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Apr 4, 2012 | 13:06 GMT

Mexico Security Memo: Sinaloa Enforcers Warn of Action in Chihuahua

Stratfor

La Gente Nueva Announces Operations in Chihuahua City

Two narcomantas signed by La Gente Nueva were found hanging from bridges in separate locations April 1 in Chihuahua, Chihuahua state. The narcomantas, or signs bearing a message from criminal organizations, warned police not to interfere as La Gente Nueva patrols the streets of the state capital "cleaning the plaza" of elements of La Linea, an enforcer group for the Juarez cartel. La Gente Nueva, itself an enforcer group for the Sinaloa Federation, is used primarily to fight Sinaloa rivals such as the Juarez cartel and Los Zetas.

The messages appear to be the Sinaloa Federation's response to the New Juarez Cartel (NCJ), a rebranded version of La Linea, which has recently targeted police officers in Chihuahua state and alleged that Sinaloa is colluding with law enforcement. Despite the increase in NCJ activity, this is the first direct response from the Sinaloa Federation to La Linea. The March 26 death of Gente Nueva cell leader Jorge Ricardo "El Chule" Gutierrez Corral in Chihuahua city — and the subsequent banner posted March 28 on an overpass in Chihuahua city describing Gutierrez's role as a Sinaloa Federation operative who colluded with law enforcement — may have prompted La Gente Nueva's announcement.

NCJ has not demonstrated the same level of sophistication possessed by its previous incarnation, La Linea. The decline primarily stems from the continued splintering of the Juarez cartel as a result of Sinaloa's success controlling the Ciudad Juarez plaza. The capabilities of La Linea itself have suffered since the arrest of its top leader, Jesus Antonio "El Diego" Acosta Hernandez, and his subsequent replacement. NCJ tactics typically included drive-by shootings and hitting isolated soft targets like off-duty police officers. While La Gente Nueva's reported activity has been limited since the capture of its founder, Noel "El Flaco" Salgueiro Nevarez, in October 2011, it has far more resources to rely on due to its connection to the Sinaloa Federation. Should the threats in its recent narcomanta be carried out, inter-gang violence will likely increase, posing a significant threat to NCJ in Chihuahua city.

Los Zetas Respond to Sinaloa in Culiacan

Mexican authorities on March 28 discovered five dismembered male bodies along with a narcomanta signed "Z-40" in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, denouncing Sinaloa Federation leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera. The message asks how Guzman can control another state (likely referring to Tamaulipas) when he cannot even control his home state of Sinaloa. The display comes two days after a message signed "El Chapo" was left with seven dismembered bodies in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state

As with the March 26 narcomanta signed "El Chapo" in Nuevo Laredo, the claim of authorship cannot be verified, but the messages appear to reveal the increasingly intense turf wars between Los Zetas and Sinaloa. Given that the Sinaloa Federation and Los Zetas both have launched offensives against one another, there will likely be significant security repercussions throughout contested areas. Still, the Zetas response in Culiacan does not necessarily suggest a new campaign in Sinaloa Federation's home state.

March 27

  • Gunmen killed two drug dealers in Ecatepec, Mexico state. The gunmen approached the drug dealers and opened fire, killing one while the other fled. After catching the fleeing drug dealer, the gunmen forced him to his knees and shot him in the head.
  • Mexican authorities discovered the body of the deputy director of municipal police in Zamora, Michoacan state. The deputy director's body was underneath his police vehicle and handcuffed, and had sustained multiple gunshot wounds.
  • Federal Police detained five Los Zetas operators in the Texcoco-Ecatepec region of Mexico state. Authorities also seized three submachine guns, a grenade, a .38 caliber pistol and various tactical gear.
  • Federal Police detained five La Barredora members in the Renacimiento neighborhood of Acapulco, Guerrero state. The individuals were linked to extortion and drug dealing in the area.
  • A firefight between gunmen and the Mexican military in Gabriel Zamora, Michoacan state, resulted in the death of one gunman. The firefight began when military elements approached gunmen during a patrol. No arrests were made.
  • Three gunmen — two men and one woman — were killed after a confrontation with Federal Police in Noria de Angeles, Zacatecas state.
  • Gunmen shot and killed a 21-year-old man in front of the Hotel Ibis in Cancun, Quintana Roo state. Investigators are looking for a taxi driver who was seen at the hotel.
  • The Mexican army seized a weapons cache in an abandoned gas tanker in San Juan de Sabinas, Coahuila state. The seizure consisted of 50 assault rifles, a grenade launcher and more than 11,000 rounds of ammunition.

March 28

  • Mexican authorities discovered five dismembered male bodies left with a message signed "Z-40" in Culiacan, Sinaloa state. The presumed Los Zetas message denounced Sinaloa Federation leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera. The display comes two days after a message signed "El Chapo" was left with seven dismembered bodies in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state.
  • Authorities discovered the body of an executed woman in a public park in Chihuahua, Chihuahua state.
  • State police arrested Jose Eduardo "El Comandante Capulina" Corrales Vega, Los Zetas' plaza boss in Tepeapulco, Hidalgo state. Corrales Vega is connected to at least 12 murders, according to authorities.
  • The Mexican navy discovered 41 kilograms (90 pounds) of marijuana, stored as wrapped bricks, floating off the coast of Cozumel, Quintana Roo state.
  • Gunmen opened fire on a group of off-duty police officers eating outside a residence in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, killing five officers and wounding three others. Unconfirmed witness accounts stated as many as 20 gunmen attacked the officers.

