Pepsi bottling plant shuts in Mexico after gang threats


Police officers guard the entrance of the Coca-Cola FEMSA distribution plant after it closes down due to the issues of security and violence during the campaign rally of Independent presidential candidate Margarita Zavala (unseen) in Ciudad Altamirano in Guerrero state, Mexico April 3, 2018.Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

The closure of the PepsiCo plant comes less than three months after Coca-Cola did the same

A company bottling and distributing soda for PepsiCo in Mexico, Grupo Gepp, has closed its plant in the city of Ciudad Altamirano citing gang threats.

The move comes less than three months after Pepsi’s rival Coca-Cola Femsa also closed its plant there.

Workers said they had been threatened by organised crime gangs who demanded “protection money”.

Earlier this year, the US state department warned against travel to the region because of gang violence.

‘War zone’

About 100 workers were employed at the bottling plant in Ciudad Altamirano, which is located in Guerrero, one of the states most severely affected by gang violence.

Grupo Gepp said in a statement that the closure was only temporary, but workers said they feared they would lose their jobs for good.

The company said that “conditions needed to guarantee continued distribution” were no longer given.

Drivers said they had been stopped by gang members threatening to take over their lorries if they were not paid off.

A number of criminal gangs are active in the region and their turf war has seen a rise in violence which led the US state department to ban its employees from travelling to Guerrero.

“Armed groups operate independently of the government in many areas of Guerrero,” it warns on its travel advice website.

“Members of these groups frequently maintain roadblocks and may use violence towards travellers,” it says.

The president of the National Alliance of Small Businesses, Cuauhtémoc Rivera, likened Ciudad Altamirano to a “war zone”.

He told El Sol de México newspaper that criminal gangs had progressed from stealing lorries to directly attacking the distribution centres.

He said that local business were affected because distribution companies were cutting the number of deliveries they were making in the area due to security fears.

“There’s a lot of fear, people don’t dare speak out,” he said.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *