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

Friday, September 23, 2022

Outbreak Of Mexican Cartel Violence Targeting Innocents Raises Worries Of What’s To Come

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

The battery in Mario Romero’s phone was dying.

But he had enough charge to see the social media posts about trouble breaking out around the city that August day.

He and his colleagues from a local radio station were doing a live promotion at a Little Caesars pizza shop, but they decided to wrap things up early. While his co-workers waited for a few pizzas to go, Romero took the opportunity to solve his phone issue.

“My cell phone, it's old. No one had a charger like mine, and my battery was dying, so I headed to Office Depot to buy a wire, and on the way, I started to hear the screams and the (bullet) impacts,” Romero told The Courier Journal during an interview in Ciudad Juárez, which sits across the border from El Paso, Texas.

When the shooting stopped, he ran back to the pizza shop, where he last saw his co-workers. The police were already there.

“I asked the officer, and he told me, ‘There are some injured.’ I prayed those were my friends, but then I saw their bodies lying on the floor.”

Romero is the radio station’s director. Four of his colleagues, including popular radio broadcaster Allán González, were among the dead.

"I'm a person of faith, so I believe what happened to me was a divine thing," Romero said of the fact he was spared.

Overall, attacks across the city that day left at least 11 dead and 12 injured, according to ­state officials.

The attacks on random customers inside the pizza place and a convenience store marked a disturbing moment in the wave of drug cartel-fueled gang violence that has plagued parts of Mexico.

It derailed the frequently repeated and comforting belief that organized crime targets only those in the same business, and it raised the question of what is to come.

It also put the often-criticized crime-fighting policies ― dubbed “hugs not bullets” ― of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador front and center.

"Hopefully, it's not something that will be repeated, because they attacked the civilian population ― innocent people," López Obrador said during a news conference following the attacks. 

I'm a person of faith, so I believe what happened to me was a divine thing.

A February report from the U.S. Commission on Combating Synthetic Opioid Trafficking said the Mexican government needs to do more to stop the flow of drugs into the U.S.

“All the good people we have cannot be effective without the full cooperation of the Mexican government, which we do not have,” U.S. Rep. David Trone, D-Md., told Politico following the report’s release. “Cartels control 30-plus percent of the GDP in Mexico, which means they are immensely powerful, and the [Mexican] government has adopted a policy of ‘hugs and not bullets’ and have decided to compromise and try to save lives in the country by not having an open civil war with the cartels …”

Since then, Mexican drug seizures have been increasing, and in July, working with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, Mexican marines captured fugitive drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero.

Security analyst David Saucedo said the latest wave of violence may be related to this new push but added that damage had already been done by the administration to set the stage for the acts.

“I agree with the Americans. I believe you don't negotiate with terrorists, and the president did,” he said.

In October 2019, the president made the decision to free Ovidio Guzman, the son of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, after his arrest turned the streets of Culiacan into a war zone.

“And now the whole world knows what to do when (Sinaloa Cartel leader) Mayo Zambada is captured or when (Jalisco New Generation Cartel leader) Mencho is captured ― they will bring out their cells to attack the population for them to go free.

“I think the federal government gave a terrible message in this regard."

Experts call ‘narco-terrorism,’ Mexico officials claim concerns overblown

The carnage in Ciudad Juárez began with a riot among rival cartel affiliates inside a local prison ― Cereso No. 3 ― that left two inmates dead, according to government officials.

Gang members on the outside then spread the violence around the city, setting fire to vehicles and businesses, in addition to the shooting attacks.

In all, similar violence was reported in four Mexican states around the time of the Juárez attacks.

Security analyst Fred Alvarez called it “a matter of narco-terrorism.” The term dates to 1980s South America and describes acts of terror fueled by or financed by the illegal drug trade.

“It’s a very unfortunate event, and I deeply regret the failure of the government intelligence because they have spent a lot of money on that. Where were the resources?” Alvarez questioned.

He repeated the conventional wisdom about old-school drug lords keeping their word about not messing with innocents, but added, “recent events in Juárez have demonstrated that these people have broken that pact because they are second-class or third-class criminals.

“They are not the big bosses of the past with whom the government could negotiate.”

Hitmen and drug dealers in Juárez are more violent because, according to analysts, they don’t have a word to keep and instead are using terror.

“These criminals have no word, and they know that the more fear you generate, the stronger they get,” Alvarez said. Government officials were quick to downplay the question of “narco-terrorism.”

“They are not terrorist attacks; you don’t have to exaggerate the facts," Interior Secretary Adán Augusto López admonished shortly after the incidents.

They are not the big bosses of the past with whom the government could negotiate.

Fellow security analyst Saucedo agreed with Alvarez, also labeling the violent events narco-terrorism and adding: “I think it is a new stage of drug trafficking in Mexico."

