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Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Military and federal police take control of Lazaro Cardenas port on Mexico’s Pacific coast

The Maersk Sarnia
Mexico’s navy, army, federal police, and federal attorney general’s office have together taken control of the Pacific port of Lazaro Cardenas in the embattled state of Michoacán, Mexico.

The port is the number one cargo destination on Mexico’s Pacific coast, and is a major transit point for the precursor chemicals used to make methamphetamines. The federal government has concluded that the level of corruption and collusion with organized crime has made efforts at internal reform pointless. Instead, the port captaincy and chief administrator roles will now be held by military officers. Another 156 officers will work at the port in an effort to weed out corruption.


In assuming control of the port, military police took 50 municipal police officers into custody. Local officials appear to have been left out of the loop, with the mayor of the city, Archimedes Oseguera, claiming he was unaware as to why such draconian steps had been taken.

The Secretariat of National Defense, known as SEDENA, will also be enhancing perimeter and access road security. There is some talk of renewed training for local municipal police, but no program has been set up as of yet.

Cartels suspected of involvement in precursor shipments through Lazaro Cardenas include Sinaloa and The Knights Templar. The state of Michoacán has been at the centre of Mexico’s war on drugs for almost seven years, and continues to suffer from conflict among cartels, police, military, and local self-defense groups, some of which are suspected of being controlled by the New Generation cartel.

The New Generation cartel, which traditionally has its stronghold in Guadalajara, Jalisco, has worked as a client organization for the powerful Sinaloa cartel in its battle with The Knights Templar. Thousands of federal police and soldiers were brought in by the government of Enrique Peña Nieto this past summer in an effort to control the conflict, but to date have had little effect.  

Last month, gunmen attacked several power stations in the state, temporarily leaving tens of thousands of people without electricity.

Below is a list of seizures of precursors at Lazaro Cardenas in 2013:

19,000,176 kilograms (kgs) of monomethylamine and 152,000,250 kilograms of phenyl acetate found in the ship "Maersk Sarnia" (origin China; flag German)

99,000,700 kgs of monomethylamine in the ship "Petrohue" (Liberian flag)

120,000,960 kgs of monomethylamine on board the ship "Csav Papudo" (Liberian flag, also bound for Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala)

229,000,108 kgs of monomethylamine in the ship "Eyrene"

73,857 kgs of monomethylamine in the ship "Csav Petorca" (bound for Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala)

32,000 kgs of monomethylamine on the ship "Echo" (also bound for Guatemala)

194,900 kgs of monomethylamine in the ship "CGM Voltaire"

14,000, 440 kgs of ethylamine, and 16 thousand kgs of methylamine, on the ship "Csav Pirque" (origin China)

32,000 liters of methylamine on the ship "Mereda” (origin China)

16, 000, 050 kgs of methylamine in the ship "Xin Yan Tai" (origin, South Korea)

(TE Wilson is the author of Mezcalero, a Detective Sánchez novel. )

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