 2013, but not kidnapping

The Observatorio Nacional Ciudadano, a private body that monitors crime and security trends in Mexico, revealed on 27 June that police figures for the first quarter of 2013 showed a drop in Mexico's "higher impact" crimes like homicides and violent robberies, but not kidnappings, which increased 16.9 per cent in the first quarter of 2013, presumably year-on-year. The report for the period January to the end of April 2013 was based on public complaints or reported crimes registered with the Public Security National System (Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública), a federal government agency. The Observatory's website cautioned however that the figures excluded unreported crimes. Its graphic summary of five "high-impact" crimes for the period January 2012-late April 2013 showed for example that while the average 17 extortions reported daily in the first quarter of 2013 were less than the 20 daily extortions reported over 2012, the figures likely represented just five per cent of all extortions. The Observatory's director Francisco Rivas gave the press on 27 June some of the report's highlights: kidnappings he said were the "high impact" crime that most increased in 16 months from January 2012 to the end of April 2013, rising 31.4 per cent. Homicides fell 13.8 per cent between January 2012 and the end of April 2013 and 10 per cent from January 2013, he said. In the first quarter of 2013, based on the official figures: reported extortions fell by 18.5 per cent, violent thefts by 3.6 per cent and car thefts 5.2 per cent. One of the country's most notorious kidnapping cases occurred on 26 May, when 12 or 13 youngsters were taken from an after-hours club in the capital's Zona Rosa district. These had yet to be found although authorities recently interrogated three suspects. The Zona Rosa is a neighbourhood of bars and restaurants, hitherto considered reasonably safe. The office of the chief prosecutor of Mexico City stated on 27 June that interrogations indicated the kidnapping was likely linked to a vendetta between two gangs of street dealers active locally, Proceso reported, citing agency reports. On 27 or 28 June, relatives of the disappeared and activists filled Tepito, the district of Mexico City where the 12 lived, with pictures of the kidnapped, perhaps hoping to jog memories or encourage residents to give information, Milenio reported. A reward equivalent to just over 770,000 USD was being offered to anyone providing information that would lead to the kidnapped, Milenio stated.

Over 25 reported shot around Mexico

No less than 27 were reported shot dead around Mexico between 25 and 28 June, in incidents including shootouts with troops and police, gun fights between gangsters and criminal executions. Gunmen shot dead four employees of a cosmetics firm in the northern city of Juárez as they sprayed the firm's premises with gunfire early on 28 June, the broadcaster Azteca reported. Four men were executed the evening before in Madera in the northern state of Chihuahua; a note was left by the dead alleging they had been kidnappers, Proceso reported. The executioners were said to have arrived in 10 cars, then placed the victims against a wall and shot them. Eight were killed in the evening of 27 June in Fresnillo in the north-central state of Zacatecas, in shootouts between gangsters and with the army, the website Zacatecas en linea reported. Six of the victims apparently ran into an army patrol while fleeing the first shootout in two cars; they fired on the army vehicle and were shot dead. In the state capital Zacatecas a man was shot dead in a bar very early on 27 June, Azteca television reported. Early on 28 June police shot dead an armed man in the district of Cuautlán de García Barragán in the western state of Jalisco after a patrol came under fire, El Siglo de Torreón reported. Four gunmen and a soldier were killed early on 26 June in a shootout near a school in the northern city of Reynosa, national media reported. This and a shootout late on 25 June in San Fernando south of Reynosa left in total nine dead on 25-26 June in the state of Tamaulipas bordering the United States, Proceso reported.

Los Angeles mayor signs in ban on plastic bags

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed into law on 27 June a Los Angeles city council vote to end the distribution and use of plastic bags in Los Angeles, making it the largest city so far in the United States to banish plastic bags, agencies and press reported. The ban would take effect in a six-month period from 1 January to June 2014, while the city was to hand out a million reusable bags to residents of poorer districts, the Associated Press reported. Those not taking their own bags to shops would have to buy paper bags for 10 cents, and shops would have to compile quarterly reports on the number of bags sold, AP reported. Antonio Villaraigosa's term as mayor was to end on 1 July.

Chief prosecutor of Honduras resigns

The head of the state prosecution service in Honduras and his deputy resigned on 25 June, apparently for their inability to cope with widespread crime and ahead of a parliamentary initiative to have the chief prosecutor sacked, media reported. Luis Alberto Rubí, the state's ranking prosecutor (Fiscal-General) and head of the Public Ministry that investigates and prosecutes crimes on the state's behalf, resigned as a parliamentary commission investigating the Public Ministry recommended an impeachment initiative that day, Agence France-Presse and local media reported on 27 June. His term was to end in May 2014, and he stated in his resignation letter to parliament that he was satisfied he had done his duty, which included "maintaining the rule of law and the Public Ministry's autonomy." The deputy-chief prosecutor Roy Urtecho López also resigned "to avoid a crisis in Honduras," AFP reported. The parliamentary security affairs committee earlier attributed to Mr Rubí a range of shortcomings including a "serious failure" to carry out his duties, lack of coordination with other judicial bodies and "inadequate administration" of budgets allocated to the prosecution service, the daily La Tribuna reported on 25 June. An Intervening Committee (Comisión interventora) was apparently the body that informed parliament earlier in June of budget anomalies in the Public Ministry; that committee was to administer the Public Ministry provisionally to the end of July and parliament was not immediaetly voting to appoint a new chief prosecutor and deputy-prosecutor, El Heraldo reported on 28 June. On 26 June, President Porfirio Lobo Sosa insisted while speaking on television that crime was falling in Honduras and the Governmet had the technology now to fight extortion, one of the country's most widespread and oppressive practices, La Prensa reported. The President listed some of the actions taken against crime, including sending the army onto the streets in several districts in the framework of Operation Liberty (Operación Libertad), which began in April 2013.