Heavily armed men took over a municipality in the state of Chihuahua over the weekend, unleashing a wave of violence that left 11 dead, underscoring the scale of the task facing new Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
The violence began on the night of December 7, when masked men armed with assault rifles blocked off part of the Chihuahua town of Guadalupe and Calvo before executing two men and setting fire to houses, according to La Jornada.
The assault continued through the evening of December 8, as the town and surrounding area degenerated into what residents described as a war zone, reported Proceso.
Over 450 members of the security forces flooded the area on December 9, in an attempt to regain control. Residents told Proceso that despite the increased presence of security forces, armed men, dressed in military garb and riding in armored trucks, continued to roam the streets freely on December 9. By the next morning, the armed groups had left the region, according to El Heraldo of Chihuahua.
InSight Crime Analysis
This weekend’s violence was a timely reminder for new President Enrique Peña Nieto, who took office on December 1, that criminal organizations still see the state as weak and not prepared to react. And the way the criminals blocked access and roamed the streets for hours without any government reaction shows they may be right.
There is a good chance the security forces may have another opportunity in the area. The violence took place at the intersection of Chihuahua, Sinaloa and Durango, an area known as the Golden Triangle for its traditional poppy and marijuana production. This area has been particularly hard hit in recent months as members of the Zetas, the Beltran Leyva Organization, and the Juarez Cartel have launched assaults on the Sinaloa Cartel.
Already this year, Guadelupe and Calvo have been the scene of security problems. In August, the entire police force resigned after months of struggle against criminals believed to be linked to the Sinaloa Cartel.