The defection of a Jalisco Cartel New Generation cell in Baja California has stoked the flames of violence and highlighted internal problems within one of Mexico’s most powerful criminal groups.
A series of murders of hitmen that had allegedly parted ways with the CJNG (Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación - CJNG) in the state of Baja California has sounded the alarms and generated a wave of violence in recent weeks, Zeta Tijuana reported.
The hitmen were reportedly part of “Los Cabos," a group which has distanced itself from the CJNG due to alleged disagreements with the cartel's new leadership structure. In doing so, the group lost its “protection” against the Sinaloa Cartel, which also has a strong presence in the area, according to Zeta Tijuana.
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Local media reports that clashes between Los Cabos and the CJNG have generated a wave of violence so far this year, including 16 murders in the city of Tecate along the US-Mexico border in Baja California. Further to the west in Tijuana, at least two of the 670 homicides reported between May and August were related to the conflict, according to Sin Embargo.
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The clashes between Los Cabos and the CJNG in Baja California have placed a spotlight on the internal divisions the cartel is confronting in and around an extremely strategic drug trafficking corridor.
The CJNG’s internal conflict started when Los Cabos decided to leave the organization due to discrepancies with the group’s new structure. CJNG leader Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, alias "El Mencho," has been forced to keep a low profile as authorities in the United States and Mexico have issued arrest warrants and multimillion-dollar rewards for information leading to his capture.
The CJNG’s internal strife is occurring amid a long-standing dispute with one of Mexico’s most powerful criminal groups, the Sinaloa Cartel, for control of a particularly strategic drug trafficking zone nestled along the US-Mexico border. Disputes between local drug traffickers have led to an increase in violence in this region, which helped Tijuana become one of Mexico’s most violent cities in the world in 2018.
This is not the first time that the CJNG has faced internal divisions. In 2018, the group had issues related to a rift with the Nueva Plaza Cartel -- many of whose members used to belong to the CJNG -- in Guadalajara, the heart of Jalisco state and the CJNG’s operational center.
The CJNG’s current dilemma is that it now has to fight on two fronts. On the one end, the group is trying to control the Los Cabos splinter group that is attacking them in Tecate, Tijuana and Rosario. On the other end, they're vying with the Sinaloa Cartel for control of drug routes in Baja California and Baja California Sur.