Northern Zacatecas scene of thefts, shootings and kidnappings

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By Chris Covert

Despite public promises by authorities to reinforce security in northern municipalities of Zacatecas state, several security incidents have taken place, including the kidnapping of a relative of a Chihuahua state politician Christmas eve, according to Mexican news accounts.

A news story published on the website of El Siglo de Durango news daily Friday reported that three members of the family of Camargo, Chihuahua mayor Arthus Zubia Ordaz died in a carjacking incident near Fresnillo, Zacatecas.

According to the report, at around 1200 hrs the family was bound for Chihuahua state when the victims were intercepted by armed suspects, then driven some distance only crash at a location about 24 kilometers outside of Fresnillo.

Killed in the crash were Yolanda Zubia Fernandez, a former government official from Guanajuato state and Zubia Ordaz's sister, and Brenda Ordaz Zubia, 34. and her son Luis Alfredo Ordaz Zubia, 14.

Three months ago Chihuahua state politician Alex LaBaron claimed that in September in Fresnillo his brother Max LeBaron and two women were taken hostage and driven to a warehouse in Cuencame municipality in Durango.  There Max Lebaron was beaten. Three hours later the trio were released near Fresnillo.

The last incident probably explains why the Secretaria de Defensa Nacional (SEDENA), the controlling agency for the Mexican Army had announced plans in November to reinforce the northern border areas in Zacatecas, especially near the borders of Durango and Coahuila states.

Since that announcement, more than 50 individuals have been killed, mostly in intergang fighting and executions.

Incidents have taken place on or near Mexico Federal Highway 54, and have included 13 killed in or around Fresnillo between November 12th and December 16th. Included in that time frame was a counter-kidnapping operation by units with the Mexican 11th Military Zone, which led to the capture of four kidnapping suspects. Other killings have occurred in that time frame in Jerez and Calera municipalities as well as in Guadalupe and Tabasco municipalities.

According to a news item posted on the website of El Sol de Zacatecas news daily, intense fighting between armed gang members has been taking place since Christmas. Locations in Fresnillo include firefights on Calle Miguel Hidalgo, near Zona Centro and near the Palacio Municipio or city hall. Fighting continued in Zapata colony, on Avenida Huicotand and near Chedraui store.

Reports were also received from the sectors Lomas de Plateros and Fovissste, which are near roads leading to Valparaiso municipality.

According to the report fighting continued Thursday in Esparza colony, near the Secundaria Tecnica 2 school and in Paseo del Mineral colony near roads that lead to Valparaiso.

No one was reported killed or wounded in the multiple gunfights.

It is worth noting that a comment appearing on the El Siglo de Durango article charged that federal and state police forces in the area were charging tolls at checkpoints in northern Zacatecas. That comment was removed a few minutes later. The original remark in Spanish can be seen here.

Criminal gangs also have been known to don military uniforms to appear as legitimate security elements, disguising their presence in public.

Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for Rantburg.com.
Posted by: badanov 2012-12-29