Mexico City police and marines arrested 31 suspected members of a notorious crime gang and seized stolen vehicles, drugs, money and weapons during a pre-dawn raid on Tuesday.
The security forces raided four properties in the neighborhood of Morelos, where they detained 26 men and five women who allegedly belong to La Unión de Tepito, a gang based in the infamous neighborhood of the same name.
They also discovered a tunnel that linked one of the properties to a warehouse on a nearby street. Authorities believe that the suspected leader of La Unión de Tepito, Oscar N. (aka El Lunares), used the tunnel to escape during Tuesday’s raid.
Mexico City Security Secretary Omar García told a press conference that police and marines found two laboratories that were used to produce synthetic drugs.
The police chief said that 2 ½ tonnes of marijuana, 50 kilograms of chemical precursors, 20 kilograms of cocaine and four kilos of methamphetamine were seized from the two labs.
The security forces also seized more than 20 guns, five grenades, a grenade launcher, large quantities of ammunition, 1.5 million pesos (US $78,500), more than 30 motorcycles and several stolen cars, García said.
Altars to Santa Muerte (Holy Death) and narco-saint Jesús Malverde were found at one of the properties, he added.
The seized property and the 31 suspected gang members were turned over to the Mexico City Attorney General’s Office.
“This secretariat became aware of collusion between this criminal group and Mexico City authorities, which possibly provided protection to this organization. Therefore, the decision was made to act fast,” said García, who was sworn in as police chief less than three weeks ago.
Almost 700 police and 147 marines participated in the raid. No shots were fired prior to the arrest of the presumed criminals, García said.
He said the joint police and military operation followed reports from local residents about the presence of armed people in the area as well as the sale of drugs and the firing of weapons.
La Unión de Tepito has been identified as the largest distributor of drugs in Mexico City and one of the main generators of violence. It is involved in a turf war with the crime gang known as Fuerza Anti Unión de Tepito. Former leaders of both gangs were arrested in May.
The turf war has intensified since the arrest of suspected Anti Unión leader Jorge Miguel Rodríguez Muñoz six days ago, the newspaper Milenio reported.
However, members of the rival gangs have been killing each other for some time.
An attack that killed four people and wounded six at Mexico City’s home of Mariachi music, Plaza Garibaldi, in September 2018 was attributed to members of La Unión de Tepito.
More recently, three members of La Unión de Tepito were murdered, presumably by the Anti Unión. Official reports indicated that “El Lunares” was planning a revenge attack for the triple homicide.
Authorities claimed that yesterday’s arrests contained that threat even though the alleged criminal leader wasn’t detained.