September 7, 2013
Two men were killed and as many as 30 homes have been torched by armed suspects in Sinaloa state Wednesday, according to several Mexican news accounts.
AN APRO wire dispatch published on the website of El Diario de Coahuila news daily said that homes in Choix municipality, specifically in ejido El Corral Quemado were attacked by an unknown number of local gunmen, said by Sinaloa state authorities to be members of local organized crime groups.
A separate account published on the website of Milenio news daily said that a total of 14 homes, all of them abandoned, were destroyed by fire set by local criminals. The homes had been abandoned in reaction of threats by organized crime groups in the area, or were unoccupied as residents went to work in the fields. Some residents were out tending to livestock when they watched their homes destroyed first by small arms fire then by deliberately being set afire.
A separate news report posted on the website of El Debate news daily said that the number of residences destroyed was 15. However, a police source quoted by the newspaper said that 13 homes were torched and two vehicles were destroyed by fire.
At least one unarmed civilian, a farmer was shot to death in Choix municipality, according to another news report posted on El Debate.
José Juan Berrelleza Renteria, 20, was shot by armed suspects Wednesday while on his way to begin work in the fields.
Armed suspects traveling in the area aboard vehicle have been attacking civilians from the east, or Chihuahua side of Choix municipality. The armed suspects who killed Berrelleza Renteria drove on the the villages Saucillo and Las Punta, firing into homes in which women and children has taken refuge. The news report did not say if anyone was hurt in the subsequent incident.
Yet another news account in El Debate said that Mexican Army units near Urique in far western Chihuahua had exchanged gunfire with armed suspects, who were presumably moving into Chihuahua state from Choix. One unidentified armed suspect was killed by army counterfire. The article does not specify a date, but the news report was posted early Saturday morning meaning the incident possibly took place some time on Friday.
Thursday, a total of 13 security patrols were dispatched to the area to including 50 Sinaloa state police agents, presumably mixed federal and Sinaloa state elements. If those patrols penetrated into Choix, attempts by armed suspects to filter back into Chihuahua would explain Mexican Army units fighting them in Urique.
Photographs posted on El Debate would indicate that Mexican Army units are included in those patrols.
Choix municipality was the focal point of some of the worst intergang fighting between groups sympathetic to the Sinaloa cartel, and groups aligned with the Beltran-Leyva Organization, including Los Zetas and Juarez Cartels in the summer of 2012. At that time, Choix was considered to be Beltran-Leyva territory, but now the area is in some dispute.