"HEARST" for Borderland Beat
In Salamanca, Guanajuato, a package that was delivered to the restaurant-bar called “Barra 1604” exploded and killed two and injured four.
Initial reports suggest the two men were the the owner and manager of Barra 1604. El Financiero reports four more were confirmed to have been injured by the explosion, although more injured may be reported as the story develops.
Please Note: This is a breaking story, as such initial reporting may be inaccurate. This article is being live updated. Warning, graphic images below this point.
The Initial Reports
The events took place at 7:30 pm this Sunday, on the street Faja de Oro Boulevard, just outside the Barra 1604.
El Financiero is currently reporting that the package was delivered through a “motoenvio” service, or a motorcycle shipping service to the location. According to the first versions obtained at the scene of the events, witnesses reported that two people arrived on a motorcycle and parked the motorcycle outside the establishment. They informed the staff that they had a moto-delivery for the establishment.
The restaurant owner came out to get the package, along with the manager. El Financiero reports it was a gift box with balloons and streamers, but when the package was opened, it triggered the explosion.
Two men were killed by the explosion. A motoenvio worker, a waiter and two diners were also injured by the explosion. The explosion caused diners and staff to panic. Other businesses near Barr 1604 sheltered their customers inside.
The first responders to arrive on scene were Municipal Police officers, then minutes later, Red Cross paramedics arrived and transferred the injured to local hospitals. The area was cordoned off and is being kept under the protection of elements of the Municipal Police and the National Guard.
Barra 1604 has chosen to publicly release the names of the two deceased on their official Facebook and Instagram accounts. Because Barra 1604 is evidently allowing for the victims names to be public, Borderland Beat has chosen to report them. They are Mauricio Salvado Romero Morales, business partner. And Mario Alberto Hernández Cárdenas, manager.
The State Attorney General's Office Official Statement
The FGEG is investigating and condemns the explosion of a device outside an establishment in Salamanca that left people dead and injured.
A forensic and expert investigation was initiated with the immediate intervention of a team of Agents Investigation Criminal (AIC).
Guanajuato, GTO. September 19 2021. The State Attorney General's Office initiated an investigation after the report of the detonation of a device that subjects left in the form of a box in a building on the corner of Faja de Oro Boulevard in the El Deportivo neighborhood, next to a casino, leaving two people dead and two injured.
We express a strong condemnation of these events. And at the instruction of the Prosecutor Carlos Zamarripa Aguirre, a team of Criminal Investigation Agents, criminal and forensic specialists collected evidence for their use in the investigation and in finding those responsible for these events.
In the preliminary information, it is known that a motorcycle in which two persons were traveling arrived at the place at about 19:14 hours, to deliver a box, which was received by two men, without the individuals giving them further information.
When the box was opened, an explosive device detonated and killed them, leaving other people injured.
To the extent that the investigation allows it, more information is expected to be released to the public.
The Event In Images
The explosion occurred at #1604 Faja de Oro Boulevard in the El Deportivo neighborhood of the city of Salamanca, Guanajuato. The location is a bar restaurant called Barra 1604. Nearby is the Crown City Casino to the east, and to the west is a bar which permanently closed in 2018.
Barra 1604 only recently opened. Old Google street view photos show that in August 2018 a sign on the building was advertising that “Casa Dragones” a new restaurant-bar was opening soon.
Based on image upload dates from their social media account, it appears that Barra 1604 officially opened in May 2021, just a few months before the explosion. It hosted a red carpet event to celebrate its opening and local celebrities made appearances for its opening.
Update 10:00 AM CST: During the morning Presidential press conference held on September 20, 2021 in Santa Lucía del Camino, Oaxaca, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador lamented the death of two people due to the explosion of a package yesterday outside a bar in Salamanca.
"We regret the loss of two human lives: of the owner of the restaurant and the manager, including one injured. According to the information we have, they went to deliver a supposed gift because the owner was celebrating his birthday with the workers, and they both went outside, and it was an explosive. This caused their death. We send our condolences to their families, friends," he said.
"In the state of Guanajuato, more than elsewhere, for some time now, they have begun to use explosives to commit crimes and try to create terror, fear."
The president added that the case could be taken charge of by the Federal Attorney General's Office. "The investigation is being carried out and it is likely that the FGR will take over the case because it involves the use of explosives, and it will investigate, I would not want to enter into speculation, we will investigate the case further, of course punish those responsible, to whom there is no impunity ” he stated.
"I do not want the issue to be politicized , it is delicate, and the best thing is to do the investigative research," he said.
When asked if the attack was carried out due to the extortion and de piso (regular extortion fee) rights that criminal groups demand from businessmen in the region, the President said “It is not known, it is not clarified. I believe that soon we will have more information about what happened and we will see if the Prosecutor's Office decides to take on the case or not, if the investigation is maintained at the Guanajuato state level," he replied.
