03/10/12 – On Friday March 9, members of the Mexican Army (Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional, SEDENA) captured Erick “El 85” Valencia Salazar –alleged leader of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generación, CJNG)–, and Otoniel “Tony Montana” Mendoza, allegedly second in charge of the same organization. SEDENA confirmed that they conducted a precise operation in Zapopan –the wealthiest municipality of the Metropolitan Zone of Guadalajara– in the state of Jalisco, where the two leaders of CJNG were captured. According to the information provided by SEDENA, upon their arrival a group of gunmen opened fire and launched grenades. After entering the dwelling, the military arrested the alleged leaders of the CJNG and seized more than 30 firearms, fragmentation grenades, and ammunition.
After the operation, a series of shootings and blockades occurred in the streets and highways of Guadalajara and surrounding areas. The roads were blocked with buses, some of which were burned. The governor of Jalisco, Emilio González Márquez, reported later in the day that 25 vehicles were burned at 16 different points of the state, 11 within the metropolitan area of Guadalajara. Authorities detained 16 people apparently involved in the incidents, two of them minors. According to news reports, the events caused fear among the population, generated chaos in the city, and resulted in the deaths of a 7-year old girl named Alexa, a 27-year old man named Ricardo Carvajal Amezcua, and a 49-year old bus driver named También Moisés Corona López.
As the Justice in Mexico Project reported last month, the CJNG emerged in 2010 after the killing of Ignacio “Nacho” Coronel by the Mexican army. Coronel was an important leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, but apparently started to have issues with its leaders and began to create his own separate organization. The group known as “the Resistance” (La Resistencia) emerged from Nacho Coronel’s faction in June 2010, and was led by Ramiro Pozos González, “Molca.” Later that year, the death of Coronel led to the emergence of CJNG. The Resistance and CJNG have been in dispute since then, although the Resistance was weakened because of the February 2011 arrest of Victor Manuel “Papirrín” Torres García, one of its leaders. CJNG had not previously suffered significant arrests, was gaining influence in Jalisco, and had begun to expand to Veracruz in open conflict with the Zetas organized crime group. However, the most recent arrests apparently present a significant blow against the CJNG organization, while removing a key rival of the Zetas.