Drones reportedly used in Jalisco New Generation Cartel attack on Indigenous community in Southwestern Mexico

By July 8, 2024

Mexico City, Mexico — Residents of Santa Maria Ostula, an indigenous village located in Mexico’s Michoacan state, were brutally attacked by the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), according to social media posts this week. 

The people of Ostula reported that the narco group has used heavy artillery and drone strikes within the community since Wednesday. 

Comprising 24 communities, the Nahua people of Santa Maria Ostula have long resisted the violent rise of criminal groups looking to take over their territory. Since July 1, the community has been besieged by a coordinated attack by the CJNG, currently one of Mexico’s most powerful and vicious cartels.

According to Ostula residents, on July 1, armed men attacked the security points established in La Cofradía, one of the 24 communities of Ostula.  

By July 3, members of the CJNG were reported approaching the community’s houses, schools, and churches, sparking an armed clash between the cartel and the community’s self-defense groups. 

Santa Maria Ostula is the headquarters of the Indigenous communal government which controls territory on the Pacific coast of Michoacán. The village is guarded by self-defense groups.

Reported heavy artillery and drone strikes kept civilians in the town entrapped and at risk of injury and death. 

“This time, the CJNG attacked the civilian population without distinction and sent groups of around 50 criminals each to surround an unarmed population made up mainly of women, children, and the elderly,” read a statement shared by the Ostula people. 

Since the early 2000s, the people of Ostula have fought off different criminal groups trying to take control the more than 250,000 hectares that comprise their land, including criminal groups such as the “Knights Templar Cartel,” a drug trafficking organization that controlled the Ostula territory from 2009 to 2014. The Knights Templar are credited with murdering 40 Ostula community members during their reign over the area.

The fertile land, mineral wealth, and coastline have attracted the attention of different economic and criminal interests. 

In a statement shared on their social media pages, the people of Ostula made clear their demands to the government: the immediate disbandment of the CJNG and prosecution of their leaders, protections for the Ostula people, and the recognition of the community’s  self-government.