Mexican authorities have captured the head of a second-tier criminal organization in the coastal city of Acapulco, but his arrest is unlikely to improve security in the country’s most violent city.
On March 10, Mexican police captured the leader of the Independent Cartel of Acapulco (CIDA), Víctor Aguirre Garzon, alias “El Gordo,” in the port city of Progreso in the southern state of Yucatan, reported news wire SIPSE. Aguirre Garzon was captured without a shot fired and was brought to Mexico City later that same day, reported Milenio.
In a radio interview, Mexico’s Secretary of the Interior, Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, stated Aguirre Garzon was “the capo who controlled everything in Acapulco,” and was “one of the [criminals] who had the city in the grips of violence and insecurity,” according to Milenio. Aguirre Garzon is believed to be a former police officer and the cousin of the former governor of Guerrero, Angel Aguirre Rivero, reported Excelsior.
Aguirre Garzon assumed a leadership role of the CIDA in February 2013 following the arrest of its former head, Ricardo Reza García, alias “El Reza,” according to Milenio.
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Aguirre Garzon’s arrest is another major success for Mexican security officials, following the capture of two high-profile drug lords in the past few weeks. But it is unlikely to lower violence in Acapulco, the city which registered Mexico’s highest homicide rate last year. Aguirre Garzon was a bit player in the Mexican underworld compared to recently arrested Knights Templar leader “La Tuta” or Zetas head “Z42.” Nonetheless, his capture could spark similar infighting over who will assume the leadership of the Acapulco-based criminal group. This previously occurred following the arrest of former CIDA head Moises Montero Alvarez, alias “El Coreano” in 2011, which authorities said led to a wave of murders in the resort city.
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Since at least 2005, both the Sinaloa Cartel and the Zetas have staked a claim in Acapulco, a key entry point for cocaine trafficked from South America. The Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO) also once had a strong presence in Acapulco; however, the arrest or killing of several top BLO leaders fostered the emergence of numerous splinter groups in 2010 and 2011. These splinter groups included the CIDA as well as the South Pacific Cartel.
There are also several vigilante groups based in Acapulco, which were formed with the stated aim of improving the city’s dire security situation. These self-defense groups have also sprung up in the nearby, embattled state, Michoacan, but despite the government agreeing to incorporate some of these groups in a state-sponsored Rural Defense Force, the vigilantes have sometimes been the source rather than the inhibitor of violence in Mexico’s southwestern Pacific region.