Some social media users have been quick to call this “narco terrorism” or make comparisons to the bombings in Colombia orchestrated by Pablo Escobar, implying a cartel was behind the explosion.
It is worth exploring all the different possible motives classified for these types of attacks. What are the law enforcement best practices that should be used when investigators are trying to determine if this is cartel related?
The Crime Classification Manual, written by the FBI’s John Douglas and Robert Ressler, and researchers Ann and Allen Burgess, says that two key aspects need to be examined: the victimology and the crime scene indicators.
These factors help the law enforcement investigators determine if the attack motive is classified as either:
1.) Group Cause (Terrorism falls under this category)
2.) Personal Cause
3.) Criminal Enterprise (Organized crime)
Victimology Victimology is studied by developing a victim's complete personal history. Some important questions to answer include:
Was the victim known to the offender? In this case, it seems highly likely the offender(s) specifically targeted the upper management/owners of Barra 1604 and that this was not a random attack.
What were the victim’s chances of becoming a target for violent crimes? This is a question we cannot answer with the information publicly available.
The manager or the co-owner could have a criminal past that makes them more likely to be targeted. The victims could have expressed strong religious or political stances, or held influence in local government due to personal relationships that would make them more likely to be targeted.
The victim's financial histories and past business dealings will likely be examined as part of the investigation. They are looking for, as an example, thing such as an ex-business partner who might hold a grudge, or bitter former employees.
They can also examine the local cartel scene in the neighborhood such as the expected de piso, or fee contribution. Or potentially a drug sale point at the bar of Barra 1640 or drug sale point at other local bars. An important consideration to make is if the established cartel “owner” of the territory is currently being disputed or not.
The victim’s romantic histories will likely be investigated, looking for things such as recent divorces, life insurance payouts, and their relationship with their spouses, etc. As well as their family histories, looking for things such as a recent falling out with a brother or parent.
What risk did the offender take in perpetrating this crime? We cannot answer this as a major contributing factor to risk level will be how the package bomb was constructed and what the trigger for the detonation was. Law enforcement agencies are capable of testing debris and "reconstructing" the device in ways that we, the public, cannot.
Investigators will likely explore questions about much risk the package posed in exploding simply from jostling movements? Could the package have exploded if the motorcyclists had accidentally dropped it while refilling at a gas station, thereby exposing the bombing plot but not injuring the intended targets, who could then speak to police as to the who they think the suspects were?
Were the motorcyclists who delivered the package in on the plot or in anyway aware of an unusual nature to the package?
Did the manager and co-owner expect a package from a sender, and if they had managed to survive the attack, could the two intended targets have determined who likely sent it based on the expected sender?
With respect to cartel organizations, people may want to quickly go down avenues of thought about how a cartel could be risking being classified as a terrorist organization (as there was talk of the US doing this to a certain cartel organization a few years earlier).
Or people may jump to thinking about how it is largely believed that the bombings organized by Pablo Escobar were ultimately his own undoing, as it brought down a new type of pressure on law enforcement to capture him.
But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, it is worth asking, if this was cartel related (and that cannot be determined yet), then at what level of the organization was the decision made to construct a bomb? Was this the decision of a local plaza boss? Or a regional jefe? Or was it the leader of just the group that is in charge of fee collection for this one particular neighborhood?
Do the cartel leaders for this area have the wherewithal to weigh the risk to benefit ratio of a move like this? Do the regional cartel bosses closely monitor their subordinates actions so that they do not go against the best interest of the organization?
Crime Scene Indicators The book the Crime Classification Manual writes that these are some major points an investigator should consider when looking at the crime scene.
Environment/Place/Time. The environment of a crime scene refers to the conditions or circumstances in which the offense occurs. Such as indoors or outside, during daylight hours or in the middle of the night, high traffic area, low traffic area. These factors are also contributing factors to provide an assessment of offender risk. The manual writes that gauging these risk factors usually offers insight into an offenders motivations and behavior patterns.
Cause of Death and Trauma. Medical autopsy reports detailing the type, extent and focus of injuries sustained by the victims as well as the cause of death will be key factors here.
These are especially relevant questions when investigators try to determine how the explosive device was constructed. The level and type of injury sustained by the victims will speak to the degree of force the explosion caused.
Details on injuries also give insights as to whether there was embedded sharp objects, such as nails, placed as part of the bomb construction to cause maximum harm with shrapnel damage.
Sources: FGE Official Statement, El Financiero, La Jornada, Quadratin, El Universal, El Sol de México
Crime Classification Manual by Douglas, Ressler, Burgess, & Burgess