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Forgotten Guerrero

Since its beginning in the early 2000s, the Mexican drug war has seen the state of Guerrero play a most important role.
This reportage looks at the region’s current social and political situation. Violence is relentlessly on the rise amongst cartels and self-claimed defence groups and local feuds force the population to abandon their towns surrendering them to a domestic conflict.
In the heart of La Montaña, on the eastern side of the state, the largest amapola cultivation of the country is located.
Despite the military’s crack-down on production and the sharp price drop of heroin, the end product of amapola seems to see no real undermining in its share of the market.
In 2017 the army eradicated a total of 84,000 m2 of cultivation, 20,000 m2 more than in 2016.
Unlike other states under the control of only a single organization, Guerrero is hostage to various wars: between the cartels, between the cartels and self-claimed defence groups, and between the self-defence groups themselves.
Frequent power struggles and turmoil occur and the Government is hardly present in the larger urban centres. The operation “Guerrero Seguro”, which was meant to reduce violence and the number of killings, resulted solely in the confiscation of stolen vehicles and a few arrests. Meanwhile, the Police of Tlacotepec is attempting to open the way to control the capital city of Chilpancingo.
It’s easy to die in Guerrero, and even easier to disappear. And as the desaparecidos abruptly become ghosts to the families who live in the constant uncertainty of what has become of them, the empty houses and the deserted villages quickly turn into ghost towns.
Hundreds of families enervated and tired of waiting for official action, have desperately started searching on their own for their loved ones in the woods.
In 2014 the disappearance of 43 students caught the attention of international media. Nevertheless, the drug cartels’ necropolitics continues to rule and imposes itself as the actual law in the region.
“There are too many bosses to deal with and too many evil people to face”, says Chilpancingo Bishop Salvador Rangel Mendoza to describe the fights between the self-defence groups who aim for the control of the illegal gold mines. In recent years the lowered profitability of heroin has reinstated gold as another sought-after resource in the mountains of Guerrero.
Mexico; Guerrero; Petlacala; 2018

Members of a self defense group in a poppy field. 
The self-defence group of Sierra of San Miguel claim to protect the local population from the criminal group of the Tequileros, which are specialized in kidnapping and extortion, and at the same time take part in the heroin business.
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Mexico; Guerrero; Petlacala; 2018

Members of a self defense group in a poppy field.
The self-defence group of Sierra of San Miguel claim to protect the local population from the criminal group of the Tequileros, which are specialized in kidnapping and extortion, and at the same time take part in the heroin business.
Mexico; Guerrero; Acapulco; 2018

The stabbed back of a 17-year-old boy found dead with his head and limbs detached. 
He is just one of the countless innocent victims found in Acapulco who are violently murdered to spread terror among the local population.
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Mexico; Guerrero; Acapulco; 2018

The stabbed back of a 17-year-old boy found dead with his head and limbs detached.
He is just one of the countless innocent victims found in Acapulco who are violently murdered to spread terror among the local population.
Mexico; Guerrero; Chilapa De Alvarez; 2018

Banner at a bus stop in Chilapa: "The who can avoid a crime but chooses not to, consents to it".
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Mexico; Guerrero; Chilapa De Alvarez; 2018

Banner at a bus stop in Chilapa: "The who can avoid a crime but chooses not to, consents to it".
Mexico; Guerrero; Chichihualco; 2018

Displaced coming from the town of Los Morelos heading to the Chichihualco auditorium.
Hundreds of people have been displaced since the Police of Tlacotepec group decided to occupy the towns in the municipality of Leonardo Bravo.
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Mexico; Guerrero; Chichihualco; 2018

Displaced coming from the town of Los Morelos heading to the Chichihualco auditorium.
Hundreds of people have been displaced since the Police of Tlacotepec group decided to occupy the towns in the municipality of Leonardo Bravo.
Mexico; Guerrero; Acapulco; 2018

