Coca-Cola’s largest franchise bottler has shuttered a 40-year-old plant due to constant harassment and alleged lack of response from local law enforcement. Coca-Cola FEMSA — the Mexico-based international bottler that holds the license for Coke in parts of Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Phillipines — announced that it would close its factory in Ciudad Altamirano in the state of Guerrero in southwestern Mexico on March 23 to protect the safety of its 160 employees. A spokesperson for the distribution center says it has been dealing with continuous harassment from criminal groups over the past two months.
According to a press release, Coca-Cola FEMSA staffers began to receive threats from organized crime groups in January. The center’s facilities were also reportedly damaged.
On the day of the shutdown, Guerrero government official Roberto Alvarez Heredia said about 20 armed men in a red pickup truck broke through the gates of the facility and opened fire on police patrolling the facility. No one was injured, and one suspect was captured. The others successfully escaped, leaving behind their vehicle, guns, and homemade gasoline bombs, which police say were intended to burn down the beverage company.
In a statement, FEMSA said it “strongly rejects any action of violence against its collaborators, families and communities where it operates; deeply regrets that the absence of a state of law and the prevalence of impunity that affects the region.”