And he thinks it’s a stage for which the country is unprepared.

“… The federal government does not accept that it's facing a new reality, a new challenge,” Saucedo said. “There is a denial for an image issue. President (López Obrador), fearful that there will be a decrease in foreign investment in Mexico and a decrease in the flow of tourists to the country ― and also because of an impression issue in the face of the 2024 elections ― is reluctant to call these events narco-terrorism.”

The president said his opponents were “exaggerating” the acts of violence across different states of Mexico.

 “… It's propaganda. There is no major problem,” López Obrador said at a briefing in Mexico City.

Prisons in Mexico, Juárez function as 'universities of crime'

The brother of a victim of the Little Caesars attack, who requested anonymity, said his sibling had just parked and was walking to the door when he saw a suspicious vehicle parked outside. 

“Suddenly, six men left the car and started shooting at all the people. He didn’t know what to do, so he decided to run back to his car,” the man said. “My brother was shocked because the men saw him and said, ‘kill that one, too,’ (but) he managed to enter the car, which was destroyed by the bullets.

Government authorities said the problem in the prison also started with a clash between the locally based Los Mexicles, an armed street gang, and Los Chapos, associated with the Sinaloa Cartel.

In addition to the two prisoners shot to death, about 20 were wounded.

The federal government does not accept that it's facing a new reality, a new challenge. There is a denial for an image issue. President (López Obrador), fearful that there will be a decrease in foreign investment in Mexico and a decrease in the flow of tourists to the country ― and also because of an impression issue in the face of the 2024 elections ― is reluctant to call these events narco-terrorism.”

“The events in Ciudad Juárez have to do with the current situation in the prisons of Mexico. They are universities of crime. The order was given by someone in prison, and he did it through social media or any other communication allowed in that place, just as weapons are also allowed,” analyst Alvarez said.

Los Mexicles members on the outside then took the violence to the streets of the city, authorities said.

In addition to the Little Caesars shootings, two women were killed in a convenience store ― one an employee and another who was seeking a job.

Local media has reported Los Mexicles was born as a gang of members deported from the United States, and that the cell sometimes communicates in the Nahuatl Aztec language to go unnoticed.

On Aug. 12, six members of Los Mexicles were arrested in the Ampliación Aeropuerto neighborhood, Deputy Security Minister Ricardo Mejía said.

Joint operation of the armed forces with the local police of Ciudad Juárez after a report of shots fired in the Portal del Valle neighborhood. Aug. 14, 2022 Cristopher Rogel Blanquet/Special to Courier Journal

The National Guard was brought in to quell the violence. At least two buildings were damaged, and 28 shops and 19 vehicles were burned, officials said.

“I couldn’t find a place to hide,” said a man who lives next to the house where the six members were arrested after a clash with the police.

“A truck was parked outside that house for an hour or so, then they left, and 10 minutes later, the cops arrived shooting at the house,” he told The Courier Journal.

“I’ve never noticed anything weird with those guys. They arrived at that house 10 days ago. We never talked,” the man said, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation.

Two funerals: Allán González, Los Chapos member killed in prison riot

The funeral for radio broadcaster Allán González was solemn, as the shock of the unexpected death weighed heavily on those in attendance.

The room was full of flowers and funeral wreaths from other media organizations.

The media was initially not allowed to enter the funeral parlor, but with this outpouring of support, his son decided to grant access and get to know some of his father’s colleagues who were expressing solidarity. 

Allán loved rock music and the radio, a friend of his said. He mentioned his penchant for reporting and that he loved letting his listeners know about things like traffic tie-ups in the city. 

Relatives and friends mourn radio broadcaster Allán González during his funeral in Ciudad Juárez. González was among four radio state employees killed at a pizza shop in the city on Aug. 11, 2022.

Meanwhile, in the next room, another funeral was taking place ― a member of Los Chapos, one of the inmates killed in the prison where the many tragedies began.

Courier Journal


  1. Lopez Obrador said there are no problems in Mexico, it's just an exacturation. Lol
    They targeted a talk show group of innocents.

    1. These problems existed way before AMLO, and will continue way after! Citizens have to raise up! But our culture is to care about ourselves and only want people to help when something happens in our circle.

    2. 11.44
      It's understandable the problems existed before ALMO, came into office, but what is he doing to quell the high homicide yearly rates?
      How is it that on his watch CJNG is already in 28 States?
      Common he has to get a handle on this quamire.

