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New Photo Series of Cárteles Unidos in Michoacán

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Photo 7. 

The photojournalism website Cuartoscuro recently published new photos of members of Carteles Unidos operating in Michoacán

Cuartoscuro operates similarly to a site like Getty Images; it lists out photographs that news publications can choose to license for use in their distribution for a set price. The new fifteen photograph series is titled “Abandonment Tepalcatepec Confrontations” and it was shot by photographer Juan José Estrada Serafín. The listed date is August 17, 2021. 

The description of the series reads as follows: 

The municipality of Coalcoman is beginning to look abandoned after the constant clashes between the Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (CJNG) and the so-called “autodefensa” groups.


The municipality of Coalcomán has become another Aguililla, as it is suffering from roadblocks on highways that connect with other cities and causing the violent displacement of families, in addition to the suffering from the sabotage of telecommunications infrastructure. 

By both routes (Aquila or Tepalcatepec) it is impossible to get there, the only alternative is through Colima. The constant confrontations between the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel (CJNG) and the groups that call themselves Autodefensas. The daily life of the residents of the communities that are under fire is difficult, most of them emigrated from there because of the danger and the constant confrontations. 

In the center of Tepalcatepec, some people and organizations like Camellones Tepeque have organized a small shelter and collection for those displaced by violence. For his part, the governor, Silvano Aureoles announced that he will go to Coalcomán in the middle of the week to review the security issue and the situation that prevails there.

It is worth noting that Cuartoscuro is the same website that got some of the first and only known high resolution photographs of CJNG members in Michoacan last month in July 2021. The men shown were likely either from Fuerzas Especiales Mencho (FEM) or from Los Deltas or some combination of the two. 

The photos showed CJNG members with no masks on, posing in front of an armored vehicle. A photographer allegedly ran into a group of CJNG members on a highway in  Aguililla municipality and the men were seemingly willing to pose for photographs. Those photos were listed on the Cuarto Scuro site on July 4, 2021 and many sites that cover cartel activity, such as Insight Crime ran stories on the series, providing the internet with access to the photographs with no watermark.

The nature of criminal activity creates a climate where remaining anonymous is king. A 4k resolution image of a cartel member’s face could easily spell their demise and land them behind bars. Although this desire for secrecy has changed and evolved ever since the dawn of social media, there is still a lack of photography with a resolution above what a smartphone camera can produce is few and far between.

Photo 1.

Photo 2. 

Photo 3.

Photo 4. Presumably showing clothing donations collected in the Tepalcatepec shelter. 

Photo 5. Presumably showing food donations in the Tepalcatepec shelter

Photo 6. Website’s listed caption “In the image, armed men are seen aboard an armored monster vehicle.”

Photo 8.

Photo 9. “Autodefensas” is notably seen to be painted on the monstruo blindado

Photo 10.

Photo 11. No caption clarifying location given on website. Possibly the sleeping location of a member of Carteles Unidos. 

Photo 12. 

Photo 13. Website’s listed caption “In the picture, an armed young man inside an armored monster vehicle.”

Photo 14. 

Photo 15. 

Source: Cuartoscura


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