More details on the Christmas eve massacre at El Platanar Ontiveros

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By Chris Covert

The Christmas eve massacre at El Platanar Ontiveros in Sinaloa state was caused by a rivalry between drug gangs over territory, according to Mexican news reports.

According to a Proceso wire dispatch published on the website of Vanguardia news daily, the armed group which invaded the remote mountain community numbered about 30 armed suspects, said Sinaloa state Procuraduria General de Justicia (PGJE), or attorney general Marco Antonio Higuera Gomez.

At a news conference Higuera Gomez told the press that his office had a number of leads in the case including the identity of some of the shooters, but he did not elaborate beyond saying that armed groups vying for territory in Sinaloa state include the Beltran Leyva cartel, the Sinaloa cartel and Los Zetas.

According to the news article, Concordia mayor José Eligio Medina Rios was informed at around 1930 hrs by Maria Ontiveros Osuna that her husband Francisco Tirado Gutierrez had been kidnapped.

It was later learned that Tirado Gutierrez, along with three other individuals, Bastidas Feliciano Gutierrez, Francisco Lizarraga Perez and Marcelino Rueda Medrano had been taken to the town basketball court and executed. Tirado Gutierrez was beheaded using a machete. Investigators found 17 spent cartridge casings identified in the story as "Cop killer" rounds, probably 5.7mm.

According to an El Universal dispatch which appeared on the website of El Diario de Coahuila news daily, Lizarraga Perez, 19, was a student on vacation attending Autonomous University of Sinaloa,

About 20 minutes later, Medina Rios found five other individuals who had been shot to death at a nearby grocery store, identified as Francisco Parentes Medina, the store owner, Victor Medina Garay, related to Parentes Medina, Parentes Medina's sons Jesus and Francisco Parentes Paez and Tomas Rodriguez Aguirre, a neighbor. At the store investigators found 96 spent cartridge casings for an AK-47 rifle.

According to Higuera Gomez, El Platanar Ontiveros had a local army detachment permanently stationed in the village, but the unit had been dispatched to another location for a counternarcotics operation. Higuera Gomez said the armed group took advantage of the military unit's absence to make their assault.

Higuera Gomez also said that none of the victims had a criminal history, but any nexus with organized crime is under investigation.

The same group which performed the massacre in El Platanar Ontiveros also killed two Sinaloa state Policia Estatal Preventiva agents in Mazatlan municipality near the Picachos dam last November, said Higuera Gomez.

Many residents in the area had fled to Concordia municipality drug gang violence in other areas of the state.

Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for Rantburg.com
Posted by: badanov 2012-12-28