From the archives (July 9, 2011).
Three separate massacres that have left 41 dead in two days in Mexico are attributable to the Los Zetas mob’s rivalries with several other drug cartels in different parts of the country, the government said.
Federal security spokesman Alejandro Poire said Saturday at a press conference in this capital that “all these incidents occurred in the context of a deadly and irrational competition among criminal gangs that must be subdued.”
One of the incidents occurred in Valle de Chalco, a town on the outskirts of Mexico City, where the dead bodies of 11 people – 10 men and one woman – were discovered Friday and another woman was found alive but seriously wounded.
Elsewhere, in the northern industrial city of Monterrey, capital of the northeastern state of Nuevo Leon, 20 people were gunned down – 17 men and three women – and five more were wounded Friday when an armed commando fired indiscriminately at customers and employees inside a bar.
Finally, 10 decapitated bodies – three of them women – were found Saturday morning in the northern city of Torreon, Coahuila state, and the heads discovered in different parts of town.
Poire said the Mexican government condemns the killings and the “absurd struggle” among the criminal gangs and expresses its condolences to the family members of the victims.
According to the authorities, the incident in Valle de Chalco was due to a turf battle between Los Caballeros Templarios (The Knights Templar), a splinter group of the badly weakened La Familia Michoacana cartel, and the Los Zetas mob.
Meanwhile, the violence in Monterrey and Nuevo Leon was attributed to an “all-out war” that has been waged since March 2010 between the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas for control of smuggling routes to the United States they once shared.
The Zetas, a band of special forces deserters turned outlaws, used to work as hired guns for the Gulf cartel but went into business for themselves a few years ago and are now fighting turf battles against their former allies.
The violence in Coahuila, the government says, is due to fighting between Los Zetas and the Sinaloa mob, which is headed by Mexico’s most-wanted fugitive, Joaquin “El Chapo” (Shorty) Guzman.
Since President Felipe Calderon took office in late 2006, some 40,000 people have been killed in Mexico in turf battles among rival cartels and clashes between the mobs and the security forces.
Calderon has deployed tens of thousands of army soldiers and Federal Police to drug war hotspots but, despite the arrests or killings of some cartel kingpins, the strategy has not reined in the violence.
Opponents of the president’s military-based strategy say it is high time to shift course.