Holy Saturday terror: Gunfire erupts near José Castillo Tielemans market in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas

Chiapas market rattled by gunfire on Holy Saturday; tourists, locals, and businesses impacted; origin and assailants remain unknown.

During the night of Holy Saturday, tourists, locals, and merchants of San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, experienced a moment of terror. This after a heavy shooting occurred near the José Castillo Tielemans market.

The panic unleashed by the detonations of firearms of different calibers was portrayed through videos.

Shooting in San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas

In some of the materials circulating in networks, it is possible to see people fleeing for safety: from tourists walking down the street to drivers who quickly get into their vehicles to leave the scene immediately; in addition, the surrounding businesses were immediately closed by the owners.

According to preliminary reports, the shots were fired around 21:00 hours on March 8; however, neither the Chiapas Public Security Secretariat (SSP) nor the local authorities have issued official information, so (as of this writing) the origin of the violent acts, as well as the identity of the possible perpetrators remain unknown. Unofficial versions suggest that the shooting resulted from a confrontation between criminal groups disputing the operation in the area.

It is presumed that shortly after the events were reported, elements of the Army, the National Guard (GN), and state and municipal police arrived in the area of tension. However, by the time they arrived, the alleged perpetrators of the chaos had already left the area.

According to local media reports, it should be added that on the same day and in the same place (although a few hours earlier), another armed attack was perpetrated.

En junio de 2022 se registró un hecho similar, en la misma zona.  (Facebook/Policía Municipal, San Cristóbal de Las Casas)
In June 2022, a similar event took place in the same area. (Facebook/Policía Municipal, San Cristóbal de Las Casas)

The reports of the facts come almost a year after heavily armed subjects carried out blockades and fired into the air in the city. On the afternoon of June 14, 2022, it was reported that many civilians wearing black clothes and with their faces covered came to the city streets carrying long weapons and tactical equipment.

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At that time and according to witnesses, it was reported that a group of around 40 armed people moved to the north of the city to block roads with trucks.

Preliminary reports indicated that two organized crime groups were clashing for the control of businesses and the northern market of the entity, which would have triggered a heavy shooting.

(Photo: REUTERS/Stringer NO RESALES)

Chiapas, another disputed territory

Currently, Chiapas is one of the territories with the highest rate of violence in the southern part of the country. According to documents from the National Defense Secretariat (Sedena) – leaked by the self-styled Guacamaya group in 2022 – the Sinaloa Cartel, also known as the Pacific Cartel, currently maintains the hegemony of drug trafficking activities in the state.

However – and according to the leaked document dated June 2022 and titled: Situation of the D.O. (organized crime) Southern Border, Sedena – the death of Ramón Gilberto Rivera Beltrán, El Junior, in July 2021 caused a leadership vacuum in the criminal group he headed within the Sinaloa Cartel, which gave rise to struggles and differences between internal cells, resulting in a fracture within the organization.

In addition to the situation within this criminal group, other organized crime cells are also operating, including the Jalisco Cartel – New Generation ( CJNG), Los Zetas, and the Mara Salvatrucha, which are also responsible for the violence unleashed in the region.

According to the Sedena, the municipalities with the highest incidence of crime are Comitán, La Trinitaria, Frontera Comalapa, Amatenango de la Frontera, Tapachula, and Suchiate.