By MARK LORENZANA
A shootout that lasted more than an hour on Monday, Sept. 12, forced the residents of Orizaba, in the eastern Mexican state of Veracruz, to run for cover in a day of violence that left an armed civilian dead.
According to police reports, the shooting took place at 4 p.m. in the city center, where armed individuals tried to rob a person who just left a bank, and afterward the gunmen likewise set fire to a gas station and a trailer. State and local authorities managed to shoot down one of the armed men and capture another.
Video clips and photos of the violence in Orizaba were posted on various social media platforms.
Orizaba Secretary of Public Security Hugo Gutiérrez Maldonado identified the detainee as an alleged member of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), and was presented to the press as “El Tino.” He allegedly works for “El Momo,” the leader of the CJNG in the area.
In addition to the Secretariat of Public Security (SSP) of Veracruz, members of Mexico’s Secretariat of the Navy (Semar), the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena) and the National Guard (GN) were likewise deployed to Orizaba.
The CJNG is known to operate in the region between the municipalities of Mendoza, Nogales, Orizaba and Córdoba, along with kidnapping organizations and “huachicoleros” or motor-fuel thieves. These groups’ illicit activities have had a direct impact on the residents of the area.
According to the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System (SESNSP), between January and July of this year, 587 homicides were recorded in Veracruz, where the Gulf and Northeast Cartels and various divisions of the Los Zetas and United Cartels, among others, also have a presence.
Journalist Hector de Mauleón, in an opinion column for Mexican daily newspaper El Universal, wrote that Orizaba and parts of Veracruz “have been taken over by violent cells of the CJNG, and is plagued by criminals dedicated to extortion, hijacking of cargo trucks, motor-oil theft and drug dealing,” and that, according to Mexico’s National Chamber of Freight Transport (Canacar), “the outskirts of Orizaba are devastated by gangs dedicated, above all, to cargo theft.”
“The Orizaba-Veracruz and La Antigua-Veracruz sections are among the most insecure in Mexico,” De Mauleón wrote. “Major thefts are related to vehicles that transport hydrocarbons, but in reality, no transporter is safe. The most frequent assaults are directed at trailers that carry groceries, construction materials, cleaning products, medicines, cardboard, plastic, clothing, footwear, spare parts and appliances.”
De Mauleón concluded his column by writing that “Orizaba is at the heart of all this. Monday’s shooting only briefly drew back the curtain that hides a reality dominated by crime, and that any minute is at risk of going up in flames.”