The Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) has carried out attacks in the Tierra Caliente region of Michoacán this week but no fatalities have been reported.
A cell of the powerful criminal organization launched an offensive in the community of Taixtán early Tuesday afternoon but groups of armed residents contained the attack, the newspaper El Universal reported.
However, the offensive resumed Tuesday night and Wednesday morning with attacks against local residents and army personnel.
The CJNG reportedly used high-caliber weapons and explosive-laden drones in the offensive. It is unclear who or what the cartel was targeting in Taixtán, located in the municipality of Tepalcatepec, which borders Jalisco. However, the CJNG is engaged in a fierce turf war in the Tierra Caliente region with the Cárteles Unidos, led by the Viagras crime gang.
The cartel has also clashed with self-defense force members, and recently decapitated five men manning a checkpoint in Tepalcatepec.
A day before its attack in Taixtán, the CJNG went on the offensive in Villa Victoria, the municipal seat of Chinicuila, located on the border with Jalisco and Colima. Residents and local authorities reported that an armed gang entered the town in armored trucks known as monstruos (monsters) at about 4:30 a.m. Monday and shot at homes and vehicles.
The community guard and the army responded to the attack and a confrontation ensued that lasted more than 1 1/2 hours, El Universal said. Six soldiers were wounded and transferred to a hospital in Apatzingán.
The newspaper reported Wednesday that the CJNG’s advance had been halted.
According to a report by the Associated Press, the army has largely stopped fighting the cartels in Aguililla and surrounding areas. Instead, soldiers guard dividing lines between cartel territories so they won’t encroach on each other’s turf, the news agency said.
AP also said that the army turns a blind eye to the cartels’ criminal activities. It reported that the Viagras are extorting lime producers, cattle ranchers, avocado farmers and iron ore mines and that CJNG leader Nemesio “El Mencho” Oseguera “wants to take over all this.”
Alejandro Hope, a security analyst, told AP that the federal government’s strategy in Michoacán is clearly “some sort of pact of non-aggression.”
“… [The soldiers] are not there to disarm the two sides, but rather to prevent the conflict from spreading. The problem is that we don’t know where the army draws the line, what they are willing to accept,” he said.
Violence in the Tierra Caliente region has displaced thousands of people since President López Obrador took office in late 2018, many of whom have sought asylum in the United States.