Last week in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, ongoing turf wars between rival gangs led to deadly attacks against civilians in Haiti and Mexico. In Haiti, gang warfare between the 400 Mawozo and the Vitelhomme gangs escalated in Ouest department, while anti-government demonstrations continued. In Mexico, violence against civilians intensified amid gang disputes in Guanajuato state, while gang violence increased in Michoacán state. In Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica, attacks by armed suspects and gang members drove increases in violence. Meanwhile, in Guatemala, armed members of the Ixchiguán and Tajumulco communities clashed in San Marcos department.
In Haiti, the 400 Mawozo and the Vitelhomme gangs engaged in clashes throughout last week in Croix-des-Bouquets district, Ouest department, leaving at least 15 people reportedly dead. During the clashes, gang members set dozens of houses on fire in Noailles village, displacing more than 200 residents (Gazette Haiti, 20 October 2022). The clashes came after an attempt by the Vitelhomme gang to expand operations in areas traditionally controlled by 400 Mawozo, its former ally (Haiti 24, 15 October 2022; Ici Haiti, 24 October 2022). Following the clashes, an attack by unidentified suspects left around seven people dead and several injured. ACLED’s Conflict Change Map previously warned of increased violence in Haiti during the past month.
Meanwhile, demonstrations demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry and against the government’s request for the deployment of foreign specialized armed forces continued last week across the country, though at lower levels compared to recent weeks. During demonstrations in Tabarre commune, Port-au-Prince, rioters looted stores and clashed with police officers, while in Nord and Sud departments, police officers fired on demonstrators, leaving several injured. Meanwhile, in Petionville commune, Port-au-Prince, armed suspects shot and killed an opposition political activist who had participated in anti-government demonstrations (Rezo Nòdwes, 21 October 2022).
Amid widespread fuel scarcity in the country, worsened by the ongoing blockade of the Varreux oil terminal by the G-9 gang, tensions related to fuel access increased along the border with the Dominican Republic last week. In Ouanaminthe of Haiti’s Nord department, people barricaded the bridge that connects to Dajabon in the Dominican Republic, rejecting the Dominican government’s restrictions on the sale of fuel to Haitians. Dominican Republic President Luis Abinader recently announced a ban on two-wheeled vehicles transiting between the countries to curb the smuggling of subsidized gasoline, and claimed the border could be closed in the case of foreign intervention in Haiti (Los Angeles Times, 15 October 2022).
Last week in Mexico, deadly attacks by gang members continued in Irapuato, Guanajuato state. On 15 October, armed men broke into a bar and reportedly killed 12 people. Following the attack, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) and its armed branch, the Grupo Elite gang, left banners across the city condemning the killing and threatening the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel (El Blog del Narco, 17 October 2022). In some locations, human remains were found along with the messages. This follows a similar mass killing in the state carried out by the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel less than a month ago. According to local experts, the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel and other criminal groups like the Sinaloa Cartel have escalated offensives in Guanajuato, seeking to take control of drug markets in areas dominated by the CJNG (Infobae, 15 October 2022; El Financiero, 24 September 2022).
Elsewhere, national guard and military forces carried out security operations targeting gangs in Michoacán state, driving an increase in violence in the state compared to the week prior. Military officers clashed with armed men in Aguililla municipality, and destroyed a camp used by a criminal group along the border between Buenavista and Irapuato municipalities. Following the latter operation, alleged residents of the area blocked roads near the camp with vehicles for unknown reasons. Other unconfirmed accounts suggest that they were armed members of a criminal group and carried out explosive attacks at the scene to prevent the advance of their rivals or security forces (Infobae, 20 October 2022). While violence in Michoacán has been common, it has become increasingly volatile, resulting in a shift from a place of ‘consistent risk’ to being considered an area of ‘extreme risk’ by ACLED’s Volatility and Risk Predictability Index.
In Trinidad and Tobago, armed groups increased civilian targeting last week, with attacks mainly recorded in Port of Spain and Chaguanas municipality in the northeast of Trinidad island. In Chaguanas, armed suspects shot at a group of people, killing a boy. Gang members subsequently killed two men allegedly in retaliation for the killing of the boy (Trinidad and Tobago Guardian, 18 October 2022). Separately, suspected gang members reportedly killed two people and abandoned their dismembered bodies in Cunupia, Chaguanas. This violence contributed to the 237% increase in violent events in Trinidad and Tobago last week relative to the weekly average for the preceding month. ACLED’s Conflict Change Map also warned of increased violence in the country during the preceding four weeks.
Similarly, deadly attacks against civilians by armed men contributed to the 42% increase in violent events in Jamaica last week relative to the weekly average for the preceding month. ACLED’s Conflict Change Map also warned of increased violence in the country during the preceding four weeks. Most attacks were recorded in Kingston and Montego Bay. The heightened violence came as parliament approved a two-month extension for seven Zones of Special Operations across Jamaica, including neighborhoods in Kingston and Montego Bay, where police have greater powers to fight criminal groups (Caribbean Times, 21 October 2022).
In Guatemala, a clash between armed members of the Tajumulco and Ixchiguán communities in San Marcos department reportedly left one person dead and two others injured last week. Fighting between these communities has escalated significantly in 2022, driving the highest levels of political violence in San Marcos department since ACLED began coverage of Guatemala in 2018. Fighting between the Ixchiguán and Tajumulco communities over the demarcation of municipal borders has occurred since Ixchiguán was officially recognized as a municipality in 1933 (La Hora, 20 October 2022). According to authorities, the operation of drug trafficking groups in the area has exacerbated the conflict, as they seek to control the communities’ lands, which are strategically located along the border with Mexico (Prensa Libre, 19 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.