The unprecedented attack on Guatemala's presidential convoy is the latest show of force from Mexico's ruthless Jalisco New Generation Cartel, or CJNG.
Alleged members of Mexico’s ruthless Jalisco New Generation Cartel, known as CJNG, launched an unprecedented attack on Guatemala’s presidential convoy this weekend: a face-to-face shootout.
The gunfight took place Saturday morning in a small village at the border between Guatemala and México while Guatemala President Alejandro Giammattei was touring the region, although he wasn’t involved, according to local news reports. The alleged leader of the cartel was also arrested.
The shootout began when the Guatemala president's personal guard was traveling around the small village of La Laguna and spotted an armed convoy of cartel members heading directly to them. The official forces requested the convoy to stop but the cartel members opened fire, local news reported.
During the attack, a man from the cartel’s convoy was injured and arrested. Guatemala military officials identified him as Mexican national Josué López Velázquez, the alleged leader of CJNG.
Guatemala’s Army shared photos of a bleeding man—allegedly López Velázquez— lying over the grass surrounded by Mexican military forces.
“The rest of the men riding on the convoy escaped to Mexico. Mexican authorities then stopped four Guatemalan nationals,” Guatemala’s Army said on its official Twitter account.
Before running toward Mexico, the armed men left three grenades behind, one in possession of López Velázquez, the Army said in a press release shared on Saturday.
Giammattei was not in the convoy during the attack, military sources told local newspapers. He’d just started a presidential tour across the country and was being transported by helicopter to a different city at the moment of the gunfight.
The attack was a new and scaled-up show of force on behalf of the CJNG, although just the latest show of its growing presence in Central America.
Originally based in the central Mexican state of Jalisco, the cartel has spread operations to almost every state in Mexico and, most recently, to countries like Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Colombia, and Chile.
CJNG has been described by U.S. officials as the "best armed" criminal organization in Mexico and "one of the most dangerous transnational criminal organizations in the world.”
The cartel recently threatened Guatemala's National Police for "stealing" a load of drugs belonging to the leader of the cartel, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, known as "El Mencho," for whom U.S. authorities are offering $5 million.
In a video shared in September 2021, alleged members of the CJNG threatened several Guatemalan police officers.
"No one messes with Señor Nemesio's people. Those things have an owner, and the owner is Jalisco New Generation Cartel," an unidentified man said in the video.