Sinaloa Cartel claims responsibility for new massacre of 19 people in Chiapas

Authorities confirm the discovery of the bodies in an area hard hit by criminal groups seeking control of immigration, drug and weapons routes

Masacre en el municipio de La Concordia, Chiapas
Personnel from the Attorney General's Office of the State of Chiapas at the spot where 19 bodies were located, in La Concordia.fiscalía chiapas
Pablo Ferri

Federal authorities in Mexico on Tuesday reported the discovery of 19 bodies in a community near La Concordia, in the southern state of Chiapas. The deaths were reportedly the result of a confrontation between criminal groups. In a statement, federal security authorities said that 14 of the bodies were found in “the bed of a dump truck,” two more in the cabin, and three were lying on the ground, next to the vehicle. They were all men and had gunshot wounds. The bodies were found because the attackers themselves boasted about the massacre in a video posted on social networks.

“On June 28, a video was uploaded showing several lifeless people in the bed of a dump truck, who were wearing tactical equipment and carrying long weapons,” the statement said. “The alleged authors of the video identified themselves as members of the Sinaloa Cartel and identified the victims as members of a criminal organization that allegedly operates between Chiapas and Guatemala.

On Tuesday, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador alluded to the matter in his morning press conference. “It was an unfortunate confrontation in Chiapas, in the border area. There are two groups that are confronting each other, this has been going on for some time. The population of the region is being protected. There are two groups. What motivates this? Drug trafficking and also the trafficking of migrants, of people,” he said. Security authorities reported that at least six of the victims were carrying Guatemalan IDs.

This massacre ties in with others committed in the area in recent months. In May, criminals murdered six people, including Lucero López Maza, a candidate for mayor for the Chiapas Popular Party. It was not clear whether the candidate’s murder was the product of a direct attack or if López Maza was a victim of crossfire. Weeks before, the candidate’s father, the rancher Ataulfo López Flores, had suffered an attack on his ranch at the hands of members of organized crime, who burned his property, several vehicles and murdered four workers.

Even earlier, in April, a massacre and a confrontation between criminals and members of the National Guard resulted in the death of at least 10 people, in two locations near La Angostura dam, in the same municipality. The human rights defense organization Fray Bartolomé de las Casas reported that the scuffles had actually left 25 people dead, including civilians unrelated to the crime.

The latest La Concordia massacre illustrates the violent drift of crime in several areas of Chiapas, none as badly hit as the corridor formed by the Central Border and the Sierra Mariscal, next to La Angostura dam. For several years, groups linked to the Sinaloa cartel have been fighting with other organizations for control of the territory and routes. With the passage north through Tapachula, a classic route for migrants, now closed, the roads of the Central Border and the Sierra Mariscal, with complicated terrain, have grown in importance for criminal gangs. Not only because of the migrants themselves, who are subjected to extortion the moment they set foot in Mexico, but because of the weapons and drugs that also circulate in the area.

In the Central Border and the Sierra Mariscal, groups with alleged ties to the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel have carried out fights and persecutions. In many communities, the population has fled, seeking refuge in municipalities outside the conflict zone, such as Comitán or Tuxtla, the state capital. In February, a report by civil associations defined the situation in the area as “an unrecognized armed conflict” that began in mid-2021.

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