Mexico Intelligence News Summary
The overall security situation in most areas of the country has not improved. The high rates of violence and organized crime of previous months has continued into January. Most notably, there were several high profile attacks on civilians in public venues such as bars and restaurants, plus fatal attacks on motorists, including U.S. citizens. Furthermore, there continue to be daily attacks directed at law enforcement and other governmental authorities.
There were 18 attacks on state police patrols. These incidents occurred in Coahuila, Edomex, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacán, Nuevo Léon, San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz. A state police officer was killed during an ambush in Villa de Arriaga, San Luis Potosí. Two officers were killed in an attack in Apaseo El Grande, Guanajuato. Two women fired on a state police patrol near Noria de Ángeles, San Luis Potosí.
Two municipal patrols were attacked in Guanajuato and Sonora. Two municipal police officers were killed during the attack on their patrol in Celaya, Guanajuato. Finally, two police vehicles were destroyed by arson at a municipal parking lot in Monclova, Coahuila.
Mexican state and federal authorities seized numerous weapons following several battles and in other operations. These seizures occurred in six locations across Coahuila, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Quintana Roo, and Tamaulipas. In one location, fragmentation grenades were seized in Celaya, Guanajuato. More than two dozen grenades were seized in Juventino Rosas, Guanajuato. Numerous rifles, ammunition, and several grenades were seized in Irapuato, Guanajuato. Fragmentation grenades and body armor were also seized in Michoacán.
Street battles between sicarios of rival organizations, and between Mexican authorities and cartel gunmen occurred across 13 states (Chihuahua, Coahuila, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacán, Morelos, Nuevo León, Querétaro, Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz). There were 48 such battles reported by the media this month, with most occurring in Tamaulipas.
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November marked the last month of the Peña Nieto administration, and it is highly likely that he looks forward to not being held responsible for insecurity across the country. It will be undoubtedly interesting to see if policies implemented during the incoming administration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador will improve public safety in Mexico. Meanwhile, the security situation in November remained extremely difficult for thousands of Mexicans.
There were 48 attacks directed at government authorities reported this month. This figure represents a notable drop from the previous month. Furthermore, there were just two assassinations of current or former elected officials or party activists this month. This is the lowest number of assassinations since March 2017.
Attacks against government authorities occurred across 16 states (Baja California, Chihuahua, Edomex, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Mexico City, Morelos, Nuevo León, Puebla, San Luis Potosí, Sonora, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, and Zacatecas). The majority of incidents were in Tamaulipas and Veracruz, but there was a notable increase of incidents in Nuevo León as well.
Mexican authorities announced the capture of one regional leader of the Gulf Cartel during November. This figure is significantly lower than previous months. Part of the reason is that many of the major criminal organizations have fractured as the key figures have been apprehended or killed.
Numerous elected officials or law enforcement personnel were charged with a variety of offenses relating to organized crime.
Mexican authorities seized weapons and munitions at three sites across Edomex, Sonora, and Tamaulipas. Authorities seized a cache of more than 31,000 rounds of ammunition at the site in Tecámac, Edomex. Finally, the Mexican army seized a technical vehicle (Non-standard tactical vehicle, NSTV) equipped with a 50-caliber machine gun mounted in the back in Caborca, Sonora. A similar NSTV was seized in Jalisco in August. Several AKM rifles were also seized at the site in Caborca. Several armored vehicles were recovered following a battle in Felipe Carrillo Puerto, Michoacán. An armored vehicle was destroyed by arson in Navolato, Sinaloa.
The Secretaría de Gobernación (SEGOB) released the homicide figures for October, and they reveal that there were 3647 homicides reported across Mexico that month. Of these, 2460 were classified as homicidios dolosos. Both of these figures are slightly higher than the average of the first nine months of 2018. It is likely that the numbers for November will be similar.
At least 31 taxi drivers were killed this month. These incidents occurred in Guanajuato, Guerrero (3 victims), Oaxaca (3), and Veracruz (24). A passenger was injured by gunmen during one of these incidents in Martínez de la Torre, Veracruz. Also, a taxi driver was kidnapped from his vehicle in Coatzintla, Veracruz. Several truck and bus drivers were also killed this month. For example, a bus driver was shot and killed in his vehicle in Acapulco, Guerrero. Another bus driver was injured by gunmen in Tehuacán, Puebla.
There were at least 14 fatal extortion-related incidents reported this month; resulting in 22 fatalities. This figure is slightly lower than the average of the previous 12 months. These incidents occurred in Baja California, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Michoacán, Oaxaca (3 incidents), Tamaulipas, and Veracruz (6).
