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Acapulco, Guerrero: Armed Men Set Fire to 6 Markets and Destroy 16 Stores

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“Parro” for Borderland Beat

Night of terror in Acapulco: Cartel members burned up to 17 businesses last week. 

Acapulco, Guerrero, one of the most famous tourists areas in Mexico, suffered a new blow last week when armed men attacked markets throughout the city. At around 1:00 a.m., criminals entered the city’s central market and doused their surroundings with gasoline. They set fire to stalls where fish, fruit, and clothing were sold. 

In El Parazal handicraft market, another group entered and burned several stores, in addition to an aesthetic located on Velazquez de Leon Street, which is next to Acapulco’s main square. Other businesses in the Caleta Market were also set on fire.

In the suburban area of Acapulco, a Volkswagen Beetle vehicle was set on fire with Molotov bombs. A man died and another was injured in the attacks.

Authorities say that the attacks were coordinated. They left at least six stores and a vehicle destroyed. The events exacerbate the upsurge in violence that this Mexican port city has been experiencing.

Since the start of Mexico’s drug war, Acapulco has been one of the most affected zones in Mexico. What was once a famous international destination for tourists, Acapulco plunged into a serious security and economic crisis. 

An internal report from the Acapulco Public Security Secretariat (SSP) indicate that there are at least 16 criminal cells in the Acapulco area, which has a population of 1 million people. Investigators say that there is a territorial dispute between rival cells that splintered from the Acapulco Independent Cartel (CIDA), the armed wing of what was once the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO).

A driver recorded the arson from a highway next to the market

The CIDA is the main criminal group in Acapulco, but smaller cells are competing for control of some of the drug distribution spots, known in Mexico as puntos, and for businesses to extort. The money collected from businesses in the area is a lucrative market for these groups.

The report said that the CIDA operates in Costera Miguel Aleman, in the center of Acapulco, and in more than 80 neighborhoods in the western area of the municipality, in addition to Las Cruces prison. Los Viruses, the second most important group in Acapulco, controls part of the Diamante Zone and Puerto Marques, as well as part of the Costera Miguel Aleman.

The other 14 criminal cells, referred to as “atomized gangs”, operate in their own neighborhoods and rural communities in the outskirts of Acapulco proper.

These organizations collect weekly fees from the public transport. As reported by Borderland Beat, criminal groups extort merchants and business owners in Mexico through derecho/cobro de piso (“user rights”), a form of extortion where businesses are forced to pay criminals periodically in order to be able to work. This is a tactic that is prevalent across Mexico, including Guerrero.

When business owners are unable or unwilling to pay, cartel members often kidnap and kill them, and/or damage their properties. It is possible that the arson attacks recorded in Acapulco may be tied to the extortion business.

Sources: OEM; Yucatan Times; Noticias por el Mundo


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