By MARK LORENZANA
The criminal group Los Tequileros claimed responsibility for the attacks on the afternoon of Wednesday, Oct. 5, in the Mexican coastal state of Guerrero’s municipality of San Miguel Totolapan, where its mayor — Conrado Mendoza of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) — and at least 17 other people were killed.
Through a video shared on social media networks, hooded men allegedly belonging to Los Tequileros claimed responsibility for the massacre that occurred in Guerrero’s extremely violent Tierra Caliente region, which is currently under a turf war between opposing drug cartels.
Los Tequileros allegedly split off from the powerful La Familia Michoacana organization that dominated the region during the worst years of the so-called Mexican drug war, which began in 2006 under former Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s administration.
“There is a dispute (between Los Tequileros) with a criminal group known as the Familia Michoacana, who are the criminal leaders of that region,” said Mexican Undersecretary of Public Security Ricardo Mejia on the morning of Thursday, Oct. 6.
Tierra Caliente is likewise the stronghold of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), considered by Mexican authorities as the most powerful drug organization in the country. Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes alias El Mencho, the leader of the CJNG — and one of the most wanted criminals by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) — also hails from the Tierra Caliente region.
In 2013, Los Tequileros carried out kidnappings, homicides and extortion of businesses and a mining company in the municipality of Arcelia. However, in February 2018, the criminal group was allegedly dismantled after its leader, Raybel Jacobo de Almonte, was killed in a confrontation with members of the United Front of Community Police of the State of Guerrero in Tlacotepec.
At around 2 p.m. on Wednesday, armed men arrived aboard two trucks and shot at the facade of the San Miguel Totolapan City Hall and police headquarters. Later, the armed individuals went to the home of Juan Mendoza, Mayor Conrado Mendoza’s father, and shot up the house.
After finding out that Juan Mendoza was not home, the gunmen then proceeded to a meeting that Conrado Mendoza was presiding over — which was also attended by his father — and opened fire.
Ten people were killed, including Conrado Mendoza, his father, his brother-in-law Gustavo Salazar — who is an American citizen — and Fredi Martínez Suazo, San Miguel Totolapan’s director of public security.
Roberto Mata, advisor to the mayor, and his bodyguards, Samuel García and José Antolín Calvo, also died in the attack.
According to local reports, the armed group later clashed with municipal police officers and killed eight agents.
In a statement, the San Miguel Totolapan State Prosecutor’s Office reported that three people were likewise injured in the attack, and were transferred aboard a helicopter to a hospital in Chilpancingo, the capital city of Guerrero.