Monday, June 24, 2024

‘Narco banners’ appear in Culiacán following mass kidnappings

Dozens of large banners purported to be signed by a son of the jailed former Sinaloa Cartel leader “El Chapo” Guzmán were found hanging in Culiacán early Tuesday morning. They bore warnings for the perpetrators of a mass kidnapping in the Sinaloa capital last week.

The narcomantas (narco banners) stated that there is no “war” between rival gangs in Sinaloa — as President Andrés Manuel López Obrador suggested in his Monday press conference — but rather criminals who do not respect “the principles of the organization.”

Iván Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar, right, is wanted by United States authorities on charges of conspiracy to commit drug trafficking. (U.S. Department of State)

The banners all bore the initials “IAG” — likely meant to stand for Iván Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar, one of Guzmán’s four sons collectively referred to as “Los Chapitos.” Guzmán Salazar is known individually as “El Chapito.”

The signs warned of retribution “to all the thieves in Sinaloa. So that they feel what families feel when they [invade] their homes and [steal] their privacy.”

Last Friday, 66 people were kidnapped in the Culiacán municipality. Although 58 were released by Sunday, the incident seemed a reminder that two Sinaloa Cartel factions are engaged in a turf war throughout the state.

One faction is allegedly led by Sinaloa Cartel head Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada García and the other by Los Chapitos, whose father is currently imprisoned for life plus 30 years in the United States.

The banners were reportedly posted by 6 a.m. Tuesday and removed by municipal police before 8 a.m. Many were hanging from the city’s iconic Puente Negro bridge, and some were positioned over a newly opened walkway. They said, “Robbery, kidnapping, extortion [and] collection of protection money aren’t allowed here. You already know what the organization’s principles are; be clear about it. Relatives of people involved in these crimes, avoid having bad things happen. And report any act of this nature. Sincerely, IAG.”

Authorities deployed more than 1,000 military and police officers in Culiacán after last Friday’s kidnappings, in which hooded, armed men broke into homes and subdued and kidnapped men, women and children — sometimes entire families.

On Sunday, a member of Mexico’s national guard deployed to assist in rescue efforts was killed at a gas station in the area.

The banners included images of the faces of four men whom the banners accused of being the mass kidnapping’s ringleaders. According to the banners, one is an active government minister and another is from the Attorney General’s Office (FGR). As of midday Tuesday, Sinaloa authorities had not officially commented on this insinuation.

However, Governor Rubén Rocha Moya did post a video on social media Tuesday morning telling people that “Sinaloa is a calm state” and asking them “to enjoy the holidays” in peace. 

“Don’t be afraid, the government is there to take care of you,” he said.

Sinaloa is said to be the epicenter in the distribution of methamphetamine, fentanyl and other synthetic drugs. According to figures from Mexico’s National Public Security System (SNSP), the discovery of synthetic drug laboratories in the state shot up 91% between 2022 and 2023, murders went up 13% and drug dealing increased by 82%.

With reports from Reforma, Noroeste and AP

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