As many as 150 armed men invaded a town in the Sierra Tarahumara of Chihuahua on Thursday night, torching 22 houses and seven vehicles.
According to residents, the men arrived in Las Pomas, a community in the municipality of Madera, in a convoy of 50 vehicles.
Jesús Manuel Carrasco Chacón, head of the Chihuahua Attorney General’s Office (FGE) in the state’s western region, said the men were armed with assault weapons and attacked both Las Pomas de Arriba and Las Pomas de Abajo, which are different parts of the same town.
The FGE said in a statement Friday that there were no deaths, injuries or kidnappings during the attack but Carrasco subsequently said that several people had been abducted. Residents claimed that people were also killed but the FGE official said that information had not been confirmed.
One hundred soldiers and state police were deployed to Las Pomas on Friday but they made no arrests. The FGE said that the military will remain in the area to guarantee the safety of citizens and to carry out an air and land search for the perpetrators of the attack.
The Sinaloa and Juárez drug cartels are currently engaged in a turf war over Madera and the surrounding region. A clash in Las Pomas in October left two people dead and forced the closure of schools in six Chihuahua communities amid the ongoing threat of violence.
The Juárez Cartel formerly controlled Madera, according to a report by the news magazine Proceso, but a cell of the Sinaloa Cartel led by Francisco “El Jaguar” Arvizu launched a campaign to seize the municipality in 2017.
Chihuahua authorities said Friday that it was unclear who had carried out Thursday night’s arson attack. However, the newspaper La Jornada reported Saturday that it appeared that the perpetrators were members of La Línea, a criminal gang with links to the Juárez Cartel.
Federal authorities allege that the gang is responsible for the November 4 massacre of three women and six children belonging to a Mexican-American Mormon family. The attack occurred in Bavispe, a northeastern municipality of Sonora that borders Chihuahua.