The governor of the State of Mexico, Delfina Gómez, from Morena, appeared before the press this Saturday, to report on the massacre of 14 people, on Friday, in Texcaltitlán, in the south of the entity, at the gates of the region of Hot Land. “I request the permanent presence of federal forces in the region. I know that we will count on them and I am very grateful for their intervention and support. To the family members who have lost their loved ones, I want to express my deepest regret,” said Gómez. “To the south of the State of Mexico, I tell you: you are not alone, we are with you,” she added.
Recorded on video, the bloody battle between residents and alleged members of the La Familia Michoacana criminal group also left seven injured. The images are overwhelming due to the violence displayed. In the recording you can hear screams, shots, the neighbors are armed with sticks and machetes and the others shoot. A young man with a red shirt and yellow hair is dragged to the ground by dozens of men who hit and kick him until he stops moving. “These events do not paralyze us, on the contrary, they reaffirm our determination to improve the security conditions of our beloved State,” said the governor, who took office in September.
Gómez has appeared accompanied by the Secretary of Government, Andrés Andrade, and the Attorney General of the State, José Luis Cervantes. Andrade and Cervantes have given details of what has happened in the area since Thursday. Of the 14 dead, 10 were alleged members of the criminal group La Familia Michoacana and four were residents of Texcaltitlán. Cervantes has explained that among the 10 alleged fallen criminals there are three “priority targets”, among them the alleged regional leader of the gang, Rigoberto De la Sancha, alias Payaso. He has not given names of the other two, he has only said that they were “high or medium level hitmen.”
The Texcaltitlán massacre perfectly illustrates the state of things in Tierra Caliente, a region shared by the State of Mexico, Guerrero and Michoacán. For years, La Familia Michoacana has imposed its law in a handful of towns in the area, especially in the State of Mexico and Guerrero. In Texcaltitlán, Coatepec Harinas and other nearby municipalities, clashes with the authorities are constant. In April, for example, five police officers from the State Attorney’s Office were injured in a shootout with this group. In 2022 and 2021, clashes between police and civilians in both municipalities ended in massacres.
The extortion attempts of La Familia Michoacana are at the center of the conflict. Andrade has said that on Thursday, one day before the massacre, the authorities received at least two complaints of extortion by the group against residents of Texcaltitlán. “In an operation by the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena), accompanied by state police, a significant amount of weapons were seized, long weapons, 50 caliber, barrett, etc.,” said the secretary. The authorities arrested people for these events – neither Andrade nor the prosecutor have said how many – and confiscated the money collected.
On Friday, apparently, criminals and residents met in an area of the municipality, with an unclear objective. Local media have indicated that La Familia had summoned the neighbors to engage in some kind of negotiation regarding the extortion that the group wanted to impose on the population. Something went wrong and battle broke out. “On Friday at 12:14 p.m., an alert was received about firearm detonations, next to a primary school, in Texcaltitlan,” Andrade said. “Those responsible apparently were traveling in a Ford Wolf. In a second call, he states that the confrontation was between residents and members of La Familia Michoacana. At 2:50 p.m., an investigation begins into the admission of five people injured by firearms to a hospital. “Two of the injured were kidnapped by an armed group,” he added.
At that time, the State Government was still not fully aware of what was happening, information that arrived in dribs and drabs. “At 3:20 p.m. a task force arrived in the area, and then images and data that you have previously known were located,” the official said, referring to the photos and videos of the battle. With the area controlled, the authorities received reports of an alleged regrouping of the criminal group, to attack the population again, in response to the fall of its leader. “The task force was deployed, they went to the scene, but no risk situation was found,” Andrade said.
Despite the number of situations of this type registered in the area in the last three years, Andrade has assured that these criminals do not live or lived in the State of Mexico. The official has not given any explanation as to how he knows this. “The southern part of our State requires our urgent attention, since its proximity to other States allows people and groups that carry out criminal activities to enter, commit attacks and then retreat to the states where they are based most of the time. We are going to work to reinforce the adjacent area,” he concluded.
Subscribe here to the EL PAÍS México newsletter and receive all the key information on current events in this country