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A bullet-riddled vehicle in Teocaltiche. A bullet-riddled vehicle in Teocaltiche.

Gang warfare in northeastern Jalisco forces residents to flee their homes

Jalisco and Sinaloa cartels are battling for supremacy

Clashes between cells of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) and the Sinaloa Cartel have forced residents of Teocaltiche, Jalisco, to flee their homes.

Since Thursday, there have been several confrontations in the municipality, located 170 kilometers northeast of Guadalajara on  Jalisco’s border with Zacatecas and Aguascalientes.

According to preliminary reports, a convoy of 18 vehicles emblazoned with the CJNG initials was in Teocaltiche on Thursday. The Jalisco cartel, generally considered Mexico’s most powerful and violent criminal organization, is fighting the Sinaloa Cartel for control of the municipality and surrounding area.

The newspaper Reforma reported that at least one man was killed in the clashes that occurred in several communities, including El Saucito, El Rosario, Rancho Mayor and Rancho Nuevo. Cattle have also been killed and one home was set on fire, Reforma said.

Two burnt-out vehicles and three that were riddled with bullets were located on Friday morning as was a slain, handcuffed man. All told, authorities seized seven abandoned vehicles on Friday, four of which were armored. They also found two grenades and large numbers of spent bullet casings but no arrests were reported.

The news agency Quadratín reported that some Teocaltiche residents have fled their homes due to the violence and that municipal and church authorities have set up temporary shelters. Residents of a neighboring municipality have donated food, medications, footwear and personal hygiene products to the displaced people.

On its official Facebook page, the Teocaltiche council published a statement Friday calling on residents to keep their calm despite the violence. It said that it is working hand in hand with the Jalisco government and security authorities to restore peace.

“This is a time at which we must act with caution, responsibility, calmness and unity,” the council said. It also urged people to ignore rumors about the security situation in Teocaltiche, especially those spread on social media.

“We ask the public not to disseminate information that doesn’t come from official sources in order to avoid creating panic,” the council said. Its statement was criticized by some social media users.

“Is this serious?” wrote Miriam Álvarez, adding that it was irrational to ask people who cannot return to their homes to remain calm. “I would like to see you in the shoes of those people,” she said.

The outbreak of violence occurred just a few weeks after the presence of state and federal security forces was bolstered in the Altos Norte region of Jalisco, which includes Teocaltiche. But the deployment of additional state police as well as members of the National Guard and army has not put an end to the violence in the area.

There was also a series of attacks in the Altos Norte region late last month. On April 27, a group of armed men opened fire on state police in Lagos de Moreno, located east of Teocaltiche on Jalisco’s border with Guanajuato. The police returned fire and two criminals were killed.

There was another clash the next day in Encarnación de Díaz, which is situated between Teocaltiche and Lagos de Moreno. No deaths were reported but a tortilla shop was set ablaze and two reporters covering the violence were beaten, Quadratín reported. A day later, on April 29, a state police officer was shot dead in Tepatitlán and three others were wounded.

The CJNG is also involved in turf wars in several other states, including Michoacán where it is facing off against the Cárteles Unidos and Guanajuato – Mexico’s most violent state – where it is feuding with the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel.

Source: Quadratín (sp), Reforma (sp)

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