Federal authorities reported the disruption of four kidnapping operations this month. Undoubtedly there were many more incidents. Of those reported to the media, they occurred in Edomex, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz.
The official number of highway robberies across Mexico for November is not yet available. However, there were numerous reports of cargo theft this month. In some cases, authorities were able to recover the stolen vehicles. Seven stolen buses were recovered by federal police in Rodríguez Clara, Veracruz. The buses belonged to Autobuses Unidos (AU). Federal police detained several cargo hijackers near Tlapacoyan, Veracruz. Nine stolen fuel trailers and four complete fuel transport rigs were seized in Reynosa.
A truck was hijacked along Highway 131 between Martinez de la Torre and Atzalan, Veracruz. A truck driver was injured by gunfire during an attempted hijacking on Highway 150D near Quecholac, Puebla. A truck driver was shot and killed during an attempted robbery as he traveled along Highway 150 between Mexico City and Veracruz. Another truck driver was kidnapped from his vehicle near Cuapiaxtla, Tlaxcala. A security guard escorting a tractor-trailer was injured by gunmen dressed as military personnel at a fake checkpoint on Highway 150D near Esperanza, Puebla. A similar incident occurred on Highway 150 near Tecamachalco, Puebla. A security guard was injured in that incident as well. Three truck drivers were killed during hijackings in the same area. There have been numerous reports of truck drivers being robbed at fake police checkpoints set up along Highway 150D near San Martín Texmelucan, Puebla.
Numerous businesses such as large stores and currency exchange facilities were robbed this month. Also, in a brazen attack, armed robbers stole 100,000 pesos from the municipal palace in Ecatepec, Edomex. A police officer was injured during that incident. At least five banks were robbed in Nuevo León, Oaxaca, and Veracruz. In one case, an Israeli citizen was arrested for bank robbery in San Nicolás de los Garza, Nuevo León. A group of assailants dressed as waiters robbed 10 million pesos from an armored truck in Naucalpan, Edomex. Two security guards were killed in the attack. Several ATMs were stolen in Oaxaca and Veracruz. In one case, assailants overpowered police officers and stole the ATM in Asunción Ixtaltepec, Oaxaca. Also, over the last year, there have been increasing reports of customers being robbed inside or near banks. At least seven such incidents were reported in Oaxaca, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz this month. In one case, assailants fired on bank customers in Veracruz.
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Most measures indicate that the primary threats to public safety across many areas of Mexico have remained consistent over the last few months. Indeed, most indices during October showed a slight change (increase or decline) when compared to previous months. Therefore, it is clear that President Peña Nieto will not be leaving office with an improvement in the security situation that he inherited in 2012. Interestingly, overall levels of violence and attacks directed at government authorities declined during the first few years of his administration, but both have increased since 2016. To be perfectly frank, there was probably little that Peña Nieto could do to effect serious change at the local level; where most of the criminality is occurring. The same may be true for incoming President López Obrador. Whatever the case, it will be interesting to see if anything changes for better or worse.
There were 57 attacks reported against governmental authorities October. This figure is higher than the previous two months. Attacks occurred across 15 states (Chiapas, Chihuahua, Edomex, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Mexico City, Michoacán, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, San Luis Potosí, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Tlaxcala, and Veracruz). The majority of these incidents occurred in Veracruz. There was also a notable increase in attacks in Sonora. At least 24 police officers were killed in attacks this month; including the director of the municipal transit police, who was gunned down in Apaseo El Alto, Guanajuato. Thirteen state police patrols were attacked across Baja California, Chiapas, Edomex, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Nuevo Léon, Oaxaca, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz. Six municipal police patrols were attacked in Guanajuato, Oaxaca, Sonora, and Veracruz. Four police officers were killed when gunmen attacked a municipal patrol in Guaymas, Sonora. Three municipal police officers were injured by assailants in Pénjamo, Guanajuato. Gunmen launched several attacks against fixed targets of authorities this month. In one case, a state police officer was killed when gunmen fired on a security installation near the prison in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz. Elsewhere, a fragmentation grenade was thrown into a police station in Tuxpan, Veracruz. There were at least 17 additional incidents resulting in the death or injury of governmental authorities. These incidents occurred across Chiapas, Chihuahua, Edomex, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Puebla, Sonora, and Veracruz.
