Latin America

Terror continues in Iguala with 14 murders in 72 hours

Los Rojos cartel takes advantage of rivals’ arrests over last year’s massacre of 43 students

A demonstration held in Mexico City for the 43 students killed in September.
A demonstration held in Mexico City for the 43 students killed in September.H. R. / REUTERS

The violence rages on in Iguala. In just one 72-hour period last week, 14 people were killed in the same Mexican city where 43 teaching students were kidnapped and massacred in September.

The blood bath, detailed by Mexican daily El Universal, demonstrates the brutality and extreme violence that has gripped this community in the southern state of Guerrero: a pregnant woman stabbed to death along with her child; a doctor shot in the head; an agriculture official gunned down in front of his home; and two young men massacred in the city center.

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Police also discovered three bodies dumped in the nearby San Juan River, the same body of water where investigators searched for the remains of the 43 students from Ayotzinapa. Their charred bodies were reportedly dumped in the river after being burned on a bonfire.

These are dark days for Iguala, a city of 130,000 inhabitants where the terror of the drug gangs prevails.

Throughout Guerrero, radical groups, with connections to guerrilla movements in the south, continue to hold their daily protests by blocking streets, attacking government buildings and occupying companies. (Coca-Cola has given up its delivery routes because of the constant assaults.)

Swimming in corruption allegations and publicly discredited, state authorities do not have the capacity to establish order. And federal forces sent in by President Enrique Peña Nieto are hard-pressed to control the situation.

These are dark days for Iguala, a city of 130,000 inhabitants where the terror of the drug gangs prevails.

The violence has also extended to other parts of the state. In the famous Pacific resort of Acapulco, 137 murders have taken place in three months.

Los Rojos gang seems to be behind this most recent crime wave, at least in the case of six of the murders. This bloody cartel is a rival to the Guerreros Unidos, the criminal organization that authorities say was responsible for massacring the 43 Ayotzinapa students after confusing them with a hit team from Los Rojos.

The unfolding chain of violence can be traced back to the murder of Arturo Beltrán Leyva, the head of a powerful family cartel who was gunned down on December 16, 2009. His death created a vacuum in a drug operation that extends from the Pacific to the center of Mexico.

The Guerrero Unidos and Los Rojos moved in rapidly and have now become bitter enemies.

The unfolding chain of violence can be traced back to the murder of cartel leader Arturo Beltrán Leyva

Los Rojos leader Crisóforo Rogelio Maldonado Jiménez, who escaped with injuries following an assassination attempt, was killed on December 14, 2012 in an intensive care unit in a Mexico City hospital. A hit man disguised as a medic shot him in the stomach and throat.

But the mass arrests of the heads of Guerrero Unidos for their involvement in last September’s student massacre have left the field wide open for Los Rojos.

In Iguala, where hundreds have disappeared, the sacking of the local police force, which was corrupt to the core, and the controls set up by the federal police and army have failed to bring peace to the city’s residents – the 14 murders that took place between last Wednesday and Saturday attest to that.