In the past month, the normally peaceful state of Baja California Sur, Mexico has seen a rash of murders, which authorities have blamed on a conflict between the Sinaloa Cartel and a new alliance between the Zetas and the Beltran Leyva Organization.
According to Zeta magazine, Baja California Sur has registered 10 murders in the past month alone, all of which are believed to be linked to organized crime.
The Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO) is using local criminal cells and a partnership with the Zetas in order to intensify its long-running conflict with the Sinaloa Cartel, authorities told the magazine.
In one recent outbreak of violence, the head of the drug trafficking "plaza" in coastal town Los Barriles was killed by a group of assassins who poured as many as 60 bullets into his body.
The man's top lieutenant was killed that same night by the same group of assassins, alongside his girlfriend, a bartop dancer, who was struck by a stray AK-47 bullet as she cowered under the bed. According to Zeta, two state police are believed to have participated in these murders, although it is not yet clear whether they were acting on behalf of the Sinaloa Cartel or another organized crime group.
In another incident, two foot soldiers for the BLO were kidnapped and tortured by a gang who said they worked for the Sinaloans, according to testimony the two men provided to the state Attorney General's Office.
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The two survivors said they were kept in a house and beaten while the assailants took photos with their cell phones. They also said they overhead their attackers talk about their alliance with local police.
InSight Crime Analysis
Baja California Sur saw just 56 homicides total in 2013. The state has typically been one of the more peaceful areas in Mexico, and Zeta's reporting indicates the unusual recent violence is already attracting the attention of federal authorities, who have initiated investigations in the state.
The BLO reportedly previously met with the Zetas in a "narco-summit" held earlier this year, in which some of Mexico's largest criminal organizations allegedly discussed reconfiguring the country's drug trafficking landscape. Given that all the cartels reportedly present had a common enemy, the powerful Sinaloa Cartel, it is likely the discussion involved forming an anti-Sinaloa alliance. The violence in Baja California Sur could be one sign that such a pact is already being carried out.