Chivis Martinez Borderland Beat TY Neal Animal Politico Exploding violence: Threats, confrontations and 100 murders in one week; the Guanajuato Crisis
Two women and six men are murdered, in Apaseo el Alto, Guanajuato
The state of Guanajuato is experiencing the greatest crisis of violence on record in the midst of war between organized crime groups.
There are already 40 police officers killed so far this year, while homicides have shot up 448% in five years.
Guanajuato is going through critical moments. In the last seven days, almost 100 people have been killed in the state, including four policemen, amid clashes, ambushes, direct attacks, grenade attacks, and threats by criminal groups to extend their war to the ultimate consequences.
The crisis of violence has become widespread in the entity. In this week alone, the official parts of the State Attorney General’s Office have carried out murders and attacks in 14 different municipalities in all the regions of Guanajuato.
80% of the homicides, according to estimates by the Federal Security Cabinet, are directly related to organized crime and specifically to the dispute between rival cartels. Just last Monday, one of those groups placed giant narco-banners in 13 cities to threaten their opponents and all those who support them.
David Saucedo, analyst and security consultant in Guanajuato, says that the outbreak of violence originated in 2014, when members of the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) broke into the entity, breaking a kind of truce that existed between local cartels.
From there, the escalation of violence has not stopped.
Official data confirm this. From 2015 to 2020 the number of murders has shot up almost 448%. It is an increase in homicidal violence, sustained year after year, that has not occurred in any other state.
There are municipalities, says the specialist, who are fully co-opted by organized crime with everything and municipal governments. “The cartels put and take away officials, they not only handle criminal activities,” he warned.
And the authorities? Local forces register 40 police officers killed so far this year, more than any other state. They are outnumbered and in firepower by criminal organizations.
At the federal level, meanwhile, the deployment has not had a major impact, which has already caused annoyance at the highest levels of the cabinet. A few weeks ago, the change of the heads of the military zone and the National Guard was ordered in an attempt to change the strategy.
The security figures published daily by the security cabinet show that between May 27 and June 2, 93 people were killed in Guanajuato. If it is considered, that since it is a real-time count, it has an under reporting of 10 to 20%, the number of homicides is over 100 cases in this period.
Only last Tuesday, June 2, 20 murders were registered in the entity in the preliminary count, which places this day among the five most violent so far this year.
According to the official parties, among the attacks registered last Tuesday is an assault on the Pan-American highway between Celaya and Salamanca in which grenades were detonated that generated a fire and firearms were fired. The balance was two dead people.
This is not the first time that such explosives have been used in attacks in the state. Just on the night of March 23, a command attacked the “Negros Bar” establishment in Celaya with firearms and at least two grenades. The balance on that day was four dead and six people injured.
In the early hours of January 2, another multi-homicide was also recorded. Six people who were eating at a food stall on Highway 2190 near the municipality of San Luis de la Paz were shot to death by armed individuals who simply came and shot at them.
Police officers have also been among the victims of the attacks registered in the last week. On June 1, three officers from the entity’s Ministerial Police who were on a run-in stage in the Fraccionamiento del Bosque neighborhood, in Celaya, were ambushed by several individuals who shot them multiple times.
The balance of that attack was two policemen killed by head injuries, while a third 26-year-old was also injured, but survived, and was transferred to a hospital where he is stable. The attack was such that two trucks that were at the point were hit by several impacts.
A day earlier, in the same municipality of Celaya, two municipal police officers were attacked with multiple shots while they were inside a black Jetta model car with Mexico City license plates on Irrigación Avenue. None of them survived.
In total, the State Prosecutor’s Office reported only in the last week different acts of violence in 14 municipalities: León, Celaya, Irapuato, Silao, Acámbaro, Uriangato, Dolores Hidalgo, San Luis de la Paz, Jerécuaro, Salamanca, Moroleón, Victoria , San Diego de la Unión and San Miguel de Allende.
On the other hand, figures from the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System (SESNSP) show that in the first four-month period of 2020, 1 thousand 534 victims of intentional homicide were reported in Guanajuato, a figure equivalent to a growth of almost 448% of murders in a period of five years.
The curve of homicidal violence has been upward and sustained. While 280 victims of intentional homicide were reported in the first four months of 2015, by 2016 the number grew to 297; in 2017 they grew to 455 cases; in 2018 they shot up to 1 thousand 4. For 2019, homicides from January to April continued to rise with 1,237 cases.