    3. Abrazos y besos por Almo✌🏽

    4. Lol its so obvious Amlo works for CJNG no way all his enemies get arrested yet not even a low level like Chaparro could get arrested lol

    5. 1:35 Mexican States are sovereign and supposed to take care of their own public security, it is not the job of the Presidente to meddle in politics, judiciary or legislative work, the executive administers and generates initiatives more than emit unenforceable dumb stupid dictates a la tromp...
      But AMLOis trying to get the upper hand with Guardia Nacional, a plus,
      under governance of SEDENA a 99% minus, because SEDENA has been a nest of countrywide corruption ordered and bossed around by corrupt executives and all bent on covering up for their.misdeedsand crimes of state.

    6. U seem to think it’s US job as well

    7. What Fred Alvarez needs to remember is that before the 80s, and again specially after WWII, someone was fighting communismo by refusing wage increases of 1 cent per kilo of bananas to their workers, or to pay for free oil for the free world or mining operations, creating gangs of comunistas to have excuses to invade, trafficking weapons to them for their drugs and ot was not a local regional created problem, it was all the doings of the US, doing their iran/contra shit before Jimmy Carter was inaugurated...
      •The Confeasions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins, and:
      •The Big White Lie by Michael Devine:
      Should be required reading for international writers of great renown like "freddy what'sis name" unless Wilson Center has bought his ass like Dolia Estevez'.

  2. This shooting was done by a a prison gang under Sinaloa cartel orders in retaliation to

  3. I happened upon a fact that shocked me: over 38k ppl were killed by guns in 2019 America, and is on pace for 2022 to hit over 40k.
    After reading BB for so long, i thot that Mexico was MUCH more violent than the U.S.- but it's just more brutal in its methods.
    At least MOST of the victims on both sides of the border had their OWN semi-innocent victims lives to pay for- drug addiction, drug addicts theft, child overdoses, homeless epidemic, families torn apart, etc.
    The devil is in firm control of Mexico while generally-respected law is the norm in the greatest country that has ever prospered for it's people!

    1. If the US is so dangerous fuck off to mexico and stop your meally mouth shit,its boring as fuck

    2. People do not need a devil in order to be evil. People are evil. The devil just assists. USA is not controlled by evil? Americans are spoiled, selfish, arrogant, ungrateful for the great lives they have, nasty, rude, disrespectful, should I go on. Many Americans have never suffered. That breeds arrogance.

    3. 8:08 don't smear the whole US with your shit while trying to save the few criminals who help make shit happen for their high above puppeteers...

  4. 8:11 i agree except 9/11 humbled alot of Americans, but that's worn off. Now they (we) EXPECT to be exceptions to every rule, like wearing masks on crowded flites. That's partly why the commies hate us so much- we're free to be as assholish as we want.

  5. Sounds like Romero set his boys up to save his life.

  6. Response to anonymous concerning USA murder numbers…Of course the number of murdered is higher in USA. And 3.5% of the USA population accounts for over 50% of all rapes robberies and murders. You can figure out who that population segment is. I’ll give you a’s NOT the White male Christian trump supporter! Right fraud joe?! USA has a lot more people. The real number is murder per capita which Mexico overwhelming dominates. The number murdered in USA is not much more yearly than Mexico. Tragic either way! The impunity rate is disgusting in Mexico! AMLO lying directly to the people like everyone is stupid is no different than Biden lying. Say what you want the FACT is Trump told the truth which everyone was scared of, he also took on any reporter and their pathetic attempts to discredit him with KNOWN fabrications! What world leader can claim they had interviews where everything was on the table! NOBODY, except Trump. I mean look at fraud joes 60 min “interview!” Small town USA doesn’t put up with any of this shit! We are legally armed, many vets and hunters, and are not scared of anybody!

    1. Thx for the reply. I agree for the most part, but imagine if trump was in charge of Mexico. Mexican human rights are jokeable right now as it is, trump fancies himself as a dictator and has implied it redundantly. With his criminal mind, proven disregard for any & all laws, and corrupt cops ready & eager to do his bidding- what do you think would be the results down the road?
      Would it, COULD it be any worse than now in Mexico?
      Just supposing for discussion bc i liked yr thoughtful reply.

    2. 12:31 can you explain, mister how can you talk and chew so much cheeto BS at the same time?
      Is there some addictive in the TEA BAGS?
      Dollars perhaps?
      KOCH Brothers jundation?

    3. 12:31 How do you know the stats and facts you are stating about Mexico?, or just an opinion?

  7. So what? mexican terrorists killing other mexican terrorists

    1. There are random public shootings in the US, so not sure if pointing Mexico is a smart move.

  8. Chapo said he paid EPN a bribe of 100 million. AMLO is also on the cartels payroll. Do not expect him to do anything significant against them. Politics aside it would be difficult with so many in usa using drugs for any government to stop it or even reduce it. It may eventually reduce the population.

    1. 11:00 there is a lesson somewhere there, don't pay politicians...
      el chapo, now in prison, can't afford to buy the 5.00 USD small one dose bags of cheetos.

    2. How do you know AMLO is on the payroll?


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