Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Zacatecas, Caught in a War Between the CJNG and Sinaloa Cartel

 "BBFollower" for Borderland Beat

As explained in this article, Zacatecas is a strategic corridor for drug cartels. It has highways connecting to multiple parts of Mexico, making it a highly disputed territory (photo credit: Milenio)

Zacatecas is trapped in a vortex of violence and insecurity that seems to have no brake: in 2020 there were more than 1,200 executions. Authorities say the violence is driven by a dispute between the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) and the Sinaloa Cartel.

Two weekends ago, soldiers and police were deployed by land and air in the municipalities of Jerez, Fresnillo and Villa de Cos in search of two members of the National Guard (GN) and one of the State Preventive Police (PEP) that were kidnapped by cartel members. No one seen the missing officials again.

A decade ago, at the end of the presidency of the Felipe Calderón (2006–2012), and during the term of former Zacatecas governor Miguel Alonso Reyes, a multimillion-dollar investment was made – with bank loans charged to the treasury – to build three military bases in the state: in Fresnillo, Jalpa and Juchipila. Critics say that what is currently happening is proof that the militarization in Zacatecas, as well as the deployment of more than 3,000 GN members in the state, has been a failure.

Arturo López Bazán, head of the Zacatecas Public Security Secretariat (SSPZ), admits that the Army helps in the fight against criminal groups, but the GN "does not join the work."

The wave of executions, kidnappings and disappearances of people intensified in Zacatecas during the governorship of Alejandro Tello Cristerna a little over a year ago. On December 31, 2019, in the Cieneguillas prison, in a fight in which used firearms, criminals linked to the Sinaloa Cartel killed 18 members of the Gulf Cartel (an ally of the CJNG) and seriously wounded 20 more people.

In a simultaneous action, cells of the Sinaloa Cartel – claiming to be “people of El Mayo Zambada” – announced their entrance to northwest of Zacatecas from the neighboring state of Durango. The clashes between the two groups began in Zacatecas' main cities: Fresnillo, Calera, Guadalupe, and Jerez.

Zacatecas, a strategic corridor 

In an interview, López Bazán assures that the CJNG and Sinaloa Cartel have an interest in this region, among other reasons, due to its geographical position.

Through Zacatecas, he refers, cartel cross three main routes for drug and precursor chemicals, as well as arms trafficking and human smuggling. Zacatecas is the obligatory connection between these three routes: to the center (the Bajío and Mexico City areas), to the Pacific (the ports of Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán, and Manzanillo, Colima, as well as Guadalajara, Jalisco) and to the Gulf and north of Mexico (Nuevo León, Tamaulipas, and its border with Texas).

“Reality is what we see. I'm not trying to hide what happens out there. It is a readjustment between the two strong groups at the national level," the official said.

According to López Bazán, Zacatecas also “became a place of consumption, a multi-million-dollar market where methamphetamines came to replace other substances that were more passive. This is a highly violent drug and the effects it produces in Zacatecas leads us to that: a high rate of violence and high drug consumption".

There are other illicit businesses that the cartels dispute, he says. There are synthetic drug laboratories in the state. Then there also are extortion and kidnapping opportunities for cartels to tap into.

"If we do numbers, Zacatecas generates a lot of money," he stressed.

Desertions and lack of recruits 

Interviewed in his office, six months after taking over the SSPZ (he is the third head of said agency in four years of the Tello Cristerna government), López Bazán admits that he received a low-performing police force: 30 of the 58 municipalities in Zacatecas have police corporations with just between two and 10 police officers. Most of these are inoperative, poorly trained, poorly armed and with few agents who have passed their exams.


Five years ago, the government decided to have 2,500 members of the State Preventive Police (PEP) become the main police group in Zacatecas; however, the corporation does not exceed 1,200 agents because there are no recruits. Instead, in recent months there have been many resignations. And deaths. López Bazán refers that last year 24 public security agents in the state were murdered by alleged cartel members: 18 municipal police; four state police officers, a ministerial police officer, and a traffic police.

In addition to not having enough state police, the SSPZ faces a fundamental problem of coordination with the federal forces because the members of the GN – more than 3,000 in state territory – refuse to fully engage in the fight against cartels.