March 29

  • Authorities discovered the bodies of two men in Mocorito, Sinaloa state. The bodies were bound and bore signs of torture.
  • A mutilated body was found in a plastic container in Cadereyta Jimenez, Nuevo Leon state, along with a message directed toward a rival gang.
  • Three bodies were discovered in shallow graves in the La Mica neighborhood of Acapulco, Guerrero state.
  • Authorities discovered two blindfolded bodies whose hands were bound in Navolato, Sinaloa state.
  • Gunmen shot and killed a car dealer on his way to work in Navolato, Sinaloa state.
  • A kidnapping victim managed to free himself and kill his captors and two bystanders before being shot and killed by municipal police in Tijuana, Baja California state. As the two kidnappers brought the victim to their safe-house, the victim freed himself, grabbed a nearby AK-47 assault rifle and killed his captors. The man then fled the house and stole a vehicle after shooting the vehicle's driver and a bodyguard. When confronted by the municipal police, the kidnapped man fired at the officers and was killed.
  • Two gunmen shot and killed a municipal police officer in Tijuana, Baja California state. The officer had survived previous attacks in 2008 and 2011.
  • About 405 kilograms of marijuana was seized by the Mexican military in Tamaulipas state. The first seizure, in Rio Bravo, weighed 100 kilograms while the second seizure, in Reynosa, weighed 305 kilograms.
  • Citizens in Reynosa, Tamaulipas state, created roadblocks with taxis and trucks while holding up signs denouncing the military presence in Tamaulipas state. The citizens denounced human rights abuses by the military.
  • The municipal police commander of Perote, Veracruz state, was shot and killed by gunmen traveling in a vehicle.

March 30

  • Mexican authorities discovered the body of an executed man with bound hands and feet in Tlajomulco de Zuniga, Jalisco state.
  • Gunmen kidnapped a Federal Police officer while traveling along the National Highway in Nuevo Leon state. Authorities discovered the police officer's vehicle in San Nicolas, Nuevo Leon state.
  • Authorities discovered the body of a Durango state police commander in a residence in Ocampo, Durango state. The body had sustained several gunshot wounds.
  • Federal Police detained four members of the Independent Cartel of Acapulco in Acapulco, Guerrero state.
  • Thieves attempting to siphon fuel from a Petroleos Mexicanos pipeline started a fire that destroyed one vehicle in Guadalajara, Jalisco state.

March 31

  • Mexican authorities discovered the charred bodies of three individuals left inside a vehicle that had been set on fire.
  • Gunmen shot and killed two men and injured a third in Acapulco, Guerrero state.
  • Authorities discovered the body of Ramiro Ortiz Aguirre, a former state attorney general of Durango state, in Estacion El Chorro, Durango state. The victim was kidnapped March 28. According to authorities, Ortiz was strangled to death.

April 1

  • Gunmen opened fire on a TV Azteca building in Pachuca, Hidalgo state. No injuries were reported.
  • Mexican authorities discovered the bodies of five individuals in a vehicle in Ecatepec, Mexico state. A message was left with the bodies but its content has not been revealed.
  • Unidentified individuals hung a narcomanta from a bridge in Chihuahua, Chihuahua state. The message, signed La Gente Nueva, warned police not to interfere when the group patrols the streets to "clean the plaza" of elements of La Linea, an enforcer group of the Juarez cartel.
  • Gunmen shot and killed four individuals in Marco Castellanos, Michoacan state, near the border with Jalisco state. The gunmen left a message signed "Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion" with the bodies and warned of a similar fate for its rivals, specifically a man named Jesus Barajas.
  • Authorities discovered a decapitated body wrapped in a blanket and an accompanying message in Garcia, Nuevo Leon state. The message was signed "CDG," referring to the Gulf cartel.
  • Authorities discovered the body of Jose Valdez Baldenegro, a drummer for the band Enigma Norteno, in San Manuel, Sinaloa state, near Culiacan. The man was reported missing March 31.

April 2

  • Authorities discovered the bodies of three men in Cancun, Quintana Roo state. Three vehicles were near the bodies, one of which was registered as a taxi. Authorities said the killings are connected to the March 27 murder outside of Hotel Ibis in Cancun.
  • Unidentified individuals kidnapped, tortured and executed three men in Lazaro Cardenas, Michoacan state.
  • Narcomantas signed by the Knights Templar were placed in several areas of various municipalities in eastern Michoacan state. The messages deny the Knights Templar is a group of drug traffickers or criminals. The messages also claim Knights Templar worked with meat and tortilla vendors in lowering the price of their products for citizens of Michoacan.
  • Mexican authorities discovered the bodies of two decapitated men in a truck parked outside a car dealership in Cadereyta Jimenez, Nuevo Leon state.
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