- Tepalcatepec has experienced serious levels of violence in recent years.
- Three CJNG drones armed with explosives were discovered in Guanajuato.
- Homicides in Mexico have jumped to new levels this year.
The CJNG cartel is reportedly using drones in attacks against rival drug syndicates and vigilante groups. The latest evidence of this strategy was uncovered by a self-defense group based in Tepalcatepec, Michoacán. The men stumbled upon a car belonging to the drug cartel that had drones with C-4 explosives attached.
A loud bang alerted the men to the area where they found the vehicle. Tepalcatepec has experienced serious levels of violence in recent years due to gunfights between drug cartels fighting over territory.
It is among the top avocado-producing regions in Mexico and has historically produced vast quantities of opium and marijuana. Cultivation of opium is, however, dying as the drug market warms up to artificial alternatives such as fentanyl and methamphetamine.
Due to the emergence of drug dealing, kidnapping, and extortion rackets in Tepalcatepec, vigilante groups consisting of local farmers have taken up arms in order to counter the criminal gangs.
The strategy has been successful in some areas and less in others. While they have been instances where they’ve managed to push out the drug gangs, some ‘autodefensas’ groups have been accused of covertly forming alliances with some of the cartels.
The names of the dominant cartels in Michoacán have changed frequently over the years as drug gangs strive to take each other out.
CJNG Increasingly Using Drones
Earlier this year, three CJNG drones armed with explosives were discovered in Guanajuato. They were reportedly for use against the Santa Rosa de Lima cartel.
Attacks earlier this month on the rival syndicate based in Guanajuato, subsided since the arrest of its leader Jose Antonio Yepez Ortiz, also known as El Marro,
Mexican President Manuel López Obrador strived to implement a passive approach in taking down Mexican drug cartels. His government dismantled money laundering networks and froze hundreds of accounts belonging to suspected CJNG members. Earlier this year, it froze over a billion dollars in assets belonging to the group.
Rather than using violence to obliterate the cartels, his “hugs not bullets” policy looks to address the root causes of their growth.
They include poverty, joblessness, and corruption. Many Mexicans see the strategy as ineffective and believe that it has emboldened the cartels to commit more crime.
The Jalisco cartel and its main rivals are reportedly exploiting the current security void that’s also been enhanced by the coronavirus crisis. They are ramping up operations aimed at taking over lucrative drug trafficking zones and production areas.
As a result, homicides in Mexico have jumped to new levels this year. The number of registered deaths within the first six months, as announced by Mexican Security Minister Alfonso Durazo, was 17,439. According to the latest statistics, over 34,000 homicides were reported in 2019, which is higher than in previous years.
The homicide rate has continued to increase, even as the crime rate falls. This is partly due to coronavirus lockdown measures that were enacted during the onset of the scourge.