In the colony Desarrollo Urbano Quetzalcóatl, of the mayor of Iztapalapa, there are neighborhoods where points of sale of weapons, drugs and stolen cars proliferate and a long list of illicits, according to police sources consulted by Animal Político.
It is a colony where patrols hardly enter and its inhabitants are afraid to travel at night in the face of the insecurity that is being experienced.
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This insecurity caused a military group of 450 elements of the National Guard to arrive on July 5 to try to change the face of the colony, located in the most populous town of the country’s capital.
In addition, a voluntary arms redemption program within the churches of the area has been established throughout last December.
Luis Miguel Arredondo Rivera, regional general manager in Iztapalapa of the Ministry of Citizen Security of the CDMX, recognized the difficulty of the capital police to enter the most conflicted neighborhoods of the Urban Development colony Quetzalcoatl.
«What was needed were reinforcements. We now have greater responsiveness» with the arrival of the National Guard, police command told Political Animal.
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Not only that. He confirmed that gun outlets, stolen cars, drugs have been located in this colony, but there are also registered homicides with firearms committed by motorcyclists.
Viewed from above, at a point where Iztapalapa ends and the mayoralty of Tláhuac begins, the Colonia Desarrollo Urbano Quetzalcóatl is a large expanse of one- or two-storey brick-walled houses and sheet or cement ceilings that form a uniform landscape of 200 he and where about 70 thousand people live, according to official CDMX figures.
Within the colony what is observed are informal shops in the houses and tianguis on the streets, installed in their main roads.
Foreign people can’t enter their main neighborhoods unless it’s with the approval of someone local.
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Passenger trucks running through the colony bear a stamp with the legend: «This transport is guarded by the police. Iztapalapa Guarantees citizens a safe journey.»
Away from Los Pozos street, where the National Guard arrived, is one of the seemingly impenetrable corners of the colony and where the main criminal activity is the sale of drugs.
Shots in the air
There lives a young mother, who will be named Griselda, as she spoke to Animal Político on the condition of anonymity, while walking with her five-year-old daughter.
She told how in addition to the sale of drugs in her neighborhood there are frequent shots in the air at night.
They are generally not a matter of clashes between criminal groups or between the police, what happens, Griselda explained, is that there young or adolescents, always «test their weapons» freshly acquired with shots in the air. It’s part of his daily life that «you have to put up with.»
The government of Mexico City has recovered 3,638 weapons in Iztapalapa from December to date with the program «Yes to disarmament, yes to peace». In addition to weapons, grenades, rifles, AK47s and submachine guns have been delivered.
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The owners handed them over without giving personal data and received a payment in return, which depended on a tab and the condition of the weapon. One citizen handed over four pistols and received five thousand pesos. They’re anonymous redemptions.
Authorities chose the churches to do these days, where children also parade with their toy guns to exchange them for other non-war toys.
At night, when Griselda is at her home in the Casitas neighborhood, the bullets ring, so she thinks some young man has just gone «to the point» to buy a firearm.
«They are pure chamacos. At night they start testing the weapons. The police don’t come into my colony,» he said.
Testimonies from neighbors living in the Renovación and La Magueyera neighborhood agree that the police do not enter their colonies. Nor can anyone who does not have permission from any inhabitant.
The Law of the Strongest
According to the people interviewed, what happens in these neighborhoods is not the proliferation of criminal groups with a defined structure but the «law of the strongest» among young people who are climbing positions in the sale of illegal drugs and in the commission of crimes to armed hand, mainly within the public transport routes that cross the colony Desarrollo Urbano Quetzalcóatl.
That’s why the Iztapalapa authorities created a security program that involves getting police onthe minibuses.
Griselda was assaulted on one of those routes 15 days ago. It was very simple: a young man told her that he was going to assault her and she, who at night listens to how they tried the newly purchased weapons, already knew that he was armed, then gave him the little money he brought.
That’s why «you have to bring in your hand as little as you can, » said the young mom.
«Right now the mere point of crime is this,» she said, pointing around, and giving the authorities reason to have decided to start a peace process that, however, has not yielded visible results for her within a month of being initiated.
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The mayor of Iztapalapa, Clara Brugada, said that a month after the arrival of the National Guard, preliminary reports indicate a 50% reduction in high-impact crimes in the Urban Development colony.
This was disclosed during a day of arms delivery, headed by the Ministry of National Defense (Sedena).
Clara Brugada believes that the change in perception about insecurity will come after the reduction in crime rates. For the time being, the confirmed figures are those of the Attorney General’s Office of Mexico City (PGJ-CDMX).
During 2018, that institution initiated 235 thousand 712 research folders for some crime, of which 34 thousand 732 are from Iztapalapa. It’s a figure that ranks that mayor’s office as the most conflicted one that year.
Of the alleged crimes reported in Iztapalapa, 19% are high-impact wrongdoings. During the period January-June 2019, Iztapalapa registered 19 thousand 187 folders started, the highest number of the 16 mayors.
If the trend continues as before, this year would exceed by about four thousand cases the previous year. But if they narrow down as in July, as the mayor announced, the criminal outlook would begin to reverse.
Griselda calculated that for three years to date the narco-slating began with force and with it the «law of the strongest» among adolescents and young drug dealers. It’s a perception shared by capital cops on the street.
The inhabitant of Urban Development Quetzalcoatl and the police have also noticed an escalation of violence that results in armed robberies on public transport. Griselda herself lived it 15 days ago, when all her money was taken from her gunman in a minibus.
The minibus carried the legend of «guarded transport» but had no surveillance. Animal Político searched for monitored transport units for three days in the Urban Development colony but found none.
Art vs Bullets
María de Jesús Santiago is a folk dance teacher. He has had a group for eight years and keeps him with extreme willpower. He believes that art is a balm for the plight of the Urban Development colony and would like more men to integrate.
But it happens every time a young man enters, he immediately suffers mockery to such an extent that they end up leaving and coming back at the expense of entering criminal activities, such as young people who test their new weapons on nights near Griselda’s house , the same weapons that the authorities want to recover in the churches.
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Two blocks from where folk music plays is a tank with armor level 5 of the Ministry of Citizen Security, with four elements deployed with high-power weapons and equipment to perform special operations.
They are elements of the CDMX’s SSC Task Force that, through their training, try to identify which buses may be the scene of an assault, however, because of their regulatory framework they are not allowed to act and remain in that place waiting for a call National Guard to get into some high-impact action.
According to Luis Miguel Arredondo Rivera, regional general manager in Iztapalapa of the SSC, the presence of this group has helped break down barriers in the most complicated places.
Animal Politician tried to contact the National Guard but has had no response.
People interviewed in the area believe the change promised by the National Guard will be slow. There are the actions of the authorities but also an ingrained violence in the social fabric that concerns them.
A simple family fight can lead to the use of firearms, assaults are more violent than before. They have a mixture of hope and pessimism. This is also expressed in a street pint of the colony Desarrollo Urbano Quetzalcóatl: «Slow, but comes the future».
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