The once peaceful tourist destinations of Los Cabos and La Paz, are now dealing with a record-breaking number of murders. The murders are directly linked to rival Mexican drug cartels fighting for control while other drug cartels continue to fuel more violence throughout Mexico.
The popular vacation spots have become ground zero for a war between Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación and factions of the Sinaloa cartel. The spike in violence has tainted the image of a quiet beach haven that was commonly associated with the area. Authorities reported a record of 10 murders in a 24 hour period.
The state of Baja California Sur has gone from recording 147 murder cases between January and October in 2016 to having 409 murders during that same time frame in 2017.
In a two week span, the Baja California Sur Attorney General’s Office has documented 29 murders. One of the more alarming cases deals with the murder of Silvestre de la Toba Camacho, who headed the state’s human rights commission. According to local news outlets, Camacho was driving vehicle with his family when a team of gunmen attempted to block him off and then began firing. The multiple bullets fired by the gunmen killed Camacho and his 20-year-old son; the gunmen also injured Camacho’s wife and his 17-year-old daughter.
In another high-profile murder, a ministerial police commander in charge of a law enforcement communications center died after being attacked by multiple gunmen near his home in La Paz, Baja California, local news outlets reported. In addition to the high profile murders, the Baja California Attorney General’s Office reported 10 other murders in a 24 hour period.
This escalation of violence has been attributed to a split within the Sinaloa cartel, where factions loyal to recently jailed Dámaso “El Licenciado” López Nunez, attempted a failed takeover of the Sinaloa Cartel. The violence has further escalated by a push from the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación in their attempt to take control of key beach resort areas in the state. The split within the Sinaloa Cartel came after the capture of Sinaloa Cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. However, the power vacuum left by the infighting continues to bring new violence to the area.
Lopez Nunez, a former law enforcement official who joined Guzman and later established his own Sinaloa Cartel faction called Los Damasos, made a push for control after his bosses arrest. Damaso failed to take power from Guzman’s sons Ivan Archivaldo and Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar knows as “Los Chapitos” as well as their uncle Aureliano “El Guano” Guzman Loera, and El Chapo’s longtime partner Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada.
Robert Arce is a retired Phoenix Police detective with extensive experience working Mexican organized crime and street gangs. Arce has worked in the Balkans, Iraq, Haiti, and recently completed a three-year assignment in Monterrey, Mexico, working out of the Consulate for the United States Department of State, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Program, where he was the Regional Program Manager for Northeast Mexico (Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas.)