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Surviving the narco-blockades of Mexico’s Jalisco state

May 15, 2015
Locals look down at the burnt-out remains of their car. Photo by Victor Hugo Ornelas.

Locals look down at the burnt-out remains of their car. Photo by Victor Hugo Ornelas.

Mickey Hernandez, a 24-year-old accountant from Guadalajara, was heading to a beach vacation for the three-day May Day weekend with his parents, sister, and nieces when danger struck.

“We were driving on the highway when a truck pulled up in front of us blocking the lane. I thought it was turning around, but then I saw armed men with bulletproof vests and machine guns up ahead,” Hernandez told VICE News.

“They pointed and gestured for us to leave, and seconds later started shooting at the truck.”

Dozens of similar narco-blockades occurred across the western region of Mexico on May 1, causing chaos and panic on highways leading out of the Guadalajara metropolitan zone just as families were hitting the road for the holiday.

The coordinated blockades set up by the increasingly powerful Jalisco New Generation Cartel came in response to a government operation aimed at capturing the group’s leaders. In all, 17 people died that day, including eight military personnel and a federal policewoman.

“We reversed as far as we could, and then started driving down the wrong side of the highway,” Hernandez recalled.

In a panic, Hernandez and his family tried to return to Guadalajara, but found their way barred by another blockade. After two hours stuck in traffic, they were eventually able to continue to the coast in neighboring Colima state, he said, passing the burnt-out husks of a bus and another truck on the way…

Click here to read this feature in full at VICE News.

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