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With The Arrests of Druglords, Cartels Spliter, Violence Surges in Mexico

August 13, 2015  |  Posted by: JammedUp Staff
With The Arrests of Druglords, Cartels Spliter, Violence Surges in Mexico

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CHILAPA, Mexico– For nearly a week, gun-toting masked men loyal to a local drug gang overran this small city along a key smuggling route. Police officers and soldiers stood by as the gunmen patrolled the streets, searching for rivals and hauling off at least 14 men who have not been seen since.

“They’re fighting over the route through Chilapa,” said Virgilio Nava, whose 21-year-old son, a truck driver for the family construction business who had no apparent links to either gang, was one of the men seized in May. “But we’re the ones who are affected.”

For years, the United States has pushed countries battling powerful drug cartels, like Mexico, to decapitate the groups by killing or arresting their leaders.

The pinnacle of that strategy was the capture of Mexico’s most powerful trafficker, Joaquín Guzmán Loera, better known as El Chapo, who escaped in spectacular fashion last month from prison.

And while the arrests of kingpins make for splashy headlines, the result has been a fragmenting of the cartels and spikes in violence in places like Chilapa, a city of about 31,000, as smaller groups fight for control.

It seems that each time the government cuts down a cartel, multiple other groups, sometimes even more vicious, spring up to take its place.

“In Mexico, this has been a copy of the American anti-terrorism strategy of high-value targets,” said Raúl Benítez Manaut, a professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico who specializes in security issues.

“What we have seen with the strategy of high-value targets is that Al-Qaida has been diminished, but a monster appeared called the Islamic State [in Iraq and the Levant]. With the cartels, it has been similar.”

Cartels Resorting To Other Crimes

A member of a community defense force patrolled last month in Petaquillas, Mexico, where local drug gangs rule.”A member of a community defense force patrolled last month in Petaquillas, Mexico, where local drug gangs rule.

While the large cartels are like monopolies involved in the production, transportation, distribution and sale of drugs, experts say, the smaller groups often lack international reach and only control a portion of the drug supply chain.

They also frequently resort to other criminal activities to boost their income, like kidnapping, car theft, protection rackets and human trafficking. And while the big cartels have the resources to buy off government officials at the national level, the smaller gangs generally focus on the local and state levels, often with disastrous consequences.

That was abundantly clear in a case that stunned the nation last year, when 43 students disappeared in Iguala, a city near Chilapa.

Successive governments have talked about a vast reform of the country’s police, but their efforts failed to weed out corruption and create professional security forces.

President Enrique Peña Nieto proposed a series of changes last November, including centralizing control of the local police in each state, but that has not been carried out.

All these problems are on agonizing display here.

Residents and government officials say that Chilapa sits astride a route for smuggling marijuana and opium paste that is contested by two gangs. They ascended after the government succeeded in jailing or killing the leaders of the Beltrán Leyva cartel, which had dominated the region.

A group known as the Rojos, or Reds, now controls the city, residents and officials said. But the rural towns nearby are controlled by the Ardillos. Residents have openly accused the mayor of ties to the Rojos, which he denies.

Violence between the groups has been accelerating for months. A candidate for mayor was assassinated in May, a few days after a candidate for governor was menaced by heavily armed men manning a roadblock.

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