The residents of Guanajuato for two years have been measuring the pulse of the war through messages, written with the spelling of a primary school student, that the narcos leave on severed, bagged or bullet-ridden bodies. These declarations often coincide more with what is going to happen than the hopeful messages of their rulers predict. The arrest of the alleged leader of the cartel that dominates the region, José Antonio Yépez, El Marro, early Sunday morning, has meant the first great blow of the López Obrador government to organized crime. But some experts consulted by this newspaper agree that, as has happened for the last 20 years, the capture of a leader not only does not cause a decrease in violence, but in the short term it may increase. After the fall of the great capos, the war remains.
A day after El Marro was detained, some cardboard next to two corpses thrown in the streets of Celaya (Guanajuato) said exactly the same poorly written message: “Let it be clear to you that we are more united than ever here and throughout Guanajuato Mr. MARRO continues to command.” And the residents of this town in the industrial south of the state, who have been supporting it for two years the highest murder rates in the countryWith around 13 executions a day, in addition to extortion from almost any type of business —from a taco shop or tortilla shop to a car agency—, kidnappings and street shootings, these days await the next step for organized crime.
“There are quite a few academic studies on the consequences of the strategy of decapitating cartels, of going against strategic objectives. We also saw it during the government of Felipe Calderón and Peña Nieto. There is a clear positive relationship between the arrest of a leader and homicidal violence. Therefore, in this time we have concluded that the arrest of a capo by itself does not reduce violence, on the contrary, ”explains the researcher in legal studies at the Center for Economic Research and Teaching (CIDE), Catalina Pérez Correa. At this point, the rest of the experts agree, as do the figures. In Mexico, after the capture of important criminals, she is murdered more than ever. Homicides have continued to grow, and rates each year break a new record for violence, with nearly 100 murders a day.
Although, according to UNAM researcher Raúl Benítez Manaut, there are contrary cases, such as the one in Michoacán with the arrest in 2015 of Servando Gómez Martínez, The suit, leader of the Knights Templar. “This organization was almost completely dismantled and its members fled to other parts,” explains Benítez. Although he agrees that this does not mean that the phenomenon of violence generally diminishes: “To conclude that is absurd. Because there are many interested in that business, many authorities, criminals, even residents, “he adds. The Michoacán area, a region traditionally planted with crops and drug production, is now, according to what the Government has pointed out, disputed by the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, the most powerful in the country for the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
Few times in Mexico has it been observed that the arrest of a criminal leader is accompanied by a more complex operation to weaken his financial and operational power, which according to experts would be the most effective strategy to combat organized crime. The López Obrador government has made some efforts in this regard, the Financial Intelligence Unit froze 99 bank accounts linked to José Antonio Yépez last week and in June announced a similar blow to the Jalisco cartel worth 20,000 million pesos, just over 900 million dollars.
However, almost never, except in the cases extradited and tried in the United States, the network with which the capo worked and who participated, both within the organization and in public institutions, has become known. “The arrest of drug lords facilitates a narrative in which the good ones, which is the State, and the bad ones, which is crime. When in reality we know that there is a very close participation between authorities and criminals, “says Correa.
“The queen of all approaches to the subject is the understanding of the network. When they capture a capo, we never understood its real role in the organization, what it ordered, we don’t know anything about that capo, not even what involvement it had, beyond symbolic involvement. What interests me is the operational dimension of that cartel and we don’t know it, ”explains former Fundar director Miguel Pulido. And he adds: “You see the Spanish or Italian cases or in the United States and there is a network approach: you know which companies, how those companies worked, who their operators were. We don’t have anything else from the movie, except that they took that guy. ”
“This happens when the version is purchased from the government,” says security analyst Alejandro Hope. “The problem is that the definition of capo is what the authorities give you. The Government points to El Marro, as other times they pointed to number two of El Mencho [Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, presunto líder del Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación]. I am surprised by how many number two they have, also how many financial operators or heads of hitmen. They show no other evidence than the sayings of the authority itself, “adds Hope.
And it is on this opacity that suspicion moves, Polished agrees. “We have little information and the information they provide us is biased and does not allow us to have a look at the real implications of their actions. Because if we have 25 years of intelligence, what is not understood is why the rates of violence and the capacity of fire and corruption of the organizations do not decrease. Therefore, there are no elements to understand the implications of a capture, “says Pulido. And he concludes: “At least since 1996, 20 main objectives have been stopped in similar operations, with paraphernalia and stridency in the announcement, but the phenomenon does not diminish.”
After the capture of El Marro, the residents of Guanajuato, who have adopted the lexicon of the cartel war on the basis of tragediesThey consider that the opposing gangs — those from Jalisco against those from Santa Rosa— “are letting the square cool down.” “Many of us believe that things are quiet now because they are regrouping,” says the director of the local newspaper Am, Jesús Padilla, from the other side of the phone. These days, they have counted 13 executions on the day of the arrest, 15 on Monday and there were six on Tuesday. “For now, everything indicates that nothing has changed, nor for the worse. But many businessmen, both small and large, fear that extortion and kidnapping will increase as a source of income to finance this war, “added the journalist.