Criminal Groups Clash In Chiapas; Leaving 2 Dead and Vehicles Burned

Screenshot from video by Chiapas Paralelo

Early yesterday morning a confrontation between rival drug trafficking groups left at least two dead, one wounded, five burned vehicles and passenger buses with bullet impacts on the highways that connect Tuxtla Gutiérrez with Arriaga and Las Choapas, which were closed for six hours.

“It was hell, there were bullets everywhere and vehicles on fire. We were all on the floor of the truck. It was a dreadful terror. I thought we were going to die, because there came a moment when the soldiers were standing behind the unit, as if protecting themselves,” said the passenger of a bus, whose driver was slightly injured in the hand by a shrapnel.

The armed clash, which began around 5:00 a.m., at the so-called “Crucero de la Muerte (Crossroads of Death) ,” between Ocozocoautla and Tuxtla Gutiérrez, surprised hundreds of people traveling in buses and private vehicles, as well as truck drivers, who were just a short distance away from where the organized crime commandos were firing their high-powered weapons.

The Crucero de la Muerte is located about 20 kilometers from the Chiapas capital and near where last June a group of drug traffickers kidnapped 16 employees of the state Secretariat of Security and Citizen Protection for several days.

“There is a heavy gunfire and burning vehicles; we don’t understand it, nobody says anything, I think we are going to die, they are burning cars and we don’t know if they are burning the people inside. There is a lot of fear,” said the passenger who, together with more than 40 other people, remained on the floor of a bus of the Omnibús Cristóbal Colón company shortly after 6:00 a.m. 

“I was able to see that the driver of a bus was shot in the hand,” he said, noting that there were around 15 buses full of passengers in the area. I also saw six burned vehicles, including a trailer, he said.

Another traveler said that when he woke up, shortly after 5 a.m., the bus had already stopped and gunfire could be heard.

There I learned that a convoy of buses had been assembled and that the one in the lead, belonging to the Aexa company, had several windows broken by gunfire, although none of its passengers were killed or wounded.

He offered his testimony over the phone: “The saddest scene I saw was a boy of about 10 years old on the floor of the bus along with all of us, not knowing what was happening. It was barely dawn and the area was illuminated by flames and at the same time columns of smoke were rising.”

He mentioned that before 7 a.m. there was already the presence of federal and state security forces, as well as a helicopter flying over the area, so the crossfire diminished and the situation began to be controlled.

However, the highways remained closed until after midday, so that the trapped people were sheltered in a gas station without being able to leave the area until that time.

The State Attorney General’s Office (FGE) reported that two people were killed and one injured during the scuffle, and that several vehicles were burned.

It stated that federal and state security forces took control of the area, providing security to motorists and passers-by, and with the evidence gathered, investigations were opened, which will continue in order to guarantee the application of the rule of law and that no unlawful action remains unpunished.

Inhabitants of the region reported that on one of the two highways mentioned (Tuxtla Gutiérrez-Arriaga) a pipe was set on fire at almost the same time, although no authorities reported whether the two events were related.

Also during the course of the morning, a man identified as José Luis N. was shot dead in front of the mayor’s office of Tonalá, although presumably the homicide was not related to the confrontation.

The business community requests dialogue with López Obrador

Following the violent events, businessmen from Chiapas sent a letter to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, requesting a dialogue that includes civil society.

We reiterate our willingness and openness to dialogue and the search for coordinated solutions to ensure that security, stability and tranquility are once again conditions that characterize our state.

They expressed to the federal president their deep concern for the acts of violence that have occurred in the state in the last 24 months, but which have worsened in the last 72 hours.

Original text published in La Jornada on March 26th, 2024.
Translation by Schools for Chiapas.

Passenger vehicles shot at, bodies dumped on the road, burned pickup trucks, crime reaches central Chiapas

On the highway just outside of Tuxtla, on the morning of March 25th crime groups clashed, leaving two dead, one wounded and multiple burning vehicles.
Photo: Screenshot of video by Chiapas Paralelo.

Passenger vehicles shot, bodies dumped on the road, burned pickup trucks. Executions and confrontations between organized crime groups in the capital and center of Chiapas have been on the rise.

They woke up to the sound of gunshots, evidently machine guns, high caliber weapons; in Berriozabal -a municipality adjacent to the capital of Chiapas-, peace has not arrived for some weeks, neither in Ocozocoautla and Tuxtla Gutierrez.

The common secret that these municipalities are part of the migrant and drug trafficking routes is already a well-known fact, especially since organized crime groups have attacked, kidnapped and tortured police officers from Berriozabal and neighboring Ocozocuautla.

Forced to speak, despite the fact that under conditions of torture they could assure facts that are not necessarily certain, the declarations of these people include public officials, law enforcement officers and even current candidates for elected office.

In the early morning hours of Monday, March 25, the level of confrontation increased, armed people aboard several pickup trucks threw “ponchallantas (tire poppers)” on the highway that connects Berriozabal to the capital of Chiapas.  Immediately, hooded people, some of them wearing bulletproof vests, got out of several pickup trucks and began to shoot at passing vehicles.

Two passenger buses and a minivan were in the middle of the fire, the passengers tried to take cover, first inside the bus, and then in a nearby gas station.

The confrontation lasted more than two hours, time that allowed the armed men to remove the drivers of the trailers to place these vehicles as a barrier on the road, burn several units, to kill or be killed.

Bystanders recorded at least two people lying dead on the pavement and another injured person crawling along the road.

Others filmed from the places where they took refuge at the moment of the confrontation – as if it were a movie – zooming in on the gunmen running, shouting and shooting.

When the armed men withdrew, burned pickup trucks were left on the road, others with their doors open; those who call themselves the “Chiapas-Guatemala Cartel” were able to paint their mark on them.

The first messages from this group appeared just a couple of months ago, on the bodies of people murdered in municipalities in the central zone of the state; these messages were directed against the Sinaloa Cartel and against public servants.


Hours after the confrontation on the highway to Berriozabal, the security forces, army and police arrived. There were helicopter fly-overs and two official statements; one from the Secretary of Public Security, Gabriela Zepeda, saying that “the committee for the construction of peace and security  in the state is currently in session, and will remain in permanent session to address the events that occurred today on the Tuxtla Gutiérrez-Ocozocuautla highway stretch, and all the events that could occur in the coming hours.”

The Attorney General’s Office issued another communiqué stating that in the “Tuxtla – Ocozocoautla highway stretch, at the crossroads called “De la muerte”, several vehicles were found wrecked, two people dead and one injured who was taken to receive medical attention.

“Federal and state security forces took control of the place, providing security to motorists and passers-by.  With the evidence collected, the first investigations were opened, which will continue to ensure the application of the rule of law and that no unlawful action remains unpunished.”

In the municipal capital of Ocozocoautla, the military carried out patrols and searches of homes, because presumably one of the criminal groups was headed in that direction.

The population locked themselves in their homes; businesses didn’t open. In neighboring communities of Berriozábal and Ocozocuautla they reported the passage of convoys of vehicles with armed people. The highway to Ocozocoautla was closed by the authorities.

Original text published by Chiapas Paralelo on March 25th, 2024.
Translation by Schools for Chiapas.

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