Saturday, November 16, 2013

Mass grave by Jalisco's Lake Chapala held 18 74 remains

Daily body count increases, with no end in sight

*Updated Jan. 15, 2014*
La Barca, Jalisco -
The discovery of mass burial sites in Mexico's 83 month old drug war is not an unusual event, but the largest one which has been found in 2013 is located just to the east of Lake Chapala, long a haven for American and Canadian expatriates and retirees.

A total of 18 bodies have been recovered in the past week from La Barca, a county and town of the same name which straddle the violent Jalisco-Michoacán state border. La Barca is less than a 90 minute drive from metropolitan Guadalajara.

The remains were unearthed in the remote site by troops and investigators using cadaver dogs. The bodies may include two Federal Ministerial Police agents who disappeared in Michoacán on Nov. 3. The agents were assigned to an organized crime strike force team working in the area. Their burned vehicle was found the day after they vanished. The other victims, including at least two women, have not been identified due to their advanced state of decomposition.

La Barca county

More than two dozen persons from Vista Hermosa, Michoacán are in custody in connection with the case. Suspects include several police officers from that town. Local news services reported that some of the detainees may have led federal authorities to the mass graves. Authorities offered no motive for the killings. (Jan. 26, 2014 - 20 Michoacán police officers charged as "Zeta killers").

The Jalisco-Michoacán border has been increasingly violent since late 2012 (stories below). In May president Enrique Peña Nieto was forced to send federal troops into the latter in an attempt to restore civil order. In many communities corrupt police forces have been replaced by local civilian militias. Mexico's policías comunitarias suggest failed state theories. The entire region remains a cauldron of incessant narco violence and political instability, despite the fact that Federal Police and military units were first dispatched there almost seven years ago, in December 2006, by former president Felipe Calderón Hinojosa. Fiasco in Michoacán suggests little has changed under new government.

In July heavily armed traffickers and cartel operatives assaulted federal convoys in Michoacán on several occasions. Twenty-two dead as regional violence escalates. On July 25 Peña Nieto told reporters, "Regrettably, parts of the state have passed into the hands of organized crime." Federals will remain in Michoacán, promises president. Three days later, the highest ranking federal official to die during the current PRI administration was ambushed by gunmen on narco payrolls. Mexican vice admiral killed in further Michoacán violence.

On October 27 commando teams attacked electrical grids in Michoacán, leaving almost half a million persons without power for many hours. Although no suspects have been officially identified, state and federal authorities blame the Los Caballeros Templarios. Cartel attacks power plants. This week the government offered a million peso reward for information leading to the perpetrators.

The Guadalajara centered Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG), often referred to by its street name of Los Matazetas (the "Zeta Killers"), is also present in Michoacán, locked in a deadly struggle with the Templarios for control of drug routes and organized crime activities. Federals capture key Matazeta operative in suburban Guadalajara.

Border violence has not left the Chapala region unscathed, since Mexico's largest freshwater lake sits on the boundary between the two states. In late 2012 several police officers were attacked in separate incidents in communities near Chapala, including one assault close to Jocotepec, minutes west of the expatriate popular town of Ajijic. In yet another case a police chief from Poncitlán was executed by a commando team on Feb. 8, outside of his Zapopan (suburban Guadalajara) home. Area police chief executed in Guadalajara Metro Zone.

Nov. 21 - A total of 31 bodies have now been recovered from the La Barca grave sites, including ten excavated in the last 24 hours. Most remain unidentified, but all appear to have been tortured before they were killed. Twenty-two police officers and three civilians from Vista Hermosa, just across the state border in Michoacán, remain in custody. The grisly discovery of so many victims in one location is easily Jalisco's largest, and will rank high on the list of mass burials in other drug war executions.

Nov. 22 - Mexico's Milenio network reports this morning that the body count has risen to 34. Some victims were branded with a red cross, the Caballeros Templarios' logo. Residents of La Barca told the media they are terrified.

Dec. 1 - Sixty-seven human remains have been recovered as of today, in about 20 separate grave sites. Authorities unexpectedly announced yesterday that the excavations have now been completed. Whether they believe that all the bodies have been located or they have simply abandoned the effort because there was no end in sight is unclear. None of the victims have been identified. According to a news report last week, the Jalisco based CJNG - the Matazetas - are prime suspects. Other stories suggest La Barca was used as a narco victims' cemetery for years. Los caminos de Michoacán.

Jan. 15, 2014 - An additional seven bodies have been removed from the La Barca grave sites, where excavations inexplicably began anew this week.

June 2, 2014 - Lake Chapala "in grave condition"
May 16, 2014 - Federal prosecutor: more bodies in narco grave site on Lake Chapala outskirts
Mar. 3, 2014 - Jalisco governor takes credit for discovery of burial sites
Feb. 21, 2014 - Jalisco prosecutor reports narco grave near Guadalajara-Chapala highway

Dec. 6 - Body count continues at newly discovered narco burial site in Guadalajara outskirts
Apr. 24 - Six Lake Chapala police officers ordered to stand trial for kidnapping and attempted murder
Oct. 11, 2012 - Jalisco homicides remain unabated in September
Sept. 16, 2012 - Gruesome Independence Day discovery in Jalisco: 17 bodies dumped on highway to Michoacán

2012 Jalisco-Michoacán border violence
Dec. 28 - Local police resign or desert posts in Jalisco, Michoacán
Dec. 25 - Death toll in Jalisco-Michoacán violence rises to 28, with four police officers decapitated
Dec. 24 - Christmas Eve narco violence wracks Jalisco and Michoacán states, leaving 7 police dead

2013 related content
Oct. 11 - "Zeta killers" behind gun battle which left three Jalisco police officers dead
Apr. 2 - Mexico's March drug war tally was 1,025 dead, with Jalisco state in fourth place nationwide
Apr. 1 - Death toll in Guadalajara bar attacks rises to eight
Mar. 9 - Jalisco Secretary of Tourism assassinated in Guadalajara
Feb. 11 - Another Jalisco police officer executed near Manzanillo

© 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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