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Nephew of Guadalajara kingpin arrested

January 30, 2013

The nephew of late Guadalajara capo Ignacio Coronel was arrested in Sinaloa in the early hours of January 19, sparking an upturn in violence across western Mexico, the military confirmed on Wednesday.

Jose Angel Carrasco Coronel, alias “El Changel,” was wounded in a gun battle with the Mexican Army in the municipality of El Espinal in the Sanalona region near the border with Durango.

He and a companion were arrested and then treated in hospital, confirmed General Daniel Velasco Ramirez, who presides over the Fifth Military Region of western and central Mexico. Carrasco will face charges of organized crime and drug trafficking.

Carrasco is thought to have succeeded his uncle as head of the Pacific or Coronel cartel, a rival of the larger Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG) and his arrest has left the former gang “looking for a new leader” Velasco said.

His arrest caused a “restructuring in the criminal organizations” that operate in the region, which explains the recent upturn in violence along the borders of Jalisco, Zacatecas and Nayarit, Velasco added.

“We confirm that there is a struggle between the Coronel cartel, supported by the Knights Templar and the Gulf Cartel, against the Jalisco Cartel,” Jalisco police chief Luis Carlos Najera said this week.

Among the disturbances reported across the region this week, the police chief in the Jalisco municipality of Hostotipaquillo was shot dead on Tuesday, while the Army was sent to reinforce the municipality of Cihuatlan after reports of a clash between rival gangs near the Jalisco/Colima border on Wednesday night.

The same night, criminal gangs set fire to vehicles and blockaded at least three highways in Michoacan near the border with Jalisco. The narcobloqueos took place in the municipalities of Buenavista Tomatlan and Tepalcatepec, with initial police reports speculating that they were set up to prevent the advance of rival gangs from Jalisco into Michoacan.

Much of the ongoing conflict in and around Jalisco dates back to the killing of Ignacio Coronel in a military raid on his home in Zapopan in July 2010.

“Nacho” Coronel had previously controlled the state in alliance with Mexico’s most powerful drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the head of the Sinaloa Federation. His death created a power vacuum in Guadalajara and Jalisco, leading to a bloody turf war between rival splinter groups.

The day after Coronel’s death, another of his nephews, Mario Carrasco Coronel, was killed in a second military raid in Zapopan. His niece is married to former ally and fugitive billionaire “El Chapo” Guzman.

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