The scorched remains of a home in Las Tatemas

A village in Sinaloa, Mexico was burned to the ground by armed men in an attack likely linked to the ongoing battle between the Beltran Leyva Organization and the Sinaloa Cartel for control of Mexico’s “Golden Triangle” region.

Preliminary investigations suggest a large group of heavily armed men arrived in the village of Las Tatemas on the morning of November 24 and opened fire on residents. After a brief confrontation, the armed group set about torching the villagers' houses, local media reported.

Reports of the attack reached the authorities the same day, but police only began investigations four days later. When they arrived they found the town abandoned and the majority of houses destroyed.

The charred remains of two people have been found so far and authorities have not ruled out the possibility that more died in the attack.

InSight Crime Analysis

Over the last year, thousands of people have been driven from their homes by the battle between the Sinaloa Cartel and the Beltran Leyva Organization over the prized drug production territory of the so-called “Golden Triangle.”

The region, which is the birthplace of both previously allied organizations, is the epicentre of Mexican marijuana and poppy production and authorities believe it is also home to many industrial-sized methamphetamine labs.

The Sinaloa Cartel and the BLO have been locked in a deadly conflict since their acrimonious split in 2008. The ensuing violence, along with several high profile arrests, has left the BLO severely weakened. Nevertheless the BLO, sometimes working alongside the Zetas or the Juarez Cartel, have recently been making incursions into Sinaloa state and the Golden Triangle, in an attempt to claim control of territories ceded to the Sinaloa Cartel, and this latest attack is likely to be linked to the resulting conflict.

The situation in the region is further complicated by small, mostly blood-related criminal clans known as "gavillas,” who have operated in the region since the Mexican civil war. The gavillas remained quiet and controlled when one organization dominated the region, but the conflict has has forced numerous gavillas into choosing sides or, in at least one case, break off on their own, and since then they have been blamed for attacks similar to the assault on Las Tatemas.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador's prison system is the headquarters of the country's largest gangs. It is also where one of these gangs, the MS13, is fighting amongst itself for control of the organization.

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's prisons are a reflection of the multiple conflicts that have plagued the country for the last half-century. Paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug trafficking groups have vied for control of the jails where they can continue to manage their operations on the outside. Instead of corralling these forces...

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima...

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

Special Agent David LeValley headed the criminal division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Washington office until last November 8. While in office, he witnessed the rise of the MS13, the Barrio 18 (18th Street) and other smaller gangs in the District of Columbia as well...

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

The Fixer and El Salvador's Missed Opportunity

The Fixer and El Salvador's Missed Opportunity

In the photograph, they are both smiling. In the foreground, on the left hand side, a man in a short-sleeved buttoned white shirt, jeans and a metal watch, holds a bottle of water in his right hand. He laughs heartily. He is Herbert Saca. On the right...

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and...

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

Local police and justice officials are convinced that the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) has strengthened its presence along the East Coast of the United States. The alarm follows a recent spate of violence -- of the type not seen in a decade -- which included dismembered bodies and...

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The prison system in Latin America and the Caribbean has become a prime incubator for organized crime. This overview -- the first of six reports on prison systems that we produced after a year-long investigation -- traces the origins and maps the consequences of the problem, including...