The massacre of 20 people at a clandestine cockfight in Michoacán on Sunday was an attempt to take out the regional boss of the powerful Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), federal and state authorities have confirmed.
Gunmen with the Los Correa cartel stormed a cockfight around 10:30 p.m. in Las Tinajas, a town 70 kilometers east of the state capital Morelia, effectively declaring war. The leader of Los Correa, Daniel Correa, known as El 100 (The 100) or El Tigre (The Tiger) is thought to have ordered the massacre.
However, the gunmen’s apparent main target, CJNG leader William Rivera, alias El Barbas (The Beard), escaped from the building unharmed.
The bloody dispute has been long-running: in May, CJNG gunmen allegedly ambushed relatives of Rivera, killing seven people.
Los Correa came to prominence through illegal logging near Michoacán’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and are suspected of killing two environmental activists in February 2020. They later switched their concentration to the production of synthetic drugs, harvesting marijuana and extortion.
According to the newspaper Milenio, it’s thought that the leaders of Los Correa held a meeting with members of Los Viagras cartel in recent days to form a common front against the CJNG. Michoacán state authorities told the newspaper Infobae in January that they were aware that Los Correa members were regularly extorting residents in at least eight communities of the Hidalgo and Zinapécuaro municipalities in cahoots with the Familia Michoacana, building up for a turf war against the CJNG ,and that they found Los Correa encampments in the woods of CJNG-claimed territory in those municipalities.
Los Viagras is part of the Cárteles Unidos, which is engaged in an extensive turf war against the CJNG in the notoriously violent Tierra Caliente region, which spans parts of Michoacán, Guerrero and México state.
The fighting was concentrated in Aguililla, Michoacán, until February, when the army largely retook control. Security forces, however, failed to prevent the assassination of Aguililla’s mayor, Arturo Valencia Caballero, near the town’s municipal palace on March 10.
Cárteles Unidos’ members are the presumed victims of another large-scale massacre in Michoacán on February 27, when 17 people were shot dead outside a wake that they were attending in the town of San José de Gracia.
Other cartels vying for power in the tinderbox region include Los Caballeros Templearios, El Cartel de los Reyes and Los Blancos de Troya.