Authorities in Michoacán have identified a new drug cartel with roots in illegal logging in the east of the state.
According to a report by the news agency EFE, the Michoacán government last month launched a new security operation supported by the army and National Guard to locate narco-camps and members of a criminal organization called the Los Correa Cartel. All-terrain armored vehicles and helicopters are supporting the operation led by Michoacán state police.
EFE, which obtained information from the Michoacán Security Ministry, said Los Correa has been involved in illegal logging in the state for two decades.
The organization is reportedly led by Daniel Correa Velázquez, known by the alias “El Tigre” (The Tiger). His family’s first foray into the criminal world, according to the EFE report, was illegal logging. In more recent times the cartel has allegedly moved into marijuana cultivation, the production of synthetic drugs, extortion, kidnapping and other criminal activities.
It is currently believed to have an alliance with the Familia Michoacana, a drug cartel that has operated in Michoacán for years. Both organizations are engaged in a conflict with the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, which is seeking to expand its presence in the state.
Michoacán police and federal security forces have been pursuing Los Correa since at least September last year, making 310 arrests and seizing 81 stolen vehicles and 42 weapons in a six-month period to mid-March. The authorities have also destroyed 43,600 marijuana plants allegedly grown by Los Correa, EFE reported.
In addition, authorities located four narco-camps in forested areas of the municipalities of Zitácuaro and Hidalgo that were used by Los Correa hitmen.
In the latter municipality, state police and federal forces clashed gangsters hiding out at a narco-camp near the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. One cartel sicario was killed in the gunfight and a member of the National Guard was wounded. The authorities arrested three other cartel members and seized vehicles, weapons and 20 kilograms of marijuana.
An alleged chief hitman of the cartel known by the nickname “El Feo” (The Ugly One) was arrested in México state last Thursday on charges that he murdered a Michoacán police commander in late February and wounded another officer.
The Familia Michoacana is believed responsible for an ambush the same day that left 13 México state police officers dead.
Source: EFE (sp)