Violent Friday: Hours of Crisis
Special to the Sol Mexico News
They wanted to make a statement and it did. All of Mexico and then all the world watched in shock as numerous fires and blockades were set off simultaneously Friday morning, May 1. This was not the random work of some local criminal losers but the bold, well-orchestrated effort of a trained organization with superior weapons and planning. Although people were hurt, had civilians been the real target, these commandos could have killed hundreds but chose not to.
The states of Jalisco and Nayarit authorities activated the civil defense code red (Código Rojo) due to multiple blockades and fires recorded early Friday morning. Given the magnitude of the events, the Mexican President, Enrique Peña Nieto, called an emergency security cabinet meeting.
At the same time, the Consulate of United States in Guadalajara recommended that its citizens stay in their homes until further notice. The hardest hit areas were in Jalisco territory, particularly in the Metropolitan Zone of Guadalajara, with numerous streets and roads had blocked access.
The ravages of the blockades were reported in the states of Nayarit, Leon, Colima, Guanajuato and Zacatecas. The secretary of the Municipality of Leon said, “It is a strategy of organized crime to create distraction and to generate fear. (The general public) should take precautions. This is a direct attack against society, whereas before we (Leon) did not have any threats.”
On Saturday morning, the governor of Jalisco, Aristotle Sandoval Díaz, updated the figures of the casualties resulting from Friday morning’s violence. Sandoval reported, “19 participants were arrested, 19 people were injured (three civilians), there were 39 blockades, 36 vehicles were burned, five gas stations were torched, and 11 banks were burned. Seven people are dead.”
From approximately 9:00am on Friday violence occurred in 25 municipalities (six in the metropolitan area and 19 inside Guadalajara city proper) while there were 49 roadblocks and fires that were allegedly caused by the cartel Jalisco New Generation. Federal authorities believe that this rampage was in reaction to the government starting a new anti-drug initiative in Jalisco.
In a media interview one bus driver whose vehicle was seized said that when a passenger came toward the front (of the bus) while it was in motion, he thought that the passenger was going to pay. Instead, the man set a pile of rags in the aisle and poured gasoline on it. “Pull over, you can stay in the bus or you can run,” said the man as he lit the fire. In other instances, several truck drivers stated that they were approached by a man who pulled out a pistol and told them, “ leave or you die.” The drivers exited quickly as the stranger and an accomplice climbed into the vehicle and started pouring gasoline.
Meanwhile, the Attorney General of the State of Nayarit issued a command to protect the state border with Jalisco to ensure the safety of the citizens of this state. The Nayarit prosecutor, Edgar Vaytia, ordered stronger surveillance by sending 40 units of state security to reinforce the border with Jalisco. The Nayarit municipalities of Amatlan de Cañas, Ixtlán, and Bahia de Banderas are most affected.
“Within about four hours of the initial crime, we held meetings with federal, state, and municipal authorities, representatives of the Navy, SEDENA, CISEN, PGR to have first-hand information on what happens during this time,” said the governor of Jalisco, Aristotle Sandoval, in a media conference. Officials point out that the code red covers all of the state and urged the population take extra precautions, especially Zapotlán, La Barca, and Puerto Vallarta.
The Jalisco New Generation cartel has established itself as one of the organized crime organizations that worries not only the national authorities, but also the United States authorities. This group is credited with using mass executions in 2011 and 2012 (photo) to come to take control.
The Jalisco New Generation cartel emerged in 2010, after the Guadalajara death of Ignacio “Nacho” Coronel, operator of the Sinaloa cartel. It was not until 2011 that the group became independent and when authorities recognized the group as a distinct cartel.
The emergence of the CJNG -which was initially a group of hitmen first known as Los Mata Zetas – goes back to internal fractures in the Sinaloa Cartel and the Millennium cartel, the latter led by the Valencia.
Currently, this group is led by Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes “El Mencho”, to whom a series of murders and violent attacks, as well as attacks on various media, are credited.
It is believed that this group is responsible for the death of 35 people in September, 2011 that occurred in broad daylight in the middle of a city street. (above)
“The state remains under the Code Red procedure, which is a protocol for when emergency events of this nature occur. All major communication channels-television and radio and internet- will immediately alert the public as to safely handle the situation,” said the governor. Sandoval also asked the citizenry “to remain calm, unified, and confident.”
On Saturday morning, the heavily criticized Mexican president turned to social media to reassure the country, “Your government will continue to support the efforts of all of the involved state governments to recover the tranquility in your daily life.”