HomeNewsAnalysis‘Acapulco Cartel’ Sets Fire to Market, Engages Military
ANALYSIS

'Acapulco Cartel' Sets Fire to Market, Engages Military

MEXICO / 5 APR 2011 BY GEOFFREY RAMSEY EN

After a group of unidentified gunmen faced off with Mexican security forces in an Acapulco street market, InSight takes a closer look at a little-known but steadily growing criminal presence in the city: the Independent Cartel of Acapulco.

According to a press release from the Public Security Ministry of Guerrero, the shootout occurred around 4:30 a.m. on April 4 in the Emiliano Zapata neighborhood of Acapulco, when members of a combined police/military Joint Urban Operations Unit (Base de Operaciones Mixtas Urbanas - BOMU) on patrol encountered a group of armed men setting light to some market stalls. Seeing the soldiers, the gunmen opened fire, and attempted to flee in three vans.

The blaze consumed more than 110 stalls, and the ensuing shootout left three dead -- two gunmen and one soldier -- as well as four wounded. Officials detained seven suspects after the incident, and seized three vehicles and several bulletproof vests.

While at first glance the incident appears as though it could be the isolated work of a few arsonists, local media reports indicate that the criminal enterprise known as the Independent Cartel of Acapulco is behind the blaze. Citing an anonymous security official, Mexico’s El Proceso said that the bulletproof vests seized by authorities all bore the initials “F.E.M.K,” which stands for “Special Forces of Melon and the Korean” (Fuerzas Especiales de Melon y El Koreano), a hit squad linked to the Independent Cartel. The Independent Cartel is currently waging a turf war with a local affiliate of the Sinaloa Cartel, led by Heber Jair Sosa Carvajal, alias "El Cremas" and Cristian Hernandez Tarin.

Although the motive for the arson attack remains unclear, it could be retaliation for a March 25 incident, when the butchered bodies of five men (four of whom were police officers) were found dumped in front of an Acapulco department store. The bodies were accompanied by a warning purporting to be from the Sinaloa Cartel’s leader, Joaquin Guzman, alias "El Chapo," which accused the victims of associating with the Acapulco Cartel, and identified "Melon" and "El Koreano" as Antonio Barragan and Moises Montero, respectively.

As InSight has previously reported, the Independent Cartel of Acapulco has been steadily growing in strength in recent months, depite the capture of one of its leaders in March. The fact that the powerful Sinaloa Cartel sees them as a threat to local operations is a testament to their rapid development.

Still, the group is only one of a number of emerging criminal groups in Acapulco, where there may be a power vacuum after the Familia Michoacana claimed to be dissolving in January. This phenomenon is part of a larger trend in the country, where the official policy of targeting leaders of drug trafficking organizations has resulted in their fragmentation and, in some cases, violent infighting between former allies.

In the case of Acapulco, the violence is made worse by the city’s status as a valuable "plaza." Because of its entrenched corruption, jagged coastline and high volume of boat traffic, Acapulco is considered an ideal base of operations for drug trafficking organizations, who use speedboats to transport large quantities of cocaine northward.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Tags

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

MEXICO / 3 NOV 2016

Mexico has had poor results in recuperating stolen cultural antiquities. There are deficiencies in both the registration of these thefts…

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 31 AUG 2019

US firearms have flowed into the hands of corrupt security forces and criminal organizations in Mexico for years, yet the United…

HUMAN SMUGGLING / 18 APR 2011

Authorities this weekend captured Martin Omar Estrada Luna, alias “El Kilo,” who answered to the top levels of the…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Unraveling the Web of Elites Connected to Organized Crime

27 JUL 2021

InSight Crime published Elites and Organized Crime in Nicaragua, a deep dive into the relationships between criminal actors and elites in that Central American nation.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime’s Greater Focus on US-Mexico Border

20 JUL 2021

InSight Crime has decided to turn many of its investigative resources towards understanding and chronicling the criminal dynamics along the US-Mexico border.

THE ORGANIZATION

Key Arrests and Police Budget Increases Due to InSight Crime Investigations

8 JUL 2021

With Memo Fantasma’s arrest, InSight Crime has proven that our investigations can and will uncover major criminal threats in the Americas.

THE ORGANIZATION

Organized Crime’s Influence on Gender-Based Violence

30 JUN 2021

InSight Crime investigator Laura N. Ávila spoke on organized crime and gender-based violence at the launch of a research project by the United Nations Development Programme.

THE ORGANIZATION

Conversation with Paraguay Judicial Operators on PCC

24 JUN 2021

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley formed part of a panel attended by over 500 students, all of whom work in Paraguay's judicial system.