Astronomers latest victims of Mexico’s crime wave – UMass suspends travel to telescope in central Mexico

In this Nov. 16, 2013 file photo, the Large Millimeter Telescope stands on the summit of the Sierra Negra peak near the town of Atzitzintla, Mexico. Astronomers have become the latest victims of Mexico's violence with activities at the observatory being reduced because its staff has suffered so many crimes while traveling to the remote mountain site, researcher said Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills, File)

By MARK STEVENSON,  Associated Press   MEXICO CITY (AP) 02/07 — Astronomers have become the latest victims of Mexico’s violence with activities at two observatories being reduced because their staff suffered crimes while travelling to the remote mountain sites, researchers said Thursday.

The problems occurred near the Alfonso Serrano Large Millimeter Telescope, or LMT, in the central Mexico state of Puebla. It is the world’s largest single-dish steerable millimeter-wavelength telescope and is jointly run by the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Mexico’s national institute of astrophysics.

LMT “has reduced its scientific activities to a minimum level due to the security problems in the region surrounding the telescope,” said university spokesman Ed Blaguszewski.

“The University of Massachusetts Amherst has suspended travel of UMass personnel to the LMT site, and we have retained security consultants to advise us on security risks in the area and strategies to deal with these risks,” he said.

Mexico’s astrophysics institute said in a statement that “the unsafe conditions that prevail in the region are well known and public.”

The other affected site is the HAWC gamma ray and cosmic ray observation facility. The HWAC is an international collaboration between more than 30 institutions in Mexico, the United States, and Europe.

Both are located on the Sierra Negra volcano near the Pico de Orizaba, Mexico’s highest peak, where the air is clear and there is a little nearby development.

The area, around Puebla state’s border with neighboring Veracruz, has long been the scene of criminal activity by the now-fragmented Zetas drug cartel. But in recent years it has also been hit by violence associated with gangs that drill taps into government fuel pipelines to steal gasoline and diesel.

None of the researchers specified exactly what kind of crimes they had suffered, but local media have reported that people travelling to the Sierra Negra have been carjacked and robbed on roads leading to the peak.

Astronomy Professor F. Peter Schloerb, the director of the LMT office for UMass Amherst, declined to give specifics but said “we had just one incident that precipitated our recent decision.”

“No one was harmed, and I don’t think that we at LMT are particularly singled out by the criminals,” Schloerb wrote. “Nevertheless, we do feel that it is important to review the situation carefully before returning to normal operations.”

A Puebla state official who was not authorized to be quoted by name said the only serious incident he was aware of occurred in December, when a person traveling to work with the telescope suffered a carjacking on his way to the site.

The state police have since said they will provide escorts for astronomers and telescope personnel.

Mexico has suffered a rising tide of homicides, which peaked at 33,341 in 2018, a 15.5 increase over 2017.

The violence has affected many areas of public life; 26 priests were killed in Mexico between 2012 and 2018, and even environmental inspectors have been killed after mistakenly stumbling on drug labs. But to date scientists had not been affected.

https://www.apnews.com/48bf3d2891f24325b4f2e912c95126d1

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Posted in: Carjackings, Crime & Criminals, International Policing, Robbery, Victims of Crime

Leave a Reply

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

1 × five =

Terms of Use for Posting Comments

Terms of Use

This site (the “Site”) is operated and maintained by Law Enforcement Education Foundation, Corporation (“Company”). Throughout the Site, the terms “we”, “us” and “our” refer to Company.  The words “user,” “you” and “your” as used herein refer to you.

Please read these terms and conditions of use (“Terms of Use”) carefully before contributing content. If you do not agree to these Terms of Use, please do not contribute content. Your use of the Site is subject to the Terms and Conditions found here .

By contributing content to the Site, you represent and warrant that you are at least eighteen (18) years old and that you have read and understand these Terms of Use and any amendments thereto and agree to be bound by them. If you are not at least eighteen (18) years old or you do not agree and accept these Terms of Use, you are prohibited from contributing content.

From time to time, we may permit users to submit content to the Site.  You hereby acknowledge and agree that by submitting remarks, comments, suggestions, ideas, graphics, feedback, edits, concepts, comments, photographs, illustrations and other materials (other than personal information and/or registration information) through the Site (individually and collectively, “Submissions”), you (i) grant us a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, transferable, irrevocable and fully sub-licensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, translate, distribute, publish, create derivative works from and publicly display and perform such Submissions throughout the world in any media, now known or hereafter created, without attribution to you; (ii) grant us the right to pursue at law any person or entity that violates your and/or our rights in your Submissions; and (iii) forever waive any and all of your rights, including but not limited to moral rights, if any, in and to your Submissions, including, without limitation, any all rights or requirements of attribution or identification of you as the author of the Submission or any derivative thereof.  We reserve the right to remove any of your Submissions from the Site, in whole or in part, without notice to you, for any reason or no reason.

Submissions are made voluntarily. Any submissions which include personally identifiable information are subject to our Privacy Policy found here .  You may not upload or otherwise publish content on the Site that (i) is confidential to you or any third party; (ii) is untrue, inaccurate, false or other than an original work of your authorship; (iii) that relates to or impersonates any other person; (iv) violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property rights of any person or entity; (v) contains any content, personally identifiable information or other information, or materials of any kind that relate or refer to any other person or entity other than the provider of the products, goods or services to which the Submission relates; or (vi) violates any law, or in any manner infringes or interferes with the rights of others, including but not limited to the use of names, information, or materials that (A) libel, defame, or invade the privacy of any third party, (B) are obscene or pornographic, (C) are harmful, threatening, offensive, abusive, harassing, vulgar, false or inaccurate, racially, sexually, ethnically or are otherwise objectionable or otherwise contrary to the laws of any place where such Submissions may be accessed; (D) constitute personal attacks on other individuals; (E) promote criminal, immoral or illegal activity; (F) promote or advertise any person, product or service or solicit funds; or (G) are deemed confidential by any contract or policy.

You are solely responsible for any Submissions you make and their accuracy. We take no responsibility and assume no liability for any Submissions posted by you or any third party.

Unless approved by us in writing in advance, you agree not to: (i) provide or create a link to the Site; or (ii) create any frames at any other sites pertaining to any of the content located on the Site.

We reserve the right, in our discretion, to update, change or replace any part of these Terms of Use for Posting Comments by posting updates and/or changes to our Site.  It is your responsibility to check this page periodically for changes.  Your continued use of, and/or access to the Site, following the posting of any changes to these Terms of Use for Posting Comments, constitutes your acceptance of those changes.