Tuesday, October 29, 2013

3 Detained in attacks on 18 electrical plants, 6 gas stations in Michoacan, and Morelia

Assailants early Sunday blew up 18 electrical power plants in Michoacan, one of Mexico's most troubled states, triggering blackouts which gunmen then used as cover to torch gasoline stations, residents and authorities said.

The attacks in Michoacan state, west of the capital, did not cause deaths or serious injuries, authorities report. But they served as a pointed reminder of the strength of drug gangs and other criminals.

Shortly after midnight, attackers armed with Molotov cocktails almost simultaneously disabled electrical substations in at least twelve cities and towns in Michoacan, plunging an estimated 1 million people into darkness. The power was out for 15 -18 hours.

CFE in Sahuayo
CFE in Sahuayo
Gunmen then torched four gasoline stations, two in the state capital of Morelia, a popular tourist destination. a pump was burned down on Avenida Francisco I. Madero de Apatzingán and another on the Morelia-Uruapan Highway, 10 kilometers from Patzcuaro, where there was also damage to a convenience store.
The delegation of the Attorney General's Office (PGR) reported that damage was detected to 18 electrical substations, 6 gas station between the two states of Michoacan and Morelia, and there was damage to water facility attack in Morelia. The mechanical and electrical operating system for the treatment plant sustained damage at the Mintzita Spring. At the turn off to Morelia in Salamanca, Guanajuato, where an important plant  is located, the aggressors didn't manage to detonate bombs against any mechanism, but left more than 100 petrol bombs on the scene.

Along with the attacks on the CFE electrical substations, the attacks affected the operation of 14 wells in Morelia. There was damage to the water treatment plant of La Mintzita, which supplies water to 35 per cent of the population,  This led to several colonias not receiving water on Sunday, reported a  water, and sanitation and sewerage official. Augusto Arriaga Caire, director of water utility and waste water(OOAPAS) reported that after the power outages, 14 wells and Mintizita treatment plant were offline lacking power for a period of 16 hours, energy was restored at 18:00 hours on Sunday, At that point they immediately began trial assessment investigation including computer synchronization, in order restart and restore water service Morelia.

The state of Michoacan for years has been controlled either by the Knights Templar or its predecessor La Familia Michoacan, cartels that specialize in methamphetamine distribution to the United States, and have controlled many city halls and police departments. 

More recently, groups of citizens have taken up weapons forming self defense groups to protect communities from CT infiltration, extortion and domination.

MILENIO consulted state and federal sources who estimated 420, 000 people were left without electric power for about 18 hours, up to seven in the evening. The service in some affected areas was restored 95 percent.The assaulted CFE electric substations are located in Morelia, Apatzingán, Zamora, La Piedad, Ciudad Hidalgo, Uruapan, Sahuayo Tarímbaro, Zinapécuaro, Queréndaro, Tuxpan and Aguililla.

The first calls for help were received by the Michoacan emergency services at 11:45 am Saturday, and the last at 3:07 pm on Sunday, all were anonymous.

The only case where there was a confirmed exchange of gun fire during these fire bombings was in Morelia between security guarding the government electric facilities and the assailants. The firefight lasted about ten minutes.

After the confrontation and the flight of the suspects, on a sidewalk authorities found boxes with a total of 131 petrol bombs. 

Simultaneously, other groups attacked petrol stations in Morelia, one in Apatzingán and another in Patzcuaro, again without any injuries.

Mexican Army troops and Federal Police, supported by state troopers, activated a special safety protocal, both to try to to protect power generating facilities in the area and to locate and catch the suspects.

Federal authorities said they were sending hundreds of police and military troops to reinforce security in the region. The attacks came two days after the state's governor, Fausto Vallejo, resumed duties after a long illness leading some to wonder if it was a protest of some sort.

Local Government Secretary Jaime Mares, revealed that the federal government offered full backing to Michoacan to strengthen security, and said a coordinated action will restore power supply in all the affected areas.

In an interview with Oscar Mario Beteta, for Radio Times, the state official said they can not say whether the attack was a result of a drug war and self-defense groups.

- Should the attack in principle be considered terrorist?

-As we get further along, elements of the state's attorney will investigate determine the corresponding commentaries.

- Are other groups involved like "Familia Michoacana", "Zetas", "Nueva Gente", besides the "Knights Templar"?

-At this time we can not make claims of this nature, since investigations have just started a few hours ago.

On the possibility that the attacks are related to the rise to power of Fausto Vallejo, Jaime Mares said that there is no relationship.

"Naturally they are events that have nothing to do with it, unfortunate facts but they have no relationship," he said.

Hours later, the delegation of the Attorney General's Office announced a preliminary investigation has been underway since the early morning in order to determine who commissioned and perpetrated these crimes, the state attorney shall assist in the field.

In a telephone interview with MILENIO, Gerardo Rodríguez Sánchez-Lara, an expert on terrorism and national security, said that these offenses of sabotage have the potential ingredients of of terrorism,he asked that the government of Michoacan not underestimate their severity..
The advisor also the Department of Defense and Semar considered these attacks may be due to the actions undertaken by preventive and enforcement authorities, which has been accused of exhibiting certain signs of weakness against organized crime.
Gas station in Morelos, Morelia

Even academic researchers did not rule out the possibility of evaluating the loss of control, meaning the loss of the state of Michoacan power and the progress of criminal groups in the conquest of all kinds of areas.

"The only thing we can conclude ... is that the organized criminals are winning the battle against federal and state authorities," Miguel Angel Chavez, head of the opposition National Action Party, told the Quadratin news agency, and also that the violence of the last 24 hours was a terrorist attack.
It has been suggested that Mexico is experiencing a so-called narco-insurgency, in which criminal groups seek to attack the state in order to gain total autonomy and control over their territory. The Knights Templar in particular position themselves as a popular social movement, and if it is true they were behind the attacks, then the use such tactics echoes methods used by insurgencies like Colombia's leftist guerrillas.

- The Catholic Church demanded that the federal government restore the rule of law in Michoacan and investigate which mayors are linked to cartels including an investigation into Michoacan Governor Fausto Vallejo who is in collusion with organized crime.

- In the editorial of the weekly Desde La Fe from the Catholic Church, it took up position of removing impunity:  La Familia Michoacan, Los Zetas, Nueva Gente and CTs murder, kidnap, extort fees from those faithful to the religion with absolute impunity

- "Local governments and police are under or in collusion with criminals, and it grows increasingly with the ever-present rumor that the state government is also in the service of organized crime, causing despair and disillusionment in society, especially because they know where they hide and do nothing to stop them."

Three Detained in "The Vandalism"
Federal police captured three men allegedly linked to the attacks on gas stations and facilities of the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) occurred over the weekend in Michoacan, said Monday the Security Cabinet spokesman, Eduardo Sanchez Hernandez.

Those arrested are David Contreras and Miguel Angel Armenta, both 25, and Miguel Piedra Ortiz, 55, said the official.

All three are hospitalized in condition "stable" for injuries sustained when the vehicle rolled over attempting to flee, said Sanchez Hernandez to read a statement in a press conference where no questions were allowed media.

The official said that the detainees can provide data on who carried out the attacks and why.

Two other people who "allegedly thought to be involved in the vandalism" were killed during a clash with soldiers, said Sanchez Hernandez without specifying details as the date and place of the incident.

Military disarm the community police
Michoacan is a failed state- Bishop of Apatingan

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