Mexican authorities reported the seizure of weapons and munitions at eight sites across Guerrero, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas (at five sites), and Veracruz. Two armored vehicles and weapons were discovered in Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, Tamaulipas. Three armored SUVs and numerous firearms and munitions were seized in Petatlán, Guerrero. They also discovered six 40mm grenades. A moderately large cache of munitions was seized in Nueva Ciudad Guerrero, Tamaulipas. The seizure included hundreds of rifle magazines and several thousand rounds of ammunition. Several dozen rifles and 1500 rounds of ammunition were seized in Badiraguato, Sinaloa. Two fragmentation grenades and a Barrett 50-caliber sniper rifle were seized along with other weapons and munitions in Reynosa, Tamaulipas. A fragmentation grenade was discovered in a weapons cache in Matamoros (Tamaulipas), and another one was seized in Orizaba, Veracruz.
There were 48 street battles reported during October. This figure represents a slight increase over September. These incidents occurred in 13 states (Chihuahua, Edomex, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Mexico City, Michoacán, Oaxaca, Puebla, Quintana Roo, Sonora, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz). Most of the incidents were in Tamaulipas and Veracruz.
While official homicide figures for October will not be available until late November, some of our measures suggest the overall levels of violence during October were similar to the previous two months. There were 37 attacks directed at civilians in public venues such as bars, restaurants, shopping areas, a bus station, a baseball game, and a funeral. These incidents resulted in at least 53 fatalities, and they occurred across 12 states (Baja California, Chihuahua, Edomex, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Puebla, Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas, Veracruz). The number of incidents matches September, but the number of fatalities declined from the previous six months.
The bodies of at least 291 victims were left in 105 separate mass deposit sites. The number of victims was greater than September but still lower than the last quarter of 2018. The number of distinct sites was on par with previous months. These incidents occurred across 20 states (Baja California, Chihuahua, Colima, Edomex, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Mexico City, Michoacán, Morelos, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Puebla, Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz).
At least 20 taxi drivers were killed this month. These incidents occurred in Guanajuato, Guerrero (2 victims), Oaxaca, Sonora, and Veracruz (15 victims). As discussed in previous reports, taxi drivers are frequently extorted, and in some cases, they serve as halcones (lookouts) for criminal organizations.
There was an increase in fatal extortion-related attacks this month. Sixteen such incidents were reported in October. These incidents resulted in 17 fatalities, and they occurred across eight states (Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosí, Tabasco, and Veracruz (8 incidents).
Authorities reported the disruption of 8 kidnapping operations this month. While this figure is higher than September, it is similar to most months of 2017 and early 2018. These incidents occurred in Edomex, Nuevo León (2 operations), Tamaulipas, and Veracruz (4 operations).
Numerous large retail stores such as Soriana and Coppel were robbed in Tamaulipas and Veracruz. Several gunmen robbed the offices of the Cruz Roja Mexicana (CRM) in Veracruz, Veracruz. Several banks were robbed in Veracruz. Also, nine million pesos were stolen from an armored transport vehicle in Mexicali, Baja California. Two armored truck guards were killed during a robbery while they were making a stop at a Soriana in Playa Del Carmen, Quintana Roo. ATMs were stolen from several locations in Tamaulipas and Veracruz. Bank customers were robbed inside or near banks in Mexico City, Oaxaca, and Veracruz (7 incidents were reported in 6 different cities).
In a bit of good news, there appears to have been a slight improvement in public safety this month. While the number of attacks directed against governmental authorities matched the previous two months, there was a notable drop in the frequency of street battles this month. Also, attacks against civilians in public venues, fatal extortion-related incidents, and kidnap-executions appear to have dropped this month. However, the number of media reports about kidnapping incidents remained constant this month; at a level that is higher than most of 2017.
Overall, there were 53 attacks directed at governmental authorities reported during September. This figure is similar to August and is close to the monthly average for 2017. More importantly, August and September mark a significant drop from May-July this year.
There was just one media report of an attack on a federal police patrol. In the incident, two federal police officers were injured when shots were fired into their vehicle in Celaya, Guanajuato. Two army or marine patrols were attacked in Michoacán and Tamaulipas. Two marines were killed during an ambush in Buenavista Tomatlán, Michoacán.
Attacks against governmental authorities occurred across 16 states (Chihuahua, Edomex, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Mexico City, Michoacán, Nayarit, Oaxaca, Puebla, Quintana Roo, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Zacatecas). The number of states impacted is similar to the previous four months.
There were 44 street battles reported this month. This figure is a notable drop from the previous month, but it is still similar to most months of 2017. These incidents occurred across 11 states (Chihuahua, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Michoacán, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Puebla, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz). During a prolonged battle, gunmen set fire to several vehicles forming a narcobloqueo on Highway 45D near Apaseo el Grande, Guanajuato.
Gunmen operated a temporary roadblock on Blvd Luis Donaldo Colosio in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. They were demanding 500 U.S. dollars or merchandise from travelers heading back to Monterrey from the United States. Federal police also issued a recent alert concerning an increase in highway robbers along Highway 40D between Monterrey and Ciudad Victoria.
