On Thursday, Nov. 24, soldiers and police fanned out Friday across Guerrero state in a new security operation , chasing a wounded gang leader,“El Tequilero,” and trying to quell a wave of violence that included the discovery of hidden graves holding dozens of bodies in a camp where gunmen also stored the severed heads of nine rivals in a cooler.
A drug gang’s camp had been found by the authorities on the previous Tuesday near a hill in the village of Pochahuixco, part of the municipality of Zitla, a region beset by turf wars between drug cartels.
|view of hill where drug gang camp was found. Screen capture CNN Video|
Acting on a tip, soldiers and police found a man who’d been kidnapped and held captive at the camp. During their first sweep, investigators found seven bodies buried in several hidden graves. They found a cooler with human remains inside, several abandoned vehicles and AK-47 and AR-15 ammunition clips. By Thursday, the tally had grown to 9 severed heads in coolers and 32 bodies found in at least 17 graves.
|screen capture from CNN video|
The Guardian reported that residents of the community of Tixtla, Guerrero found nine decapitated bodies on Monday along a highway. Prosecutors are looking into whether the nine heads found in Zitlala correspond to these bodies.
The Washington Post reported that “the state has been riven, not just by the killings, but by the kidnapping of about a dozen people in the town of Ajuchitlan. Residents there announced they would create a vigilante force to look for the kidnap victims, an idea that threatened to create yet another armed group.
“The Ajuchitlan residents were apparently kidnapped last week by a fugitive gang leader known as “El Tequilero,” who was believed to be wounded and hiding out with his kidnap victims in the mountains”.
|Raybel Jacobo de Almonte “El Tequilero” photo BB archives|
On Tuesday, November 22, Borderland Beat reporter “Valor” reported in a story about the gang, “Los Tequileros”, and it’s namesake “El Tequitero” terrorizing the mayors of the municipalities in the area as part of their war with La Familia for the drug corridor that connects the sierra and the Tierra Caliente region of Guerrero with Michoacán and the State of Mexico.
In addition to the murder of several mayors in the region, Los Tequileros are attributed with the kidnapping of 21 men in the municipality of Arcelia in January 2016.
The criminal organization emerged as one of the armed wings of the Guerreros Unidos Cartel in northern Guerrero.
The largely rural, impoverished state had 1,832 reported homicides in the first 10 months of 2016. If that rate continues unabated, Guerrero would be on track to have a homicide rate of about 60 per 100,000.
That would rival the recent peak year of violence in the state, in 2012, when there were about 68 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants.
“The large cartels have become small criminal gangs, and they share one characteristic: the extreme and irrational use of violence,” Robert Alvarez, Guerrero Coordinating Group spokesman, told MVS Radio this week.
The Guerrero Governor, Gov. Hector Astudill, condemned what he has called the wave of “barbarism and savagery,” and his office called the situation “a public disturbance caused by organized crime.”
Borderland Beat Reporter dd