Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Michoacán erupts; 22 dead as regional violence escalates

Nobody's fully in charge there

Attacks occurred in these and other spots today, with federales the targets

Guadalajara -
Michoacán state is swarming with federal troops and law enforcement personnel this evening after heavily armed insurgents launched six attacks against Federal Police convoys today. Commanders on the scene said they were ambushed.

The attacks killed 22, including two federal agents. Another 15 police officers were wounded in the multiple assaults by the yet unidentified gunmen. The remainder of the victims were the assailants.

Michoacán, where Mexico's 80 month old drug war began on Dec. 11, 2006, has been on the verge of civil meltdown since last spring. In May federal troops flooded the state after tens of thousands were trapped in a spiraling circle of violence between warring drug cartels and self-appointed civilian police forces, called autodefensas or policias comunitarias. President Enrique Peña Nieto ordered in federal troops to restore order and disarm local militias, but many of the latter have refused to lay aside their weapons and are still operating throughout the Pacific coast state.

Locals who support the civilian autodefensas say they are the only line of defense against violent drug cartels and their marauding execution squads. Opponents claim the local militias are actually working with the cartels as their brazo armado, or armed force. Federal troops are only marginally in control of the state. Highways are especially dangerous, where reténes, or roadblocks, are at times manned by legitimate security forces, at times by citizen police units and at times by cartel operatives disguised as one or the other. There are no front lines in the battle, and guerrilla strikes can occur at anytime.

The main cartels operating in Michoacán are Los Caballeros Templarios; the Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG), also known as Los Matazetas (the "Zeta killers"); and Los Zetas. In addition there are many regional and local gangs which work in alliance with the larger organizations.

Michoacán tonight is a state not fully under anyone's control. The federal government strongly advises against nonessential travel to or through the region.

July 24 - Four more wounded Federal Police officers have died from wounds they sustained yesterday in the ambushes, raising Tuesday's death toll to 26. On July 18 four other federal agents were killed in a previous attack in the state, also launched by yet unidentified gunmen.

July 28 - Mexican vice admiral killed in further Michoacán violence

July 25 - Federals will remain in Michoacán, promises Peña Nieto
July 24 - Mexican army units seal Jalisco-Michoacán border
July 24 - Civilian militias stop Mexican army near Acapulco
May 23 - Fiasco in Michoacán suggests little has changed under new government
Apr. 11 - Mexico's troublesome policías comunitarias will prompt some to argue Failed State theories

July 23 - Matan a 5 integrantes de autodefensa michoacana

© MGRR 2013. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

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