Wednesday, September 28, 2016

An armed commando belonging to el Chapo took control over a Beltran Leyva stronghold PART 2

Translated by El Wachito for Borderland Beat Original article available at Riodoce, 9.25.16

By Miguel Angel Vega, reporting for Riodoce

The Guzman supremacy positioned itself through the war they were waging since June from this year against the Beltran Leyva Cartel, due to the operations conducted by Aureliano Guzman Loera "El Guano" and his gunman. After a firefight that lasted hours, Guano's gunman were able to take control of the town.

Huixiopa welcome sign

Huixiopa is the land where notorious drug trafficker Juan Jose Esparragoza Moreno "El Azul" was born, and it was from there where the commandos that took control over la Tuna and stormed the house of doña Consuelo Loera, mother of Joaquin el Chapo Guzman, were dispatched, resulting in the beginning of the new war.

According to persons interviewed by Riodoce, not only was the town that was considered the operations center of the Beltran Leyva taken by Guanos gunman, but the site was also completely secured and surrounded and the number of casualties remains unknown, not even the municipal government or the Procudaruria General Del Estado (PGJE), have reported deaths in Badiraguato.

"There has to be corpses laying around everywhere" stated a resident from La Tuna, who from mid June was forced to abandon la Tuna because of fears of becoming a victim from the firefights between the two armed commandos.

Once the town was taken over by Guano's gunman they spray painted Huixiopa's welcome sign with legends such as "Pura Gente de Guzman" and "#701" which makes a reference to el Chapo Guzman.

The roads are empty

In order to make it to La Tuna, land of Joaquin el Chapo Guzman, is necessary to make it through Badiraguato, then Santiago los Caballeros, Temeapa, all the way to where the asphalt ends in Bocacoragua. From there the dirt road begins.

map taken from google maps

There were rumors that in the next town, Huixiopa, the clashes between the Guzman and Beltran Leyva continue to happen, and the order to visit the area to confirm the information was given to Riodoce news.

After three hours traveling, and just before making it into Huixiopa an armed commando of 12 man armed with automatic rifles, stopped the SUV where the journalists were traveling.

An while the armed sicarios pointed their rifles at the SUV, supposedly to prevent any surprises, other two gunman approach the driver and asked who was in the SUV and where they were heading.

"We are Riodoce reporters", stated the passengers.

The gunman doubted the passengers for a couple of minutes, then they proceeded to ask for their press ID cards to confirm that they were in fact journalists, after observing the pictures, one of them stepped away to request instructions through their radio frequencies.

The other gunman that stayed with the driver ask him how far we were trying to go and the driver responded; to Huixiopa, to which the gunman responded with an expression of indifference.

A few minutes later, the gunman that stepped away to request instructions came back and requested the journalist to step down of the vehicle, and order them to wait under a tree on the side of the road.

Armed to the teeth

They were carrying AK47s, the famous "cuernos de chivos", with drum magazines, body armor, grenades, handguns tucked into their waist, magazines, and wearing ball caps with the #701 emblem which make a reference to el Chapo.

With the intent to confirm, the journalist dared to ask the gunman if they were "people of Guzman or the Beltran Leyva".

The gunman stepped away, in order to avoid the question, but at the end he stated that all of them were Guzman's people, and that they were fighting la plaza. Then, the one in charge of the gunman told the journalist:
"Its dangerous to be here because this is a war zone, and the "Cohetazos"(gunshots) can start at any moment. You shouldn't be here".

"The thing is that this is a war zone, and we cannot be responsible for you".

Suddenly we were interrupted by the sound of an engine coming towards us and the gunman quickly took defensive positions while ordering us to do the same, it was possible that it could be gunman from the enemy faction and the order was to attack.

After a few seconds, a 4 cylinder ford truck appeared with a couple on board. They were detained and questioned, however the couple explained that they were Arroyo Seco residents, and were allowed to proceed.

"The war is not against civilians or the government, its against the Beltran Leyva; those are going to get shot whenever we see them", claimed the gunman.

How many casualties have been registered during the firefights?, he was asked.
A lot

—How many are a lot?
Hundreds. This is a war, and where war happens there's casualties.

—Their casualties (Beltran Leyva) or yours?
Both sides have lost man.

—Who's winning the war?
We have taken control over the whole main zone. We have also taken control of the town they were controlling. That's all I can say.

—Did you guys know we were coming?
Since you guys made it through Bacacoragua we were told that a black SUV with a woman and a man on board, was heading towards us. Since then we were given an status on you every 5 minutes.

—Are there any civilians left on the town?

All of them left. The war is not against the people.

In that moment a white Toyota Tacoma, with no car plates arrived at scene; one of the passengers stepped down, and order the journalist to come back from where they came from, "the area is hot and you guys could run into danger. We still have Beltran Leyva people around here and its dangerous to be here".Stated the gunman.

—We just want to take pictures of the burned houses that people are talking about and we leave.
Forgive us but that will not be possible. For your security, we ask you to leave immediatelystated the passenger of the white Tacoma.

And that was everything that could be negotiated. The white Tacoma escorted us all the way to the exit of the town, to make sure that we leave without incidents.

The Hysteria

Reports from the residents that ran away from the town many days ago, suggest that the clashes have occurred daily, and that the armed conflict seems to go in favor of the Guzman Loera family.

"Its our territory, and its difficult for the Beltran Leyva to finance a war during a long period of time", stated a Guzman Loera family member, who ask Riodoce to not reveal his identity.

Others claim that Ismael el Mayo Zambada decided to become involved and asked Alfredito Beltran, to calm down, and that is the reason as to why the situation deescalated.

The truth is that the residents of the area are still not able to go back to their homes for fear that the clashes continue, even though General Moises Melo Garcia, coordinator of the state security, claimed that a military base will be installed in Huixiopa for the "security of the residents".

"The problem is that we do not believe in the government; but we could use them for something", said Armida Alvarez, a former resident of Huixiopa who moved to Culiacan to escape the violence in Huixiopa.

At the moment, or at least during last week, there was no presence of government in the area. Throughout the route traveled by Riodoce on their way to Huixiopa, we did not find a single element that represented the government. At any level.