Apparently, the adage of having a Coke and smile means different things in different parts of the world.
Coca-Cola Femsa recently announced that it is halting operations at its distribution center in Ciudad Altamirano in the Mexican state of Guerrero indefinitely. This stems from an abundance of violent, organized crime and a lack of local law enforcement. In a press release the company cited that workers at the facility have been receiving threats since January.
But the situation escalated last week when an employee was shot attempting to re-open a sales section of the facility. And two days later the Mexican Federal Police exchanged gun fire with an estimated 20 armed assailants as they tried to force their way into the facility. Authorities later recovered a truck containing Molotov cocktails that were going to be used to start the facility on fire. The distribution center employs 160 workers.
The violence is linked to local drug cartels, and stems from the stealing and re-selling of Coke products at inflated prices, which is made possible by the influence of organized crime in limiting distribution in the area.
Coca-Cola Femsa is the world’s largest Coke bottler, operating 64 plants and 324 distribution centers in Mexico, The Philippines and throughout Central and South America. It’s a joint venture between Coca-Cola and Fomento Economico Mexicano, which owns 47 percent of the company.
These events mark a shift for organized crime in the region. In the past, the status of larger, multi-national companies had shielded them from these types of attacks. However, this particular distribution center lies within the Tierra Caliente region, an especially dangerous area that has become a hub for drug production and trafficking. There are also no local police in these cities, so law enforcement comes exclusively from state agencies and the Mexican military.
The state of Guerrero is also home to Acapulco, which has transitioned from a tourist hotspot to a place that Business Insider recently ranked as the third most violent city in the world.