Full Blown War in Michoacan – trenches, bombs and armoured vehicles deployed by rival drug cartels

Full Blown War in Michoacan - trenches, bombs and armoured vehicles deployed by rival drug cartels

In the western Mexican state of Michoacan, soldiers opened fire on residents during a protest near the Jalisco-dominated town, Lomas Blancas, according to inhabitants of the municipality, which is caught in the middle of a turf war between rival drug cartels.

The Mexican drug cartels are locked in a deadly rivalry for control of the region. The two sides have used trenches, snipers, bombs dropped by drones, and homemade armoured vehicles against one another. Civilians have increasingly found themselves on the front lines of the conflict.

In Michoacan, soldiers are caught in a bind. The government’s strategy has been to repel attempts by the Jalisco cartel to win new territory in Michoacan, while doing little or nothing about the Michoacan-based Viagras cartel. The Viagras have in the meantime established roadblocks to collect a “war tax” from locals whenever they try to take their goods to market.

Protesters are demanding the army open the roads and act with equal force against both cartels. The demonstrators recorded parts of the fight, which showed protestors and soldiers pushing, shouting, and hurling rocks on both sides. Detonations were heard in the video, but they may have been tear gas cannisters or warning shots.

Several protesters were wounded by some sort of live fire, according to protest organizer José Francisco Helizondo. In one clip, a man appears to have shrapnel or shotgun pellets in his calf. Ortega said someone detonated an explosive device, which he thought was the cause of the injuries. Mexico’s Defense Department did not respond to a request for comment.

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