Mexico auctions drug lords′ properties, raises $2.9 million | News | DW | 24.06.2019
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Mexico auctions drug lords' properties, raises $2.9 million

Sprawling ranches and houses with escape tunnels seized from drug lords have gone under the hammer in Mexico's capital. Some of the properties, including one where a cartel chief was killed by his brothers, got no bids.

Mexico's government has raised just under $3 million (€2.64 million) at an auction of luxury properties that once belonged to drug cartel leaders.

The 27 sites on offer included gang safe houses, vast estates, and mansions with swimming pools and escape tunnels. But in the end only nine of them were sold.

The earnings amounted to just a third of the $8.8 million the government had been hoping to raise for poor communities in the country's south.

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One house linked to the Beltran Layva drug cartel in Mexico City was sold for $753,315. But the luxury apartment where the gang's leader, Arturo "El Barbas" Beltran, was killed and disposed of by his brothers in 2009 found no buyer.

The $1.6-million "Los Tres Garcia" ranch in the State of Mexico, the most expensive item up for auction, also received no bids, according to local media. The property belonged to a relative of Edgar Valdez Villareal, alias "La Barbie," a drug lord and hitman who is currently serving jail time in the United States. 

There were, however, buyers for a vacation home in Cancun owned by a former boss of the Gulf cartel, and a house linked to linked to the Arellano Felix gang in Rosarito near the US border.

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Funds to go to poor areas

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the proceeds from the auction would go to poor communities and victims of drug violence in the southern state of Guerrerro.

"In addition to acquiring a good, they will be also be doing good, that is, they will be helping those who need support because of the situation of poverty and marginalization they suffer," Lopez Obrador said of the buyers ahead of the event.

After taking office in December, the leftist leader pledged to tackle violence and corruption. In one of his first acts as president, he implemented an austerity scheme that involved selling the presidential plane and other government-owned vehicles.  

Mexican authorities said they planned to hold more auctions in the next few months to redirect the proceeds of crime to poor areas. 

An auction at the end of May raised $1.5 million from the sale of assets seized from organized crime syndicates, including Porsches and a Lamborghini Murcielago. The money raised from that event was for disadvantaged communities in Oaxaca.

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nm/msh (Reuters, EFE)

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