Monday, June 17, 2024

‘Narco-blockades’ and shootouts follow arrests in Celaya

Shootouts and narco-blockades using burning vehicles rocked the city of Celaya, Guanajuato on Sunday, following the arrest of three suspected members of the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel (CSRL).

The arrests took place in the Laja-Bajío district on the outskirts of Celaya, during patrols by the Guanajuato Public Security Ministry (SSP). According to a ministry press release, a group of armed men in an SUV opened fire on a routine patrol, sparking a chase. Firearms, drugs and ammunition were also seized during the arrests.

Cartels blocked major roads with burning vehicles. (Dali MX/X)

Although the press release did not name the armed group involved, unofficial reports indicate that detainees included ‘El Monedas,’ a leading member of the CSRL.

Immediately after the arrests, armed clashes broke out in the communities of Santa Rosa de Lima, Pozas and San José de las Maravillas. On the Celaya-Juventino Rosas state highway, armed criminals hijacked civilian vehicles and set at least two on fire, blocking the road, as well as laying spikes to burst car tires.

Over the following hours, several cars, buses and cargo trucks were hijacked across urban Celaya and the surrounding municipalities of Juventino Rosas and Cortazar. Burning vehicles were reported on the road to San José de Guanajuato; the Celaya-Salamanca Pan-American Highway; the Cortazar-Salvatierra Highway; the Cortazar-Jaral del Progreso highway; and the Celaya-Apaseo el Grande section of the Pan-American Highway.

City firefighters attended seven vehicle fires in the communities of Plancarte, San Isidro de Trojes, Crespo 2nd District, López Portillo and Los Mezquites in Celaya, and on the Pan-American Highway. On the corner of Mutualismo and Constituyentes avenues, criminals opened fire on members of the Celaya Fire Department who were rushing to extinguish a blaze, killing firefighter Felipe Jiménez Sánchez.

Firefighter Felipe Jiménez was reportedly shot dead as he attended a burning vehicle in Celaya. (Alejandro Sánchez/X)

Despite the chaos, the SSP insisted on Sunday evening that they had managed to regain control of the situation and reopen the highways. Authorities have also deployed intensive ground and air patrols to reinforce security.

Local media continue to speculate about the identities of the three detainees. Some have claimed that the captured ‘El Monedas’ is the son or brother of José Antonio Yépez Ortiz, alias ‘El Marro,’ who led the CSRL until his arrest in August 2020.

Once a powerful oil-theft gang, the CSRL has steadily weakened over recent years, both before and after the capture ofEl Marro.” However, it continues to operate in the Villagrán, Juventino Rosas, Cortazar, Apaseo el Grande and Celaya municipalities of Guanajuato, where its conflict with the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) drives high levels of violence.

With reports from El Financiero and Infobae

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