Image from guerrero.gob.mx
A couple weeks ago, Chivis wrote an article "Cartel Maps: Cartel Territories of Mexicoand Guerrero Cartel Territories" which included a video with various maps by Víctor Manuel Sánchez Valdés. Around the same time, Animal Politico published the article "Radiografía de las organizaciones criminales queoperan en Guerrero" which made use of these same maps, along with some background information on the criminal organizations in the state of Guerrero. The following is a translation of this article, with some of my own commentary, which I denote in brackets:
The criminal map of Guerrero has changed in an important way in very little time. In the year 2005 there were two groups that operated permanently, with a cordial relationship, in said state: the first was the Sinaloa Cartel, which had a presence in the state through the Beltrán Leyva brothers, and the other was the Díaz Parada organization, also called Oaxaca Cartel or Itsmo Cartel. These organizations were predominately dedicated to the growing of marijuana and poppy in the mountainous areas of Guerrero, although the Sinaloa Cartel also used the state to receive shipments of cocaine coming from Colombia and for drug dealing in the area of Acapulco.
Towards the end of 2005, the Gulf Cartel started incursions in the state through their then armed wing Los Zetas, which caused an increase in the levels of violence in various regions of the state, especially in Acapulco. Although the positions of those groups never became solid, over several years they had a sporadic presence in the state, however neither the Gulf Cartel or Los Zetas currently have a regular presence in the state of Guerrero.
In the year 2007 La Familia Michoacana arrived in the state; it began to have an occasional presence in the areas of La Costa Grande and Tierra Caliente. In very little time said presence became more frequent, to the extent that in the year 2008 La Familia Michoacana dominated all western Guerrero and an important part of the north and center of the state, co-existing thus with the cells of the Sinaloa Cartel, with whom they maintained an alliance.
The shared domination between the Sinaloa Cartel and La Familia Michoacana changed towards the end of 2008 when the Beltrán Leyva brothers decided to become independent and, as one of their strongest plazas was Guerrero, they emerged with the greatest part of the structure that the Sinaloa Cartel had in the state, with the exception of some cells that operated in the municipalities of Petatlán, Técpan de Galeana [Although it is not mentioned at this point of the article, these two municipalities were dominated by an operator of the Sinaloa Cartel, Rogaciano Alba Álvarez, alias "El Roga", who was invited to join the Beltrán Leyva Cartel but refused; he was arrested in February 2010] and Acapulco.
For months there was a bloody battle in several municipalities of Guerrero between the new Beltrán Leyva organization and La Familia Michoacana, as well as the few cells of the Sinaloa Cartel that remained in the region. However, the capture of several key members of the Beltrán Leyva towards the end of 2009 and early 2010 upset the structure of said criminal group. First it divided in two great blocks following the death of Arturo Beltrán Leyva; one block remained under the control of Édgar Valdez Villarreal “La Barbie” and the other at the command of Héctor Beltrán Leyva and Sergio Villarreal Barragán, but soon thereafter Édgar Valdez and Sergio Villarreal were captured and their respective groups fragmented in 14 organizations, of which, 6 still have a presence in Guerrero: Los Rojos, Los Ardillos, Los Granados, La Barredora, Los Guerreros Unidos and the Cártel Independiente de Acapulco.
(Presence of Los Rojos in the municipalities of Guerrero)
(Presence of Los Granados, Los Ardillos, and the Cártel Independiente de Acapulco in the municipalities of Guerrero)
(Presence of Guerreros Unidos in the municipalities of Guerrero)
These splinter groups of the Beltrán Leyva organization began to fight amongst themselves for the territories that the organization from which they sprang forth once controlled. Although the fight for the control of the municipalities of Guerrero continues, none has been able to prevail over the others; in fact, many of them have opted to concentrate their forces in a reduced number of municipalities, for example Los Ardillos operate in the area around the municipality of Tixtla and Los Granados operate in the municipalities surrounding Técpan de Galeana.
