EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Mexican authorities are stepping in on a fight between rival drug cartels that has claimed more than 100 lives and left the former mayor of Madera, Chihuahua, missing.

Police mug of Roberto Gonzalez Montes, a.k.a. “El 32”

State authorities on Thursday disclosed they are building a 47-acre police/army base in Madera to counter violence from Sinaloa cartel proxy Gente Nueva, and the La Linea cell of the old Juarez cartel.

They have also issued arrest warrants against the leaders of both groups: Francisco Arvizu Marquez, a.k.a. “The Jaguar,” and Roberto Gonzalez Montes, a.k.a. “El Mudo” (The Mute) or “El 32.”

“They’re engaged not only in drug trafficking and drug sales, but also involved in illegal logging. They are destroying our forests,” Police Commissioner Emilio Garcia Ruiz said Thursday in a videoconference.

The two groups last clashed in April, during an ambush near Madera that left 19 alleged members of Gente Nueva dead.

The police commissioner said the Mexican National Guard, the army and the state police have had particular success lately against Arvizu.

This is the armored truck seized by Mexican authorities from “The Jaguar” in the mountains of Western Chihuahua. (photo courtesy State of Chihuahua)

“We are engaged in a permanent operation to capture The Jaguar. We drove him out of the area (Madera), we have him corralled near Sonora. We seized a vehicle from him — a 4-by-4 completely armored against most bullets save for .50-caliber shells,” Garcia said. “That is what we are up against.”

Mexican authorities have located the strongholds of the Sinaloa and Juarez cartels in the mountains of Chihuahua. (State of Chihuahua)

U.S. security analysts say La Linea is having success taking over Western Chihuahua. Control of the region means access to drug smuggling routes into Southern New Mexico and Southeast Arizona.

“El 32” is a former police officer who was arrested on weapons charges in 2016 but released shortly after. State officials believe his cell is responsible for the July 15, 2017 killing of 15 rivals near Madera, the slaying of three women believed to be informants of The Jaguar in 2019, as well as the April massacre of the 19 Gente Nueva members who were driving along a road when ambushed.

One of the two groups is also believed responsible for the abduction last month of José Alfredo Vázquez Fernández, the former mayor of Madera and active board member of the municipal water utility.

The police commissioner said capturing The Jaguar and “32” will substantialy diminish organized crime activities and homicides in the region.

“We are showing them authorities are stronger than any criminal group,” he said.

The new base is totally walled-in and includes a shooting range, barracks for up to 128 police officers and soldiers, a weight training room, and a helipad, he said.

The new police/army compound in Madera, Chihuahua. (State of Chihuahua)

The $4.5 million compound is only missing dormitories and equipment; it should be fully operational in the next few months, the police commissioner said.

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