HomeNewsBriefGuerreros Unidos, The New Face of Mexico Organized Crime?
BRIEF

Guerreros Unidos, The New Face of Mexico Organized Crime?

BELTRAN LEYVA ORG / 9 OCT 2014 BY DAVID GAGNE EN

A recent massacre of student protesters in the turbulent state of Guerrero has shined a spotlight on the Guerreros Unidos -- the criminal organization reportedly behind the murders -- and on the changing nature of Mexico's criminal underworld.

As previously reported by InSight Crime, on October 5 Guerrero's Attorney General Iñaky Blanco told the press that local police had handed over 17 student protesters to criminal group the Guerreros Unidos, a splinter cell of the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO), to be killed. The announcement accompanied the discovery of a mass grave with 28 bodies close to where the students were murdered, raising fears that some of the 43 students who were still missing following October 3 protest in Iguala, Guerrero were among the dead. 

Since the massacre, new information has been released linking Iguala's mayor, Jose Abarca Velazquez, to the criminal group responsible for the killings.

An internal report by federal intelligence agency the CISEN, dated October 1, stated that Abarca Velazquez's brother-in-law was the local Guerreros Unidos boss in Iguala, reported El Universal. According to the report, Abarca has further ties to organized crime in the region: two additional brothers-in-law were former members of the BLO, while his mother-in-law worked for Arturo Beltran Leyva, the former head of the drug trafficking group who was killed by security forces in 2009.

InSight Crime Analysis

The Guerreros Unidos' involvement in this case highlights an ongoing trend in Mexico: larger drug trafficking cartels are giving way to smaller criminal groups, who must look for more diverse revenue streams rather than relying principally on the transnational drug trade. The fragmentation of Mexico's criminal underworld follows a pattern that has been seen in Colombia, in which an increasing number of small criminal groups rely on extortion, micro-trafficking, and contract killings to bring in cash. 

Without any obvious financial incentives to go after student protesters on their own, it is likely the Guerreros Unidos was working acting as "muscle" for corrupt local officials. If this is indeed the way the Guerreros Unidos operate, this makes them more similar to a street gang than a sophisticated drug cartel like their predecessors in the BLO.

 SEE ALSO: Mexico News and Profiles

The Guerreros Unidos, who broke away from the BLO following the killing of Arturo Beltran Leyva, is considered a "mini-cartel" and is involved in drug trafficking but now specializes in extortion and kidnapping. Following the April 2014 arrest of the Guerreros Unidos' leader, Mario Casarrubias Salgado, alias "El Sapo Guapo," the criminal group -- which a Mexican official has said was once the primary supplier of marijuana to Chicago -- fragmented, likely pushing them to resort to these other criminal activities for income. 

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.

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

HUMAN RIGHTS / 6 FEB 2017

Mexico's eastern state of Veracruz became the most dangerous place for journalists in Latin America during the regime of fugitive…

AYOTZINAPA / 4 SEP 2018

Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto’s final report on the state of the country showed that the security crisis will be…

BRAZIL / 22 APR 2020

Thefts of tests, ventilators and personal protective equipment have shot up across Latin America amid the coronavirus pandemic, threatening lives…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…

THE ORGANIZATION

Exploring Climate Change and Organized Crime

10 SEP 2021

In July, InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley moderated a panel for the Climate Reality Project's regional series of workshops for young climate activists in the Americas. The week-long event…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gearing Up a New Class of Interns

3 SEP 2021

InSight Crime is readying its newest class of interns – from universities in Europe and the Americas – to begin investigative work on a number of high-impact projects. For the…

THE ORGANIZATION

Tracking Environmental Crime in the Amazon

27 AUG 2021

Next week, InSight Crime launches an investigation – conducted with Brazilian think-tank the Igarapé Institute – on the sophisticated organized crime structures and armed groups that…