Ocotlán Engulfed in Violence as Mexican Authorities and CJNG Cartel Clash

Class suspensions in Ocotlán, Jamay, and Poncitlán announced due to confrontations, with local governments urging residents to stay indoors.

On the afternoon of Thursday, November 16, the municipality of Ocotlán saw a violent episode after clashes between armed civilians and agents of the National Guard, which also led to roadblocks on various roads.

According to reports from the authorities, one of the points of confrontation between criminals and uniformed officers was on 20 de Noviembre Avenue in the Ribera de Zulas neighborhood, where gunfire detonations caused chaos among the residents of the area.

Through social media, videos captured by eyewitnesses began to circulate, in which bursts of large-caliber weapons and even some screams from neighbors who panicked could be heard.

Official Calls for Reinforcements

The head of the General Strategic Security Coordination of the state, Ricardo Sánchez Beruben, issued a message through his X account, formerly Twitter, requesting the prompt presence of authorities from the different government agencies.

“A few moments ago, there was a confrontation between armed civilians and state police officers and the National Guard in the municipality of Ocotlán,” he wrote on social media.

Governor Says Situation Under Control

The governor of Jalisco, Enrique Alfaro, assured that the situation was already under control and there was no risk to the population because the uniformed officers had already addressed the case.

Post by Enrique Alfaro: “A few moments ago, there was a confrontation between armed civilians, state police officers, and the National Guard in Ocotlán. The situation is already controlled and calm, without risk to the population.”

The situation in Ocotlán was controlled until 14:00 hours (Photo: X@EnriqueAlfaroR).
The situation in Ocotlán was controlled until 14:00 hours (Photo: X@EnriqueAlfaroR).

Authorities Seek Those Responsible

A few hours after the confrontation, agents from different corporations carried out an operation around Ocotlán to see if any instigators of the violence could be located. Still, so far, no arrests have been reported.

Suspect Killed, Officer Wounded

After almost 20 hours since a confrontation occurred in Ocotlán between authorities and armed civilians, the government of Jalisco confirmed the death of an alleged criminal who would have participated in the events.

“After the attack, there was an alleged criminal killed, and a member of the National Guard injured who is being treated in Guadalajara,” the governor said through his networks, and added that “the timely reaction of the security forces prevented collateral damage and civilian injuries.”

Clashes Stemmed from Ongoing Operation

The shootings and blockades on Thursday in Ocotlán were in reaction to an inter-agency operation that has been carried out in the region for several days, the governor of Jalisco, Enrique Alfaro, confirmed.

He also pointed out that an alleged criminal died in the confrontation, and a member of the National Guard is under medical care after being injured.

“The Mexican Army is coordinating an inter-institutional operation that began on Wednesday and will continue in the coming days. In reaction to this operation, yesterday criminals attacked personnel from the National Guard, the Armed Forces, and the State Police, generating blockades to try to flee,” Alfaro said.

Schools Suspended in Affected Municipalities

Official government communications from the Ciénega region reported the suspension of classes in Ocotlán, Jamay, and Poncitlán municipalities due to the confrontation between civilians and state forces.

Through the official government social media accounts of the municipalities of Poncitlán and Jamay, it was notified that due to the events that occurred in the municipality of Ocotlán, the preventive measure of suspending classes in all educational centers was taken.

Likewise, the Government of Jamay reported that due to the violent events reported in Ocotlán, it is necessary to take preventive measures and avoid going out on the streets.

In addition, Mayor Josué Ávila suggested that the inhabitants of Ocotlán take shelter until complete security is guaranteed.

Schools such as the University Center of the Ciénega (CU Ciénega) and the Hogar School of Ocotlán shared that their administrative and educational staff were sheltered in the facilities at the time of the confrontation.

Confrontation Stemmed from Ongoing CJNG-Government Dispute

Michoacán and Jalisco are territories disputed by the CJNG and other cartels.

In Ocotlán, a city of just over 106,000 inhabitants located on the shores of Lake Chapala, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, “El Mencho,” decided to install one of the first bases of hitmen for the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG); the place was not chosen by chance, as its proximity to Michoacán allowed him the expansion that years later – eight to be exact – would lead him to have a presence in 27 of the 32 entities of the national territory.

It was 2015 when residents of Ocotlán began to point out the recruitment of young people, the patrols with heavily armed men, and the salaries of up to five thousand pesos per week with which the CJNG promised its members a life of luxury and power.

It was also in 2015 – specifically March 19 – that members of the CJNG ambushed elements of the Gendarmerie Division of the then Federal Police; they were patrolling aboard seven units in the La Mascota neighborhood in Ocotlán, which ended with a balance of five dead officers.

The war that the CJNG led by “El Mencho” launched against the federal government reached its highest point in May of the same year – Thursday the 1st – when an RPG-7 rocket launcher impacted a helicopter of the Ministry of National Defense (Sedena), forcing it to make an emergency landing.

The helicopter crash occurred near the border with Colima, between the municipalities of Casimiro Castillo and Villa Purificación. That day, there were at least 39 roadblocks in 25 municipalities of Jalisco and at least 15 dead, including six soldiers and one federal police officer.

The authorities of Jalisco indicated that during a reconnaissance patrol, they noticed a convoy with “suspicious trucks” – those usually used by organized crime -; Upon noticing this, the Cougar helicopter with registration 1009 and 18 crew members on board approached a little, which provoked the “unexpected” response from the CJNG.

Although the hypothesis was created that “El Mencho” was in the convoy, which is why his men acted brutally, this information was not confirmed.

Ocotlán, Land of “El Mencho” and the CJNG

The federal government’s response came just three weeks later. On May 22, 42 alleged members of the CJNG were killed – 13 of them extrajudicially – in a shootout that lasted at least two hours.

Around 100 elements of the Federal Police and an armed helicopter arrived shortly after 6 in the morning at the El Sol ranch in Tanhuato, Michoacán, after chasing a white truck from which armed men shot at them and which, in their escape crashed into a tree on the outskirts of said ranch.

When the shootout concluded, more than 6,000 spent shells were counted; the bodies of the alleged CJNG hitmen were left lying in different positions – some were sleeping when the confrontation began -some were barefoot and almost naked, eight died trying to escape, and some presented the “coup de grace.”

Armed Men Accompanied the Subjects As They Walked Through the Streets

After the inconsistencies of the “operation” that ended in a massacre of 42 to 1 – as then President Enrique Peña Nieto celebrated by “recognizing” the superiority of the weaponry and capacity of the federal government – the hypothesis of a “revenge” for the ambushes suffered weeks earlier was created; Even the National Human Rights Commission (CDNH) pointed to the Federal Police for the excessive use of force, manipulating evidence and treating the bodies of alleged criminals in an unworthy manner.

Three years later, when the government tried to send more security elements to Ocotlán, the residents and organized crime armed barricades to prevent their entry into the municipality; the discontent came from the Tanhuato massacre since 30 of the 42 alleged criminals killed were originally from this region.

In 2023, a video circulated where three men – alleged thieves – walk with a poster in their hands while other characters dressed as soldiers but with the symbol of the CJNG “exhibit” them for committing crimes in Ocotlán. The images show police modules, but no one responds because the inhabitants know that whoever controls the municipality is “El Mencho” and the four-letter cartel.