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Gangs battle over drug trade in southeast Mexico City

Settling of scores believed to be behind killing of seven people on Sunday

The death of a Mexico City criminal leader at the hands of marines in 2017 was the catalyst for a turf war in the capital’s southeast that is believed to be behind a recent surge in violence including a multi-homicide last weekend.

Two years ago, the drug trade in an area of Mexico City known as Los Culhuacanes was controlled by the Tláhuac Cartel, a gang led by Felipe de Jesús Pérez Luna, or “El Ojos” (The Eyes), until he was shot dead in July 2017 during a violent confrontation with marines.

Narco-blockades made an unprecedented appearance in Mexico City during the clash, which also claimed the lives of seven of Pérez’s sicarios, or hitmen.

After El Ojos was killed, smaller criminal groups that had been at his service began to fight for control of Los Culhuacanes, a zone which is made of up several neighborhoods on the fringes of the boroughs of Iztapalapa, Coyoacán, Xochimilco, Tláhuac and Tlalpan.

There were 35 intentional homicides in the area last year believed to be related to the settling of scores between rival gangs, the newspaper El Universal reported today.

According to intelligence gathered by the Mexico City Attorney General’s office (PGJ), members of two families who work for two criminal gangs known as Los Pitufos (The Smurfs) and Los Rodolfos are engaged in a bitter dispute in Los Culhuacanes.

Based on declarations given by family members of victims of violence, the PGJ has determined that the enforcers of the former group are seven brothers with the surname Molina, aka Los Molina.

Three of the brothers – Noé, Luis and Juan Carlos – are suspected of carrying out an attack in the neighborhood of Los Reyes Culhuacán, Iztapalapa, early Sunday morning that left seven people dead and two more seriously wounded.

According to the PGR, the other group, Los Rodolfos, has entered into a “commercial relationship” with a gang known as Los Panchos, whose members are involved in the on-the-ground conflict with the Molina brothers.

Members of both gangs have allegedly murdered each other at nightclubs, bars, restaurants and tourist areas in Mexico City’s southeastern boroughs.

Clashes between Los Molina and Los Panchos are also believed to be responsible for the deaths of three people at a Christmas party last year and the wounding of four others, and the slaying of five more people in November at a suspected drug dealing location.

The principal line of investigation for authorities carrying out inquiries into Sunday’s deadly attack is that it was a settling of scores between the two gangs.

The main target was a retail drug dealer known as El Mane, the official investigation has established, while the other six people killed, all of whom had criminal records, were apparently “collateral damage.”

Witnesses and family members of the victims have told authorities that El Mane sold drugs for Los Molina until August last year but racked up a debt of 100,000 pesos (US $5,200) with the brothers that he never paid back.

Source: El Universal (sp) 

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