RSS Feed

The war in Michoacan: A brief chronology

Posted on

January 15, 2014

I thought this article would be useful in understanding of the Michoacán situation. Although the government (or ‘governments’, state and federal) refuse to use the term ‘war’ to refer to the conflict in Michoacán, there is really no other word that is as appropriate to a situation that involves military forces, armed groups and police forces shooting it out for control of territory. It sure looks like a war to this Mexican. — un vato. 

MEXICO. D.F..– The deterioration of Michoacan is not something that has developed over the past few months,  not even over the past six years, with the obvious failure of the “war” undertaken by Felipe Calderon, which began in his native state in 2007.
Here are some key dates for understanding the situation in Michoacán.
1990 – 2001.-  Valencia Cartel. Armando Valencia Cornelio and Luis Valencia Valencia: Cousins born in Uruapan, Michoacán, between 1959 and 1955, they controlled, from the latter part of the 1980’s and throughout the 1990’s, the production of marijuana, which they would export through Amado Carrillo Fuentes, leader of the Juarez Cartel, better known as “El Senor de los Cielos” (the “Lord of the Skies”).
They also got into the cocaine trafficking business through their Colombian contact, Alejandro Bernal Madrigal, aka “Juvenal”. (See: Maria Idalia Gomez and Dario Fritz, “Con la Muerte en el Bolsillo” (“With Death in his Pocket“)).
2001 .- The arrival of “Los Zetas”.  The dispute over cocaine trafficking worsened between the cartels. “Los Zetas”, then the armed branch of the Gulf Cartel, came to Michoacán to take over the plaza with blood and gunfire. The Valencias allied themselves with “El Chapo” Guzman. From 2002 to 2004, there were more than 100 people killed in the confrontations between Zetas and Valencias.
The Zetas dominated the plaza and they started a new and lucrative business: laboratories in the Tierra Caliente region for the production of synthetic drugs. Their epicenter was Apatzingan, the most important city in the Tierra Caliente region.
2006 -.  Enter “La Familia Michoacana”. On September 6, 2006, before the start of the Felipe Calderon term, in the midst of the post-electoral fight, a new group broke into a night club in Uruapan and threw six decapitated heads on the dance floor. (The heads belonged) to members of “Los Zetas”. They left the following note: “La Familia does not kill for money, it does not murder women or innocent people; it only executes those that deserve to die. Everybody should know this … this is divine justice”.

The three principal leaders of “La Familia”, as identified by the government, were Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, aka “El Chayo” or “El Mas Loco”,  Jesus Mendez Vargas, aka “El Chango” and Servando Gomez Martinez, aka “La Tuta”.

“El Chayo” even published a book/manual titled “Los Pensamientos de La Familia” (“La Familia’s Thoughts”), required reading for members of that cartel.
“La Tuta”, former schoolteacher who took part in radical leftist movements in Michoacan and Guerrero, contributed the element of strategies for social penetration to “La Familia”, in the manner of the EPR  [“Ejercito Popular Revolucionario”, a Mexican insurgency group. un vato]. 2007 – 2009.–  Expansion and Fragmentation of “La Familia”.  During the September 15, 2008, celebration [of the Mexican Revolution.– un vato], grenades were thrown against the civilian population in the Morelia, Michoacan, central plaza. The PRD governor, Leonel Godoy, escaped unharmed, but there were several deaths and dozens wounded. This was “La Familia’s” maximum demonstration of terror. The group had expanded in the Tierra Caliente region. It seized control of Apatzingán from “Los Zetas” and extended its power in the States of Mexico — where Enrique Pena Nieto was governor –, Guerrero, Jalisco  and Guanajuato.

Everything points to the conclusion that “La Familia” entered into a pact with the Sinaloa Cartel, led by “Chapo” Guzman, to share the territory and the strategic port of Lazaro Cardenas, Michoacan. (See: Guillermo Valdes, “Historia del Narcotrafico en Mexico” (“History of Drug Trafficking in Mexico”) 2013)). From that point, they also reached urban zones in the Federal District, the great center for consumption and power. In particular, they began to penetrate the Mexico municipality of Nezahualcoyotl. “La Familia” took over entire city councils. It bought mayors, congressional candidates, and organized the direct extortion of hundreds of businessmen. Evidence of the failure of Felipe Calderon to confront “La Familia’s” expansive and cellular power — in the style of Al Qaeda — was the judicial operation known as “El Michoacanazo” (“The Strike at Michoacán”) intended to imprison (Michoacán) mayors involved with (“La Familia”).

2010 -2012.-  Enter “Los Templarios”.  As had happened with the Gulf (Cartel) and “Los Zetas”, with the Sinaloa Cartel and the Beltran Leyva Cartel, the “La Familia” Cartel fragmented and triggered a struggle for leadership and control of the business after the heads of the organization were taken down.  A new group emerged, a copy of “La Familia’s” tactics and strategies for social and political infiltration: “Los Caballeros Templarios” (“The Knights Templar”). The 2011 local elections, in which the PRI recovered control of the state after two PRD administrations, and defeated Calderon’s sister, Luisa Maria Calderon Hinojosa (PAN candidate), marked the rise of the “Templarios” and their alleged (political) alliances, according to charges made by PRD and PAN partisans.

February 2013.-  Emergence of the “Autodefensas” (Self Defense Forces).– After the start of the Pena Nieto six-year term, in the heart of the Tierra Caliente, Michoacán, a new armed group arises, organized by businessmen, avocado and lime growers and professionals in the area, to “regain control” from the “Templarios”.  On February 24, (2013), in the town of La Ruana, Buenavista municipality, and in Tepalcatepec, the first civilian groups are formed. Unlike “La Familia” when it came onto the local stage,  they did not dump heads nor have they practiced terror; instead, they have (implemented) a strategy of expulsion of the “Templarios”. Currently, they are grouped under the United Command of Michoacán Self Defense (Forces) (Comando Unido de Autodefensas de Michoacán).  They claim to have 10,000 men armed with rifles, their most visible spokesman is Dr. Jose Manuel Mireles Valverde, and they have advanced into ten municipalities, surrounding Apatzingán, the heart of the dispute. January 13, 2014.– Pena Nieto’s Michoacán Operation.  A new operation has begun with a military, police and political deployment by the federal government in Michoacán. The self defense forces are refusing to disarm themselves and to surrender the occupied municipalities until “Los Templarios” are captured.  Governor Fausto Vallejo has lost all capacity to govern.

click on images to enlarge

About Doc

Spreading the word about the dangers of methamphetamine.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: