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Jan 9, 2013 | 11:00 GMT

Mexico Security Memo: A Series of Attacks Plagues Torreon

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Assassination Campaign in Torreon

An assassination campaign in Torreon occurred Jan. 2-6, during which time gunmen targeted at least four bars. On Jan. 2, gunmen opened fire on patrons at the Chavos, Cheves y Chavas bar, injuring four people. On Jan. 6, a similar attack on the same bar left two dead. Gunmen attacked three other bars in the five-day period, leaving at least 14 dead. This campaign is likely just one operation in the ongoing turf war in Torreon.

Mexico Security Memo: A Series of Attacks Plagues Torreon

130108 Hot Spots This Week in Mexico

Violence in the city has escalated since April 2012; Los Zetas have been fighting their allied rivals (the Knights Templar, Gulf cartel and Sinaloa Federation) for control of Torreon, which is valued for its location along a key transportation route. Public displays of violence such as body dumps, attacks against law enforcement officials and seemingly unconnected executions have occurred. Such forms of violence do not require a cartel's permanent presence in the city it is fighting for. However, the ability to identify targets and conduct at least five attacks against rivals over a five-day period suggest the culprits have entrenched themselves in Torreon.

Since warring cartels typically engage in reciprocal violence, the latest series of attacks on bars will likely continue as rivals retaliate.

Michoacan-Jalisco Border Violence

Violence on the Michoacan-Jalisco border has escalated since Dec. 23 due to fighting between the Knights Templar and an unknown rival, likely Los Zetas or the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion. Both cartels operate in the region, and as the principal rivals of the Knights Templar, either could be involved in the cross-border violence.

On Jan. 6, armed men in several vehicles opened fire on the main square of Quitupan, Jalisco state, killing three people. This violence followed a series of attacks Dec. 23, in which a convoy of armed men attacked municipal police in Sahuayo and Brisenas, Michoacan state, as well as Ayotlan and Quitupan, Jalisco state. These attacks resulted in at least 10 deaths.

The frequency and level of violence in the region after Dec. 23 is atypical. The Knights Templar have firmly asserted control of Michoacan state, while various regions of Jalisco state — primarily areas surrounding Guadalajara — have been contested by Los Zetas, Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion and the Sinaloa Federation. But until now, the Knights Templar have had limited involvement in the fight for Jalisco state. The recent uptick in violence along the Michoacan-Jalisco border suggests the Knights Templar are focusing more on the turf wars in southeastern Jalisco state. The introduction of Knights Templar gunmen around Lake Chapala seems to indicate additional offensive campaigns that will likely extend the violence in the area.

Editor's Note: As an additional custom intelligence service geared toward organizations with operations or interests in the region, we now offer the daily Mexico Security Monitor, which provides more detailed and in-depth coverage of the situation. If you are interested in learning about this new fee-based custom service, please contact [email protected].

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