HomeNewsBomb Threats: Mexico's Crime Groups Turn to Explosives
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Bomb Threats: Mexico's Crime Groups Turn to Explosives

HOMICIDES / 23 SEP 2021 BY MARK WILSON EN

A package bomb that killed a restaurateur and his manager underscores the escalating use of explosives – and the terror that they generate – by criminal groups in Mexico’s most violent state.

The bombing occurred on September 19 during a birthday celebration at a family restaurant in Guanajuato's Salamanca. Delivered by two men on a motorcycle, the package – wrapped like a present – exploded when it was opened, killing two people, according to a news release from the Guanajuato State Attorney General’s Office.

Those who died in the explosion were identified as the manager and a business partner of the restaurant. Five other people were injured.

SEE ALSO: Mexico News and Profile

Relatives of a partner in the restaurant later told the news organization Milenio that they had reported being extorted for weekly payments of 50,000 pesos (about $2,500) by individuals claiming to be from the Jalisco Cartel New Generation (Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación – CJNG). The Guanajuato’s Attorney General’s Office, however, said in a news release that prosecutors had never received any such complaint.

Mexican President Andrés López Obrador told reporters that the federal Attorney General's Office will likely be tasked with investigating the explosive attack.

“In the state of Guanajuato, more than in other parts, they have begun to use explosives to commit crimes and try to create terror, fear,” he said.

In 2020, a record 3,438 killings were registered in Guanajuato. As of June, nearly 1,500 people had been murdered there in 2021.

InSight Crime Analysis

While the motive behind the attack on the restaurant is unclear, the use of what appears to be a package bomb highlights how Mexico’s criminal groups are increasingly resorting to explosives – particularly in regions home to bloody turf wars.

For the past few years, Guanajuato has been the site of a conflict between the powerful CJNG and what’s left of a much smaller rival, the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel. Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have emerged among their weapons of war and have been found in stashes.  

SEE ALSO: Weaponized Drones in Mexico: Game-Changer or Gimmick?

For example, members of the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel were arrested for supposedly building improvised explosives in April of this year. The group is also known for using car bombs.   

Authorities in Guanajuato, meanwhile, seized 89 explosive devices during an operation in July.  Thirteen such devices others were seized in a September 2020 operation.

According to Mexican Defense Secretary, Luis Cresencio Sandoval González, improvised explosives attached to drones have been reported in Guanajuato and in Jalisco -- both states with significant CJNG presence.

In May of this year, an explosive drone strike in western Michoacán state was carried out by an alleged member of CJNG.

In an interview with InSight Crime, John P. Sullivan and Robert J. Bunker, founders of Small Wars Journal-El Centro, drew attention to the militarization of cartel violence, including the use of IEDs. According to Bunker, explosives are typically used as “threat messaging” to intimidate opponents.

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