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Mexico Security Memo: Fuel Stations Attacked in Guanajuato

3 MINS READAug 15, 2012 | 10:32 GMT
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Guanajuato Attacks

Gunmen linked to organized crime attacked several fuel stations with firearms and incendiary devices over a three-hour period Aug. 10 in the Guanajuato state municipalities of Salamanca, Yuriria, Apaseo el Grande, Celaya, Moroleon, San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato and perhaps others. Witnesses reported that the gunmen ordered bystanders to flee prior to attacking the establishments, explaining the absence of casualties.

Hot Spots This Week in Mexico 081412

Hot Spots This Week in Mexico 081412

The similarity in targets and tactics over such a narrow time period suggests one organized criminal group coordinated the attacks, which means the attacks were mainly intended to intimidate residents and business owners. This is a tactic used frequently in extortion rackets in Mexico.

Alternatively — though this is less likely — the Guanajuato attacks could have been a cartel diversion, though troops ultimately were not redeployed from conflict zones in Michoacan. The attacks occurred at the same time as a firefight in neighboring Michoacan state between gunmen and federal police. The Knights Templar has demonstrated the ability to conduct near-simultaneous operations across Michoacan and Guanajuato state lines, most recently on May 25 when the group set fire to five facilities belonging to PepsiCo subsidiary Sabritas.

Several organized criminal groups including Los Zetas, the Knights Templar, La Familia Michoacana, and the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion reportedly operate in Guanajuato. The Knights Templar reportedly has been the most active in the state, and it most likely conducted the Aug. 10 attacks in Guanajuato.

Body Dumps and Shootouts in Zacatecas and San Luis Potosi

Authorities discovered numerous dead bodies in abandoned vehicles on Aug. 9 in San Luis Potosi state and Aug. 10 in neighboring Zacatecas state. The discovery came after a series of conflicts between authorities and gunmen in both states. On Aug. 10, a conflict between gunmen and federal police in San Luis Potosi resulted in the deaths of five gunmen. And on Aug. 12, the authorities discovered the executed bodies of the mayor-elect of Matehuala, San Luis Potosi state, and his campaign coordinator. The sudden uptick in violence may indicate a new challenge to Los Zetas in both states.

Los Zetas have been the principal cartel in both Zacatecas and San Luis Potosi, though other major cartels including the Sinaloa Federation and the Gulf cartel have operated there as well. Previously, violence in both states has been relatively low compared to other regions of the country.

Mexican authorities said the victims in both body dumps likely hailed from outside Zacatecas and San Luis Potosi states, indicating the deaths probably are part of the nationwide conflict between Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Federation and their respective allies. The spike in violence in the two states could, however, be tied to recently reported strife within Los Zetas. If the events of Aug. 9-12 represent either a renewed focus by Los Zetas' rivals or an internal conflict, both Zacatecas and San Luis Potosi can expect similar violence to follow.

Editor's Note: We now offer the daily Mexico Security Monitor, an additional custom intelligence service geared toward organizations with operations or interests in the region, designed to provide more detailed and in-depth coverage of the situation. To learn more about this new fee-based custom service, visit www.stratfor.com/msm.

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