Sunday 4 May 2014

With fourth murder of 2014, time to leave Chapala

On Thursday, February 27, 2014 La politica published a piece titled, With recent murders in Jocotepec and Ajijic, Chapala may no longer be“safe”.

Now, just over two months later, an elderly American has been killed in Chapala. This means that in the first four months of 2014 four foreigners have been killed in three incidents.

Chapala's finest
This most recent murder reportedly occurred on Friday, April 20. Raymond Margolis Levi, 90 (some reports say 88), later died after two men broke into his home, only a few blocks from city hall. The elderly man was beaten about the head, as was his wife, a teacher in a local primary school, in what appeared to be an attempted robbery. 

Mr. Margolis Levi was transported to hospital, but succumbed to his injuries on Sunday, April 22.

The attack occurred at about 6 pm, and knocked both victims unconscious. When the female victim, Elisa Chavez Anaya, regained consciousness she called for help from her neighbours, who notified police and municipal medical services. Other reports claim that Ms. Chavez Anaya was not injured, but hid in the bathroom until the intruders left.

Apparently Mr. Margolis Levi, an American of German origin who lived for many years in Brooklyn, owned properties in Chapala and was known to keep large amounts of cash on site. It is estimated that the thieves made off with about 80,000 pesos (US$6,135).

This murder follows on the killing of the Canadians Edward Kular and Nina Discombe, who were also murdered by two subjects who entered their home, and of John Paul Abeel, who was killed during an attempted robbery in his mobile home in the Roca Azul subdivision in Jocotepec.

There has been one arrest in the Kular and Discombe murders. There have also been arrests in the Abeel killing, with the motive possibly being unpaid debt.

It should be noted, however, that Mexican authorities are often quick to make arrests in order to ease fears, and that with regard to Lake Chapala this has had no impact on the incidence of violent crime. This is not one gang that has to be caught: this is a phenomenon of generalized insecurity, with elderly and vulnerable foreigners emerging as targets. 

It is clear now that Chapala is falling victim to the lawlessness that has spilled over from Michoacan into Jalisco. In all instances the motive appears to be robbery, with murder an unfortunate consequence.

There is no longer any rationale for ex-pats to stay in Chapala. The local authorities are unable to address the problem, and criminals now know that they can strike with relative impunity. The protection that foreigners have always assumed, and that sets them apart from the locals, no longer applies, with criminals brazenly picking off Canadians and Americans, possibly even targeting those that are both elderly and well-off. 

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

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