An armed gang known as Los Cuernudos stormed the community of Barrio Lozano in Guerrero’s Costa Grande region Sunday, terrorizing residents until Monday morning.
The mayor of Coahuayutla, in which the town is located, told reporters that the violence was punishment for not having met a monthly extortion demand of 2 million pesos (US $105,000) and control of the police station, the public works office and the municipal treasury.
Rafael Martínez Ramírez said more than 40 armed civilians descended on Barrio Lozano on Sunday evening, where they stole vehicles and looted stores and private homes.
On Monday morning, they proceeded to the town of Coahuayutla, where they opened fire for two hours, injuring an 11-year-old girl, who was transferred to a hospital in Zihuatanejo.
The Morena party mayor said Los Cuernudos have been active in the region for more than 10 years and have regularly extorted money from many previous mayors.
Martínez added that because of death threats he has received from the gang, he does not live in the community, and has been able to enter city hall on only three occasions since he took office.
“Listen, I’m not governing [here]. I haven’t been able to govern,” he said in an interview.
The mayor blamed the situation in part on the fact that Coahuayutla does not have a police force: Felipe Heredia Hernández, the previous mayor, dismissed the municipality’s 30 police officers and turned their firearms over to the state government last July. He added that the gang even put up its own candidate in the last election.
Guerrero was Mexico’s most violent state in 2017, and 1,707 homicides were reported in 2018. The Global Index of Impunity Mexico, conducted by the University of the Americas Puebla, gave the state one of the worst scores for impunity for homicide in the country.