You can read previous Borderland Beat stories on the ongoing fighting in Choix, Sinaloa, buy clicking here and here
By Chris Covert
The death toll in fighting between criminal groups and Mexican security forces in the Sierras of northeastern Sinaloa state increased to 32, as 12 more unidentified armed suspects were killed Monday, according to Mexican news accounts.
In a brief account on the website of Noreaste de Sinaloa, 10 suspects were killed near El Pichol and two more were killed near Bacayopa, which is closer to the Chihuahua state border. A reported additional two dead were reported in another area close to the border with Chihuahua state called Los Tascates.
Mexican Army and naval infantry forces have reportedly set up a cordon in the area to prevent armed groups from filtering back to the western side of Choix municipality. At least two naval infantry units were deployed near Chinobampo, which is south of Choix municipal seat to aid the Mexican federal security effort.
According to an article posted in its website Monday evening, El Debate news daily said the new count is based on coffins ordered by funeral homes in Choix municipality.
In a separate article on El Debate's website, Sinaloa governor Mario Lopez Valdez told reporters that security meetings are being held with the public security chiefs of nearby municipalities including Sinaloa de Leyva, San Ignacio, Concordia and Badiraguato. The newest security initiative has been dubbed Operacion Condor.
Operacion Condor is the name of a counternarcotics operation implemented during the 1970s in Sinaloa state aimed at drug eradication.
In the same report, Sinaloa state Secretearia de Gobernacion (SEGOB) Gerardo Vargas Landeros said that the area in eastern Choix municipality was under control of security forces. The problem now, according to the report, are armed groups moving to Chihuahua aboard vehicles marked falsely as official vehicles.
Three abandoned falsely marked vehicles have been found in San Vicente, Chihuahua, which is just across the border, suggesting some criminal elements have already passed over to seek refuge in Chihuahua state. The find also suggests that much of the fighting by armed groups have been delaying and diversionary in nature, presumably to allow a leadership element to escape security operations.
News reports say that armed suspects have been demanding food and water from local residents, and have passed easily through the military cordon to make those demands. Jose Carlos Urias Olguin, 42, was shot in the leg near his residence in the village of Potrero de Los Fierro after he refused to provide an armed suspect with food.
Reports of hostage taking by armed suspects have also been discounted, and appear to be anecdotal, though isolated incidents have occurred. Resident have also fled their homes, but officials have protested those actions are also not widespread.
Reports suggest that armed groups have recruited shooters from remote villages, presumably to reinforce their numbers in the area. The military has suspended normal transportation in the area, specifically to Casas Viejas and El Tablo, stranding some area residents.
Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for Rantburg.com