Criminal Attack Isolates Towns in Security-Challenged Guerrero, Mexico

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Public transportation connecting the mountain region with the center of Mexico’s Guerrero state has been suspended after a criminal group detained several vehicles, underscoring the security challenges faced by the central government in this state and in neighboring Michoacan.

The suspension of transportation services in the region followed an August 23 attack in which a criminal group intercepted and detained four vehicles, reported Proceso. Residents of the municipality of Tlacotepec told Proceso there was a criminal group dedicated to kidnappings, robbery and extortion operating along the route connecting them with the main highway that stretches between Acapulco in Guerrero and Mexico City.

The security situation reportedly deteriorated following the withdrawal of a military unit that was stationed in the area. According to Proceso, the lack of transportation has caused shortages of fuel and food in 80 local communities. Residents have said they are afraid to leave the area due to the possibility of further attacks.

This comes as authorities continue to grapple with security threats in neighboring Michoacan, where two mass graves containing a total of 11 bodies were discovered on August 23, reported Univision.

Meanwhile, the former leader of Michoacan’s rural defense force — Luis Antonio Torres Gonzalez, alias “El Americano” — will be forced to testify before the state Attorney General’s office about the nature of his relationship with Knights Templar leader Servando Gomez, alias “La Tuta” after a video emerged of a meeting between the two, reported Milenio.

Another Michoacan public figure, former Mayor Salma Karrum Cervantes, has been missing since a video of her meeting with a local Knights Templar leader began circulating 24 days ago. 

InSight Crime Analysis

Michoacan and Guerrero are two states that represent major security challenges for Mexico’s government. In both places, criminal groups have produced widespread violence, with Guerrero registering the highest homicide rate of any state in 2013. Michoacan’s violence has largely been attributed to the Knights Templar, but homicides have continued to rise amid the power vacuum created by the group’s demise. In Guerrero, a variety of criminal gangs are battling for control.

Both states are also home to self-defense militias, purportedly created to defend the local population from drug cartels. While Guerrero’s vigilante groups have existed for many years, in both states there have been signs of the movements fracturing and some elements exacerbating the delicate security situation in the region.

SEE ALSO: Mexico’s Security Dilemma: Michoacan’s Militias

Although Mexican authorities have sent federal troops to Michoacan and attempted to institutionalize the state’s vigilante movement, the security situation in Guerrero has largely been neglected. In one town where transportation was suspended, Proceso reported that only three police officers operate currently.

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