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Cablegate: Kidnappings Rise in Nuevo Leon; Federal Forces Decreasing

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P 152228Z MAY 08
FM AMCONSUL MONTERREY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2910
INFO RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO PRIORITY 3877
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154138
2008-05-15 22:28:00
08MONTERREY232
Consulate Monterrey
CONFIDENTIAL

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DE RUEHMC #0232/01 1362228
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 152228Z MAY 08
FM AMCONSUL MONTERREY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2910
INFO RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO PRIORITY 3877
RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/FBI WASHINGTON DC
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RUEHMC/AMCONSUL MONTERREY 8362

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MONTERREY 000232

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 5/15/2018
TAGS: PGOV SNAR ASEC CASC ECON KCRM MX
SUBJECT: KIDNAPPINGS RISE IN NUEVO LEON; FEDERAL FORCES DECREASING
PRESENCE

MONTERREY 00000232 001.2 OF 002


CLASSIFIED BY: Bruce Williamson, Consul General, Consulate
General of Monterrey, State.
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)
1. (C) Summary. Kidnapping for ransom has come to Nuevo Leon.
Public authorities downplay the problem since few cases are
reported to the police, but Post law enforcement officials are
aware of at least four cases, with indications of many more.
Although top state government officials have urged the public to
report kidnappings, no complaint was lodged by the family when
the brother in law of the Nuevo Leon Secretary of Public
Security was kidnapped, but instead the family privately
arranged for his release. Meanwhile, as high profile
assassinations have declined, federal forces have substantially
reduced their footprint in Nuevo Leon. End Summary.

2. (C) Kidnapping businessmen for ransom is a new trend in
Nuevo Leon. Previously there had been numerous 'levantones' or
kidnapping of people involved in the drug trade, often to make
them pay up, but relatively few cases of kidnapping legitimate
businessmen for ransom. However, Post law enforcement officials
have heard of four cases of kidnappings in the last month, and
in one case the victim saw six other hostages in the safe house
and another victim saw four other hostages while he was
kidnapped. Post officials believe that these cases are merely
the tip of the iceberg, and there are likely to be many more
cases. So far the kidnappers have not targeted the heads of
large corporations, who have too much security and too many
political connections, or foreign executives. Instead these
kidnapping gangs see Mexican owners of small and medium
companies as fair game. Typically four heavily armed members of
the kidnapping gang will enter the business in the morning and
take their hostage to a safe house for several days while they
negotiate with the family. We know of a number of cases where
the families paid a ransom of between $50,000 to $700,000 USD.
However, as the gangs gain experience, they may take on bigger
fish. Post understands that one recent victim had two
bodyguards when he was kidnapped.

3. (C ) It is unclear if these kidnapping gangs are
associated with the drug cartels. Jose de Jesus Arias
Rodriguez, Sub-Secretary for International Relations for the
Nuevo Leon Attorney General's office, said that they had known
that kidnappings might increase as lower-level cartel personnel
were being squeezed and were looking look for other sources of
income. In contrast, a post law enforcement official thought
that the kidnappers were free lance criminals who are still
amateurs in this field, although they were gaining experience.

4. (C) Very few kidnapping cases are reported to law
enforcement authorities, which officials use as an excuse to
downplay the problem. Despite a spike of press reports, and
cases reported to Post law enforcement agencies, there have been
only three public complaints of kidnapping in 2008. Recently
Rodrigo Medina, the Nuevo Leon Secretary General (equivalent to
chief of staff) called for the public to present complaints of
kidnapping cases to the police authorities. However, Medina's
plea was undercut by the actions of Aldo Fasci, the Nuevo Leon
Secretary of Public Security, in charge of the state police.
The press reported that Aldo Fasci's brother-in-law was
kidnapped, but Fasci's family in law never filed a public
complaint. Indeed, Fasci himself characterizing the kidnapping
as a 'personal matter,' and Fasci privately arranged for his
brother-in-law to be released. Note. Post law enforcement
agencies understand that this kidnapping was a case of mistaken
identity, as the drug cartels involved in this case picked up
the wrong guy, and that the kidnapping victim was released
without payment of ransom. End Note. Meanwhile, several
police authorities have downplayed the problem even in private
meetings. Rogelio Lozano, the Secretary for Public Security for
San Pedro, where all the Consulate families reside, claimed that
there had only been five kidnappings in the state and the press
coverage was overblown. Similarly, Poloff spoke to Roberto
Cavazos, executive director of the Monterrey Chapter of the
American Chamber of Commerce who claimed that the press was
trumpeting reports of kidnappings just to sell papers.

5. (C) Nuevo Leon does not have an effective anti-kidnapping
unit, and state officials see kidnapping as a federal problem.
Arias Rodriguez explained that they see kidnapping as a federal
problem, created by federal operations squeezing the profits of
the drug cartels, and the state's role is to provide
intelligence to the federal forces, not to act on its own. Post
officials concur that Nuevo Leon no longer has an effective
anti-kidnapping unit. Nuevo Leon Attorney General Luis Carlos
Trevino Berchelmann disclosed in a private meeting with the
Consul General that Nuevo Leon was close to cracking one
kidnapping ring, but admitted that there would still be many
others out there.

6. (C) Trevino told the Consul General that as the violence

MONTERREY 00000232 002.2 OF 002


has declined many of the TDY federal police have left Nuevo
Leon. Now, only the intelligence unit is left. Moreover, there
is less cooperation between Nuevo Leon and the remaining federal
forces. Trevino said that Nuevo Leon police previously met with
their Mexican military counterparts once a week, but now they
just meet once per month, and the meetings usually do not cover
operational planning. Note. There are still 300 TDY Mexican
military forces in Nuevo Leon. On May 11 approximately 30
agents protested that they had not been paid a bonus and that
they were issued inadequate food and equipment. Federal and
state authorities denied most of the claims, but agreed to pay
the previously promised bonus. End Note.

7. (C) Post has also heard reports of several recent
kidnappings in the neighboring state of San Luis Potosi,
including one American citizen. The American citizen apparently
was kidnapped after his car broke down, and the kidnappers
called his wife and demanded $80,000. The American Citizen
Services Section has been in contact with the family, and Post
is working on the case. However, in another kidnapping case in
San Luis Potosi, the victim's family contacted the state police,
who reportedly told them that kidnapping is not their problem.
Post cannot confirm this statement.

8. (C) Comment. To date the increase in kidnappings has not
yet had an impact on the business climate or foreign direct
investment. However, if kidnapping proves to be a lucrative
business, it is likely that kidnapping gangs will increase
unless state and local authorities react effectively. There is
no indication that American citizens are targeted for
kidnapping, but given the presence of thousands of Americans in
Nuevo Leon, there is a clear risk that American citizens,
possible dual citizens seen as Mexicans, could be kidnapped.
The state police have not responded effectively, nor have they
been receptive to USG offers to help, possibly because it is so
dangerous to take on these bands of organized criminals. End
Comment.
WILLIAMSON

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