Rio Doce. 7-7-2012. Confronted with fear and lack of protection from local and federal authorities who have ceded to criminals the ability to travel freely over the roads and paths of Choix mountain, tens of families are looking for a way to abandon their homes, animals, land and personal belongings.
For the past week, the situation has become unbearable to the point that may residents are wandering all over the mountain area, afraid that they will be attacked in their homes, some of them having not eaten or bathed for three or four days.
The complaint made via email to the news portal Noticias de Caborca describes the situation and shows the despair and lack of trust in the authorities who are supposed to protect citizens so they can live peacefully and quietly in their homes.
The note is signed by Eduardo Ortiz Leon, and here is the message received by this reporter and the request for help, just as it was received and without correcting the grammar:
"Hey, I'm writing to see if you can help me file a complaint. See, what's happening in the sierra (mountains) up there where my sister lives, there are armed people that want, well, to hurt people, they have all the ranches surrounded and the people have left, supposedly they're the so-called "Mazatlecos"
My sister left today to Los Mochis but her husband and a lot of cousins and children stayed there at the ranch, people are wandering all over the hills, they've been without food about three days, without baths or anything, and, well, yesterday I reported this to the PGR and they sent the military but they just went to a ranch but didn't get all the way there and simply turned back.
Really, it's an injustice what these people are living through, they left everything they own because of these sons of bitches that are doing whatever they want to because there is no law to stop them.
I hope you can help me, please
I would be very grateful..
Thank you ahead of time."
When I saw this I asked him to send more informatiom, like the place and the time he's talking about, if there were descriptions of the vehicles they're using and other details of the situation, and he sent the following:
"Around there, about where the killers (sicarios) are hanging out and if you know more or less how many [people] and how many cars there are". "The ranch is called El Corral Quemado, Choix, Sinaloa. The military supposedly went to another ranch called La Culebra, also in the Choix municipality. I called yesterday around 14:00 hrs...What do you think we should do?"
"The sicarios are at several ranches, El Corral Quemado, San Vicente, La Judia, El Real Blanco, among others."
"In fact they've set up a roadblock in Cajon de Cancio, that's not yet in the mountains it's about 15 minutes from Choix and they're not letting anyone through, not even the mine workers, they have to transport them by air.
As for the cars we don't know anything [about them], they're scattered all over the hills."
"Yesterday my brother in law told me that they fire shots into the air so that the people in the ranches will respond and know where they're going out to. We know there was a small airplane yesterday flying over and it didn't look like it was from the government. Tell me what else you need to know."
"My mom's talking to me because she was over there in Choix today. She says she was talking to a man who sells sandals there in Choix. [He told her] that yesterday people were coming down off the mountain and going to the town government building, barefoot, a lot of women with their little kids who came down on foot and, well, the businessmen are taking advantage of their situation, too. And there's nobody to help them, as if there was no government."
In reality, this situation did not come up just today. It's known that, since the confrontation that lasted two days that left almost twenty people dead, the mountain is a hunting preserve and battleground between two groups, one side wants to keep control over the mountain communities to grow poppies and marihuana, and the new group who want to take it away from them. For that, they use threats, psychological as well as physical, and executions, carried out by one or the other group, of people they believe are collaborating with their adversaries. This situation has been developing for three of four years as a result of a dispute at the state level over control of the territory. This has resulted in hundreds of deaths on both sides.
Unofficially, it is said that one of the groups is composed of people led by the sadly famous Chapo Isidro, and the other by a Chapo Guzman lieutenant know as El Lemo or Lemon. His [real] name is Adelmo Nunez, and just last month he suffered the assassination of his brother who was an important person in that group in the Caborca area.
As a result of that confrontation and the subsequent one in Bamoa Pueblo where the military confronted a group of sicarios, people from the ranches of Sinaloa de Leyva, Bacubirito, Badiraguato and Choix left their communities, despite the fact that the governor denied there was an exodus of people from the mountains to the valleys.
Today this is all coming back, more so when even in Choix, a local government center, heavily armed groups drive all over the city without fear of any law enforcement agency and in open defiance of the law. [They came] a few days ago in the middle of the Police Day celebration to where the city mayor Juan Carlos Estrada, his wife and the chief of police were enjoying themselves and shot [the chief of police] and his bodyguards to death. and, subsequently, just last Wednesday, two brothers were shot, one of them dying and another person wounded by bullets intended for the brothers, right in the center of Choix and just a block from city hall, where there are police guards stationed around the clock.
That's not all; the convoy of the sicarios came in through the southern entrance to the city where the public safety command post and the State Judicial Police are located, coming in on the entrance street to the Conchas neighborhood to reach the place where they shot the brothers, right in front of Chomito's butcher shop and the Cola de Cuete fruit stand, later fleeing without being stopped by any patrol vehicle.
Today, as stated in the complaint, they enjoy the luxury of setting up a roadblock and asking for papers or documentation from those who are traveling on the Camino Real towards the San Vicente mountain, denying or giving permission to travel to the town of Cajon de Cancio, to the La Judia Pass and also [for traffic] coming from the direction of San Vicente, Chihuahua, going to Choix.
This was confirmed by phone calls from town residents that told this reporter that those individuals had been blocking the road for days without the authorities doing anything to restore the free flow of traffic and the rule of law.
These are all the facts that are known, and we hope somebody or other media investigates the situation and files complaints to force the authorities to do their jobs, to protect and serve.
It's estimated that there are almost fifty heavily armed individuals who have taken over that area. The last message reads:
"Hey, I'm just getting home, I hadn't seen the message. In fact I made the complaint anonymously by phone. I'll speak with my brother in law right now and tell him what you've told me.
Thanks for everything. My sister also told me that there are about 400 armed men around by..."
"I don't remember who answered the phone..."