For the second time this year, armed criminals laid siege to Guadalajara on Saturday, August 25, burning buses and blocking streets around the outskirts of the city and surrounding areas of Jalisco.
The violence was provoked by a federal police raid on a Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG) hideout in the municipality of Tonaya, about 100 kilometers south-west of Guadalajara, early Saturday afternoon.
Federal agents shot dead six suspected gang members and the CJNG responded by setting up 28 “narcobloqueos” across the state. Media reports suggested that the cartel’s leader Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, alias “El Mencho,” had been arrested but federal police later denied this was the case.
Immediately after the shootout, the CJNG seized at least 35 vehicles, setting most of them alight to block seven roads in the metropolitan area and another 15 roads in other parts of Jalisco. One innocent bystander was killed in the process.
Another five “narco-blockades” were reported in the neighboring state of Colima, while there were six more blockades in Jalisco in the early hours of Sunday morning. Marines then arrested four suspected CJNG members in Ciudad Guzman later on Sunday.
After much confusion, the federal Public Security Agency (SSP) revealed on Sunday that the raid in Tonaya had been the catalyst for the weekend of chaos. The operation involved five Black Hawk helicopters and one Mi-17, in which federal agents were transported to the town of Amacuautitlan.
There they exchanged fire with six gunmen, killing all of them. Three agents were wounded and taken to a hospital in Guadalajara, none of whom are in a serious condition.
In the operation the police seized four rocket launchers, four AK-47 assault rifles, two M-60 machine guns, a shotgun, an R-15 rifle, two 9mm pistols, 15 fragmentation grenades, 113 magazines and 900 rounds of ammunition. The SSP said the ensuing blockades were aimed at preventing further action from the authorities.
It was a heavy, humid afternoon in Guadalajara and as news of disturbances filtered in the streets became eerily quiet, aside from an array of police vehicles rumbling across the city and the occasional helicopter circling overhead.
From around 2 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. seven blockades were reported across the metropolitan zone: two on the Periferico beltway at the Lopez Mateos and Mariano Otero intersections, two in Tlajomulco on the highway to Chapala, two on the highway to Zapotlanejo and one in Buenavista on the highway to Morelia.
The State Attorney General’s Office (PGJEJ) confirmed one death: that of 22-year-old Eugenio Gonzalez Paz, who was hit by a stray bullet when gunmen seized three vehicles in the latter blockade.
Another 15 blockades took place across Jalisco, with incidents confirmed in Puerto Vallarta, Ciudad Guzman, Poncitlan, Jamay, Tuxcueca, Tizapan el Alto and Union de Tula. Different media reports also placed blockades in Tepatitlan de Morelos, San Ignacio Cerro Gordo, El Grullo, Tonila, Capilla de Guadalupe, La Barca and Zapotlan del Rey. Meanwhile in Colima, three more blockades were reported in Ameria and two in Tecoman.
Six more blockades were reported early Sunday morning in Jalisco. Between 3.10 and 5.10 a.m., burning vehicles were left on the Chapala highway, near the junction with the road from Santa Rosa to La Barca; in Ayotlan, on the road to Atotonilco El Alto; in Zapotlan del Rey on the highway to Morelia; on the road from Tototlan to Atotonilco El Alto; and in Ocotlan and Jamay on the Santa Rosa-La Barca highway.
Later on Sunday Marines arrested four suspected CJNG members in Ciudad Guzman. They were identified as Raul Sosa Jimenez, alias “El Bufalo,” the suspected head of a cell of assassins; Guillermo Alberto Ramirez Mundo, alias “El Wily;” Jose Antonio Reyes Mundo, alias “El Tres P;” and Maria Nelida Flores Reyes, alias “La Gorda.”
A Marine spokesperson revealed they seized five assault rifles, five handguns, magazines and cartridges, police clothing and badges, military insignia, two vehicles, communications equipment and about 1.2 kilos of a substance believed to be crystal meth.
Three more suspected members of the CJNG were arrested on Monday in the municipality of La Barca just east of Lake Chapala, accused of involvement in Saturday’s blockades.
The suspects were identified as Jose Antonio Aviña Guajardo, 24; Juan Pablo Arellano Fernandez, 20; and Ernesto Vasquez Estrada, 22. They were found in possession of four 19-litre containers full of gasoline.
The CJNG carried out a similar wave of blockades in and around Guadalajara in March, following the arrest of leader Erick Valencia Salazar at his home in Zapopan. Allied with the powerful Sinaloa Cartel, the CJNG is believed to be locked in a turf war with La Resistencia and its notorious allies Los Zetas, for control of Jalisco.
Jalisco Governor Emilio Gonzalez was receiving a prize in Italy when the blockades took place on Saturday, having apparently left the state without prior notice. Upon returning to Mexico, he held a cabinet meeting on security at the Casa Jalisco on Sunday.
The Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) state President Juan Carlos Guerrero Fausto criticized Gonzalez for his unexplained absence, noting that “if it were not for these unfortunate incidents, neither the citizens, nor the media, nor local government entities would have even realized that the governor had left the country.”