Mexico turns seized assets into a source of income

28/07/2019
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16:45
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Alexis Ortiz
Mexico turns seized assets into a source of income
The money obtained at the auctions has been transferred to poor communities - Photo: Francisco Cañedo/XINHUA

Mexico turns seized assets into a source of income

28/07/2019
16:45
Alexis Ortiz
Mexico City
-A +A
During the Peña Nieto administration, only 2% of the seized assets were transferred to the SAE

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Although Arturo Beltrán Leyva, an infamous drug lord, died in December 2009, it took the federal government almost 10 years to auction the department where he was killed during an operation to arrest him. Almost 10 years later, the Management Service and Property Disposal Department (SAE) auctioned the property for an initial price of MXN $3,580,000.

Security experts have explained that the long processes to close criminal cases is the reason why assets linked to a crime take years to be transferred to the SAE, in order to be an auction and raise funds for the government.

For example, during the Peña Nieto administration, only 2% of the vehicles, ships, planes, jewelry, and properties seized by the former Prosecutor General's Office (PGR) were transferred to the SAE to be auctioned.

Information obtained by EL UNIVERSAL shows that between 2013 and 2019, the PGR, now known as the FGR, seized 82,213 assets derived from criminal acts but only 1,416 were transferred to the SAE.

The seized vehicles were the assets that were transferred to the SAE the most: 1,031 vehicles; followed by 354 jewelry pieces, 26 properties, three ships, and two airplanes.
Nevertheless, only a fraction of these objects is auctioned.

Martín Barrón Cruz, a researcher from the National Institute of Criminal Sciences (Inacipe), explains that for “an object to be auctioned, the legal process against the person owns the assets has to end first.”

In regards to how long can these processes take, the expert said that it depends on each case: “Not everything is homogeneous, it can be months or many years, there is the case of the department of Arturo Beltrán Leyva, he was killed long ago and it was just auctioned.”

The expert also explained that the key to seizing an asset is to prove that it acquired using illicit resources.

Besides the delays to close the cases, other experts told EL UNIVERSAL that they found other two reasons why some of the assets that have been seized are not transferred to the SAE: they are claimed by the criminal's family or they are kept by security agencies.

Also, Jorge Alberto Lara Rivera, a lawyer and academic, explained that a seized asset can't be immediately transferred to the SAE: “The confiscation doesn't mean that the property is now owned by the government, but rather that it is a preventive measure during the ongoing investigation. The Attorney General's Office analyzes if the assets could be evidence or if as a result of its nature, they are part of an administration or custody process, then you can't simply handle them.”

Lara Rivera emphasized that the government can only obtain the asset when it is considered as confiscated, that is, when there is a verdict in the investigation file.

Nevertheless, things seem to be moving faster during this administration. President López Obrador has turned the SAE into one of the government's sources of income after the government has auctioned vehicles, properties, and jewelry previously owned by criminals.

Since López Obrador took office, the federal government has obtained over MXN $56,643,000 through auctions.

The states where the government has confiscated the most assets, during previous administrations, are Mexico City and Sinaloa.
 

Artículo

Mexico will auction jewelry and watches formerly owned by drug lords

The 148 jewelry lots have an initial price of MXN $21.8 million
Mexico will auction jewelry and watches formerly owned by drug lordsMexico will auction jewelry and watches formerly owned by drug lords

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