06/17/12 – A string of violence in the capital of the State of Mexico (Estado de México, Edomex) continued over the weekend when three bodies were found in Toluca, all with apparent connections to cartel violence. The body of a 20 to 25-year old woman was discovered around 6 a.m. on Sunday morning, June 17, near the International Airport of Toluca. Along with her dismembered remains found scattered in the middle of a road, authorities also discovered a ‘narcomanta,’ or message left by drug cartels. That same day, two men were also found dead in Toluca, both victims of 9mm gun shots to the head. Their bodies were dumped near a burned van and their remains were found with a message, this one signed by Los Guerreros Unidos (United Warriors). According to Milenio, authorities believe the victims were connected with or members of La Familia Michoacana.
As news agencies have reported, Toluca has been the setting recently for an intense battle between rival gangs La Familia Michoacana, Los Caballeros Templarios (Knights Templar), and Los Guerreros Unidos as they all fight for control. The latest murders bring the death toll to 11 people in the past two weeks, a number which has gained attention more so because of the graphic and public nature of the killings than anything. Los Guerreros Unidos are a relatively new gang and are currently fighting to establish territory in regions of Valle de Toluca that have been traditionally held by La Familia Michoacana, particularly in the areas of Guerrero Taxco, Iguala, and Teloloapan.
The fragmentation of strongly centralized cartels and the emergence of new groups has widely been attributed to President Calderón’s “decapitation” strategy in regards to addressing Mexico’s public security crisis. Despite the current administration’s efforts, which have led to the arrest or killing of 23 of 37 most wanted Mexican drug traffickers, eliminating cartel leadership creates power vacuums within the organizations and thus opens up opportunities for dissident members of such groups to splinter and attempt to establish their own dominance and market share within the trafficking community. A symptom of this cartel splitting is increased levels of violence as each new group or leader fights against competing groups. To read more about the effects of the current security strategy and the resulting defragmentation, which TBI Director David Shirk calls the “Fantasia Effect,” click here.