Assassinated man in the Acapulco neighbourhood of Zapata.
The sharp rise of violence in the city caused a tourism crisis and forced the Government to intervene with the security operation “Guerrero Seguro”. All forces, from the local police to the Marines, are attempting to stop or at least limit the dramatic situation.
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Mexico; Guerrero; Acapulco; 2018

Assassinated man in the Acapulco neighbourhood of Zapata.
The sharp rise of violence in the city caused a tourism crisis and forced the Government to intervene with the security operation “Guerrero Seguro”. All forces, from the local police to the Marines, are attempting to stop or at least limit the dramatic situation.
Mexico; Guerrero; Acapulco; 2018

Federal police patrolling the once touristic city of Acapulco.
Governor Flores decided to intervene by implementing “Guerrero Seguro”, a massive operation coordinated by all the police and military forces with the goal of ending crime in the city. For the moment results have been very poor as Acapulco remains the most violent city in the state. The only outcome has been the confiscation of a few stolen vehicles and a few arrests.
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Mexico; Guerrero; Acapulco; 2018

Federal police patrolling the once touristic city of Acapulco.
Governor Flores decided to intervene by implementing “Guerrero Seguro”, a massive operation coordinated by all the police and military forces with the goal of ending crime in the city. For the moment results have been very poor as Acapulco remains the most violent city in the state. The only outcome has been the confiscation of a few stolen vehicles and a few arrests.
Mexico; Guerrero; Acapulco; 2018

Crime scene in Acapulco. 
Tourism and investments have dropped as Acapulco is currently the most violent city in Guerrero, and for the last five years has been the most violent of Mexico.
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Mexico; Guerrero; Acapulco; 2018

Crime scene in Acapulco.
Tourism and investments have dropped as Acapulco is currently the most violent city in Guerrero, and for the last five years has been the most violent of Mexico.
Mexico; Guerrero; Ayutla; 2018

Displaced family in the area of Ayutla. Many live in precarious conditions without basic needs.
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Mexico; Guerrero; Ayutla; 2018

Displaced family in the area of Ayutla. Many live in precarious conditions without basic needs.
Mexico; Guerrero; Los Timontos; 2018

Members of the self-defence group of Policia Ciudadana de Leonardo Bravo holding their positions.
In the municipality of Leonardo Bravo 6 villages out of 18 are under the command of Policia Ciudadana de Leonardo Bravo, which also aims at controlling the route that takes to Chilpancingo as it is a crucial point for the local, illegal, economy.
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Mexico; Guerrero; Los Timontos; 2018

Members of the self-defence group of Policia Ciudadana de Leonardo Bravo holding their positions.
In the municipality of Leonardo Bravo 6 villages out of 18 are under the command of Policia Ciudadana de Leonardo Bravo, which also aims at controlling the route that takes to Chilpancingo as it is a crucial point for the local, illegal, economy.
Mexico; Guerrero; Acapulco; 2019

Crime scene in Acapulco. After being kidnapped in the afternoon, the victim suffered the loss of several fingers, an eye and part of the tongue. The man was brought to the hospital but died a few hours later.
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Mexico; Guerrero; Acapulco; 2019

Crime scene in Acapulco. After being kidnapped in the afternoon, the victim suffered the loss of several fingers, an eye and part of the tongue. The man was brought to the hospital but died a few hours later.
Mexico; Guerrero; Iguala; 2018

Mr Rogelio by his wife and his son’s graves.
His son disappeared in 2012 and was found dead the year after. His girlfriend had connections with the local drug cartel and was probably the one who had him killed after he refused to pay a money extortion.
Like many other people, Mr. Rogelio had to personally search for his son.
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Mexico; Guerrero; Iguala; 2018

Mr Rogelio by his wife and his son’s graves.
His son disappeared in 2012 and was found dead the year after. His girlfriend had connections with the local drug cartel and was probably the one who had him killed after he refused to pay a money extortion.
Like many other people, Mr. Rogelio had to personally search for his son.
Mexico; Guerrero; Acapulco; 2018

Federal police patrolling the once touristic city of Acapulco.
Night patrolling of the neighborhoods of Zapata.
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Mexico; Guerrero; Acapulco; 2018

