A clash between rival criminal gangs in southwest Mexico resulted in the deaths of nine cartel operatives on Wednesday night. Police made the grisly discovery after responding to reports of numerous dead males observed on a roadway in the pacific coast state of Guerrero.
Police in the municipality of Zitala, located in the remote mountain communities northeast of Chilpancingo, responded to emergency calls regarding several deceased males lying in the roadway along the Zitlala-Pochahuizco highway. The road is situated in the town of Pochahuitzuco adjacent to Chilapa.
Upon arrival, police discovered nine dead males who suffered multiple gunshot wounds lying in the roadway. Investigators from the state attorney general’s office responded to the crime scene and found more than 50 spent shell cashing from numerous rifles and various calibers scattered around the crime scene, according to a local media report.
Preliminary information released by investigators indicated that the nine murder victims are members of Los Rojos, a criminal gang that operates in the state of Guerrero and Morelos with a home base in Chilpancingo.
The nine victims are believed to be cartel gunmen for the current leader of Los Rojos Zenen Nava Sánchez. In August of this year, Mexican security elements in the state of Guerrero captured Los Rojos former leader Santiago Mazari Hernández, alias “El Carrete,” one of Mexico’s most sought after fugitives. “El Carrete” and his criminal gang are believed to be responsible for much of the violence generated in Guerrero and the neighboring state of Morelos.
Los Rojos, under the leadership of “El Carrete,” were also implicated in the assassination of Temixco, Morelos, Mayor Gisela Mota Ocampo in January of 2016. Mayor Mota Ocampo was murdered the day after being sworn in as mayor when cartel shooters stormed her residence and shot her to death. Two of the killers were later captured and two others were killed in an ensuing chase and gun battle with police.
Los Rojos are also suspected in the disappearance and murder of 43 students from Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College in Iguala, Guerrero, in 2014. Police rounded up the 43 students and handed them over to Los Rojo’s operatives who later murdered them–the case is known as the Iguala Massacre.
Robert Arce is a retired Phoenix Police detective with extensive experience working Mexican organized crime and street gangs. Arce completed work assignments in the Balkans, Iraq, Haiti, and recently completed a three-year tour in Monterrey, Mexico, for the U.S. Department of State, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Program.