A 2007 Lamborghini Murcielago, a 2016 Ford Shelby pickup truck with a video camera embedded in the front grill and 17 bulletproof Chevrolet Suburbans were all a part of the vehicles seized from alleged criminals. They were auctioned off by the Mexican government recently and drew significant interest.
Mexico’s Institute to Return the Stolen to the People, a newly formed branch of the Finance Ministry, put 82 vehicles up for bidding on Sunday. It was part of an effort to raise 30 million pesos, about $1.5 million, for poor communities in Oaxaca, Ricardo Rodriguez Vargas, head of the institute, told The Associated Press.
Many of the cars were seized from alleged drug kingpins and tax cheats, and the government put up for sale some of its own vehicles that it no longer used — some that had been in warehouses for a decade, according to the AP.
About 800 people registered to bid at the auction which was held outside Los Pinos, a mansion on the edge of the capital’s Chapultepec Park. This mansion was converted by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador into an open cultural center from a heavy guarded compound after he took office in December.
Ricardo Alvarado, a researcher with Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity, a watchdog group, told the AP that holding the auction there was symbolic.
“Using a space that’s characteristic of the luxury of past administrations is without a doubt a symbol of what this government intends to do with austerity,” he said.
López Obrador, the new president, has slashed government salaries, including his own, aggressively trimmed budgets, and said he plans to sell the presidential jet and fly commercially. He claims to own fewer than a dozen suits. He wears a Timex watch.
Bidding on the vehicles was most intense on Sunday for three classic Volkswagen Beetles, Audi and BMW hatchbacks, an orange Corvette and a yellow Camaro.
The cherry-red Shelby, a fully loaded monster truck, was the event’s top seller at 1.9 million pesos — almost $100,000.