A Friday confrontation in central Mexico led to the deaths of 14 individuals, including a notorious cartel leader, ABC News reported.
The violent clash between local residents and the infamous Familia Michoacana drug cartel took place in a small agricultural community, according to ABC News. The confrontation resulted in the demise of Rigoberto de la Sancha Santillán, also known as “El Payaso” (“The Clown”), the leader of the Familia Michoacana, per the outlet. Among the deceased were 10 cartel members and four local residents, per the outlet. The cartel had long maintained a dominant presence in the region, per the outlet.
Video footage showed the villagers donned in cowboy hats and armed with rifles and sickles as they engaged in a fierce battle against the gang members, per ABC News. The conflict reportedly stemmed from the cartel’s demand for extortion payments from local farmers, a common tactic employed by drug cartels in Mexico, per the outlet. These criminal organizations typically resort to violence and intimidation against businesses and individuals who refuse to comply with their demands. (RELATED: Mexican Cartels Ramping Up Use Of Armored ‘Monster’ Trucks)
Clash between criminal gang and villagers leaves 14 dead in Mexico.
Villagers with sickles and rifles chase down gang members amid gunfire.
— Aditya Rathore (@imAdityaRathore) December 10, 2023
Mexico State Governor Delfina Gómez, along with other officials, strongly condemned the violence. “These events do not paralyze us, on the contrary, they reaffirm our determination to improve security conditions in our beloved state, rest assured that we will continue working so that events like this are not repeated,” she said in a press conference Saturday, per ABC News. “You are not alone, we are with you.”
As the country approaches its presidential election in June, the incident has sparked political debates, per ABC News. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador attributed the violence to drug consumption and past government neglect of the youth, per the outlet. In contrast, presidential candidate Xóchitl Gálvez criticized López Obrador’s security approach, arguing it leaves rural communities vulnerable and favors criminals over citizens, per the outlet.
This latest episode of violence is a reminder of the Familia Michoacana’s history of aggressive attacks against law enforcement and civilians, including a massacre in Totolapan in 2022, ABC News reported. The ongoing conflict between drug cartels and local communities continues to pose significant challenges for Mexico’s security and stability.