November 16, 2013 Security News

The DVD Shootings

For the third year in a row, Mexico will hold its own version of Black Friday the weekend of November 15-17. In brick-and-mortar stores, on the Internet and even at government museums and theaters, Mexican consumers will encounter discounts and specials as part of what has now become an annual commercial ritual. And in their buying sprees on the streets, shoppers will inevitably run across plenty of pirate goods offered by informal vendors, with CDs and DVDs ranking among the most popular items. In fact, pirate digital discs represent such a lucrative business that the market for Mexico’s favorite songs and images is often a source of violence. In a space of eight days this month in Ciudad Juarez alone, four sellers of pirate discs were shot by unidentified gunmen. The victim of the latest shooting, Fernando Cervantes Zavala, died November 15 at the border city’s General Hospital from wounds sustained during an attack by gunmen two days earlier. Three other DVD vendors, all men, were seriously wounded in similar but separate shootings registered mainly in the downtown area. In all the incidents, the shootings occurred in heavily transited public spaces during daylight or early evening hours and in front of numerous witnesses. Early press reports speculated that the victims were shot in drug-related disputes, but an unidentified official from the Office of the Chihuahua State Prosecutor (FGE) blamed extortion for the violence. The day before he was shot, Fernando Cervantes was reportedly approached by two men who demanded a weekly payment of 500 pesos, or about $40, for the privilege of selling contraband unmolested. In Mexico, many informal vendors make regular “protection” or street corner rental payments to members of criminal groups, policemen and other corrupt officials to stay in business. The spate of shootings aimed at sellers of digital discs in Ciudad Juarez came on the eve of the holiday shopping season, a time when rolling crowds of people with cash flow through the streets. The violence erupted at a delicate moment for other reasons as well. Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua state officials are busy trying to attract new investments, revitalize the downtown area and convince foreign and national travelers that it is safe to return to visit a city that earned the reputation of the world’s murder capital not long ago. No arrests have been made in any of the DVD vendor shootings, but FGE spokesman Arturo Sandoval Figon said advances were coming along in the police investigations. Sources:, November 14 and 15, 2013., November 15, 2013., November 13, 2013. El Diario de Juarez, November 13, 14 and 15, 2013. El Universal/Notimex, November 13, 2013., November 13, 2013. cd Frontera NorteSur: on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news Center for Latin American and Border Studies New Mexico State University Las Cruces,

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Author: Editor


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