Battles between Mexican police, cartel pose threat to truckers

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | 7/25/2013

A series of bloody gun battles between federal police and a notorious drug cartel in the southwest of Mexico pose security and safety threats to truckers as well.

Reports of escalating violence between Mexico’s federal police, the Knights Templar drug cartel and local militias in the city-state of Michoacan have left at least 42 people dead, and scores more wounded, according to a report in The Washington Post on Thursday, July 25. Among the dead are at least four police. Another 19 officers have been wounded in at least eight attacks since Tuesday.

OOIDA security operations director Doug Morris said the Knights Templar Cartel, not to be confused with the religious organization of the same name, is an organized crime syndicate that deals mostly in drug smuggling, as well as “a host of other organized crimes such as kidnapping, hijacking and government corruption.”

“What has prompted the attacks is the fact that the Mexican president (Enrique Peña Nieto) has flooded the area with federal law enforcement in attempts of taking over the Knights Templar stronghold on everything in the Michoacan area,” Morris said.

“Will the violence spread? I would say that it will become more violent with deadly clashes between the cartel and federal law enforcement,” Morris said. “At this time we just have to wait and see the outcome but as with previous cartels they seem to spread throughout the region until the cartel’s hierarchy is either arrested or killed.”

The attacks have involved ambush assaults on roadways, with the suspected cartel members “firing from high vantage points and blocking the roads and highways,” according to a report from FreightWatch International.

FreightWatch, which monitors cargo theft and supply chain threats globally, is advising companies shipping high value freight to and from the region to use extra security measures.
“While no direct threat to the supply chain has been reported, these incidents have affected travel on major highways,” FreightWatch said in a release issued Thursday. “Among those routes affected by blockades were the highway from Apatzingan to Cuatro Caminos and the highway stretching from Lazaro Cardenas to Uruapan.”

Although there are no reports of targeted cargo thefts as a direct result of the violence, FreightWatch warns that the situation may escalate in the coming days and weeks.

“If gun battles and violence continue to escalate, this could lead to more road closures and other delays, leaving cargo and drivers at greater risk,” the report said.

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