MEXICO CITY – A gang-related arrest in Mexico took a surprising twist last week when a portion of the suspect’s testimony was leaked, revealing that the criminal organization La Familia Michoacana is also involved in the illegal trade of uranium to China.
Sidronio Casarrubias – the head of the Guerreros Unidos crime gang who was arrested last year and interrogated about his alleged involvement in the disappearance of 43 college students from Iguala, in the state of Guerrero in September 2014 – said the uranium operation in Mexico is being carried out under the orders of mogul Carlos Ahumada, a prominent Argentinian-born businessman who spent a couple of years in jail in a bribery scandal.
Casarrubias said Ahumada, who holds a dual Mexican-Argentinian citizenship, owns two uranium mines in Guerrero.
“The cargo is moved by small boats,” said Casarrubias shortly after he was arrested, but whose testimony was released only recently and published by Milenio newspaper.
“Ahumada traffics uranium … hidden among other metals,” he said, according to a Ministry of Public Security agent quoted by Milenio. “[Familia Michoacana members] take it to the port in Lázaro Cárdenas, but the majority is taken to the port of Colima [both in Michoacán], where it’s handed over to the Chinese.”
The Mexican government considers Guerreros Unidos a regional splinter group of La Familia Michoacana.
Mexico has one of the world’s biggest reserves of uranium, but very little is used by the country’s only nuclear energy plant, Laguna Verde. Under existing laws, all sources of uranium can be exploited only by the Mexican government. When a private company finds uranium while mining for other metals, it is required to report it to the government and shut down the mine.
It’s believed that the price of a kilo can hit $6 million.
Casarrubias’ testimony is alarming in a couple of ways. That the destination of the ore is China is a potential point of friction with the United States, and the possible involvement of drug gangs in the trade of material that could be used in an atomic bomb is worrisome, to say the least.
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