Federal police patrolling the once touristic city of Acapulco.
Night patrolling of the neighborhoods of Zapata.
Mexico; Guerrero; Chilapa De Alvarez; 2018

Detail inside the abandoned home of a former local commissioner in a town near Chilapa. He was one of the leaders of the Los Rojos cartel.
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Mexico; Guerrero; Chilapa De Alvarez; 2018

Detail inside the abandoned home of a former local commissioner in a town near Chilapa. He was one of the leaders of the Los Rojos cartel.
Mexico; Guerrero; Chilpancingo; 2018

Portrait of Salvador Rangel Mendoza, bishop in charge of the Diocese of Chilpancingo-Chilapa.
Stories of the bishop's meetings with the organizers of drug trafficking have certainly created controversy. However, he has the support of the Episcopal Conference of Mexico. And, in general, there are many others who approve of his methods.
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Mexico; Guerrero; Chilpancingo; 2018

Portrait of Salvador Rangel Mendoza, bishop in charge of the Diocese of Chilpancingo-Chilapa.
Stories of the bishop's meetings with the organizers of drug trafficking have certainly created controversy. However, he has the support of the Episcopal Conference of Mexico. And, in general, there are many others who approve of his methods.
Mexico; Guerrero; Ayutla; 2018

Displaced in a shelter.
An estimate of 8,000 people are currently displaced in the state of Guerrero. Local fights between self-defence groups and the drug cartels terrify the population and make life impossible. Families are thus forced to leave their homes and seek shelter elsewhere.
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Mexico; Guerrero; Ayutla; 2018

Displaced in a shelter.
An estimate of 8,000 people are currently displaced in the state of Guerrero. Local fights between self-defence groups and the drug cartels terrify the population and make life impossible. Families are thus forced to leave their homes and seek shelter elsewhere.
Mexico; Guerrero; Acapulco; 2019

Crime scene in Acapulco. Acapulco had a rate of 106.63 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.
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Mexico; Guerrero; Acapulco; 2019

Crime scene in Acapulco. Acapulco had a rate of 106.63 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.
Mexico; Guerrero; Filo de Caballos; 2018

Interiors of a house seized by the Police of Tlacotepec. 
On its premises, according to the population in Filo de Caballos, many girls were raped by members of the Policia Ciudadana de Leonardo Bravo.
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Mexico; Guerrero; Filo de Caballos; 2018

Interiors of a house seized by the Police of Tlacotepec.
On its premises, according to the population in Filo de Caballos, many girls were raped by members of the Policia Ciudadana de Leonardo Bravo.
Mexico; Guerrero; Rincon Chautla; 2019

Since the beginning of 2019, numerous attacks on part of the cartel of Los Ardillos struck the town of Rincon Chautla forcing its residents to defend themselves. Portrait of a mother with child who chose to take part in the town's community police.
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Mexico; Guerrero; Rincon Chautla; 2019

Since the beginning of 2019, numerous attacks on part of the cartel of Los Ardillos struck the town of Rincon Chautla forcing its residents to defend themselves. Portrait of a mother with child who chose to take part in the town's community police.
Mexico; Guerrero; Acapulco; 2018

Altar of the Virgin Mary in Acapulco.
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Mexico; Guerrero; Acapulco; 2018

Altar of the Virgin Mary in Acapulco.
Mexico; Guerrero; Acapulco; 2019

Cliff divers at the sunset in Acapulco.
Over the last few years the city witnessed a terrible escalation in violence. Victims of Acapulco’s violence come in many forms: those caught in feuds between criminal groups, businessmen who don’t pay extortion, or those who cross the invisible boundaries of the cartels are a few examples.
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Mexico; Guerrero; Acapulco; 2019

Cliff divers at the sunset in Acapulco.
Over the last few years the city witnessed a terrible escalation in violence. Victims of Acapulco’s violence come in many forms: those caught in feuds between criminal groups, businessmen who don’t pay extortion, or those who cross the invisible boundaries of the cartels are a few examples.
Mexico; Guerrero; Chilapa De Alvarez; 2019

