“MX” for Borderland Beat
|Map of Chihuahua with the camps seized by the Mexican Army in yellow|
Chihuahua state officials confirmed that the Mexican Army dismantled 12 clandestine bases used by a local drug cartel in western Chihuahua. Half of them were found in Ignacio Zaragoza and San Buenaventura, two municipalities that are approximately 80 mi (120 km) from the U.S.-Mexico border. The remaining ones were found in the mountainous areas of the Chihuahua-Sonora border, including Nuevo Casas Grande and Madera municipalities.
This area of Chihuahua is a lucrative drug corridor for traffickers who smuggle narcotics through southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona. It is currently under dispute by rival drug gangs. In April, a clash between rival gangsters left 19 dead near the town of Madera, as reported by Borderland Beat.
General Miguel Angel Hernandez Martinez, who commands the 5th Military Zone, said that the Army set up a temporary base in the area to tackle the recent drug cartel activity in the area.
“This has allowed us to locate camps that are used by organized criminal gangs to live and provide security for drug shipments,” Hernandez Martinez said in a teleconference. “They were camps of various sizes, the smallest being used by nine, 10 individuals, the largest could accommodate 30 to 40.” Many of the investigations conducted in the area have also been conducted by foot.
At least 18 suspected cartel members have been arrested during these camp seizures. 3 of them were killed after they shot at soldiers and police officers who returned fire and effected the seizures and arrests. Hernandez Martinez said that the weapons and arsenal owned by the drug cartels in the area were similar to what the Army uses. In addition, state authorities confirmed that 8.5 tons of marijuana were seized.
The task force also found evidence that there were gun battles near these camps. As high as 800 bullet casings were found in one of the camps.