There were ten fatal extortion-related attacks reported during September. This figure represents a significant drop from August, and it is lower than the monthly average for 2017. The incidents this month occurred in Guanajuato, Mexico City, Oaxaca, and Veracruz (7 incidents). Among the victims were owners, managers, or employees of several restaurants, bars, and small stores. Also, the owner of a pharmacy was murdered in Oaxaca.
Mexican authorities reported the disruption of two kidnapping operations this month. These operations were located in Oaxaca and Tabasco. This number is lower than the previous months. However, aside from these disruptions of whole kidnapping operations, Mexican authorities were able to rescue kidnap victims at numerous additional sites this month.
A recent report by the Cámara Nacional del Autotransporte de Carga (Canacar) reveals that 43% of all highway robberies in Mexico occur along Highway 150 between Mexico City and Veracruz. Furthermore, the number of robberies has increased from 2015. Indeed, the states with the highest number of robberies are Edomex, Guanajuato, Nuevo León, Puebla, Querétaro, Tlaxcala, and Veracruz. Another report by the Centro de Inteligencia SensiGuard indicates that the products of particular interest during robberies are fuel, food and drinks, and construction materials because they are the easiest to resale. Other targeted items include chemicals, electronics, and auto parts. In this regard, there were numerous reports of cargo theft and truck hijackings this month.
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The high levels of violence that have characterized the last 9 months continued into August. In particular, battles, attacks on public venues, and the kidnap-execution of rival cartel members each expanded this month. Attacks on authorities declined somewhat, but is still high. Also, the number of fatalities associated with extortion operations, and reports of kidnapping cases were extremely prevalent.
There were 52 attacks directed against governmental authorities this month. This figure is significantly lower than the previous three months. However, it is slightly higher than the average for the previous two years. Among these incidents there were 15 assassinations of government officials, candidates, or political/union leaders. Victims included candidates for federal and municipal offices.
There was a slight drop in the number of police officers or military personnel killed during August. The number of fatalities was reported at 20.
Two military patrols were attacked in August in Michoacán and Tamaulipas. Three federal police patrols were attacked in Chihuahua, Puebla, and Tamaulipas. Four state police patrols were attacked in Sinaloa and Tamaulipas (3 incidents). Three state police officers were injured during an ambush in Xicoténcatl, Tamaulipas. Also, sicarios (cartel gunmen) intercepted state police transporting a prisoner in Culiacán, Sinaloa. They facilitated the prisoner's escape and disarmed the officers. A municipal police patrol was attacked in Veracruz. There were more than a dozen additional incidents reported this month across Baja California, Colima, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Quintana Roo, Sonora, and Veracruz.
Federal authorities reported the arrest of 9 regional leaders of the major cartels this month. This is the second highest number since April, and it is 41% higher than the monthly average of the previous two years. Among those captured were three regional leaders of the Gulf Cartel.
Mexican authorities reported the seizure of weapons caches and munitions at 7 sites in Campeche, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas (3 sites), and Zacatecas (2 sites). In one case, federal police intercepted a truck transporting at least 50 rifles, tactical equipment, thousands of rounds of ammunition, and 1.5 million pesos as it traveled near Galeana, Nuevo León. The truck was reportedly in route from Camargo (Tamaulipas) to Huetánamo, Michoacán. A 50-caliber Barrett sniper rifle, additional weapons and body armor were seized in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. Several hundred magazines for AKM rifles were found in a vehicle in Zacatecas, Zacatecas. Approximately ten short-barreled AR-15s were seized along with other weapons, munitions, and almost 10,000 doses of narcotics in Plateado, Zacatecas.
As previously indicated, overland travel can be extremely hazardous in many areas of the country. Most of the incidents this month were reported from Guerrero, Oaxaca, and Veracruz.
There was a significant increase in the number of attacks directed at civilians in public venues during July, and again during August. There were 59 reported incidents; the highest number since July 2016. Also, the number of fatalities (88) was the second highest since July 2016. These incidents occurred across 15 states (Baja California, Chihuahua, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Mexico City, Michoacán, Nayarit, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa, Veracruz, and Zacatecas). The attacked venues included bars, restaurants, markets, shopping areas, a soccer field, two different tortillerías, and several parties or festivals.
There were 28 fatal extortion related attacks reported during August; resulting in 30 fatalities. This is the highest number of incidents since September 2013. These incidents occurred in Chihuahua, Guanajuato (3 incidents), Guerrero (8 incidents), Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo, Sinaloa, and Veracruz (10 incidents). Among the victims were the owners or employees of several bars, restaurants, a funeral home, repair shops, and small stores.
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