The wave of violence that hit Michoacan late this week also crossed the border into Southern Jalisco Friday night, December 10th, as two rival groups of gunmen, one reportedly associated with La Familia Michoacana, fought a 20 minute gunbattle in the Municipality of Tecalitlán.
Tecalitlán is situated close to the Jalisco-Michoacan borderline and Apatzingan, where the fighting between La Familia and federal government forces has been heavy.
Up to 4,000 people in this town of 14,000 inhabitants were enjoying a series of events in the main plaza honoring the Virgin of Guadalupe when suddenly a group of armed men that had driven into the city confronted a rival group of gunmen that was attending the fiesta and opened fire, turning the plaza into a battlfield.
The large crowd of civilians present began running in different directions to get to safety as the shooting started. Some took shelter in the town hall and the parish church, while the gunmen fought among cars parked on sidestreets and on the sidewalks facing the plaza.
According to witnesses many of the gunmen were armed with AK 47’s and semi-auto sidearms and at least one fragmentation grenade exploded on Ponce de Leon Street.
After the fighting subsided eight men lay dead in the area surrounding the plaza. The bodies of two other men were found in a burned out Suburban and one other man was found next to a Mazda pickup on roads leading out of Tecalitlán. Two “narco” placards were reportedly found inside the pickup that read "We did not come to kill innocent people, we came for “el Zopilote (the vulture)” and also " We do not extort. "
At least 30 other people were wounded in the attack and are being treated in hospitals in Tecalitlan and neighboring communities. Two of the wounded were reported to have died after arriving at hospitals. One of the hospitalized is the two year son of the mayor, Rogelio Llamas Rojo.
Information was not immediately available from the Jalisco state prosecutor’s office as to how many of the dead and wounded were gunmen or innocent civilians, but at least the eight dead around the plaza were said to be gunmen.
Unconfirmed postings on message boards by people claiming to be witnesses to the gunbattle reported that at least 21 bodies littered the streets within Tecalitlán after the battle.
On Saturday, the interior minister, Francisco Blake Mora, offered the governor of Jalisco, Emilio González Márquez, the full support of the federal government and expressed its deepest condolences to the families of those who died and wished a speedy recovery to those under medical care.
Blake Mora also offered Governor González Márquez federal support to assist local authorities in improving security in Tecalitlán and to assist in the investigations headed by the state attorney general and the subsequent capture "of criminals responsible for these reprehensible acts."
Tecalitlán is a poor agriculturally based town where many in the community survive on remittances sent by relatives living in the United States. Marijuana is now said to be a significant cash crop in that area of Jalisco where sugar cane was once one of the primary crops. Methamphetamine production is also becoming a big business in the area.
In April 1st, four men were executed and two men were critically wounded at the “el Cazalote” ranch in Tecalitlán, and in July a police commander was ambushed and killed. In March, an Army patrol seized and destroyed a meth lab there.
El Universal: http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/notas/729728.html
Infoguzman-la red de las noticias del sur de Jalisco: http://infoguzman.blogspot.com/