The fight for control of drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s legacy spilled into the open on Thursday after a gun battle between rival Mexican gangs left 16 dead, authorities said.
The 16 men, heavily armed and wearing bulletproof vests, died in a six-hour running shootout near the rural town of Tepuche in northwestern Sinaloa province.
“A van with seven bodies was located” after an initial clash, while nine bodies were discovered following a second exchange, Sinaloa Minister of Security Cristobal Castaneda told reporters.
Castaneda said that Wednesday’s clash near Tepuche, 25km from the capital of Sinaloa, Culiacan, was “part of a struggle between two organized crime gangs in the area.”
Local media reported that the conflict involved members of the Sinaloa cartel — pitching a part of the gang run by the sons of ex-leader Guzman against a faction led by Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, long considered the group’s No. 2.
The reports pointed to a deep split in what remains one of Mexico’s most powerful drug cartels, despite El Chapo’s 2016 capture and subsequent extradition to the US, where he is serving a life sentence.
Castaneda said that the rival groups had clashed on eight separate occasions in the area since May 29.
In the aftermath of the shootings, police confiscated 40 high-caliber weapons, 10 grenades, 36,000 rounds of ammunition and 24 vehicles, the official said.
Seven of those who were killed were identified as residents of Tepuche.
A reporter who drove through the town on Thursday found several houses left abandoned by families who had fled the area in fear of escalating violence.
“Most of the people are gone, but we stayed because we have animals here we have to look after,” said a local resident, who gave her name as Modesta.
“However, if the government tell us we have to leave, we’ll leave,” she said.
Mike Vigil, former head of international operations for the US Drug Enforcement Agency, said that Guzman’s three sons — known as the “Chapitos,” or little Chapos — were engaged in a fight for control of the cartel.
“It’s a matter of inheritance. Since their father founded the Sinaloa cartel, they believe they should manage it,” Vigil told reporters.
After Guzman’s capture, his sons Ivan, Jesus and Ovidio agreed that Zambada would take over in the interim while they “learned the business,” Vigil said. “They only knew how to spend the money, but now they know how the cartel operates and they want to take control, and that’s why these disputes are happening.”
Vigil said that the Chapitos are worried about the future of the cartel if Zambada, a 72-year-old with diabetes, dies and his lieutenants take over.
“The cartel is not yet divided, but it is on that path. Many respect “Mayo” because he is the oldest capo in Mexico, but there is another group that is with the Chapitos because they know that Zambada could die,” Vigil said.
A split in the group would likely aggravate Mexico’s gang violence, because it would bolster the rival Jalisco Nueva Generacion (New Generation) cartel.
“The Jalisco cartel is the bloodiest cartel, the consequences for Mexico would be unimaginable, and with this government I don’t know how it could be faced down,” Vigil said.
Cambodian fishers on the Mekong River got a shock when they inadvertently hooked an endangered giant freshwater stingray 4m long and weighing 180kg, scientists said yesterday. The female leviathan, one of Southeast Asia’s largest and rarest species of fish, was caught by accident last week in Stung Treng Province when it swallowed a smaller fish that had taken a baited hook. An international team of experts on the US-funded Wonders of the Mekong project worked with the fishers to unhook the ray before weighing and measuring it, and returning it unharmed to the river. The Mekong is a crucial habitat for a vast
A glimpse of a possible Picasso in the home of Imelda Marcos filmed during a visit by her son after his presidential election win has set off a flurry of speculation in the Philippines, where the family that once plundered billions is set to return to power. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, the son and namesake of the late dictator, won a landslide victory in Monday’s presidential election, an outcome that has appalled those who survived his father’s regime. Images released by the family showed Marcos Jr visiting the home of his mother, who had displayed Picasso’s Femme Couche VI (Reclining Woman VI),
HATE CRIME: Officials were investigating a detailed ‘manifesto’ posted online before the livestreamed shooting, in which the suspect outlined his reasoning and plans A heavily armed 18-year-old white man on Saturday shot 10 people dead at a Buffalo, New York, grocery store in a “racially motivated” attack that he livestreamed on camera, authorities said. The gunman, who was wearing body armor and a helmet, was arrested after the massacre, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia told a news conference. Gramaglia put the toll at 10 dead and three wounded. Eleven of the victims were African Americans. The gunman shot four people in the parking lot of the Tops supermarket, three of them fatally, then went inside and continued firing, Gramaglia said. Among those killed inside the store was
DEBATE OVER RESPONSIBILITY: The Isreali military said that its soldiers did not kill Shireen Abu Aqleh, but the network called it ‘a blatant murder’ by Israeli forces Veteran al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh was killed yesterday as she covered a raid on Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. Al-Jazeera said its journalist had been shot dead “deliberately” and “in cold blood” by Israeli troops. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said it was likely that Palestinian gunfire had killed the reporter. Abu Aqleh, 51, a Palestinian Christian, was a prominent figure in the channel’s Arabic news service. The Israeli army confirmed that it had conducted an operation in Jenin refugee camp early yesterday, but denied it had deliberately targeted a reporter. “The [army] of course does not aim at journalists,” an