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Confrontation in Aca’s Periphery Destroys Market

By: David Real | Real Acapulco News - 05 April, 2011

(Zapata, AN 5 April) Two well organized groups, one military, the other a criminal gang, confronted each other in Zapata, an outlying suburb of Acapulco, yesterday at 4 in the morning. The result was the burning down of “Acatianguis,” an informal, open air market, the destruction of Zapata’s Comercial Mexicana supermarket, the death of two gunmen and one soldier, and the arrest of seven gang members.

The confrontation started when members of a special unit of federal police and military called “Mixed Urban Operations Base” or BOMU in its initials in Spanish came across a group of delinquents who were setting fire to Acatianguis, an informal market area of street shops in Zapata. Zapata’s store owners are all victimized by extortion in a protection racket. Acatianguis, was low-hanging fruit for the criminals. Locals had two opinions about why the gunmen wanted to burn down Acatianguis: One is that the extortion efforts had been unsuccessful, and the arson was a form of terrorism and retribution. The other goes back to October of last year when a local director of the PRI and the logistics coordinator of Manuel Añorve Baños, Antonio Valdez Andrade, was executed for his alleged involvement in supporting the local drug gang headed by the drug boss known as “La Barbie.” His execution was “signed” on a “narco-message” by the Beltrán Leyva group and the Zetas. Valdez Andrade had been an active organizer of the vendors in the Acatiaguis market and a labor leader. Some locals said that since his execution for allegedly being involved with one of the rival drug lords, it was only a matter of time before Acatianguis would be a target of the others.

When the mixed police and military units surprised the arsonists, there was an exchange of automatic gunfire. Then the criminals threw incendiary grenades, which exploded and ignited the Comercial Mexicana store in Zapata, and nearly burned down other structures in the shopping area, including the movie theater next door. Both the Comercial Mexicana and all 112 shop locations in the Acatianguis were total losses. Firemen arrived promptly, and were already present when the gunmen threw the fire grenades at the Comercial Mexicana in order to cause confusion and permit an escape.

The soldiers and police pursued and arrested seven gang members, two of whom were wounded. Two others were killed by gunfire. One soldier lost his life in the battle. Three vehicles were confiscated as well as a large arsenal of weapons and ammunition, which the gang had kept in a storage place in a nearby side street.

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