Crime and Violence

Retaliatory cartel violence in Michoacán prompts troop deployment

The capture in Michoacán of Arnoldo Rueda Medina, one of La Familia Michoacana’s top bosses, was followed by what Mexican media have characterized as the largest ever offensive by organized crime against federal police and the military operating in the state. The attacks are a response to an historic deployment of troops and federal police to Michoacán to reinforce the first of President Calderón’s domestic joint federal police-military operations against the nation’s drug cartels.

In all, there were eight attacks on July 11 followed by 13 more in the following days against Federal Police and military installations and patrols. The attacks, which included the use of fragmentation grenades and AK-47 assault rifles, began in the state capitol of Morelia and extended to other cities in Michoacán, as well as the neighboring states of Guerrero and Guanajuato. In all, 16 federal agents were killed, and 21 were wounded. On July 14, a total of 24 bodies were found alongside a major highway in Michoacán, all showing signs of torture. Of those, half were identified as Federal Police officers.

In response to the criminal offensive in Michoacán, Interior Minister Fernando Gómez Mont announced the deployment of 1,500 Federal Police officers, and 4,000 soldiers to the state to reinforce the thousands already present there. On Dec. 11, 2006, President Calderón’s home state of Michoacán became the first destination for domestic troop deployments during his administration. The current deployment will bring the number of soldiers and federal police in the state to 8,300. In his press conference alongside the heads of the Navy, Army, the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) and the Public Security Secretariat (SSP), Gómez Mont made no mention of Michoacán’s embattled Governor Leonel Godoy, of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). Governor Godoy’s half-brother, federal deputy Julio César Godoy, has been singled out by the SSP as having links to La Familia Michoacana. The governor has asked his brother to turn himself in to authorities and clear the family’s name. Godoy has come under pressure in recent weeks to resign as governor, but has to this point shown no inclination to do so.

Michoacán saw a drastic downturn in cartel-related violence after the initial troop deployment in December 2006, but has seen an increase in public displays of violence in recent months, particularly a 2008 grenade attack in the state capitol on Mexican Independence Day and a number of attacks on police stations throughout 2009.

From the July Justice in Mexico Project’s Monthly News Report:


Gómez, Francisco and Silvia Otero. “Inédita narcoembestida.” El Universal July 12, 2009.

“Michoacán: 23 muertos y 21 ataques en 4 días.” El Heraldo de Tabasco July 15, 2009.

Téllez Cortés, Cecilia. “A Michoacán, otros 5,500 soldados, marinos y federales.” La Crónica de Hoy July 17, 2009.

“Anuncian blindaje federal sin precedentes para combatir el narcotráfico en Michoacán.” La Jornada July 17, 2009.

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