Mexico is a country riddled with violence. The country's “war against drugs,” declared in 2006, has left close to 70,000 dead and in recent days there has been a spike in organized crime-related clashes, with activity registered in various states. These include Jalisco, Guanajuato, Colima and Guerrero, where a total of over 13 people have died, two kidnapped and three soldiers disappeared.
In the northern state of Jalisco, the local authorities decided Sunday to lift a red alert, decreed after the violent actions of crime groups left seven dead, 19 injured, an army helicopter gunned down, various vehicles, gasoline stations, banks and other businesses set ablaze..
“The security situation in Jalisco is now in a preventive phase, which means that it is no longer necessary for security forces of all levels of government to operate under a unified command, although they will continue to be coordinated through their respective commands,” said Jalisco government spokesperson Gonzalo Sanchez.
“There is no further indication that we need to maintain the red alert,” he added. The state of emergency lasted about 60 hours.
In the meantime, the Mexican army said it widened the search for three military personnel who went missing after their helicopter was shot at and forced to land in critical condition, which caused the death of three soldiers and injuries to 12 more.
A witness, who asked Mexican daily La Jornada not to be identified, said that heavy gunfire could be heard when the helicopter was gunned down and “then it lit on fire. We all decided to hide,” said the witness.
The attack on the helicopter occurred amid the worse day of violence in Jalisco, when seven people were killed, including three alleged crime members. Authorities said the attacks were perpetrated by gunmen members of the New Generation Jalisco Cartel and security forces.
Most of the violence in Jalisco was reported in the state's capital Guadalajara, the country's second largest city.
A government source said that the disappeared soldiers may be in hiding or dead.
According to AFP, a white luxury pick-up truck with assault rifles in it could be seen near where the helicopter fell.
Asked if the soldiers were kidnapped, another source told La Jornada newspaper, “I wouldn't want to speculate. We maintain that they were disappeared.”
Heavily armed men carried out violent attacks in 25 municipalities of Jalisco, including Guadalajara, blocking streets and highways with at leas 36 vehicles that were torched. They also set fire to banks and gas stations.
Witnesses' accounts talk of chaos and panic. “As soon as people heard of the blockades they ran in fear toward hiding,” a waiter of a restaurant told La Jornada.
Government sources assert that the violence was a reaction by drug traffickers to the launching of Operation Jalisco, a joint military and federal police deployment of forces to dismantle the New Generation Jalisco drug cartel. Authorities said 18 people are under arrest.
Raul Benitez, a security expert from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), said that this rare series of events “reveal the particularities of the drug cartel aiming to directly attack the government forces defying them so as to get them to seek them out to counterattack.”
The cartel's main boss, Nemesio Oseguera, began violent attacks March 23, after security forces killed another of the gang's leaders, Heriberto Acevedo, aka “El Gringo.”
The drug group ambushed and killed 15 state police April 6, in what has been considered the worse attack by a drug cartel against security forces.
On Saturday, various acts of violence were also carried out in the central Mexican state Guanajuato, during which more vehicles and businesses were torched.
On Friday, the national security commissioner, Monte Alejandro Rubido, confirmed that at least 39 blockades were carried out by criminal gang members in Jalisco, Colima, Guanajuato and Michoacan.
More Violence in Guerrero
At least four people were killed, two injured and two more kidnapped after a heavily armed group of men attacked two vehicles carrying people returning from a political event organized by the New Alliance Party (PANAL).
According to preliminary reports, the attack happened April 30, when the gunmen forced the two vehicles to stop. They apparently wanted to kidnap the driver, but the rest of the people in the vehicles attempted to foil the abduction, but the criminal group opened fire on them.
The violent southern state of Guerrero drew international attention in 2014, after 43 students were forcibly disappeared by local police Sept. 26. Security forces attacked buses transporting students from the Ayotzinapa teacher training college, killing three of them and three civilians. They reportedly handed the 43 students to drug traffickers from the Guerreros Unidos (United Warriors) group, who burnt them to ashes.
RELATED: Justice for Ayotzinapa
Drug Cartels React to the Arrests of Leaders
Mexican officials arrested two major drug bosses in April. Since then, one of their gunmen attempted to rescue him from police detention in a spectacular shootout that left at least three of the assailants and two innocent bystanders dead
One of the drug bosses detained was Tiburcio Hernandez Fuentes of the Gulf Cartel. Immediately after his arrest 60 of his gunmen, heavily armed traveling in 15 trucks attempted to rescue him. Various gunfights broke out and vehicles were set ablaze.