Mexican drug lords’ exotic pets revealed in shootouts, escapes
“Life is very short, it wasn’t the monkey’s turn (to die),” according to the ballad, posted on social media.
The pet monkey, found dead on the scene of the Texcaltitlan shootout, probably belonged to a member of La Familia Michoacana drug cartel. Credit:Youtube/Milenio
Then on Wednesday, the Attorney General for Environmental Protection said it had seized a tiger in Tecuala, in the Pacific coast state of Nayarit, near the border with Sinaloa, which is home to the cartel of the same name.
The office said it acted “after receiving reports about a Bengal tiger that was wandering the streets of Tecuala,” and found that the animal was being illegally kept there.
Those reports were based on a video posted on social media earlier this week, showing a young woman shrieking as she came across the tiger on the street in a residential neighbourhood. “Be quiet, it might come close,” a woman can be heard saying on the video.
Authorities said the tiger’s claws and fangs had been removed and a man can be seen later in the video casually tossing a rope over the tiger’s neck and leading him away.
Perhaps the most tragic story came out of the western state of Michoacan, which has long been dominated by the Carteles Unidos gang and the Jalisco cartel.
On Sunday, authorities confirmed that a man was seriously wounded by a tiger in Periban, Michoacan, a town in the state’s avocado-growing vicinity, where gangs have long extorted protection payments from the lucrative avocado trade.
In a video posted on social media, whose authenticity could not be confirmed, the man is seen calling the tiger to the side of a fenced surrounding. “Come on, come,” the man can be heard entreating.
The man stands outside the surrounding, seemingly feeding the tiger with one hand, while he stretches his other arm by the chain-link fence to stroke the animal’s neck.
The man then shrieks in pain after the tiger quickly wheels and bites the extended arm and refuses to let go. ultimately the tiger mauled both the man’s arms.
Michoacan state law enforcement authorities confirmed that the man was taken to a hospital, where he died a few days later from his injuries.
Mexican law allows private citizens to keep exotic animals if they register them under strictly supervised conditions. But Security analyst David Saucedo said criminals sometimes go to the length of getting such permits.
Saucedo said drug traffickers often keep exotic animals as a symbol of position and strength, imitating the Colombian drug lords of the 1980s and 90s.
“Mexican drug traffickers copied from the narcos of the Medellin cartel the custom of acquiring exotic animals and setting up private zoos,” said Saucedo. “According to the code of the drug trafficking aristocracy, having a private zoo was a prerequisite for being part of the time of action of big-time drug traffickers.”
In some situations, the animals had a more sinister use.
“Some drug cartel capos, like Zetas leader Heriberto Lazcano, acquired exotic animals to torture or disappear their victims,” Saucedo said. “Several of his enemies were devoured by the tigers or the crocodiles that the Zetas kept in their pens or cages.”
Lazcano himself was killed in a shootout with Mexican military personnel in 2012.
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