Drug Trafficking War Escalates in Michoacán
By KELIN DILLON
Throughout a 48-hour period at the beginning of the week of Feb. 14, organized crime groups and cartels operating out of Mexico’s Sierra Madre del Sur mountain range in the Michoacán region executed 27 murders in typically violent narco-style, demonstrating the clear weaponry strength of the region’s criminal organizations and affecting the area’s important international avocado trade.
Tierra Caliente, Michoacán’s dry valley region, has been plagued by a high-concentration of narcotraffickers for several years, with cartels harnessing artillery vehicles, explosive drones, military-grade assault weapons, grenades, rockets and the same type of anti-personnel mines used by Colombian guerrillas to wage attacks on Michoacán authorities, civilians and rival crime groups alike.
Recently documented violence has occurred by the notoriously bloody Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), which has made repeated efforts to expand its sphere of influence outside of Jalisco and throughout Mexico, against Michoacán’s native United Cartels group and the Mexican Army present in the area. Considering Michoacán’s shared borders with Jalisco and close proximity to the birthplace of CJNG leader Nemesio “El Mencho” Oseguera, the territory has become a specific target of CJNG annexation tactics.
Though violence may have soared in the past week, the Michoacán region has faced repeated attacks across the beginning of 2022; on Feb. 12, a civilian truck that rolled over a landmine resulted in the death of one and the severe injury of another; on Jan. 31, soldiers from the Mexican military experienced the same fate, with terrorists setting off a mine that blew up their vehicle and injuring four passengers; and on Jan. 11, drones rained explosives over nearby military camps, with the clear goal of hurting Mexican troops and their equipment.
Given the Michoacán area’s surrounding avocado agricultural industry – an important international export for the nation – U.S. officials concerned about the potential ramifications of violence in the area have announced their intention to strengthen protections to the region, with Michoacán Governor Alfredo Ramírez Bedolla and representatives of the U.S. Embassy in Mexico agreeing to collaborate on a permanent security cell to amplify security for the 59 municipalities of the avocado zone.