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

Saturday, September 4, 2021

8 Hours Of CJNG vs CU Fighting In Tepalcatepec, Michoacán

"HEARST" for Borderland Beat

According to Noventa Grados, members of Carteles Unidos (CU) alliance criminal groups have been arriving in Tepalcatepec from several other Michoacán municipalities.

These groups of CU members are traveling to Tepalcatepec in order to reinforce and support Cártel del Abuelo who is currently trying to resist another offensive by the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) who is trying to gain territory in the area.

Cártel del Abuelo (sometimes called Cartel de Tepalcatepec) is led by Juan José Farias Álvarez alias “El Abuelo”. His leader of hitmen is believed to be Edgar Valeriano Orozco Cabadas, alias “El 50” or “El Kamoni” is presumed to be involved in organizing their defense efforts against the CJNG. 

Meanwhile, social media users with CJNG connections allege that the CJNG leaders involved in this current push into Tepalcatepec are Santiago Quintero Magallón “El Maguey” and Miguel Fernández “El M2” the leader of Fuerzas Especiales Mencho (FEM). 

They also allege CJNG’s “Delta” is involved as well, according to the user’s tweet. Delta likely refers to a man who goes by the alias “Delta 1”, although it could refer to Delta 1’s presumed boss Armando Gomez Nuñez, alias “Delta Maximo” the leader of CJNG’s Los Deltas. Delta 1 has been seen and photographed leading alongside Los Deltas hitmen whereas Delta Maximo is presumed to take a less on the ground, active role, instead leading and organizing in a behind-the scenes capacity. 

According to Noventa Grados, the clashes between the CU and CJNG began at 8:00pm on the night of Thursday, September 2, 2021 in the town of Los Horcones and continued until 4:00am on the morning of Friday, September 3, 2021. 

The number of deaths and injuries that resulted from this late night to morning battle in Los Horcones is unknown. MiMorelia writes that the Municipal Police director of Tepalcatepec Pablo Méndez Cisneros confirmed on September 3 that after receiving reports of armed attacks in the Los Horcones area, there were no records of victims found. However, Revolucion writes that due to the complexity of entering the towns where there are armed men, the local authorities have not been able to confirm if there are people killed from the attack.

After a brief reprise, the CU vs CJNG clashes continued intermittently throughout Friday. Residents warned that the ranches of Los Horcones, El Montoso, El Cazangue, El Bejuco, Carapuato, Loma Blanca, La Romera, Plaza Vieja, Las Primaveras, Taixtan and San Isidro suffered armed attacks.  

The ranches mentioned above are marked on a map of Tepalcatepec, Michoacán and the surrounding area. 

"All the houses are being blasted and set on fire, several civilians are already shot and others kidnapped as hostages," says one of the messages broadcast on WhatsApp groups.

The incoming mayor of Tepalcatepec, Martha Laura Mendoza Mendoza confirmed the attacks and warned "They are getting closer and closer, they have already been advancing from various villages, and if they manage to enter here (head), there is going to be a massacre where a lot of innocent people's blood will be shed." 

Although there is a presence of the National Guard (GN) in Tepalcatepec city, the confrontations and aggressions have not stopped because the soldiers have not been deployed to the conflict zone under the argument that they require an order by their superiors to be able to intervene in defense of the rancherias. 

In an attempt to resolve the insecurity problem in Tepalcatepec, Mayor Martha Laura Mendoza went on Friday, September 3, 2021, to the 43rd military zone in the city of Apatzingán in order to request the presence of the Mexican Army.

Guns alleged to be related to the recent Tepalcatepec shootings according to Código Rojo.

“We do not want there to be more bloodshed, in those rancherías there are many children, what we want is for the army to enter to bring those families to the head of Tepalcatepec to protect themselves, because (armed civilians) have been firing shots directly at the women, houses ”, said Mayor Mendoza. 

The most recent well known attack in the war over Tepalcatepec was shown in a video uploaded on August 19, 2021. As previously covered on Borderland Beat, the video showed members of CJNG group Los Deltas as they celebrated having taken out a Carteles Unidos camp of hitmen and mutilated dead hitmen in camp. 

The priest of Tepalcatepec, Father Gregorio López Gerónimo sent a message to the media saying that at this moment the inhabitants of the Tepalcatepec ranches are being "vilely massacred". He referred to the aforementioned WhatsApp message, saying that it is being reported that houses are being burned, civilians shot and others kidnapped. 

