Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Death toll in Jalisco-Michoacán violence rises to 28, with four police officers decapitated south of Guadalajara

Fourteen police officers murdered in two state region in 36 hours, and 10 others injured

*Updated Jan. 6*
Guadalajara -
The death toll in weekend violence which struck Mexico's central Pacific coast has risen to at least 28, authorities in the adjoining states reported today. Preventivos, or local police officers, accounted for almost half the victims.

On Sunday three police officers were ambushed by a convoy of heavily armed assailants in Ayotlán, 70 miles east of this capital of Jalisco state. But a fourth police officer later died, and Milenio reported that three other policemen were wounded. A civilian also died during multiple gun battles in that town.

In Briseñas, Michoacán the police officer death toll rose from four to five, with four others injured.

In the town of Quitupan, in southeastern Jalisco, three policed officers were attacked by gunmen but survived. All were wounded.

In Degollado, Jalisco, the town's police headquarters was attacked. No injuries have been reported.

A man and a woman traveling near Jilotlán de los Dolores, also in Jalisco state, were murdered, and a child with them was reported injured. The motive is unknown. [Jan 7 - The bodies of seven men, all shot to death, were found in the same town over the weekend, together with three others nearby].

In San Marcos, Michoacán, the burned bodies of three men were found in an abandoned vehicle.

The worst horror was reserved for Pihuamo, Jalisco, where four police officers and a civilian were kidnapped Sunday evening from the town's bull fighting arena, while the officers were working a security detail. Witnesses reported that a heavily armed commando squad suddenly appeared, seized the subjects and drove away. The bodies of all five victims were found early Monday morning. They had been handcuffed, shot and then decapitated. The gun wounds were inflicted by AK-47 and AR-15 assault rifles, forensic investigators said. A narcomensaje, or executioner's warning, was left with the bodies.

Pihuamo is south of Guadalajara (marked on map). A subsequent press report (Dec. 26) said that the region is so dangerous even police and military forces are exercising extreme caution in the area.

This afternoon three more bodies were discovered in Ayotlán. There is no information on the cause of death, but residents are said to be terrified over the possibility of renewed attacks against the town.

Security along the border between Jalisco and Michoacán has been beefed up significantly. Soldiers and armored vehicles have been dispatched to the area since Christmas Eve.

Dec. 26
Authorities have not said whether they believe the weekend attacks were coordinated or unrelated. The mayor of Ayotlán offered no motive for Saturday's commando style raids against city offices and police installations, which left several buildings heavily damaged by automatic weapons fire. But the violence seems to confirm the theories of several analysts that Mexico's drug war is rapidly mutating into regional gang conflicts, especially in remote rural provinces (Mexican analysts agree: crime gangs replacing drug cartels will be difficult to track and fight; Mexican drug cartels will likely morph into "super gangs," says U.S. security firm). Less than three weeks ago the town of Guadalupe y Calvo in northern Chihuahua state was treated to similar terror, by dozens of unknown assailants who arrived in a convoy of light trucks and SUVs dressed like soldiers. The heavily armed gunmen killed 11 townspeople and burned vehicles, homes and businesses before vanishing without a trace.

President Enrique Peña Nieto hopes to throw 75,000 new paramilitary forces into the fight and quell violence within 100 days, and has already sought huge funding for the ambitious domestic security plan. But experts say it will take months if not years before all of the additional personnel are hired, trained, equipped and deployed. In the meantime, Mexico's countryside increasingly remains a no man's land.

Late today the mayor of Ayotlán denied rumors that a large percentage of the city's policemen had submitted their resignations. But one could hardly blame them if they did.

Dec. 27 - This article attributes the two state violence to a running war for control of drug trafficking routes and the extortion industry between Los Caballeros Templarios, a Michoacán-based cartel which purportedly runs that state, and Nueva Generación de Jalisco, which appeared on the scene 18 months ago. The latter organization is more commonly known as Los Matazetas (the "Zeta killers"). "Estamos muy tensos, muy abatidos, no sabemos qué pasó," a Pihuamo, Jalisco resident is quoted: "We're very tense, we're all done in, we don't know what's going on; the soldiers won't say anything."

Dec. 28 - The director of the office of crime prevention of the Michoacán state prosecutor's office, who vanished from Morelia on Christmas Eve, was murdered authorities say. His body, recovered Dec. 25, was identified by family members. He died from multiple gunshot wounds. His death brings to 14 the number of law enforcement officials executed in the two state region during last weekend's rampage.

Dec. 30 - Police chiefs in Ayotlán, Jalisco have shared history of organized crime involvement

Dec. 31 - An interesting report by a reliable source says the border between Jalisco and Michoacán is "on fire," due to an ongoing turf war involving the Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG), Los Zetas and the Caballeros Templarios. CJNG is often known as Los Matazetas (the "Zeta killers"). It staged two narco blockades within the perimeters of Guadalajara earlier this year, the first in March and the second in August, both reported by MGRR. More regional violence is predicted in 2013.

Jan. 6, 2013 - Another local police officer was murdered in Michoacán last night.

Dec. 28 - Local police resign or desert posts in Jalisco, Michoacán
Dec. 19 - Enrique's challenging homework

Sept. 24, 2011 - The Daily Obscenities of Mexico
Sept. 15, 2011 - Mexico, will you free yourself?
Aug. 27, 2011 -Mexico's Continuing Agony

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