The deaths of 20 people at a clandestine fight in Mexico’s state of Michoacán has revealed how a fairly small criminal group, the Correa, is seeking to stand up to the firepower and resources of the much larger CJNG.

On March 27, in a highly coordinated assault, the Correa reportedly targeted Jalisco Cartel New Generation (Jalisco Nueva Generación – CJNG) members, including local leader, William Rivera, alias “El Barbas,” as he attended an underground cockfight at a ranch in the town of Zinapécuaro to the east of the state, according to local media reports.

The highly coordinated assault saw two trucks block the road to the ranch, while gunmen dressed in military uniforms opened fire. Nineteen people died on the spot and one more passed on the way to hospital. Rivera reportedly escaped unharmed.

SEE ALSO: Funeral Massacre Latest Example of Extreme Violence Causing Michoacán Exodus

The Correa may not have acted alone. The group allegedly held a meeting with the Viagras, who have fought the CJNG in Michoacán for years, a few days before the attack, according to Milenio. And in a video released a few days after the attack, and circulating on social media, the CJNG appeared to directly accuse the Correa of having been helped by La Familia Michoacana, a once-powerful cartel whose remnants still fight on in the area.

In response to this attack, Mexican authorities have deployed 800 soldiers and police to  Zinapécuaro and neighbouring municipalities to further investigate the situation.

Michoacán has been among the bloodiest states in Mexico for years and the situation has continued in 2022. On February 27, up to 17 people were shot dead at a funeral in the San José de Gracia municipality, in a feud reportedly involving two rival CJNG members.

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The cartel turf wars in the south of Michoacán have received more attention of late, with the use of landmines and armed drones by the CJNG. But the northeast of the state has seen continuous levels of violence, due to rivalries between the CJNG and locally entrenched groups, such as the Correa.  

This part of the state is a mountainous and forested area, which includes a major tourist attraction, the Monarch butterfly sanctuaries on the border with the State of Mexico. Yet the surrounding nature reserve sees a range of illegal activities, including logging, drug trafficking and even the rampant extortion and displacement of avocado farmers by criminal groups.

The northeast of Michoacán is also conveniently located along drug trafficking routes to Mexico City and central Mexico.

SEE ALSO: Why the Jalisco Cartel Does Not Dominate Mexico’s Criminal Landscape

While the CJNG has been present in Michoacán for years, its war in the northeast has seen it clash with an alliance of La Familia Michoacana and the Correa since 2020.

The Correa, led by Daniel Correa, alias “El Tigre,” are one of the newest players on the Michoacán criminal scene, having evolved from being a family dedicated to illegal logging in the Monarch butterfly reserve. Since 2020, they have been allegedly responsible for the killing of environmental activists in the area and have reportedly transitioned into the trafficking and manufacturing of synthetic drugs.

Several massacres in northern Michoacán have previously been attributed to the CJNG-Correa feud, including the killing of 11 young Indigenous people on November 1 and seven bodies found on November 6 with a message threatening Daniel Correa.  

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