The level of violence in 2020 in Guanajuato is such that the 1 thousand 534 murders registered in the first quarter represent 13% of all murders committed in the country, at least 1 in 10 homicides committed in Mexico occur in Guanajuato.
Among the victims that violence in the state has claimed are dozens of police officers. Data from the organization Causa en Común indicate that up to May 31 38 local public security and investigative agents had been killed. To which are already added two more registered on June 1.
It is, by far, the state that registers the largest number of local police officers killed in 2020. It is followed by Chihuahua with 20 police officers killed in the line of duty, and Veracruz with 19.
The narco-war, its stages and the change of command
On June 3, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador acknowledged in his regular press conference that homicides are a security problem that the government has not yet managed to solve, but he highlighted Guanajuato as an organized crime “red zone”.
Proof of this, he said, is that said state concentrated 28% of homicides on June 2nd.
The president attributed this violence to the confrontation between criminal groups that he did not mention by name, but that he said maintain a strong dispute over the territory, a conflict inherited from the last six-year term.
The facts and the specialists agree with the president. Just last Monday, the criminal group called the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel (CSRL) placed narco messages in 13 different municipalities – including Celaya, Irapuato, Silao and Salamanca – where they warn that they will assassinate members of the Catel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) and all those who support them.
Estimates from the federal security cabinet show that at least 8 out of 10 homicides that are committed daily in Guanajuato are linked to organized crime, more than in any other state.
“What is here is a war, a war that has been very long that started more than five years ago but has been getting worse. A war in which local authorities have been infiltrated and overwhelmed, while the federal authorities have failed to stop it, “says security consultant David Saucedo.
The expert explains that this conflict has gone through three phases. The first began when the CJNG decided in late 2014 to begin an aggressive expansion in the country, which in Guanajuato translated into an invasion of territories that, at that time, were controlled by local groups that maintained a non-aggression pact. Among those groups were, for example, the CSRL, the “Unión de León”, remnants of the Caballeros Templarios and Los Zetas, among others.
Saucedo explains that local authorities opted for a kind of “withdrawal”, waiting for a group to take control and win the dispute, which in other states like Guerrero has brought a decrease in homicides.
The problem is that in Guanajuato that did not happen: the disputes between groups continued without a clear winner and the killings began to escalate.
Second Phase Empowered CJNG
The second phase of “the war” began in 2019 when the current federal government defined the fight against fuel theft as a priority, a criminal activity that in Guanajuato was under almost exclusive control of the CSRL led by José Antinio Yepez, Marro. This caused the official offensive to focus against that specific group, which was used by its rivals to expand.
And the new problem, emphasizes Saucedo, is that the government also failed to dismantle the CSRL and detain “El Marro”, and CJNG was empowered in the entity.
By 2020 the conflict in Guanajuato reaches a third phase where federal forces are now trying to fight at least the two large cartels, which in turn has been used by the CSRL to move from a defensive position to a renewed offensive. And thus, recover territories.
In fact, Saucedo details, the criminal groups in Guanajuato are not weaker than a few years ago, but quite the contrary. He explains, for example, that the CSRL has a presence in 20 municipalities of the state, and in eight of them its presence is hegemonic to the point of having control of key positions in governments
“He controls the police directorates, manages public works budgets and appoints high-ranking officials from municipal governments. Mayors’ willingness to ‘ work’ under this scheme is irrelevant. Some do so under threat terms and others under a mutually beneficial alliance”, concludes the expert.
What is the outlook for Guanajuato?
Saucedo says a new strategy is required and soon. Although the presence of the armed forces and the National Guard has increased since last year, until now it has had no repercussions to stop the violence. Even the health contingency had no effect.
A good sign is the recent change in federal leadership in the state. In May, the commander-in-chief of the National Guard in the state of José Martin Luna was removed, and Commissioner Héctor Ortiz Caletty was appointed to replace him. In the same way, General Norberto Cortes Rodriguez was appointed as the new commander of the XII Military Region in Guanajuato.
“These changes confirm that all the actions implemented in 2019 and at the start of this year were a failure. Let’s hope that there is now a new strategy because defeating the cartels is not an immediate thing, it takes two or three years. The outlook is not encouraging, “he concluded.