Authorities announced the arrest of the heir to a criminal faction once loyal to Sinaloa Cartel boss Ignacio Coronel Villarreal, alias "Nacho Coronel," warning that this could spark a new wave of violence in western Mexico.
Coronel's nephew, Jose Angel Carrasco Coronel, alias "El Changel," was arrested after a bloody firefight with the Mexican army in Sinaloa state on January 18. According to Milenio, he is currently recovering in a military hospital in Mexico City, after a grenade exploded in his hand during the battle.
El Changel assumed control of a splinter group which emerged after Nacho Coronel's death in July 2010. Other splinter groups which emerged from Coronel's organization include the Jalisco Cartel - New Generation (CJNG). The state secretary of public security in Jalisco told the press that El Changel's group, known as "Los Coronel," was receiving support from the Gulf Cartel and the Knights Templar, and was battling the CJNG for control of Jalisco state.
The commander of the military division active in the west Mexican states of Zacatecas, Nayarit, Aguascalientes, Colima and Jalisco said that El Changel's capture would likely lead to increased violence in the region, as criminal groups in the region continue to splinter. Before the military had four or five criminal leaders identified in the zone, but "now it's double or triple that," the general added.
El Changel had previously been arrested in Jalisco in March 2009 after a firefight with police, but was set free after the state Attorney General's Office failed to prove that he had directly participated in the gun battle.
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The prediction that violence will continue, if not increase, in Jalisco and its neighboring states seems all but inevitable after El Changel's capture. As noted by the military, the proliferation of splinter groups has already greatly contributed to violence in this area. Some six criminal groups are thought to be active in Jalisco alone.
There have already been some signs that El Changel's organization is seeking to strike back at authorities after its leader's capture, which could also bring about a spike in homicides. The Jalisco secretary of public security said that the recent killing of a municipal police officer in the small municipality of Hostotipaquillo was carried out by members of El Changel's criminal group.