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Living in Mexico’s kill zone | The Full Report

Jun 06, 2021
We're heading down a dirt road toward an epicenter of violence in Mexico right now. This is the only route to the small town of Agalia in the state of Michoacán. It's caught between two cartels and isolated from the rest of the state we've been to. We were told that this track on the hillside is a way back, but even that is under control. We just saw in quick succession a checkpoint we had to go through with guys with guns on the side of the road, a burnt out truck and then the initials of the Jalisco new generation sign is actually scrawled on the road itself, no There is no real doubt about what territory we are in, we would ask the commander of the Jalisco cartel for permission to travel this way, otherwise we would never have risked passing by the soldiers. for the cartel they say they are the special forces this is not a desperate mob it is a private army and it is advancing eventually we arrived at their local operations center and asked for an interview they agreed to talk but what they say is clandestine landing strip 10 minutes away , you gave this interview because you wanted to make clear what that point is, but the reality is that the four letters, as they are called here, are brutal and ruthless, they have

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ed police officers and disappeared civilians all over the country and now we are invading mitchua can we are here to ask what that means for an already traumatized population and who is going to stop them we are heading into a war

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the southwestern state of michoacán is where

mexico

's drug war began when former president felipe calderón sent the army to stop the cartels almost 15 years ago but it didn't work the conflict only grew as rival criminal groups and vigilantes fought for the state by extorting and terrorizing the population but now those former enemies have united under the banner of united cartels to fight another force most powerful that invades from the next state the new generation Jalisco cartel, its leader Nemesios Aguero alias El Mencho is from the municipality of Agalia, he himself wants his hometown and his state and on the clandestine track his men are in an advertising impulse to justify their invasions for more than a decade in Michoacán, now different groups have said the same thing, the family, the Knights Templar organization, no, we are not going to get involved with the population, we are just doing our thing, simply trafficking drugs and in the end everyone has extorted things they said they wouldn't do why should people believe you and your poster are any different when the interview is over?
living in mexico s kill zone the full report
I left feeling like I hadn't revealed the poster's true motives. michoacán has a lot to offer besides drugs a lucrative mining business the main avocado industry in the world that must be attracting them here too this states a real prize we were in the final stretch for agalia the town at the center of this conflict surrounded by riches natural areas coveted by the cartels could soon be one, the locals told us that thousands of people have already been escaping the siege and in the buildings we saw the scars of the battle between the united cartels that are still here and the new generation forces of Jalisco that advance. bullet holes in this building, but this happened just a week or two ago, that's what people here say, so if you come in here, the building was closed and also this car at the time of our visit to Jalisco had taken over all the land around the Meanwhile, the united cartels have placed a blockade further up the only official road in medicine, cooking gas, basic foodstuffs were in short supply, even gasoline had to be smuggled, this is how it fills in agalia, businesses are dying, la paris, takaria is about to survive, it is where we met maestro fernando padilla who became famous locally when he faced the governor of the state silvano aureoles ariolis was on his first visit in years to agalia by helicopter just as the election season began then the governor did this another sign of government indifference towards this besieged town and region it angered residents like gabriela carbajal and her sister daniela who were already dealing with their own personal tragedy their grandfather had a burst stomach ulcer the first day of the blockade they couldn't take him to the hospital on the other side he died when this happened, how did that make you feel?, what was going through your minds, what has it been like to live like this for the last few years, was it this failure, is that night we discovered what he meant, you can probably hear that that's the sound of gunshots.
living in mexico s kill zone the full report

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living in mexico s kill zone the full report...

We are right outside the town church. Night has just fallen and they have started shooting here. A city and a region trapped between cartels that would come to save them. Perhaps the head of state security, Israel's patron, will be next to appear after the governor's failure. visit with a battery of police vans for which we had a couple of questions is that it was strange that he said he did not know about the blockade that he had come to experience but the people here say that they are used to the government turning a blind eye Although there are an army barracks in Agalia, the townspeople say they rarely patrol and before the security chief's visit we had not seen police in the town, but he had promised that the main road would be clear, it seemed like the ticket out We left relieved. having to take the mountain track, but it was eerie, almost empty, lined with burnt fields, road signs marked with bullets and empty towns here, maybe it's a vision of the future of agalia, these ghost towns where everyone has fled, have become common throughout Michoacán, according to authorities.
living in mexico s kill zone the full report
We have sown soil for the cartels that you can see on the wall, it has the initials of the Jalisco Cartel, new generation, in the middle of the bullet hole. It's quite disconcerting here, in fact, in a completely deserted town, in this house there is no one else around, friends, uh, so we. We are leaving as fast as we can, but what we had seen in the town stayed with us. We knew there were thousands of people who had fled violence not only here but across the state. Where had they gone? What were they doing now that we were established?
living in mexico s kill zone the full report
We headed to a nearby community, Los Alconis, to meet one of the displaced Michoacans on a hot, languid afternoon. We wait until Candelario Serrano has fled his town of Los Cuces a couple of months ago. Now he stays with whoever will take him in. He is 71 years old and suddenly becomes homeless every week he returns to check his lands this time we were escorted by a self-defense group from Te Pelcatepec to a nearby town it was the only safe way to travel there in the town Candelario he showed us where he had lived Since he was four and before the violence let his father rest, tonight the houses, the church, the town school, are all empty.
Candelario does not believe he will see them

