(MEXICO CITY) — Mexican police and navy forces on Sunday arrested the chief of the Santa Rosa de Lima gang who unfold violence by north-central Mexico and fought a years-long bloody turf battle with the Jalisco cartel.
The armed forces and officers within the state of Guanajuato stated they’d captured José Antonio Yépez Ortiz, higher recognized by his nickname “El Marro,” which suggests “The Sledgehammer.”
Yépez Ortiz was uncommon amongst gang leaders as a result of he posted movies with emotional calls to his followers, together with one in June exhibiting him showing to cry after a number of of his supporters and family have been arrested. In one other video across the identical time, he threatened to affix forces with the Sinaloa cartel to defeat Jalisco, Mexico’s fastest-rising drug cartel.
The turf battle with Jalisco turned the commercial hub of Guanajuato, with its overseas auto vegetation and elements suppliers, into essentially the most violent state in Mexico, with 2,293 murders within the first six months of this 12 months. The Santa Rosa gang has been blamed by some observers for the July assault on a drug rehabilitation heart within the metropolis of Irapuato by which 27 males have been killed.
However Mexico’s prime civilian safety official, Alfonso Durazo, stated Yépez Ortiz could be charged with organized crime and gas theft, not homicide.
Yépez Ortiz had been the topic of huge manhunts for years, and was caught together with 5 different suspects allegedly holding a kidnapped businesswoman. He was amongst Mexico’s most wished suspects, trailing Jalisco cartel chief Nemesio “El Mencho” Oseguera and Sinaloa cartel chief Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada.
His Santa Rosa gang was not a drug cartel, however moderately a robust, violent gang that grew up in a farming hamlet of the identical identify in north-central Guanajuato state by stealing gas from authorities pipelines and refineries and robbing freight from trains.
The Santa Rosa gang was additionally uncommon in that it tried to construct a help community amongst native residents by permitting them to take a minor share within the spoils of the robberies. However when authorities stepped up safety across the trains and pipelines during the last two years, the gang turned to widespread extortion and kidnapping. The gang would transfer sector to sector, systematically demanding extortion funds from companies like tortilla retailers or automotive dealerships.
Nonetheless, the gang’s reign by no means affected the most important corporations which have constructed dozens of vegetation in Guanajuato, attracted by investor-friendly insurance policies and glorious rail and freeway hyperlinks.
True to his humbler circumstances, the quick, round-faced Yépez Ortiz was proven carrying a grey hoodie, ripped denims and development boots in official pictures distributed by the Guanajuato state authorities.
A number of mythology had grown up round “El Marro,” together with the idea that he and a detailed band of supporters had been capable of escape police for years by encouraging townspeople to throw up impromptu roadblocks to present him sufficient time to flee over grime roads on ATVs.
Guanajuato state Safety Commissioner Sofia Huett stated earlier this 12 months the gang might have referred to as itself a cartel, however largely operated solely in Guanajuato, leaping from one criminal activity to a different.
“At one time they have been gangs, not huge cartels, that robbed trains,” Huett stated.
After safety forces cracked down on that, the gang began to drill unlawful faucets into gas pipelines and allowed locals to fill plastic tanks with gasoline or diesel. At all times recognized for a propensity for violence, the Santa Rosa de Lima gang began stealing gas immediately from authorities oil refineries by the truckload; the smaller-scale pipeline faucets have been largely a strategy to win help from the native inhabitants. However when the federal government started stepping up safety, they turned to different crimes.
“With much less entry to gasoline, these teams migrated to different crimes, like street-level drug dealing and auto theft and extortion,” Huett stated.
Santa Rosa de Lima was exactly the sort of native gang that the Jalisco cartel has deftly taken over up to now in its relentless enlargement throughout Mexico, co-opting native gang members in a form of franchise scheme.
There are experiences that Oseguera despatched a nephew to Guanajuato in 2017 to barter a take care of the Santa Rosa gang which might permit Jalisco to site visitors medication within the state whereas the native gang would hold the gas theft enterprise.
However the pugnacious Yépez Ortiz — his movies are punctuated by cursing — vowed by no means to let within the cartel from neighboring Jalisco state. A lethal feud ensued.
“They’ve little or no capability for establishing prison alliances, and that offers rise to inside divisions and confrontations with outdoors teams that at one time sought to collaborate in prison actions, however with who they might not attain a deal,” Huett stated.
It was unclear if the arrest of Yépez Ortiz would imply that Jalisco might now be poised to roll into Guanajuato because it has in so many different states.
In July, the Jalisco cartel posted a video that Mexican protection officers stated was apparently filmed close to the border of Jalisco and Guanajuato states.
Officers stated the video confirmed a column of about 75 Jalisco cartel gunmen wearing military-style fatigues with a dozen do-it-yourself armored pickup vans, an anti-aircraft gun, 9 belt-fed machine weapons, ten .50-caliber sniper rifles, six grenade launchers and 54 assault rifles.