Violence in Jalisco State Tied to Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion

By Navarro, Carlos | SourceMex Economic News & Analysis on Mexico, May 13, 2015 | Go to article overview

Violence in Jalisco State Tied to Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion


Navarro, Carlos, SourceMex Economic News & Analysis on Mexico


The western state of Jalisco became the latest area of Mexico to suffer an episode of generalized violence at the hands of criminal organizations in the past four or five years. On May 1, the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG) went on a 30hour terror spree in many communities in Jalisco and surrounding states, responding to a government operation targeting many of the cartel's leaders.

Other states have experienced violence related to the actions of the cartels in recent years, including an attack by the Zetas on a casino in Monterrey in 2011 (SourceMex, Aug. 31, 2011). In Michoacan and Guerrero states, violence has resulted when self-defense groups have clashed with the Caballeros Templarios (Knights Templar), the Beltran Leyva organization, and other groups (SourceMex, Jan. 22, 2014, and Feb. 19, 2014).

The violence in Jalisco at the beginning of the month affected a large number of communities in the state. The CJNG went into an attack mode after the government arrested several members of the cartel, and initial reports indicated that the detainees included top leader Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, also known as El Mencho. Those reports turned out to be erroneous, meaning that Oseguera remains one of the powerful drug capos in Mexico still at large, along with Ismael Mayo Zambada of the Sinaloa cartel.

The CJNG has quietly been expanding its operations in recent years in Jalisco and neighboring states, filling the void in western Mexico left by the weakening of rival Caballeros Templarios (SourceMex, April 2, 2014, and July 2, 2014). The US Treasury had recently increased scrutiny of the CJNG, adding the cartel to its sanctions list under the Drug Kingpin Act (SourceMex, April 8, 2015), and its leader Oseguera Cervantes is said to be one of the richest drug lords in the world.

'An unprecedented offensive'

The government's move against the cartel was in part a response to a CJNG attack against police outside the resort city of Puerto Vallarta in early April. The attacks resulted in the death of 15 officers.

The operation targeting the CJNG came with a cost, however, as the cartel struck back with a vengeance. On the day of the government operation, members of the criminal organization responded by erecting 39 blockades in more than two dozen cities and towns in the state, including Mexico's second-largest city of Guadalajara. In many instances, the streets were blocked with cars that were set on fire. CJNG also burned 36 vehicles, 15 bank buildings, one credit union (caja popular), and five gas stations.

"This criminal organization, until now mostly unknown, dared to challenge the Mexican government with an offensive that is unprecedented in Mexican history," wrote the Spain-based newspaper El Pais.

"The cartel responded to the operation with a coordinated action in 25 municipalities. In four of those communities, cartel members clashed with security forces, resulting in nine deaths and the downing of a helicopter," columnist Carlos Fernandez-Vega wrote in the daily newspaper La Jornada. "The acts of violence spilled over to the neighboring states of Colima, Guanajuato, and Michoacan, while Nayarit and Aguascalientes took measures to keep any incidents from spilling across their borders."

The CJNG directly challenged President Enrique Pena Nieto's administration rather than retreat following the government operation on May 1, an action that was generally unexpected. "Everything points to an increase in violence because there hasn't been a cartel this strong in the state since the 1980s," said journalist Jose Reveles, who has written several books on drug trafficking and national security, including El Chapo: entrega y traicion, a book about Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin Guzman Loera. His titles also include El cartel incomodo (the inconvenient cartel) and Narcomexico.

There is a consensus that the CJNG is becoming a major player in Mexico's drug-trafficking scene. …

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