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26 bodies dumped in Guadalajara

November 24, 2011

Macabre, ominous news for Guadalajara and the state of Jalisco:

Guadalajara awoke in a state of shock Thursday morning to the news that 26 bodies had been discovered in three vehicles abandoned near the Millennium Arches, the landmark monument located at the intersection of three major avenues: Mariano Otero, Lazaro Cardenas and Los Arcos.

A threatening message from an alleged drug gang was left with the victims, who had been tied and gagged, sparking fears that Jalisco could become the focus of a new power struggle between rival criminal groups.

The bodies were discovered at 6.30 a.m., less than 24 hours after 17 charred corpses were found in two pickup trucks in a similar incident in Culiacan, Sinaloa.

“I am appalled and outraged by this morning’s discovery,” Jalisco Governor Emilio Gonzalez posted on Twitter, promising to “immediately investigate” and keep citizens informed.

“These acts of barbarism show how the war between cartels, and crime, is getting more brutal,” said Mayor Jorge Aristoteles Sandoval.

The giant yellow Arcos del Milenio are located close to Expo Guadalajara, the operational center of last month’s Pan American Games and the venue for the huge International Book Fair (FIL), which begins on Saturday.

Around 45,000 people have been killed since President Felipe Calderon declared war on Mexico’s cartels in December 2006, but Guadalajara has been largely unaffected by the drug violence that has plagued other parts of the nation.

Guadalajara experienced a heavy military and federal police presence during the Pan American Games, which passed without incident. The city is thought to be home to the families of many cartel bosses and thus was long considered “neutral” territory by Mexico’s criminal gangs.

In July 2010, Ignacio “Nacho” Coronel, a high-ranking commander of the powerful Sinaloa cartel, was killed in a shootout with federal police in Zapopan. Control of the city has since been disputed by rival factions known as the Jalisco Nueva Generacion and La Resistancia.

The most significant recent outbreaks of violence occurred in February 2011, including grenade attacks, roadblocks, the burning of buses and a deadly attack on a nightclub near the Minerva Glorieta.

Concerns have since arisen that the notorious Los Zetas could be targeting a takeover of the city, as part of a westward push that has already seen the cartel seize control of neighboring Zacatecas state.

Rumors persist that certain factions fighting the Nueva Generacion are willing to join with the Zetas in a coalition that could threaten the Sinaloa cartel’s control of what is a major mephamphetamine-producing region.

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