The federal Attorney General has seized a ranch owned by Aureliano Guzmán Loera, brother of Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, after eight men were killed in a massacre December 12.
The Navy Secretariat told the newspaper Milenio that a cell of the Sinaloa Cartel, under the command of El Chapo Guzmán’s brother, was involved in a confrontation with another gang from Chihuahua, fighting over territory in the mountains in the municipality of Badiraguato, controlled for decades by El Chapo’s gang.
Until now, the state government, its Attorney General’s office and municipal officials have denied there was any such killing on December 12.
However, evidence of the slaughter was removed from the scene shortly after. Family members reportedly retrieved the bodies of the dead and buried them in the communities where the victims had lived without informing authorities.
Navy officials also reported there had been ambushes in other, neighboring communities but details, apart from the fact that two bodies have surfaced, were scarce.
The Navy set up roadblocks in the area after the massacre, checking vehicles and their passengers.
The area is the birthplace of the Sinaloa Cartel’s leader.
The killings were the second sign this month that the powerful cartel is facing opposition from other gangs or from within.
Two days before the Badiraguato killings, the nephew of one of the cartel’s main leaders was shot and killed in Culiacán. José Vicente Zambada Reyes and three other men were attacked by armed men while riding in a truck.
Zambada’s uncle is Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, who was running things for Joaquín Guzmán until he escaped from jail last July.
An analysis by InSight Crime, a crime research organization, suggested the latter event may be a sign of another wave of narco-violence to come.
It said the attack appeared to be a professional hit and there were three possibilities regarding who was behind it: former enemies with a grudge, up and coming rival the Jalisco Nueva Generación cartel, or enemies within.
Guzmán is the leader but Zambada heads a powerful faction and because the cartel operates as a federation, different sub-groups could be coming into conflict with one another.