He supported the Mayor’s message and expressed solidarity, saying "The mayor received a failed State and is denouncing the unabashed terrorism, under a cyber war, with drones, fragmentation grenades against innocent people. For this reason, at this time, she is asking for help from the deaf voices of the government, who apparently have left the population to their fate under the clutches of organized crime. ”

Of note, Father Gregorio López Gerónimo is an interesting character in his own right. He is not like other priests in Michoacán who have famously acted as neutral parties in the CU vs CJNG battles, only seeking to advocate for the safety of the civilians of their parishes with the priests of Aguililla and Coalcoman standing as shining examples especially. 

Meanwhile Father Gregorio López Gerónimo, who famously was the first priest in Mexico to use a bulletproof vest while officiating mass, started a self defense group in Tepalcatepec. Whether his self-defense group went in the inevitable direction that all Michoacán self-defense groups go in, becoming organized crime groups in their own right, is unknown at this time. 

It is always possible that the self defense group Father Gregorio started came from a genuine intent to protect the people and simply fell by the wayside over time, diminishing in relevance after being sidelined by organized crime groups like Cartel del Abuelo in Tepalcatepec. Although it should also be noted that recently the priest of Aguilla, Father Gilberto Vergara warned that when it comes to Michoacán, “There are no self-defense groups here.”

Father Gregorio López Gerónimo

According to El Universal, Father Gregorio’s “leading the fight in that area against the Knights Templar Cartel cost him a wake-up call from the ecclesiastical authorities” as he was suspended by the Catholic church by the bishop of Apatzingán in 2020. 

The July 2020 suspension letter said that Father Gregorio incurred serious repetitive faults, inside and outside the Diocese, in the administration of the sacraments. He was also accused of committing "serious offenses that have caused serious problems in the ecclesial community and that have also been violations of the dignity of the sacraments."

However it should also be noted that the bishop of Apatzingán, Cristóbal Asencio García had already suspended 10 other priests in the diocese, which is an unusual amount of suspensions. According to El Universal, some of the other ten suspended priests accused the bishop of protecting priests who were facing legal proceedings against them for pedofilia and not siding with the victims of the priests.

This then draws into question the larger motives of the suspension and whether Father Gregorio’s self defense group was involved in wrongdoing. Overall, the diverging narratives surrounding Father Gregorio should be kept in mind as further context when he speaks out on the recent cartel activities.

Sources: El Sol de Zamora , Noventa Grados September 3 , Noventa Grados September 4, MiMorelia, Revolución, Primera Plana  

Background Sources: BB - CJNG Destroy Camp Of CU Hitmen, BB- There are no self defense groups here, El Universal  


  1. Michigan has always been a state of conflict, I just don't get it! The United States of Mexico has no defense for the people! I guess in the end, greed reigns Supreme.

    1. Here’s a good way of understanding that scenario unfolding as we speak. There will always be governments throughout this world. But the dark side of this is that there will also exist more citizens than actual government personnel. Citizens who when once fed up take up arms in unison to topple those governments or those enemies that they’re determined to take out. That’s my take on it.

    2. And here I was thinking Michigan is quite lovely this time of year ;)

  2. Replies
    1. Sorry. I spend a lot of my free time writing and researching about dark stories like this. I kinda jump at the chance to be light hearted sometimes.

    2. I like picking Apple's in Michigan, I enjoy it much more than picking avocados in Michocan. - h

  3. Mexico is a parents are from michoacan...

  4. This is so sad and f*cked up!!!!!!🥺😭

  5. But I thought the Reddit cheer squad said CJNG is done in Michocan

    1. Noticed how the room was cleared of Reddit kids running the place around.

  6. Cjng is going to take michoacan soon..
    There is talk of el abuelo leaving tepaltatepec and going to Chiapas..
    If CJNG take over tepaltatepec its over for VIAGRAS and C.U..
    Word is they are losing favors from government and NAVY...

  7. Hearst, THANK YOU THANK YOU for putting the group names up to specific regions ( I realize this by no means is set in stone) it absolutely helps me grasp and place leaders etc to different area. I'm a geography nut and am just starting to wrap my dead around the two decade long mess Michocan is. Indebted,MS. H

    1. I'll keep trying my best to place where groups are. Thank you for the comment and please let me know any feedback you have on any maps I create.

      I'd love the comments of a "geography nut" on this stuff anytime because I want to get better at utilizing maps.

  8. Michoacan was a controlled plaza when la familia michoacana had control but after the michoacsnazo and all the capos caught..
    Michoacan cartels started splintering and fighting each other for control, just like it's happening now in sinaloa..

    1. No shet Sherlock your explaining Michoacan, then quickly you jump to Sinaloa grasshopper.

    2. 1257, thank you for that perspective, really


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