By Chris Covert
The Mexican Secretaria de Defensa Nacional and president Felipe Calderon Hinojosa said Wednesday that a total of 8,000 troops have been moved to Michoacan state, according to Mexican news and official accounts.
General Guillermo Galvan Galvan and Calderon were at the opening ceremony of a base that will house the newly raised Mexican 25th Motorized Cavalry Regiment in Tiquicheo, Michoacan in southern Michoacan.
Michoacan governor Fausto Vallejo Figueroa, Mexican Secretaria Armada de Mexico (SEMAR), Admiral Mariano Francisco Saynez Mendoza, commander of the XII Military Region, General de Division Ruben Venzor Arellano and commander of the 21st Military Zone, General Juan Antonio Bernal were also in attendance.
The unit's total compliment is 600 soldiers and 60 vehicles. Much of the unit's cadre and officers were experienced soldiers moved from other motorized cavalry units. Colonel Juan Lopez Sanchez is the unit's commander.
The physical location of the base is near a tri-border area near Mexico state to the east and the northern border of Guerrero state. Tiquicheo is astride Mexico Federal highway 49 which connects Morelia, the capital of Michoacan and Toluca, the capital of Mexico state, as well as Distrito Federal farther east.
With General Galvan Galvan's remarks, Michoacan now rivals Tamaulipas as one of the most heavily fortified states in Mexico. A total of 8,000 Mexican Army troops, an undisclosed number of Naval Infantry units and about 1,500 Policia Federal (PF) effectives have been deployed to Tamaulipas since the start of the year, mostly to the north near the border crossings with the US.
Many of those forces were redeployed from other southern states as diverse as Zacatecas and Chiapas.
It is unclear from news accounts just how many troops were moved, and from where to Michoacan. The state last experienced an upsurge in security forces deployed because of the November 13th gubernatorial elections. About 1,800 PF effectives had been deployed to Michoacan in July, 2011, along with undisclosed numbers of Mexican Army and Naval Infantry forces. The PF deployment came with about 170 vehicles including armored cars, 15 ambulances and four helicopters, including US made Blackhawk utility and Russian made MI-17Sh helicopters. PF troops generally do not announce when they leave so it is unknown if those troops remain in the state.
The increases in troops strengths in many of Mexico's trouble spots comes a year after a total of 18 infantry battalions were raised by SEDENA to deal with the problem of exhausted units. Prior to the raising of the new units, some army units in the field had not been been relieved in months. The new forces presumably allows Mexican Army units to rest, refit and retrain, giving military zone and region commanders better flexibility.
Up until last year Michoacan was considered to be La Familia de Michoacana territory. Since that time, some members of the criminal group were captured, some were killed fighting Mexican security forces, while others split off and formed a new criminal gang Los Caballeros Templarios or Knights Templars. The losses suffered by La Familia at the time were so severe as to cause PF spokesman Luis Cardenas Palomino to claim the group was finished.
In fact several narcopintas allegedly put up by La Familia members announced the group's intention to go out of business in December, 2010.
And now, according to a recent posting in BorderlandBeat.com the Jalisco Nuevo Generacion drug cartel, itself the recipient of the loss of two of its top leaders, have announced its intentions of destroying Los Caballeros Templarios. Jalisco Nuevo Generacion's territory is Jalisco state which borders Michaocan to the east. Some small groups of Jalisco Nuevo Generacion cartel operatives are known to operate already in eastern parts of Michoacan.
Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for Rantburg.com