Authorities in Guerrero, Mexico have claimed a fatal shootout at a child's birthday party was the result of a breakdown in negotiations during a narco-summit, which if true is an indication of the extent of criminal fragmentation in the troubled state.
On January 30, nine people died after a gun battle erupted at a 15-year-old's birthday party in the municipality of Coyuca de Catalán in the southwestern state of Guerrero.
According to Guerrero prosecutor Xavier Olea Peláez, the fighting was between three rival criminal organizations, the Knights Templar, the Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (CJNG) and the Sierra Cartel, reported Milenio.
Olea stated the father of the child whose party it was had invited the rival cartels to the event so they could negotiate territorial boundaries, but the negotiations broke down and violence erupted. Among the dead were senior figures from each group, the prosecutor added.
InSight Crime Analysis
While the prosecutor's version of events remains unconfirmed, if verified it is illustrative of the current fragmented organized crime landscape in Mexico's most violent state.
The three organizations identified are on very different trajectories in the Mexican underworld. The Knights Templar were once one of the most infamous cartels in Mexico and the dominant power in the region, but after intense campaigns waged against them by the state and vigilante groups they are now a shadow of their former selves.
The CJNG is an up-and-coming group and one that has looked to take advantage of the demise of the Knights. While the group has significantly expanded its territory in recent years and has risen its profile with several outbursts of spectacular violence, there is little sign it has succeeded in driving out rivals and establishing a monopolistic domain over the regions where it is active.
SEE ALSO: CJNG Profile
The Sierra Cartel, meanwhile, is one of numerous offshoots of the now largely dismantled Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO), which have turned on each other and outside rivals in an attempt to seize control of criminal interests vacated by the captured Beltran Leyva family.
According to an Attorney General's Office report from late 2014, these three groups are among the 26 criminal organizations currently disputing Guerrero, a number that has proliferated with the decline of larger cartels such as the BLO.
This dynamic of smaller localized networks and splinter groups that maintain fluid alliances punctured by violent turf wars reflects the new reality on the ground in Guerrero and in much of Mexico.