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Shipowners warned on drug cartel involvement in Mexican iron ore exports

Shipowners, charters and traders have been warned to check iron ore export cargoes from Mexico are “legally safe” due to the involvement of drug cartels in the country’s mining industry.

“The commodity boom of the last decade has seen a number of countries challenged by illegal and unlawful activities with relation to mining and export of raw materials,” P&I club Skuld said in a circular.

Last year in response to increased criminal activity the Mexican navy took control of two major ports Manzanillo and Lazaro Cardenas, located in the states Colima and Michocan respectively. According to the circular a Mexican drug cartel “Knights Templer” took control several mines in these two states and influence in both the ports.

“The mining and shipment of iron ore was a principle source of income, and on the basis of information our correspondents have from the Mexican Government, the cartel was making $15 for every metric ton arriving in port,” Skuld said.

In 2012 nearly half of Mexico’s iron exports to Asia went through the port of Lazaro Cardenas.

The P&I club recommended that members planning on lifting a cargo of iron ore from Mexico should ensure: that there is a valid export permit from the Mexican Ministry of Commerce, verify the shipper/exporter has been registered in the “Sectorial Export Census”, and request the name of mine the iron ore is from and verify it is registered.

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