Violence breaks out in Guanajuato: blockades, vehicles set on fire

21/06/2020

Several points in Guanajuato, with Celaya as the epicenter, were taken over by violent criminal groups during the afternoon and night of this Saturday after the arrest of 26 alleged members of the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel.

The violent acts at Celaya in Guanajuato coincided with raids by the authorities at points probably linked to criminal organizations. Photos: Twitter
The violent acts at Celaya in Guanajuato coincided with raids by the authorities at points probably linked to criminal organizations. Photos: Twitter

The aggressors burned vehicles to block avenues and highways, and set fire to businesses. They even tried to set fire to a gas station located in the center of Celaya. As of 9 p.m. this Saturday, Civil Protection and Firefighters of Celaya had attended to at least 36 reports of fires of various magnitudes in all parts of the city, reported the Agora website.

The attacks are said to have spread to the Laja-Bajío region and other municipalities in the south of the state, such as Salvatierra, and in the northeast, such as San Luis de la Paz and San José Iturbide.

Response to arrests

According to Guanajuato's Secretary of Public Security, Alvar Cabeza de Vaca, elements of the Army and his agency arrested 26 men and women, allegedly members of the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel.

The secretary posted several photos of the operation on his Twitter account at 9:30 pm. Among the images is one where several men and women appear to be escorted by elements of the Army. The alleged criminals were reportedly arrested after several raids in the community of Elguera shortly after 4 pm.

Not an hour had passed when vehicle fires were reported at the entrances to Celaya and at the exits to Salamanca, Cortazar, and Juventino Rosas. As of 5 p.m., the Fire Department also began to receive calls for help from vehicles and some businesses within the city, in different areas.

It was not until 5:49 in the afternoon that the Secretary of Government of Guanajuato, Luis Ernesto Ayala Torres, published on his Twitter account a message confirming that: "Federal forces, in coordination with local authorities, are carrying out searches in areas probably related to organized crime in the Laja-Bajío zone. In this publication, the state official added: "Coordination is being activated to prevent and attend to possible reactions".

The prevention and coordination went up in smoke, and the authorities were overwhelmed by the criminal reaction, which quickly expanded its attacks in which they set fire to at least two Oxxo stores, a furniture store on Adolfo Lopez Mateos Boulevard, and even a Bodega Aurrera express store in the San Antonio neighborhood.

They also tried to set fire to a gas station on Prolongación Juárez street, in the heart of the city. The rapid arrival of the firemen prevented the fire from spreading at this point. From one of the Oxxo stores, the police and firefighters managed to get the four employees out, who went into the cold room when civilians threw gasoline on the store.

"At this time, elements of the Fire Department, supported by the different authorities, are working to put out several vehicle fires in different parts of the municipality," the Celaya Security Secretariat also published on its social networks.

The agency said that "the situation is under control, although citizens are asked to take precautions and use alternative routes. It reported that an operation was already underway "by the Municipal Police in conjunction with state and federal authorities, including the National Guard, to try to locate those responsible and prevent other acts of violence.

Taxis, trailers, trailers, merchandise delivery trucks, motorcycles, and compact cars were burned at the exits from Celaya to Villagrán, Salamanca, Salvatierra, Cortazar, Juventino Rosas, and San Miguel de Allende, as well as in accesses to these same municipalities, as well as in Apaseo el Alto and Apaseo el Grande. Police reports from that area also refer to the placement of the artifacts known as tire punches, as well as piles of tires that were set on fire.

But beyond the Laja-Bajío zone, in northeastern municipalities such as San Luis de la Paz, Dolores Hidalgo, and San José Iturbide, as well as in Acámbaro - on the border with Michoacán - several tractors and other cars were also set on fire. At least three tractors and one car were intercepted by civilians and subsequently set on fire on Highway 57 between San Luis de la Paz and San José Iturbide. National Guard operations were deployed in those municipalities.

By Mexicanist, with information from the local news and Twitter