Ambush of Mexico Soldiers Reminder of Jalisco Cartel’s Power

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An ambush by suspected members of the CJNG criminal group in Mexico’s Jalisco state has left four soldiers dead, in a show of power from a group that has largely disappeared from the media spotlight as authorities focus on their rivals, the Knights Templar.

On May 12, a group of heavily armed assailants surprised an army convoy as it left the town of Guachinango in northern Jalisco. The criminals shot at the group and used a truck to block the path of the vehicle in which the soldiers were travelling. The attackers then set the vehicle on fire, burning four soldiers to death, reported Milenio.

According to Excelsior, the criminals were travelling aboard eight vehicles, and also exploded two fragmentation grenades at the site of the confrontation.

The soldiers subsequently pursued their attackers, seriously injuring at least two, reported Milenio.

Unofficial reports indicate those responsible for the attack were members of the Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (CJNG), which operates in Jalisco and other states along Mexico’s Pacific coast.

InSight Crime Analysis

The CJNG has gained significant power since its emergence in 2011. The group is known both for its public relations campaigns and violent tactics, which famously included killing 35 alleged rivals working for the Zetas, and dumping their bodies along a highway. Last year, mass graves discovered on the outskirts of Jalisco capital Guadalajara were attributed to the group.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Jalisco Cartel

The group has also seen two alleged top leaders fall within the last year, one in January and one in July 2013, but has largely been displaced in the news by their rivals in the Knights Templar, who federal authorities are battling in neighboring Michoacan state.

The latest attack — involving heavy arms, coordination and numerous vehicles — if indeed perpetrated by CJNG members, would indicate the group is alive and well, and looking to flex their muscles.

As the Knights have lost power in the face of takedowns of key leadership, concerns have swirled that the CJNG could step into the power vacuum created. Reports have also suggested that a new cartel called the “H3” includes members of self-defense forces, the CJNG and Knights Templar. Meanwhile, on numerous occasions, authorities have accused vigilante groups in Michoacan of accepting arms from the CJNG. Based on this clamor, and in light of this most recent attack, there may be good cause to turn attention to the CJNG.

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