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The war in Choix is a result of Lemo Nuñez breaking from CDS and joining the BLO
Written by Adán Germán for Borderland Beat
Written by Adán Germán for Borderland Beat
More than month after violent confrontations began driving families from the Sierra of Sinaloa, there is no let up in sight to the violence, as groups of drug traffickers who are disputing control of the plazas on the borders of the states of Sinaloa and Chihuahua burn homes and kill anyone in their path.
Residents of the pueblos affected by the wave of violence in the high Sierra of the municipality of Choix complain that the army and the armed forces in genera,l whether municipal, State or federal, are far from helping to restore peace and tranquility in this area, and are looting the houses that are abandoned.
Pueblos such as Corral Quemado, Cieneguita de Nuñez, La judia, and La Culebra, all part of the municipality [county] of Choix are like ghost towns, ever since they were occupied by heavily armed groups who forced their inhabitants to flee with high powered weapons. They say that the armed forces are bribed by the Beltran Leyva drug cartel, in collaboration with "Los Mazatlecos" as well as "Los Zetas".
It has been revealed that the aggressors responsible for this wave of violence are led by people from ”El Real Blanco” village which is inhabited mostly by an extended family with the surname "Jacobo", a family that for a little more than a year had been allied with the criminal group led by Joaquín Guzmán Loera, and that was commanded by one of the two major CDS lieutenants in this mountainous region,
Adelmo Nuñez Molina, "el Lemo".
However, a conflict arose between him and Benito Portillo Gil, another powerful local lieutenant allied with the same cartel, after Adelmo "el Lemo" Núñez joined forces with groups allied with the Beltrán Leyva brothers, one of the main enemies of "el Chapo" Guzmán's Sinaloa Cartel.
Núñez brought along the people who at the time worked for the Sinaloa Cartel, while Benito Portillo Gil continued working for Guzmán Loera, and at this time a war started for control of the high Sierra municipalities, which seems to have no end in site.
The people who are mainly impacted are elderly inhabitants of small communities, people who mostly work as subsistence farmers and in the livestock trade.
How did the war begin?
At the end of April, 2012 armed groups poured into the Sierra from Chihuahua, Sonora, and the coast of Sinaloa. At the time, reports said this was an attempt by the Beltrán Leyva-Carrillo Fuentes-los Zetas triad to defend their remaining territory in the North, from incursions by the Sinaloa Cartel.
Another factor was the attemped arrest of "los Mazatlecos" leader Chapito Isidro Meza Flores during the Semana Santa [Holy Week] holidays at Guamuchil's popular Las Glorias beach.
Whatever started the war, it centered around local Choix warlord Adelmo "el Lemo" Núñez, and at the time it was reported that contras had attacked his compound in an attempt to weaken the Sinaloa Cartel's influence in an area where the Beltrán Leyva's had traditionally maintained influence.
At some point, shortly before or after the Spring 2012 battle for Choix, "el Lemo" switched alliances and began supporting his former enemies, bringing with him the families and pueblos under his control. This started a violent war a violent war that resulted in as many as 40 deaths at the time, and continues to rage to this day. The war began in and around the actual municipal seat of Choix, but now is driving villagers from their homes in ranchos far to the south and east, in Sinaloa de Leyva and Badiraguato.
Shortly after the battle for Choix, on May 29, 2012, "el Lemo" Núñez Molina's brother, Martín Núñez Molina, called "el Grande" or “el Martinsón”, was killed in front of an Oxxo where he lived in Caborca, Sonora. He was struck by three 9mm bullets fired from an Uzi submachine gun, and a grenade was also found at the scene. Caborca is one of the strongholds of the CDS allied los Salazars, and they may have carried out the assassination.
Bodies from the battle for Choix, May 2012
In the end of June, 2012, a clandestine grave containing six bodies from the battle for Choix was exhumed by authorities in the pueblo of Los Táscates, in the political division of Bacayopa. Five of the victims were identified as: the brothers Alexis Eduardo Portillo Gil, "el Alex", 18 years old, Nemesio Portillo Gil, "el Neme" 48 years old, Deny Torres Soto Corrales, "el Denys",35, José Manuel Chavira Cota, 40, and José Luis Torres Camacho, 37 years old. All of them were residents of the municipal seat of Choix, while the sixth body wasn't identified.
These were all family and allies of Benito Portillo Gil. This discovery was followed by an attack on June 29, 2012 at the municipal seat of Choix, during a civic ceremony, where twin brothers Israel and Ismael Ceceña González were gunned down in broad daylight only blocks from the municipal seat's city hall, at a seafood restaurant. The Chief of Police for Choix, Héctor Echavarría Islas, was killed in the attack. This all occurred while the Choix mayor, Juan Carlos Estrada, presided over the festivities a few feet behind the victims. The mayor was unharmed.
Choix Police Chief Héctor Echavarría Islas, killed in a brazen attack.
The year since the attack that killed Police Chief Héctor Echavarría Islas has been marked by a steady series of attacks on the tiny pueblos that pockmark the Sierra of Nothern Sinaloa and Western Chihuahua.
- In July 2012, a well planned ambush of ministerial police by "Los Mazatlecos" killed 7 police, and left 4 gunmen dead, including important commander Juan Pablo Osuna Lizárraga, "El Cien".
- In August 2012 the bodies of seven ranchers were dumped on the on the road from San Blas to Los Mochis in El Fuerte.
- In August 2012, a ministerial police commander was killed in Guadalupe y Calvo, Chichuahua. The Sierra border area of Chihuahua has seen the same sort of violent displacement of rural villagers that we're seeing in Sinaloa.
- In the end of September 2012, 3 men in a Chevy Avalanche were pursued and shot dead.
- In November 2012, a village in the Sierra was burned by an armed gang.