Authorities made a series of arrests of drug cartel figures in western Mexico that set off the destruction of vehicles and businesses in two states in apparent reaction.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador did not identify those arrested Tuesday in Jalisco state, but said soldiers had confronted criminals, including “bosses,” at a “meeting of two gangs.” There was a shootout, arrests and then “this provoked protests of burned vehicles, not only in Jalisco, but also in Guanajuato,” he said.
Images circulated on social media showed men commandeering cars and buses and setting them on fire in the middle of roadways. Others showed burned-out convenience stores.
Cartels often create such chaos in an effort to keep authorities from transporting cartel bosses.
López Obrador said Wednesday authorities were still deployed in the areas, looking to make more arrests.
Jalisco Gov. Enrique Alfaro said via Twitter that no one was injured in the destruction that followed the arrests and “the situation is under control.”
The region is dominated by the Jalisco New Generation cartel (CJNG), which the Department of Justice considers to be “one of the five most dangerous transnational criminal organizations in the world.”
The cartel’s leader, Nemesio Oseguera, “El Mencho,” is among the most sought by Mexican and U.S. authorities. There was no indication Oseguera was present during the clash.
In May, Mexican authorities announced they captured a suspected leader of the CJNG. Francisco Javier Rodriguez Hernandez, known as “El Señorón” or “XL” or “Frank,” was apprehended in the tourist city of Mazatlan, in the northwest state of Sinaloa, in an operation carried out by navy agents.
Mexico has been trapped in a spiral of cartel-related violence that has left more than 340,000 dead since 2006, when the government launched a controversial anti-drug operation with federal troops.
In April, López Obrador confirmed that Mexico had dissolved a special unit trained by U.S. authorities to fight drug cartels because it was infiltrated by criminals.
A month prior, López Obrador accused popular television shows of glamorizing the violent drug trade. He criticized TV series on platforms such as Netflix, saying they presented a rose-colored version of the lifestyles of drug traffickers.