Mexico: 140 missing in wake of Sinaloa violence


Residents of¬†Jes√ļs Mar√≠a barrio in¬†Culiac√°n, capital of Mexico’s Sinaloa state, marched on the governor’s palace Jan. 9 demanding action on the whereabouts of 140 community members they say have been missing since violence engulfed the city after the arrest of a top cartel kingpin four days earlier. The youngest of the missing residents is said to be 12 years old.¬†Protesters also denounced abuses by the military troops that¬†have¬†been patrolling Culiac√°n since the outburst, including illegal detentions and home searches. (Aztec Reports,¬†La Verdad, Ju√°rez)

Mexican military troops¬†apprehended Ovidio Guzm√°n L√≥pez in an operation that left 29 dead‚ÄĒincluding 10 soliders‚ÄĒin the wee hours of Jan. 5. The son of the infamous Joaqu√≠n¬†“El Chapo”¬†Guzm√°n, imprisoned in the US since 2017,¬†Ovidio, 32,¬†was said to oversee sucessor organizations to his father’s Sinaloa Cartel, known locally as the¬†Pacific Cartel‚ÄĒvariously identified as Los Menores faction¬†or¬†Los Chapitos.

Following the arrest, violence exploded in Culiac√°n as¬†Ovidio’s followers¬†erected blockades and engaged in armed skirmishes with the security forces. Three local airports were closed, with highways blocked by burning cars and trucks. An attempt to arrest Ovidio in October 2019 led to similar violence, resulting in his release.

Guzmán was flown to Mexico City, where he is reportedly being held at the elite Campo Militar 1. (Aztec Reports, El Pais, Spain, BBC News)

Deadly prelude in Ciudad Ju√°rez
New Years Day also saw violence in Ciudad¬†Ju√°rez as soldiers and police were deployed in response to a deadly jailbreak at the city’s¬†Cereso No. 3¬†prison.¬†Chihuahua state authorities said that 10 guards and security officers were killed, along with four prisoners, and that 24 inmates escaped. The violence apparently began in a conflict between rival gangs at the facility‚ÄĒa repeated pattern throughout Latin America. (El Paso Times)

Ciudad Ju√°rez has long been the scene of a struggle between the Sinaloa Cartel and the local¬†Ju√°rez Cartel.¬†Last August saw the arrest of¬†Carlos Arturo Quintana¬†AKA “El Ochenta,” accused leader of “La L√≠nea” gang, said to be an¬†enforcement arm¬†of the Ju√°rez Cartel,¬†implicated in much violence¬†in the border zone. He was arrested by a mixed force of federal police and army troops in the¬†town of Namiquipa in western Chihuahua, and promptly extradited to the United States. (Univision, Sol de Mexico, El Paso Times,¬†El Pais, Madrid)

…and in Tijuana
Earlier in August, the US Consulate General in Tijuana issued¬†a “shelter in place” order for government employees as rival gangs torched cars in a score-settling spree in several Baja California cities. At least 19 vehicles were set on fire in Tijuana,¬†Mexicali, Ensenada, Tecate and¬†Rosarito. Authorities blamed the Jalisco New Generation cartel, another rival of the Sinaloa syndicate.¬†(KFMB, San Diego, BBC News)

Washington seeks its own score-settling
Legendary drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero, long on the FBI’s most-wanted list, was captured in July by Mexican forces in the Sinaloa mountian pueblo of San Sim√≥n. A Mexican navy Blackhawk helicopter carrying 15 crashed near the coastal city of Los Mochis during the operation, killing all but one of those on board. The arrest came three days after President Andr√©s Manuel L√≥pez Obrador met with his US counterpart Joe Biden at the White House.

Although¬†wanted in the torture-killing¬†of a DEA agent in 1985, Caro Quintero walked free in 2013 after 28 years in prison when a court overturned his 40-year term for the murder. Mexico’s¬†Supreme Court later upheld and re-instated¬†the sentence. But by then, the erstwhile leader of the Guadalajara Cartel had disappeared. He is currently fighting his extradition to the US in the Mexican courts.¬†(PRI, AP, CNS, CNS)

Map: PCL