Police in Mexico City disrupted a drug-trafficking operation in on May 28, capturing several suspects and uncovering a new, possibly positive development in the area’s drug trade.
After a shooting that left several people wounded at the southern edge of Tepito — a rough neighborhood known as a bastion of the Sante Muerte faith — 200 police officers were dispatched, shutting down streets and searching alleys and buildings in pursuit of suspects who fled the scene.
Raiding one nearby building, police apprehended 10 suspects — eight adults and two minors — and seized several black bags and UberEats backpacks, all full of marijuana, as well as several muffins that apparently had marijuana in them.
The alleged dealers reportedly operated in Tepito and used bicycles to distribute drugs in the upscale neighborhoods of Zona Rosa and Cuauhtemoc, including the popular Condesa district.
For its part, UberEats — which provides home delivery of food in Mexico City and is run by the ride-hailing company Uber — denied any involvement in the incident, telling Mexican news site Excelsior that delivery people using the service “are proprietors and solely responsible for the use of their backpacks.”
The company said it “condemns any act that risks people’s health or safety” and that it was “ready to work with authorities in their investigation.”
Drug dealers and traffickers using legitimate business dealings to obscure their illicit trade is nothing new. In the 1990s, Sinaloa kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman opened a cannery where cocaine was packaged in with peppers — in cans labeled “Comadre Jalapeños” — and shipped to the US.
In this instance, however, drug dealers adopting delivery services may be a positive development for Mexico City, particularly the area of Tepito, where violence and crime are longstanding problems.
Delivering drugs right to the buyers would take the illicit transactions out of public space, meaning both buyer and seller would spend less time exposed, and thereby lessen the potential for violent incidents.
“All things being equal, more discreet and decentralized distribution equals less violence,” Alejandro Hope, a crime analyst and former intelligence official, told InSight Crime.