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Mexico City police arrest 27 in Asian originated money lending and extortion call centres

Mexico City, Mexico — A total of 27 people were arrested from six different offices in the same building of Mexico City Wednesday after a police call centre operation. They were taken into custody after an investigation into money lending and extortion through digital applications.

The investigation became an operation after numerous complaints were filed where customers were threatened as the lenders demanded large interest rates be paid

According to Ulises Lara, spokesperson for the Mexico City Attorney General’s Office, 27 people were arrested from the 8th and 9th floors of the office tower. During the searches, more than 300 cell phones were seized along with “almost a thousand micro cards or chips for said devices, as well as laptops and a passport,” he reported.

More than 300 cell phones and a thousand micro cards were part of the seized items.

Some of the digital apps that were detected as responsible for alleged illegal charges include Dinerova, Josecash, Guayaba Cash, Limón Cash, Sueño, Vamos, Crédito Lana, Mainline, Crediplus, CH Buró de Crédito, among others.

The Head of Government of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo, explained that those in charge of the private operation used extortion and threatened people, particularly women, and charged “stratospheric” interest.

“These operations are the result of several complaints we received, especially from women, who were the main target of these illegalities. Our government is acting to prevent this type of extortion and we work every day to have a safe city,” she wrote on Twitter.

Omar García Harfuch

On Thursday, a day after the arrests, Omar García Harfuch, the head of the Secretariat for Citizen Security of Mexico City, held a press conference clarifying that the operation also included the search of 12 homes related to fraud and extortion.

He said some of the call centres in the city were coordinated from China. He said they have since learned that they also operated in Edomex, Sinaloa, Jalisco, Puebla, Monterrey, Hidalgo, Querétaro and Colombia and that more than 590 people are believed involved.

From the searched homes, Garcia Harfuch reported police finding bags of cocaine, gun ammo, vehicle circulation cards, driver’s licenses, voting credentials, vehicle plates, cell phones, laptops, cash and envelopes with legends of banking institutions.

Among the detainees, he said, are five Asians residing in Mexico.

Earlier this month, the undersecretary of Public Security of the Federal Government reported on apps being used for extortion in Mexico.