El Marro: fuel theft, extortion, and kidnapping in Guanajuato

“El Marro” wreaked havoc in Guanajuato for years 

El Marro: fuel theft, extortion, and kidnapping in Guanajuato
Federal and state forces arrested “El Marro” on Sunday - Photo: Mario Armas/Xinhua
English 05/08/2020 08:56 Mexico City Editorial Actualizada 09:07
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In Guanajuato, countless families have been affected by the presence of the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel. Its turf war with the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel to control the state reignited after security forces arrested José Antonio Yépez Ortiz aka “El Marro,” who wreaked havoc and destroyed the lives of thousands of Guanajuato residents.

Around 2,100 people went missing in Guanajuato since 2012, in the last couple of years the number tripled, at the same time “El Marro” and his cartel took over the state.

Authorities estimate the cartel boss made around MXN 30 million from fuel theft every day; however, he also obtained money through other crimes such as kidnapping, and extortion. These crimes often led to enforced disappearance, although he kidnapped many of them to request a ransom, he forced many others to join the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel or sexually exploited them.

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This is how “El Marro” amassed a fortune that he used to purchase weapons and bribe authorities and residents in the region where he imposed a regime of terror.

The infamous cartel boss gained the support of some residents through bribes, food, and the construction of projects to benefit small communities; however, José Antonio Yépez also used tactics such as intimidation and fear. The social base created by the criminal had the power to deploy entire communities to block roads and prevent the police and the army to enter the community, as well as hiding the criminals in their communities and refusing to provide any information to authorities. 

After El Marro’s arrest, it is urgent to work on rebuilding society in Guanajuato, and to deliver justice to his victims, investigations must allow each family to know what happened to their loved ones. On the other hand, authorities must make sure the Santa Rosa de Lima doesn’t reemerge or allow rival cartels to take over the state. Guanajuato and its people deserve peace.


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