Last week in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, gang violence remained high amid clashes between rival groups and attacks against civilians in Mexico, Honduras, and Haiti. In Mexico, gang clashes prompted heightened levels of violence in the northern states of Sonora and Chihuahua, while gunmen attacked a journalist in Mexico state. In Honduras, armed suspects killed a journalist and his father. In Haiti, gangs attacked and looted a police station and businesses, as well as the Varreux oil terminal, amid continuing anti-government demonstrations. In Cuba, demonstrations increased, with people demanding solutions to the ongoing energy crisis.
In Mexico, clashes between armed groups drove an increase in violence in Sonora state last week. In San Luis Rio Colorado municipality, members of criminal groups clashed on 13 October, leaving four men dead. On the same day, authorities reported clashes between armed groups in Empalme, Guaymas, and Rosario municipalities; in Rosario, a person was killed during clashes and three vehicles were set on fire. These trends contribute to the 100% increase in violent events in Sonora over the past week relative to the weekly average for the preceding month, as flagged by ACLED’s Subnational Surge Tracker. Several criminal groups, including the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), the Caborca Cartel, and the Sinaloa Cartel, operate in Sonora state, controlling the production of fentanyl and drug trafficking routes to the US (El Sol de Hermosillo, 13 October 2022; InSight Crime, 7 January 2022).
Meanwhile, in neighboring Chihuahua state, gang attacks against civilians left at least five people dead, driving an increase in violence in the state last week compared to the week prior. Gang feuds also contributed to last week’s rise in violence, including an attack by armed suspects against the leader of the Los Aztecas gang as he left a prison in Ciudad Juarez in a vehicle with his lawyer. The gang leader was injured in the attack, while his lawyer and a bodyguard were reportedly killed. The Los Aztecas gang emerged as a faction of the Juarez Cartel, which along with the CJNG and the Sinaloa Cartel, control the drug trafficking routes along the border with the US (La Jornada, 15 October 2022; Zeta, 7 September 2022).
Elsewhere, in Mexico state, gang members shot at a journalist in Huehueoteca, where he was reporting on the kidnapping of a minor, and demanded that he leave the area. The journalist was unharmed in the attack. Thus far in 2022, ACLED records an increase in targeted attacks against journalists in Mexico, surpassing the number of such attacks recorded for the whole of 2021.
Similarly, in Honduras, suspected gang members dressed in police uniforms kidnapped a journalist and his father in Distrito Central, Francisco Morazán department, killing both and abandoning their bodies. Local organizations report that only 10% of attacks against journalists recorded since 2001 have been investigated by authorities, leaving most unpunished (Criterio, 10 October 2022). Also in Francisco Morazán, unidentified gunmen killed a communal leader of the National Party of Honduras, while the Barrio-18 gang killed a taxi driver in an extortion-related attack, driving an increase in violence relative to the week prior. ACLED’s Subnational Surge Tracker warned of increased violence in Francisco Morazán during the preceding four weeks.
In Haiti, gangs attacked and looted businesses and a police station in Ouest department last week. In the northern part of the department, members of the Base 5 Secondes gang attacked a flour mill near Lafiteau port, reportedly leaving one person dead, and blocked roads to prevent law enforcement from gaining access. Following the attack, police clashed with gang members in an attempt to recover control of the area, killing three. Elsewhere, in Port-au-Prince, rival gangs carried out several acts of looting. In Martissant neighborhood, members of the Ti Bwa gang looted a police station, taking weapons and vehicles. In Cité Soleil district, the G-9 gang alliance broke into the Varreux oil terminal and looted four oil trucks and around 28,000 gallons of gasoline (Gazette Haiti, 15 October 2022).
The looting of the Varreux terminal comes amid the G-9’s ongoing blockade of the terminal, which has increased the scarcity of fuel in the country and forced hospitals and other institutions to halt activities. The G-9 gang alliance announced its conditions for opening a humanitarian corridor to access the oil terminal last week, which reportedly included a criminal amnesty and government positions for its gang members (Le Nouvelliste, 13 October 2022). Amid worsening insecurity in Haiti, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on the international community to consider a Haitian government request for the deployment of specialized armed forces to address escalating gang activity and the humanitarian crisis (Al Jazeera, 17 October 2022). The US government subsequently sent Coast Guard officers to patrol Haitian waters and offered capacity-building support for Haitian police to fight gangs (CNN, 12 October 2022).
Meanwhile, demonstrators continued to call for the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry and opposed his request for international specialized forces. Rioters barricaded roads in at least six departments. During riots in Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haitien, police intervened and used firearms, reportedly killing three people. In Gonaives, rioters set a courthouse on fire and attacked a police station. ACLED’s Conflict Change Map previously warned of increased violence in Haiti during the past month.
In Cuba, demonstrations increased last week compared to the week prior, as people marched and held pot-bagging protests across the country, demanding a solution to the ongoing energy crisis and denouncing government restrictions on freedom. In Mayabeque and Villa Clara provinces, police forces intervened, arresting demonstrators in the latter. Social unrest triggered by continuous power outages has been recorded since late July; however, demonstrations have spiked in the first two weeks of October after Hurricane Ian damaged energy infrastructure, further worsening the crisis. Since 29 September, local organizations have reported the arrests of at least 28 demonstrators, with most still detained (DW, 6 October 2022).
Note: This dashboard automatically updates to cover the latest four weeks of data released by ACLED. Use the date filters to view data for the one-week period covered by this Regional Overview.