"A toxic mix of cartels, gangs and guerrillas"
Mexico's troubled Guerrero state has become a fierce battleground for at least six drug cartels which control 62 of 81 municipalities in the Pacific coast entity, the Milenio network reported this morning.
Only 19 municipalities are substantially free of a an organized crime presence, according to the network, which said it had analyzed intelligence reports prepared by Mexico's Secretary of Defense (SEDENA).
Guerrero is one of 31 states in the Republic. A municipality in Mexico is the jurisdictional equivalent of a county in the United States. Measured geographically, Milenio reported that almost 77% of the state is controlled by cartels and gangs.
"Organized crime infiltration extends to major cities and to the smallest of towns, which teem with a toxic mix of drug cartels, local gangs and three guerrilla movements," reported Milenio.
"Today, Guerrero has the distinction of being the only state where eight of 10 state residents live in an area which is simultaneously disputed by cartels, their satellite gangs and guerrillas," added the network, which described the spread of such forces as "a metastasizing cancer."
According to SEDENA documents, major crime organizations in the state include:
The Guadalajara-based Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG), also known as Los Matazetas (the Zeta Killers);
The violent Caballeros Templarios, which the government claimed it had largely exterminated on its home turf of Michoacán last May;
The Guereros Unidos, which state and federal authorities claim are responsible for the kidnapping and brutal execution of 43 college student who disappeared in Iguala Sept. 26;
The cartel Beltrán Leyva, which remains powerful despite the capture of its top leaders on Oct. 1;
La Familia Michoacana, a predecessor of the Caballeros Templarios, which has reconstituted itself in the region; and
Los Rojos, a group which has directly challenged Guerreros Unidos, although so far unsuccessfully.
All of the cartels operate through and with the assistance of "semi-independent gangs," according to Milenio, confirming the opinion of many experts that the Mexican cartels are destined to morph into smaller organizations, difficult to track and fight because of their small size, fluctuating membership and mobility.
Gangs function not only as narcotiradores - street drug peddlers - but diversify their businesses with kidnappings for ransom and commercial extortion.
The network reported that federal intelligence agents have flooded the state, in an effort to determine the severity of the crisis. "The answer is grave. These groups are waging a vicious territorial war in Guerrero, without concern for the cost to the civilian population," Milenio wrote.
Acapulco and the state capital of Chilpancingo are under the control of Beltrán Leyva, according to SEDENA reports. Last week the U.S. State Department warned Americans to avoid the area, which prompted a protest by Guerrero's interim governor, who claimed the travel alert was "overstated."
The tourist popular town of Zihuatanejo, on Guerrero's Costa Grande, allegedly is dominated by the Guerreros Unidos, although CJNG and Los Rojos are also active in Pacific coast communities. Guerrero citizen militia claims U.S. citizen Harry Devert was murdered by local drug cartel, but offers no proof.
Milenio identified the three guerrilla movements as El Ejército Popular Revolucionario (EPR), El Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo Insurgente (ERPI) and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias-Liberación del Pueblo (FAR-LP), which it reported were collectively present in at least 25 Guerrero counties.
Although the declared goal of the three "people's revolutionary armies" is to replace elected governments which they contend are corrupt, some of their members sustain themselves by narcotics trafficking and other illegal activities.
Dec. 2 - Peña Nieto sends proposed constitutional amendments to Mexico's Congress
Nov. 14 - Remains of Ugandan priest found in one of Guerrero's many organized crime burial sites
Oct. 20 - Mexican priest: 43 college students were "burned alive"
Sept. 28 - Mexico's Guerrero state in extreme civil disorder
Demonstrators seized the federal prosecutor's headquarters in Chilpancingo, the Guerrero capital, on Monday, Nov. 28, 2014. Many were members of the radical teachers' union Coordinadora Estatal de los Trabajadores de la Educación de Guerrero (CETEG), which has a long history of violent activities in the state. Guerrero on verge of civil meltdown, as teachers riot (April 24, 2013).
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