Drug war violence plagues La Paz, Mexico

A bloody cartel war raging in the state of Baja California Sur hints at the new strategies and alliances forming as Mexico's fragmented underworld reorganizes.

A Zeta magazine investigation into drug war violence in the city of La Paz, the capital of Baja California Sur, has revealed how a spate of macabre murders is connected to a campaign waged by a new alliance between the Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (CJNG) and the remnants of the Tijuana Cartel against Los Dámaso, a network connected to the Sinaloa Cartel.

According to Zeta, the CJNG and Tijuana Cartel factions are operating under the name the Tijuana Cartel – New Generation (CTNG) and have been kidnapping, torturing and murdering rivals in an attempt to seize control of local drug sales and distribution.

Their targets, according to a Zeta source from the local Public Security Coordination Group (Grupo de Coordinación de Seguridad Pública), are rival hitmen, operatives that have switched sides, plaza chiefs linked to the Sinaloa Cartel and local drug distributors. Their aim is not only to remove these people but also to obtain information on the large scale Sinaloa distributors that continue providing drugs to the region.

However, the source said, identifying the relationship between the local criminal cells and larger cartels is difficult due to the fragmented nature of the current underworld and the constantly shifting allegiences of local networks.

InSight Crime Analysis

The battle for La Paz reflects a new dynamic in the Mexican underworld, as fragmented remains of once all-powerful cartels confront or ally themselves with new players as they compete for control of local as well as transnational criminal markets.

The relatively new CJNG has been one of the most expansionist groups in Mexico in recent years, and it is little surprise that it has now moved into Bajo California Sur. It was once believed to be in alliance with the Sinaloa Cartel, but there are now growing signs the organization is looking to capitalize on what appears to be a fragmentation of the Sinaloa Cartel in the wake of the capture of the cartel's most prominent leader, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.

SEE ALSO: Jalisco Cartel - New Generation Profile

In contrast, the Tijuana Cartel has been in long term decline, and so an alliance with an up-and-coming group such as the CJNG represents the remaining cartel factions' best chance of clinging on to some level of criminal power.

Los Dámaso, meanwhile, have long been operatives for the Sinaloa Cartel. However, there have been numerous reports suggesting the network has been in conflict with other Sinaloan factions.

As highlighted by Zeta's source, these national actors are increasingly dependent on alliances with local criminal cells that have more autonomy and less loyalty to larger organizations than in the past. This makes for a much more complex and often chaotic dynamic in this latest generation of Mexico's cartel wars.

Investigations

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

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

  Drugs Extortion Criminal Cash Flows Millions of dollars in dirty money circulate constantly around Bajo Cauca, flowing upwards and outwards from a broad range of criminal activities. The BACRIM are the chief regulators and beneficiaries of this shadow economy. Unlike their paramilitary and drug cartel predecessors, the BACRIM maintain a diversified...

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...

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

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...

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

When violence surged in early 2015 in Guatemala, then-President Otto Pérez Molina knew how to handle the situation: Blame the street gangs. 

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Olfato. It is a term used quite often in law enforcement and judicial circles in Central America (and other parts of the world as well). It refers to the sixth sense they have as they see a crime scene, investigate a murder or plow through the paperwork...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

  The Bajo Cauca Franchise BACRIM-Land Armed Power Dynamics The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia's underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network. The BACRIM's roots lie in the demobilized paramilitary umbrella group the United Self-Defense...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

  Life of a Sicario Anatomy of a Hit   The BACRIM's control over territories such as the north Colombian region of Bajo Cauca comes at the point of a gun, and death is a constant price of their power. In rural sectors, uniformed BACRIM armed with assault rifles still patrol in...

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

In the last decade, homicides in Guatemala have obeyed a fairly steady pattern. Guatemala City and some of its surrounding municipalities have the greatest sheer number of homicides. Other states, particularly along the eastern border have the highest homicide rates. Among these are the departments of Escuintla...

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...