Twenty containers with gold and silver, zero shots and zero arrests: the robbery of the century in the main port of Mexico

There are no detainees, not a single bullet was fired and the assailants took at least eight hours to remove the merchandise. The biggest heist in the history of Manzanillo, Mexico’s main commercial port, seems like the plot of a mystery novel. The authorities have confirmed that twenty cargo containers with gold, silver and electronic devices have disappeared without a trace, after the break-in of an armed commando in a transport company. “It is unprecedented, there had been no robbery of this nature,” Gustavo Adrián Joya, Colima Government Security spokesman, acknowledged on Monday. The case was uncovered in the Mexican press this weekend, almost seven days after the events occurred, before the Attorney General’s Office (FGR), the state public ministry, the Secretary of the Navy or any other government institution issued an official statement about what happened.

A command of more than a dozen armed men broke into the Alonso Mireles Maneuvering company during the early hours of June 5 and gagged the guards who were guarding the maneuvering yard, a large area where containers are handled before entering the port. , according to the reconstructions of the press and data confirmed by the authorities in a press conference. The assailants took it in stride. According to the official, they opened several containers, selected only those that they were interested in taking, and left the rest intact. “They were very selective in the type of merchandise that was stolen, especially precious metals,” said Joya. The theft required the use of cranes, forklifts and trucks to remove the merchandise. “They had the logistics,” added the spokesman.

The press and the public were quick to call the heist the “robbery of the century” or draw comparisons to television series such as The Money Heist. In addition to the spectacular nature of the assault, the robbery sparked criticism against the Government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador and his decision to militarize port security under the argument of fighting organized crime. The decision, made in mid-2020, was not without controversy and forced the departure of Javier Jiménez Espriú, then Secretary of Communications and Transport, from the Cabinet. Manzanillo, on the Mexican Pacific, is the country’s main gateway to the Asian market, with China as the main origin and destination of port operations. Drug cartels have vied for control of the port, where they unload synthetic drug precursors that are made in Mexico and sold mainly in the United States. However, no group has been accused of the theft.

The authorities have not denied the journalistic versions of the robbery, but they have emphasized that it was not committed within the port facilities, in response to questions about how looting of such dimensions could have taken place without the security forces noticing. bill. “Apparently there was a robbery in a container yard, but such facilities are not part of the port area,” a spokesperson for the Secretary of the Navy told this newspaper. “Actually, what is said, if it happened, happened outside, in a private patio where the individual stores his merchandise until they enter the port area for shipment on a ship or vice versa,” he added.

In the same sense, Joya, which represents several state and federal corporations that coordinate security in the State, has insisted that the responsibility for protecting the merchandise was the company’s. “They did not have the infrastructure that a place of this nature requires,” said the spokesman. The official has said that several investigation folders have been initiated by the State Prosecutor’s Office and its counterparts from the FGR, but he has also disclaimed responsibility from local authorities, arguing that it is a federal crime. Federal prosecutors have not spoken publicly. Horacio Duarte, national Customs manager, was seen last Sunday in a proselytizing act of Morena, López Obrador’s party, but he has not issued any comments on his social networks either.

The state spokesman has said that robberies in the surroundings of the port of Manzanillo “are not as frequent as it seems” and that thefts usually occur when the products are in transit by road, especially through Jalisco, stronghold of the homonymous Jalisco Nueva Generación cartel. . Governed since last year by Morena, Colima has maintained in recent years that the high crime rates per capita are a consequence of the presence of criminal organizations in the neighboring states of Michoacán and Jalisco, as well as its low population, which barely exceeds 730,000 inhabitants. “I don’t have the data,” Joya said about the amount of the stolen merchandise, in one more of the unknowns surrounding the case.

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