Mexican Authorities on High Alert After Cartel Shootout in ‘Protected’ Southern State

A naval police officer patrols the banks of the Suchiate river in Ciudad Hidalgo, Chiapas State, Mexico, to prevent illegal crossings across the border river to and from Tecun Uman in Guatemala, on June 17, 2019. (Photo by QUETZALLI BLANCO / AFP) (Photo credit should read QUETZALLI BLANCO/AFP/Getty Images)

A brazen shootout and assassination occurred this week in one of Mexico’s most protected states, Chiapas, in the southern border region. The spark of violence placed authorities on high alert since the region is where President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador plans to retire to after his term ends.

Gunmen carried out an ambush-style attack in the city of Tuxtla Gutierrez, killing a high-profile member of the Sinaloa Cartel and several of his bodyguards. Hours later, the attackers ambushed police and soldiers, injuring a total of nine near the town of Pantelho.

Known as “El Junior” Gilberto Rivera Estrada, the cartel figure was operating in Chiapas for some time overseeing connections with Central and South America.

On the day of the attack, he was riding in an Audi SUV without license plates while bodyguards joined in a Renault SUV with Chiapas plates DLP-704-D. When the group drove by the Campanario neighborhood in Tuxtla Gutierrez, a large squad believed to be with Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG) ambushed and killed them all.

A high ranking Mexican military source revealed to Breitbart Texas that the attack on El Junior caused major shock waves within the state law enforcement apparatus in Chiapas, currently led by Rutulio Escandon Cardenas, who hails from the MORENA Party. The crime also scared local mayors who allegedly have ties with human trafficking organizations.

El Junior inherited control of the region from Gilberto “El Tio Gil” Rivera Amarillas, a trusted friend and lieutenant of Sinaloa Cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. El Tio Gil is currently in a U.S. prison following his 2016 arrest. Military intelligence leaked to Breitbart Texas revealed that El Junior was overseeing the cartel’s cocaine trafficking routes into Mexico while keeping a low profile.

Chiapas is considered one of the most politically protected areas in Mexico due to a special interest in the region by AMLO. The president owns a ranch there and previously voiced his intent to return to the region after leaving office. Despite the political protections, Chiapas has become one of Mexico’s criminal hotspots due to the country’s lack of border security to the south, turning it into one of the most active human smuggling corridors from Central America.

Gerald “Tony” Aranda is an international journalist with more than 20 years of experience working in high-risk areas for print and broadcast news outlets investigating organized crime, corruption, and drug trafficking in the U.S. and Mexico.  In 2016, Gerald took up the pseudonym of “Tony” when he joined Breitbart Texas’ Cartel Chronicles project. Since then, he has come out of the shadows and become a contributing writer for Breitbart Texas.


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