In the newest battlefront in violent Jalisco state, the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion has begun fighting its former ally Los Coroneles, an ally of the Sinaloa Federation, along with Sinaloa's allies the Knights Templar and the Gulf cartel. The Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion has become one of the larger organized crime networks in Mexico, with its operations spreading into several Mexican states. During the latter half of 2011 and through 2012, the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion dominated criminal enterprises in Jalisco, defending Sinaloa Federation interests against incursions by rivals. The split is a significant blow to the Sinaloa Federation.
Like Los Coroneles, the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion emerged from a Sinaloa faction led by Ignacio "El Nacho" Coronel Villarreal. The conflict between the two successor organizations strongly suggests the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion is a fully independent criminal organization. The new fighting has affected multiple regions of Jalisco state, including the eastern portion around Lake Chapala, the western half including Guadalajara and along the state's border with — and into — Michoacan state. Further complicating Jalisco state's cartel landscape, Gulf cartel gunmen have become active there, probably upon request of their ally the Knights Templar. The Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion also has been engaged in multiple turf wars with the Knights Templar since at least February 2012.
Jalisco state, specifically the metropolitan area of Guadalajara, has long been a strategic base of operations for Mexican organized crime, serving as a transportation hub for drug traffickers. Mexican cartels also use the mountainous and rural areas of the state for the production of illegal drugs. Guadalajara remains critical to Sinaloa Federation operations, meaning Sinaloa's new conflict with the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion will likely continue either directly or through Sinaloa proxies.
The new conflict between Los Coroneles and the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion raises the question of what role Los Zetas — who inevitably will be drawn in — will play. Jalisco state began experiencing escalated levels of violence as early as 2011, when Los Zetas began making inroads at the expense of the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion at the latter's inception. Activity attributed to Los Zetas in Jalisco has been limited during the first month of 2013. What strategy the organization will take in light of the influx of rivals thus remains unclear.
Los Zetas could align with Los Coroneles, the Knights Templar and the Gulf cartel, although so far Los Zetas have remained aligned to a lesser criminal organization known as La Resistencia, which derived from the former Milenio cartel. More beneficial for Los Zetas would be aligning with the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion in efforts to keep out the numerous other cartels seeking a foothold in Jalisco. An alignment with the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion in Jalisco state would be a substantial blow to the Sinaloa Federation, Gulf cartel and Knights Templar, the principal rivals to Los Zetas in their strongholds in northeastern Mexico. Nothing, however, suggests an alignment between the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion and Los Zetas is imminent, though it is a possibility.
Whether Los Zetas continue to assault other criminal organizations in Jalisco state independently or whether they align with one of the other groups in the state, violence will likely continue in Jalisco and in neighboring Michoacan. Although an alignment would eliminate a separate conflict from the region, it would probably not reduce violence in Jalisco state since conflict between the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion and the Knights Templar, Gulf cartel, Los Coroneles and Sinaloa Federation would likely replace it. Should Los Zetas remain separate and resume fighting in Jalisco, violence will likely escalate.
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