MORELIA, Michoacán – Dozens of gunmen were killed in recent days in the west coast state of Michoacán as two rival cartels fight for control of the region. Meanwhile, officials are outright denying the violence is occurring.
The shootouts happened over several days in the various communities that make up an area known as Tierra Caliente–including Aguililla, La Ruana, Uruapan, Sahuayo, San Pedro Naranjestil, and in the state capital of Morelia. The violence is tied to a push by groups aligned with Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG) to take territories controlled by the various cells consisting of the Nueva Familia Michoacana Cartel aka “Los Viagras.”
In recent weeks, the Michoacán government has tried to downplay the violence while deploying substantial police and military forces. The maneuvers have done little to stop the regular shootouts as convoys of cartel gunmen roam the region hunting rivals.
In one of the shootouts near Aguililla, CJNG forces killed seven from Los Viagras and injured two others. That skirmish came days after Breitbart News reported on another where state officials were forced to confirm one battle and claimed that 10 died, however, photographs from the scene revealed more bodies.
In addition to the shootouts, cartel gunmen have carried out numerous kidnappings targeting suspected lookouts or members from a rival organization for deadly torture techniques.
Despite the raging violence, Michoacán Governor Silvano Aureoles Conejo and his administration are adamant in denying the violence and attribute the contrary perception to social media hysteria. Aureoles Conejo is the same politician who was called out by the leader of Los Viagras, Nicolas “El Gordo” Sierra, for offering regional cartel bosses protection in exchange for votes.
Editor’s Note: Breitbart News traveled to the Mexican States of Tamaulipas, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and other areas to recruit citizen journalists willing to risk their lives and expose the cartels silencing their communities. Breitbart News / Cartel Chronicles are published in both English and in their original Spanish. This article was written by Jose Luis Lara, a former leading member who helped start the Self-Defense Movement in Michoacán.