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Leader of Mexican Narco Cartel Makes Dubious Claims of Shootout with Rivals in Latest Video
On October 6th a video began circulating on social media of Jose Alfredo Hurtado Olascoaga “El Fresa,” one of two main leaders of La Familia Michoacana narco cartel, responding to an attack committed by Los Tequileros the day prior in San Miguel Totolapan, Guerrero. Los Tequileros is a rival group formed under the broader criminal syndicate Guerreros Unidos in order to combat La Familia Michoacana.
The video begins with Olascoaga sitting in his home, allegedly in San Miguel, claiming the attack was directed towards him, Mayor Conrado Mendoza, and Mendoza’s father, Juan Mendoza. On the day of the attack, a meeting was arranged between the three to discuss the narco communication Los Tequileros released where they announced their return. Olascoaga claims an unknown individual betrayed them using the meeting to gather all three individuals together for Los Tequileros to ambush. The meeting went ahead as it was believed Los Tequileros had not officially returned to the conflict.
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Traveling to the meeting using an armored vehicle, Olascoaga claims fellow members of La Familia Michoacana told him not to step out of the vehicle, at which point they were attacked but escaped with Comandante Colima towards the area of Valle de Luz and San Francisco while still being pursued by Los Tequileros gunmen. Upon regrouping with other Familia Michoacana members, a supposed firefight occurred between the two groups. In the video, Olascoaga showed footage of the aftermath of this second round of fighting on his phone.
The number of dead from the confrontation succeeding the massacre in San Miguel Totolapan is alleged to be 25 with 2-3 injured, but these figures remain unconfirmed along with the details of the shootout. The injured managed to escape according to Olascoaga. At the moment of writing this, footage of the confrontation was unable to be found outside of what was shown in the communication. Olascoaga expresses his anger over the situation and towards the rival group, whose members he says “don’t deserve to be buried” for their actions towards a peaceful town. He takes responsibility for believing that the meeting would conclude without incident and further expressed his disbelief that something like this would happen in San Miguel.
The video continues with Olascoaga criticizing Los Tequileros for celebrating their attack on Conrado Mendoza, Juan Mendoza, and the 18 others killed during the massacre. Since Los Tequileros also lost men in the later confrontation, Olascoaga claims the organization uses their men as “toys” to carelessly send out to fight and die, while he on the other hand feels as if he loses a child every time a member of La Familia dies. Olascoaga proceeded to specifically target “La Mula” and “El Vago,” prominent figures within Los Tequileros along with their current head, Saúl Beltrán Orozco, former San Miguel Totolapan mayor (2012-2015) as a member of the PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institucional). Olascoaga threatened to track down all three men.
“My message is to bring peace, the ones who entered are dead, I know nothing at the moment will bring back peace because of what happened in San Miguel with all the deaths… This video is with the intention to please stay calm, and to trust us.” Olascoaga says that an additional motive for making the video was an attempt to calm the community following the attack, asking for their trust, as well as affirming that La Familia Michoacana will seek revenge. Olascoaga later discussed being lectured by his brother for his casual approach to security, having previously claimed that the community was so safe he felt comfortable going out with family in public unarmed.
While the main purpose of the video was to discuss the attack in San Miguel and to “calm the community” as Olascoaga claims, the video also casts both Olascoaga and La Familia Michoacana in a positive light. The recording is notably different in tone and content from the usual narco-communications, where groups typically enact shows of force to maintain an image of strength towards communities and rival groups. This video not only focuses on the negative events alleged to have recently taken place but also paints a picture of Olascoaga as both a victim and defender of the community. Olascoaga fails to mention his responsibility in the narco-conflict that has brought violence not only to the state of Guerrero but nationwide through La Familia Michoacana.
On October 10th, another narco-communication by Los Tequileros began circulating in response to Olascoago’s video. The first portion of the response is directed towards both Olascoaga and his brother Johnny Hurtado Olascoaga “El Pez,” calling them cowards for failing to take responsibility for the attack in San Miguel Totolapan and claiming the attack was instead perpetrated by La Familia Michoacana, saying that the latter had falsely placed blame on Los Tequileros. “Si Los Tequileros ya no somos tan chingones como tu dices en Totolapan y otros pueblos, pero no somos tan cobardes como para matar a tantos inocentes”. Los Tequileros then claims Olascoaga reunited Mayor Conrado Mendoza, his father Juan Mendoza, and the others present to perpetuate the massacre himself and denies the claims that Olascoaga had confronted Tequilero members in the area of Valle de Luz and San Francisco, asking the location of the supposed 25 bodies from the confrontation, claiming they, La Familia Michoacana, had burned the cars to make it appear a confrontation had occurred, which was purely fabrication, according to Los Tequileros.
Los Tequileros claim they released the communication to convey the truth to the town and ask whether the community is not tired of living in fear while dealing with Olascoaga, his brother “El Pez” and their protected families living in Toluca or in the United States. Los Tequileros attempts to relate to the community by expressing that they live in the same humble way the community does, in contrast to the lavish lifestyle the heads of La Familia Michoacana live within their large houses and armored vehicles. Los Tequileros lastly claimed that the brothers had lost the trust of everybody including their own men.
Currently, it is unknown if the attack was perpetrated by Olascoaga as Los Tequileros claim, but their questioning of the events does poke holes in Olascoaga’s story, most notably the alleged footage Olascoaga shows on his phone which he claims is the aftermath of the confrontation between both groups. In the video, only 5-6 vehicles are shown actively on fire with the camera panning to one truck on the left giving a closer view. There are what appear to be bullet holes throughout one vehicle, with blood on the rear left passenger door, left passenger side step, driver’s seat, and driver’s side door. In addition, Olascoaga’s claim that the attackers were not worth a burial so none were given is suspect, since there are no official reports or evidence of any bodies being found at the moment of writing nor any other evidence of a confrontation occurring outside of his footage and claims.