Mexico City—Mexico’s president on Tuesday urged people not to be tricked by drug traffickers giving out Christmas gifts, after suspected cartel members were filmed handing out toys in a major city.
Authorities said they had launched an investigation after images on social media showed alleged criminals distributing presents from trucks adorned with Christmas decorations to residents of Guadalajara.
“Don’t let yourself be manipulated, even if they give you food. It’s not in good faith but to use the people as a shield,” President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador told reporters.
He said the gang members’ aim was to encourage residents to alert them so that, for example, “if cocaine is seized, the community comes out and protects the traffickers,” he said.
According to local media, the gift givers were believed to be members of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, one of the most powerful and violent in a country plagued by drug-related bloodshed.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, food handouts by the same cartel were reported in several communities in western Mexico, while gift boxes bearing the image of notorious drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman were seen in Sinaloa state.