The process of decomposition of the criminal organization in Guerrero also occurred with La Familia Michoacana, as in the year 2011 said group divided in two organizations, one of them kept the name of La Familia Michoacana and the other named itself Caballeros Templarios. This caused the territory that the original organization occupied to fracture in two irregular portions. The part close to the state of Michoacán that covers all the Costa Grande until the city of Zihuatanejo, in addition to the Tierra Caliente region, remained in the hands of Los Caballeros Templarios, while the area that borders the state of México and Morelos remained under the control of that which still calls itself La Familia Michoacana, although in the following years both criminal groups have incurred in the territories of their former associates, with the goal of taking the territories from the rival.
(Presence of La Familia Michoacana in the municipalities of Guerrero)
(Presence of Los Caballeros Templarios in the municipalities of Guerrero)
(Presence of the Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación in the municipalities of Guerrero)
(Presence of La Barredora and Sinaloa Cartel in the municipalities of Guerrero)
The fact that there are so many organizations coexisting in various municipalities has caused a series of confrontations between criminal gangs, which explains the majority of the violent homicides in Guerrero. The battles for the control of the municipalities can be grouped into four great regional conflicts: 1) Acapulco as well as the Costa Chica of Guerrero are disputed by the Cártel Independiente de Acapulco and the organization known as La Barredora, which represents the interests of the Sinaloa Cartel in the region, although it maintains certain operative independence [as noted previously, I believe this point is outdated information], 2) All the north of the state, the Centro region and some municipalities of Tierra Caliente are a battlefield for three gangs that involve Los Rojos, Guerreros Unidos and the remnants of La Familia Michoacana [Before the emergence of Guerreros Unidos, Los Rojos and La Familia Michoacana were at war but eventually reached a ceasefire which appears to be ongoing. Guerreros Unidos is at war with both groups.], 3) Los Rojos also have an open dispute with Los Ardillos in the region of Montaña and part of the Centro region, 4) Finally, the municipalities that make up the Costa Grande and almost all of the region of Tierra Caliente are a battlefield between Caballeros Templarios and the alliance made up of Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación, Los Granados and what remains of the structure of Rogaciano Alba.
(Number of criminal organizations that operate in the municipalities of Guerrero)
The fragmentation of the grand criminal organizations does not completely explain the coexistence of an elevated number of criminal groups in the state. It is also important to mention that in the state of Guerrero various conditions converge that make said state very attractive to the criminal organizations. In the first place, it has two large maritime ports, Acapulco and Zihuatanejo, that are in conditions to receive large shipments of drugs coming from South America, to which we should add that Guerrero has a large coastline in which it can attract shipments of smaller size, for which said state is one of the principal points of entrance for the cocaine in our country and, in addition, is a frequent step in the drug route to the United States.
The second condition is that jungles and mountainous areas of the state of Guerrero offer a spacious area for the cultivation and production of drugs as there are many places that are difficult for the authorities to access and additionally it has an adequate climate for the planting of drugs and poppy (in the media said plant is frequently called poppy, the term is correct, but not exact, as poppy is used to designate a genus of plants, Papaver, composed of more than 400 species, among which is found Papaver somniferum, a plant from which opium is extracted is extracted which is later used to produce heroine. That is to say that the opium plant is a poppy, but opium can not be extracted from all of the poppies). In fact, Guerrero occupies first place in the production of poppy in the country and is one of the three states with the greatest production of marijuana in Mexico, to which should be added the dozens of synthetic drug production laboratories that have been found in the last two years. To conclude, the control of Guerrero translates in prime access to material necessary for the traffic of drugs.
The third condition is that the tourist industry of the state of Guerrero makes the intervention of organized crime in different illegal and even legal markets very lucrative. For example, the sale of drugs to tourists in the city of Acapulco is a business that generates great dividends. Also there is the charging of extortion fees to businesses and establishments; another highly profitable activity is the operation of gambling facilities, prostitution and the control of networks of human trafficking. This means to say that the cities such as Acapulco, Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, Taxco, Iguala or Chilpancingo represent a constant flow of cash for the criminal organization that controls it, which generates incentives for a fight for said plazas.