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Ten bodies wrapped in blankets and tape were found on a street in Fresnillo on Saturday. Ten bodies wrapped in blankets and tape were found on a street in Fresnillo on Saturday.

Deployment of security forces has had no effect in Zacatecas; 18 killed in just one day

The increase in federal troops has 'generated an escalation in violence,' the governor said

At least 18 homicides were recorded in Zacatecas on Saturday, the highest daily count for murders for any state so far this year.

Ten bodies were found on the street in Fresnillo, six more were discovered in a warehouse in General Pánfilo Natera and murders were perpetrated in at least two other municipalities.

Criminal groups are believed responsible for most if not all the homicides. The Jalisco New Generation Cartel and the Sinaloa Cartel are engaged in a turf war in Zacatecas, situated on a drug trafficking route between Pacific coast ports and Mexico’s northeastern border with the United States.

Residents of a community on the eastern side of Fresnillo – one of Mexico’s most violent cities – discovered 10 bodies wrapped in blankets and electrical tape early Saturday morning. The corpses were dumped on a road by armed men in pickup trucks, according to witnesses.

Federal and state security forces attended the crime scene and cordoned off the area. Some of the victims appeared to have been tortured before they were killed, authorities said. The bodies were taken to a morgue where forensic tests were to be undertaken to determine the cause of death and identity of the victims.

Zacatecas Governor David Monreal said that many of the bodies found Saturday could be members of criminal groups.
Zacatecas Governor David Monreal said that many of the bodies found Saturday could be members of criminal groups.

No arrests were reported in connection with the homicides and dumping of the bodies.

Later on Saturday, the cadavers of six men were found hanging in a warehouse located between the communities of San Pablo and Santa Elena in General Pánfilo Natera, a municipality about 50 kilometers east of Zacatecas city on the border with San Luis Potosí.

Zacatecas Attorney General Francisco Murillo Ruiseco said there could be a link between those murders and the arrest in the municipality of Ojocaliente last Friday of two people traveling in a vehicle with a person they had abducted.

Adding to the grim news out of Zacatecas was the murder of a man in Guadalupe, a municipality adjacent to Zacatecas city. The victim was shot dead in the center of the city.

In addition, a taxi driver was killed in an armed attack in the municipality of Calera on Saturday night.

The grisly discoveries and murders came after an upholsterer was shot and killed in his Guadalupe shop on Friday night. Saturday’s homicide count was two higher than the 16 people murdered in México state on January 24.

In November, National Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval announced that hundreds of additional troops would be deployed to Zacatecas as part of a new security plan.
In November, Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval announced that hundreds of additional troops would be deployed to Zacatecas as part of a new security plan.

The bloody start to February comes after 220 homicides were recorded in Zacatecas in December and January, a 5.7% increase compared to the same months a year earlier. The uptick occurred despite the deployment of almost 500 additional federal troops to the state as part of a new security plan announced in late November following a spate of violence.

Homicides have also increased in Michoacán since a new security plan was announced last October, whereas Jalisco and Guanajuato – both of which border Zacatecas and Michoacán and neither of which received additional federal support in late 2021 – have recorded declines in murders in recent months.

Zacatecas Governor David Monreal said Saturday that the implementation of the support plan had “generated an escalation in violence … between criminal groups that unfortunately has caused human losses such as those … in the municipalities of Fresnillo and Pánfilo Natera.”

However, he expressed confidence that peace will be achieved “sooner or later” in Zacatecas, Mexico’s eighth most violent state in 2021 with over 1,600 homicides.

“I sincerely hope that it will be sooner rather than later,” said Monreal, who took office for the ruling Morena party last September.

The former federal senator said in a video message that he was aware of the challenges he would face as governor because he took over a state going through its worst ever security crisis. The dire situation is epitomized by any number of recent macabre incidents, such as the abandonment on Kings Day of a vehicle with 10 dead bodies beneath a giant Christmas tree in front of the state government palace or the discovery of another 10 cadavers on a Zacatecas highway last November.

Monreal called on residents to trust his government, declaring that it would never give up in the fight against organized crime and continue “acting with responsibility and a lot of strength.”

President López Obrador responded to the incident on Monday, calling it an “act of provocation” directed at the government by criminals.

“[Security] will be strengthened… and lots of intelligence. Sometimes intelligence is more important than the presence of troops,” the president said.

Writing in the newspaper El Universal, security analyst Alejandro Hope asserted that reducing deadly violence in Zacatecas in a sustained way will not be possible “if the federal presence is not accompanied by a strengthening of local police forces and the building of criminal investigation capacities.”

“For now, nothing indicates that they’re heading in that direction. Therefore, having more tragic days like Saturday in the near future shouldn’t come as a surprise,” he wrote.

With reports from El Universal, Milenio, Reforma and Expansión Política

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