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soldiers arriving in Michoacan Over 1,000 soldiers have arrived in the Tierra Caliente region of Michoacán the week.

Military sends more reinforcements into Michoacán

Latest deployment this week came after criminals chased soldiers off a checkpoint

Additional troops were deployed to two Michoacán municipalities Wednesday after presumed cartel henchmen forced soldiers to abandon a checkpoint in the Tierra Caliente town of Nueva Italia, where the powerful Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) is known to operate.

At least 290 additional soldiers and National Guard troops were deployed to Múgica, of which Nueva Italia is the municipal seat, and the neighboring municipality of La Huacana, according to military sources cited by the newspaper Reforma.

The CJNG has narcotics laboratories in the area that it is seemingly prepared to defend at any cost.

Michoacán, where the Jalisco cartel is engaged in a fierce turf war with the Cárteles Unidos criminal gang, is currently Mexico’s second most violent state after Guanajuato with over 750 homicides in the first three months of the year.

The security reinforcement in Múgica and La Huacana followed the deployment Tuesday of 900 additional troops to Michoacán, where close to 5,000 members of the armed forces are now stationed. It was triggered by some 16 soldiers being run off a checkpoint the same day by a large number of men in pickup trucks and SUVs.

Presumed criminals recorded while chasing soldiers off a checkpoint in Michoacán

 

A video posted to social media shows the presumed criminals pursuing the soldiers, who were traveling in three vehicles, as they shouted obscenities at them. No shots were fired.

The newspaper El País said that the scene was reminiscent of a Mad Max movie.

Meanwhile, President López Obrador addressed the act of intimidation at his regular news conference on Thursday.

“A video circulated on social media yesterday in which some presumed criminals are behind some army trucks, they’re following them,” he said, adding that the footage was used by famous people and the “conservative party” – presumably the National Action Party – to denigrate Mexico.

They claimed that the army was humiliated, noted the president, who clearly didn’t agree with the assessment.

“We have to acknowledge the responsible attitude of the army in these times,” López Obrador said.

“It was different before, there were constant confrontations and members of criminal groups lost their lives – innocent citizens too and soldiers and marines,” he said.

clandestine drug lab
The CJNG has clandestine drug labs in the area it’s apparently willing to defend at any cost.

“Those above didn’t care because it’s very easy to say, ‘I’m enforcing authority, I won’t be afraid,’” said López Obrador, who has adopted a so-called “hugs, not bullets” security strategy, which is partially encapsulated by his directive to the military to not use force unless absolutely necessary.

He said the army, the navy and the National Guard have all been trained to avoid confrontations and to use “intelligence more than force.”

“… Before it was kill them in the heat of the moment and they finished off the wounded,” López Obrador said, referring to killings by the armed forces after former president Felipe Calderón launched a militarized war on cartels in late 2006.

He said the number of people killed in confrontations with official security forces was higher than the number of wounded and detained, and presented statistics to support his statement. The statistics also showed that the ratio has changed since his government took office.

“We look after the members of the armed forces, of the army and National Guard but we also look after the members of the gangs, they’re humans [too],” López Obrador said.

“This is a different policy, completely different. That’s why the … [forced abandonment of the checkpoint], which many people … [claimed] was the world upside down, was a responsible attitude for me,” he said.

AMLO
In accordance with his “hugs not bullets” stance on dealing with criminals, AMLO defended the soldiers’ decision to retreat from the men pursuing their vehicles. File photo

López Obrador also said that 300 or 400 troops were deployed to the area around Nueva Italia and that arrests were made but  “confrontation, murders, deaths were avoided.”

Under previous governments the dominant way of thinking was to “confront violence with violence, evil with evil as if fire could be put out with fire,” he said.

“… It was an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth and we said no, because we’re all going to be left toothless and one-eyed, blind – no, no, no,” López Obrador said.

“We have to go to the causes [of crime],” he said, enunciating his “hugs, not bullets” approach.

“Remove the breeding ground [for criminals], something the corrupt [past governments] never did. They never attended to the young people, never attended to the humble people, the poor people. … They dedicated themselves to stealing.”

With reports from Reforma 

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