Jose Navarro next to the memorial for his brothers. 
He leads a Guerrero-based victims advocacy group called Siempre Vivos.
He has been targeted by Los Ardillos since 2014, when he reported to police that members of the group had kidnapped and killed two of his brothers.
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Mexico; Guerrero; Chilapa De Alvarez; 2019

Jose Navarro next to the memorial for his brothers.
He leads a Guerrero-based victims advocacy group called Siempre Vivos.
He has been targeted by Los Ardillos since 2014, when he reported to police that members of the group had kidnapped and killed two of his brothers.
Mexico; Guerrero; Ayutla; 2018

Displaced Kids in the area of Ayutla.
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Mexico; Guerrero; Ayutla; 2018

Displaced Kids in the area of Ayutla.
Mexico; Guerrero; Santa Maria de las Suarez; 2018

Abandoned cars in Santa Maria de las Suarez.
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Mexico; Guerrero; Santa Maria de las Suarez; 2018

Abandoned cars in Santa Maria de las Suarez.
Mexico; Guerrero; Corral de Bravo; 2018

Members of the self-defence group of Policia Ciudadana de Leonardo Bravo wait for talking with the local sherif of Corral de Bravo.
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Mexico; Guerrero; Corral de Bravo; 2018

Members of the self-defence group of Policia Ciudadana de Leonardo Bravo wait for talking with the local sherif of Corral de Bravo.
Mexico; Guerrero; Santa Maria de las Suarez; 2018

Woman in her house in Santa Maria de las Suarez. As many other inhabitants of the town is worried about for her safety.
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Mexico; Guerrero; Santa Maria de las Suarez; 2018

Woman in her house in Santa Maria de las Suarez. As many other inhabitants of the town is worried about for her safety.
Mexico; Guerrero; Area of Chilpancingo; 2018

Soldier eradicating a poppy cultivation.
For years the Mexican army has been committed in fighting against the poppy business. Numbers are impressive as around 84,000 m2 of crop have been eradicated in 2018.
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Mexico; Guerrero; Area of Chilpancingo; 2018

Soldier eradicating a poppy cultivation.
For years the Mexican army has been committed in fighting against the poppy business. Numbers are impressive as around 84,000 m2 of crop have been eradicated in 2018.
Mexico; Guerrero; Petlacala; 2018

Church in Petlacala.  
Despite the requests of the locals, the church has never been completed. In fear of the internal feuds between the criminal group of Tequileros and self defense Guerrero Unidos, there are numerous half-finished buildings around the mountainous isolated towns.
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Mexico; Guerrero; Petlacala; 2018

Church in Petlacala.
Despite the requests of the locals, the church has never been completed. In fear of the internal feuds between the criminal group of Tequileros and self defense Guerrero Unidos, there are numerous half-finished buildings around the mountainous isolated towns.
Mexico; Guerrero; Petlacala; 2018

Little altar for a young boy killed by the Tequileros.
Many members of the self-defence group of Sierra of San Miguel have lost their sons, brothers, fathers and loved ones fighting against the Tequileros.
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Mexico; Guerrero; Petlacala; 2018

Little altar for a young boy killed by the Tequileros.
Many members of the self-defence group of Sierra of San Miguel have lost their sons, brothers, fathers and loved ones fighting against the Tequileros.
Mexico; Guerrero; Sierra de Guerrero; 2018

View of La Montaña. These mountains host Mexico’s largest cultivation of amapola.
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Mexico; Guerrero; Sierra de Guerrero; 2018

View of La Montaña. These mountains host Mexico’s largest cultivation of amapola.
Mexico; Guerrero; Area of San Miguel Totolapan; 2018

Picture of a wedding left behind in an abandoned home located in the ghost area of San Miguel Totolapan.
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Mexico; Guerrero; Area of San Miguel Totolapan; 2018

Picture of a wedding left behind in an abandoned home located in the ghost area of San Miguel Totolapan.
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