Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Guerrero’s warring organized crime groups reported to have reached a truce

Two criminals groups in Guerrero have apparently agreed to a truce after a gun battle that left at least 12 people dead.

According to Catholic priest and activist José Filiberto Velázquez, leaders of the Familia Michoacana cartel spoke via telephone with the head of the Los Tlacos crime group on Wednesday and they agreed to a “ceasefire.”

The two groups were involved in a confrontation in the municipality of San Miguel Totolapan on Monday that claimed the lives of 12 people, according to President López Obrador. Initial reports said that 17 people including 16 members of the Familia Michoacana were killed.

Velázquez, director of the Chilpancingo-based Minerva Bello Center for the Rights of Victims of Violence, told media outlets that the truce applies to all areas of Guerrero where the Familia Michoacana and Los Tlacos have been fighting. He said he wasn’t privy to other details of the agreement the rival criminal leaders reached.

The two groups have been involved in a dispute in the Sierra region of the southern state, where opium poppies have long been grown. They are also engaged in turf wars in other parts of the state including Iguala, Huitzuco and Taxco, the El Universal newspaper reported. Their illicit activities extend beyond drugs to crimes such as extortion.

Citing Guerrero residents, the news outlet Sin Embargo reported that more than 100 people have been killed in confrontations between the Familia Michoacana and Los Tlacos over the past year. Many more people have disappeared and large numbers of residents have been displaced due to the violence between the two groups.

Bishop José de Jesús González Hernández speaks at the pulpit
Bishop José de Jesús González Hernández and three other bishops reportedly met with criminal leaders last week, hoping to broker a peace deal. (Dassaev Téllez Adame/Cuartoscuro)

The truce comes a week after Bishop José de Jesús González Hernández said that he and the three other Catholic bishops in Guerrero had met with criminal leaders in an attempt to broker a peace agreement between feuding groups. González said their efforts were in vain as no agreement could be reached over which groups would have criminal control over different parts of the state.

Velázquez said that bishops weren’t involved in the truce reached between Johnny and Alfredo Hurtado, alleged leaders with the Familia Michoacana, and Onésimo Marquina Chapa, presumed head of Los Tlacos.

The priest said he was hopeful that the two groups would stop fighting and stop “attacking communities” and that the agreement they reached would “really be a lasting truce.”

He said that the “next step” is to get the two crime groups to disarm.

Guerrero was Mexico’s seventh most violent state in 2023 in terms of total homicides with 1,688, according to data presented by the federal government last month. The majority of murders are linked to organized crime.

With reports from El Universal and Sin Embargo

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