He says that every time a mass murder or other serious act is perpetrated, citizens in Zacatecas question: “Where is the National Guard? Why are they always seen walking the streets, but they don't act against criminals?"

He concludes: “We need to invest in our talent, capacities and resources from all three levels of government (municipal, state and federal) to form a good strategy. We cannot let a few (municipal police officers), unarmed or poorly equipped, facing organized crime groups while others are doing nothing".

 Source: La Jornada


  1. I’m confused, if no growing or creation of drugs happens in Zacatecas, why fight for it? Do cartels announce to locals when there driving loads by? Can’t cars with cocaine hidden somewhere just drive by without being detected by locals? And also the vast amount of gunmen, they can’t possible be paid much, they get paid shit right? That’s why it’s so easy to have many gunmen? Lastly, how important is the local drug trade to these cartels?

    1. Because Zacatecas is a corridor. And cartels don’t want to share it. Each corridor has authorities you have to pay. Cartels want a say on who is mayor, police chief, etc. They want introductions and good working relationships with them. Competition is bad for business if government just wants a check and doesn’t regulate as they use too. Businesses also give an edge because they help you launder your money. Plus, drug are sold in Zacatecas. Cartels compete for those spots too. These are known as “puntos” I believe. It’s a jungle out there and everyone wants the biggest share of the pie.

    2. Ok got you, so they basically want to control in the influence within the region. My family is from the Agascalientes/Zacatecas border so I was curious. Pretty calm area, don’t know about now though.

    3. Ok got you, so they basically want to control in the influence within the region. My family is from the Agascalientes/Zacatecas border so I was curious. Pretty calm area, don’t know about now though.

    4. Local extortion rackets piracy prostitution any thing under the table the plaza owner will be getting a cut of

    5. You can get to the Texas border in a matter of hours & the highways cross thru from/to Michoacán, Jalisco, Durango, & Chihuahua... lotta heavy hitters moving weight thru there...

  2. Most stuff that crosses thru TJ is flown to BCS from Sinaloa or Jalisco

    1. You’d be surprised to know that most of the drugs that are smuggled thru these plazas are moved by independent smugglers who simply pay “piso” to the local cartel / plaza boss. Those from out of state drive to the port of entry, not fly. Cartels move loads too, don’t get me wrong, but lots of the feria made is also by people who have their own contactos and logistics already laid out. If you can get fayuca across the border and are willing to pay “piso”, cartel is happy. Every cartel loves having less liability.

  3. The national guards officials were found alive . I think the cartels want the plaza because of how many drug users they have . Cartels can’t pass that much drugs as before to the other side so there making México the new US with all these addicts now .
    Mi humilde opinión “El Zacatecas “ cerquitas de fresnillo

    1. Según las noticias para rescatar a los dos mandos de la GN se quebraron a un chingo de weyes que los habían levantado. Por el vídeo que público CJNG me imagino que fueron contras los que se aventaron ese jale y les partieron SPM.

  4. they are not fighting for the routes!!! Those are just a plus. What they are really fighting are the mines. Those are real money. CDG had a pack with CDS but like always Someone decideds to flex and fucks it all up. Look at CDG , they ask me chi for help against mayos people and now GDG was pushed out and irrelevant now.

  5. It’s really bad out there in fresnillo . This guys going in taking people out of their houses and picking them up just to get intel about who sells and who is running the show . The good thing is they released these old men in my dads home town . They killed one older man because they thought he didn’t want to get up from his bed but the reality was that he couldn’t walk so they shoot him on the spot . Days later they were released . Then a couple days ago they came back shot and killed a man supposedly for selling drugs . So yup there cleaning up to take over the plaza . I’m thinking is Sinaloa cartel . because golfos had it locked down before and they were not picking up innocent people . Ya sabían como corre el agua . Pero estos nuevos no saben o conocen el pueblo por eso levantan a gente inocente para interrogarlos y sacar información . In another pueblo they straight killed 8 people the same night .
    “El Zacatecas” cerquitas de fresnillo

    1. Quien va ganando ?

    2. Parece que va ganando terreno la operación MZ !

  6. Is Monte Escobedo still owned by CJNG?


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