The coastal resort city of Acapulco has always been known for its beautiful beaches and sparkling waters. But in the last decade it has become a regional epicenter of drug war violence that Mexican authorities have been largely powerless to stop. The most recent wave of killings and kidnappings comes as a result of a turf war between multiple drug organizations that want control of the lucrative port city.
Homicides are occurring every day in the Acapulco turf war. Five individuals murdered in a local restaurant on a single day, August 12. Guerrero State Governor Rogelio Ortega Martinez told the media the violence was affecting other parts of the state as well, but the string of Acapulco murders were a result of fighting between the Sinaloa Federation and the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG). Both cartels are not only battling for local control, but also trying to displace the Independent Cartel of Acapulco, a smaller regional drug trafficking group.
Ortega Martinez indicated the Coordination Group of Guerrero had met several times to discuss security policy and strategies for addressing this wave of violence. However, no security strategy used in the state in at least the last ten years has done much to curb drug-related violence.
As a major port city, Acapulco is a receiving site for a significant volume of precursor chemicals from Asia used to make methamphetamine. The Sinaloa Federation and smaller groups like the Knights Templar and La Familia Michoacana have focused heavily on meth production and distribution, partly as a way to hedge shifting demand for marijuana and cocaine. The CJNG used to be an armed wing of the Federation, but recently broke off as an independent organization and is leveraging production and distribution networks and contacts it used while affiliated with the Federation.
Similar waves of violence have afflicted Acapulco in the past, going back to at least 2005 when Los Zetas were initiating the trend of beheading and dismembering their enemies. Competition in the city has been fierce in recent years, with as many as six major criminal groups vying for control of territory there. As long as the demand for meth continues here in the US, the competition and resulting violence will likely continue in Acapulco.
Sylvia Longmire is a border security expert and Contributing Editor for Breitbart Texas. You can read more about cross-border issues in her latest book, Border Insecurity: Why Big Money, Fences, and Drones Aren’t Making Us Safer.