Busting iron barons, the new industry for Mexican drug lords

Authorities have taken a massive seizure of illegally mined iron ore at the Mexican seaport of Lazaro Cardenas.

Mexican police, soldiers and government inspectors raided 11 ore yards at the port on Monday, and confiscated 124 bulldozers, backhoes and trucks.

The authorities seized 119,000 tons of the steel-making ore in the crackdown following tips about drug cartels exporting ore to China.

Mexican federal security commissioner for western Michoacan state Alfredo Castillo said late Monday that the ore is being tested to determine which mines it came from and whether they were legally registered.

'Investigations revealed that the holding yards were being used to store a large amount of ore that could be illegal obtained,' Castillo said.

Revelations have been made that Mexican drug lords have been diversifying their sources of revenue through illegal mining, not only to profit from the illegal mining activity but to launder the proceeds of drug production and distribution.

In November last year the Mexican Navy took over control of the port to cut off illicit income for the Michoac√°n-based Knights Templar drug cartel, said to have been mining or stealing iron ore for years.

Mexican attorney general Jesus Murillo Karam said “From the investigations we have, it is clear that there is a very serious problem with minerals … being trafficked.”


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