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again, but some towns have not become extinct, instead they defended themselves in 2013. -Defense forces began to emerge throughout the state, heterogeneous groups of inhabitants who took up arms against the cartels. This was Tepao Katapek, one of the original groups back then and this is them now, eight years later, this is a professionalized force on the front against Jalisco. new generation cartel this surveillance bunker has walls the thickness of a forearm it is a military installation sir, even the soldiers are now

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time like the commander l8 is only 20 years old one of the many young people in the town here how do you feel about regarding your work personally?
This must feel lonely, maybe a little. It's a bit boring to be here while many other self-defense groups have disappeared, wiped out by gangs or absorbed by state forces. Tepal catapex remains. They enjoy strong support from the townspeople after suffering terror and extortion. So far they live in relative peace, but there are questions. about this force and many of the other self-defense groups that remain in michoacán many people have accused them of getting into the same business as drug trafficking criminals most deny it outright but commander sierra is surprisingly frank so what is the difference between them and the cartels that is a very thin line between legitimate protectors and a criminal group even their weapons are illegal many men with many weapons veering towards illegality the risks seem obvious during our visit they took this young man off the bus suspecting them when they find more evidence they arrest him, they told us they would send him to a rehabilitation center, but before that, this is a memory and a testament to their authority for me, it also looks uncomfortably similar to the photos published by the cartels themselves, nothing is black and white here. and temple caterpie is just one of a multitude of armed groups operating within the state with varying degrees of legitimacy, the question arises, where are the authorities in all of this?
Why don't they have control when we saw the police in these border areas with Jalisco? They say they seemed nervous as if they had crossed enemy territory the national guard a militarized force created to stop the violence has not made much of a dent successive governments have failed to change things, but if there is a time for change, this is the time the elections. They are not just any elections, but the most important in the history of Mexico, in Michoacán, everything is at stake from the governor of the state on down, this is Rogelio Portillo, he is running for mayor in Guetamal and promises to stop the violence. people, nothing is, but in this state there are always hidden currents like those of portillo. the campaign was just getting off the ground this arose suddenly the united states anti-drug agency the dea was looking for him for alleged links to organized crime this is one of the biggest problems in michoacán journalists analysts and even criminals told us that many politicians are in bed with the narcos when Portillo stopped to have breakfast at his campaign headquarters I told him that obviously there is a reason why we are here you did not appear on the DEA's wanted list why are you on that list why do you want to buy the during our entire interview admitted personally, but said that there is endemic corruption, that there are obvious benefits for politicians who do business with the power of drug money, but it is not as concrete a memo as Valencia knows that, better than most, in 2013 it was accused of colluding with a cartel when he was mayor of Te Pancatacapec, but says that in the interior of Michoacán politicians often have no other option.
He is now running for mayor of Michoacán's capital, Morelia, and says he will expel criminals from there, but after we met him this happened, he was not in his truck at the time, but in Michoacán and other parts of Mexico where gangs dominate, politicians who don't take their side can have a short life expectancy, armies of ruthless drug traffickers, rogue vigilantes, helpless or corrupt politicians and daily tragedies, it's a bleak outlook for many people who have made life here. Impossible, they formed the wave of Michoacan migration that headed to the border with the United States in search of asylum.
On the last stop of our trip, we also went to the border to talk to them, but even 2,000 kilometers from the gangs they had fled, most of them were there. Too scared to speak, only Leticia Alejandro and her family agreed on the condition that we not reveal the city they had directed to the entire family, including her disabled father and her one-year-old granddaughter, who had been sleeping rough in this donated tent for five nights before our visit they fled when a gang came for leticia's 17 year old daughter the family resisted then a final call came from one of their neighbors it was blunt terminology we don't know how many people have made this trip since michoacan to the In the 15 years since the drug war began, the border with the United States has been left behind, but with peace and security not even on the horizon in their state, they certainly won't be the last.

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