MEXICO CITY ( Associated Press) – Mexican drug smugglers’ fascination with exotic animals was on full display this week when a spider monkey dressed as a cartel pet was killed in a shootout, a 450-pound tiger on the streets of Nayarit state. and a man died after domesticating a captive tiger in a cartel-dominated area in the state of Michoacán.
Like scenes from a TV drug series, exotic animals have long been a part of the Mexican underworld.
Tuesday’s photos at the scene of an encounter with police, in which 11 gang members were killed, showed a small monkey – wearing a camouflage jacket and “bulletproof” vest – standing over the body of a gunman, whom his owner was considered.
Inexplicably, the gunman had a plastic bucket on his head.
Officials in the state of Mexico confirmed the authenticity of the photos and said it was not clear whether the monkey – who was also wearing a diaper – was killed in the shootout that killed its owner.
“A primate lost its life at the scene, possibly the property of an alleged perpetrator, who also died during the same incident,” prosecutors said in a statement. “The autopsy of the animal will be performed by a veterinarian specializing in the species,” he said, and allegations of animal trafficking are being studied against the suspects who survived the shooting.
Well, the monkey had its own “corrido,” a Mexican folk ballad often composed in honor of drug lords.
“It’s too short life, it wasn’t up to the monkey,” reads the corrido spread across the social network.
On Wednesday, the federal Environmental Protection Agency said it had confiscated a tiger in the town of Tekuala in the state of Nayarit on the Pacific Coast. It is located near the border with Sinaloa, home to the cartel of the same name.
The government agency said it took action “in response to reports of a Bengal tiger walking the streets of Tekuala” and concluded that someone had illegally kept the animal.
Those reports were based on a video posted on social media this week that showed a young woman screaming as she collided with a tiger on a residential road.
Officials said the tiger’s fangs and claws were removed, and in the video a man can be seen unintentionally putting a noose around the cat’s neck and carrying it away.
Perhaps the saddest story took place in the west of the country in Michoacán, which has been dominated for years by the United Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.
On Sunday, officials confirmed that a man was killed by a tiger in Periban, a town in the state’s avocado region where gangs demand payment from the profitable avocado trade.
In a video posted on social media, the authenticity of which could not be confirmed, the man calls out to a tiger on the side of an enclosure. The man stands outside the enclosure, apparently feeding her with one hand, while reaching through the fence to stroke her neck with the other.
The man screams in pain when the tiger bites his outstretched arm, not letting it go. Eventually the tiger injured both his hands.
State officials confirmed that the man died in a hospital a few days later.
Mexican law allows private citizens to keep exotic animals, as long as they register them under strictly supervised conditions. But security analyst David Saucedo said criminals sometimes get those permissions.
Saucedo says drug traffickers often hold exotic animals as symbols of power and status, imitating Colombian drug traffickers of the 1980s and 1990s.
“Mexican drug smugglers imitated the Medellin cartel’s custom of receiving exotic animals from drug smugglers and setting up private zoos,” he said. “According to the elite code of drug traffickers, having a private zoo was a prerequisite for being part of a select circle of wholesale drug traffickers.”
In some cases, animals were kept for more sinister use.
“Some drug owners, such as Zetas leader Heriberto Lazcano, acquired alien creatures to torture or make their victims disappear,” Socedo said. “Many of their enemies were eaten by tigers or crocodiles that Zeta kept in their breeding grounds and dens.”
In 2012, Lajcano was killed in a shootout with Mexican soldiers.