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Buildings Collapse And More Than 70 Dead After Mexico City Is Hit By Major Earthquake

Mexico City has been rocked by a magnitude 7.1 earthquake that struck near the state of Puebla. The shaking from today’s quake was so violent that buildings collapsed in the capital city. Several fires from leaking gas lines were also reported. There is still very little information on the state of the impacted area as rescue efforts are underway to save those that are trapped in collapsed buildings. As of the time of this post, the death toll is up to 79 people. Today also marks the 32nd anniversary of the earthquake that devastated Mexico City in 1985, which killed 10,000 people and injured 30,000. Here is what we know so far.

The United States Geological Survey reported a 7.1 magnitude earthquake close to Izúcar de Matamoros, Mexico.

Izúcar de Matamoros is about a three-hour drive to Mexico City. The strength of the earthquake shook the capital city, which is about 80 miles from the epicenter.

The earthquake violently shook parts of Mexico, just 11 days after Oaxaca and Chiapas were devastated by their own earthquake.

According to ABC News, Paul Earle, a seismologist for the U.S. Geological Survey, said that the earthquake today is too far removed in time to be an aftershock of the Oaxaca/Chiapas earthquake that left more than 90 people dead.

Earlier in the day, businesses and buildings around Mexico City held earthquake evacuation drills as part of the anniversary of the 1985 quake.

Only a couple hours after the drill, a real earthquake sent shockwaves through the city that sits on a lakebed.

There are reports of buildings collapsing all over Mexico City, which is built on a lakebed leaving buildings susceptible to sinking and collapsing during earthquakes.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the soil in the lakebed has the ability to amplify the effects of an earthquake even if it is hundreds of miles from the city.

Mexicans were left speechless and shaken as buildings continued to collapse.

ABC News reports that there are more than 20 buildings that have collapsed around Mexico City and crews are working to save those trapped under the rubble.

Broken gas lines have led to explosions in damaged buildings adding to the chaos and destruction in the city.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto was on a flight to Oaxaca when the earthquake started and has announced his immediate return to Mexico City, according to Twitter. He has also announced a meeting of the National Committee of Emergencies and has activated Plan MX. Plan MX is a national plan that, when enacted, coordinates all national agencies to respond in the face of a disaster to reduce response time and minimize losses, according to documents of Secretaría de Gobernación.

Crews are working to assess the damage and losses caused by the earthquake.

Keep your thoughts and prayers with Mexico. We will update this story as we learn more.

If you are interested in helping those who have been affected by the earthquake, there are several ways to help. Here is a short list of organizations you can reach out to:

UNICEF Mexico: UNICEF has long been an organization that helps to protect and support children all over the world, especially in times of crisis and disaster.
Mexico Earthquake Relief Fund by GlobalGiving: GlobalGiving has helped raise more than $270 million since 2002 and vets all donation drives to insure that they are legitimate and work of the cause they claim.
Red Cross Mexico: The Red Cross helps to provide supplies and shelter to those in need after a natural disaster.
Project Paz: Project Paz has a donation page set up where you can donate money to help victims of either the Sept. 7 Oaxaca/Chiapas earthquake or the Sept. 19 Mexico City earthquake.
Topos: Topos is a rescue brigade that was formed after the 1985 Mexico City earthquake that devastated the city and are willing to step up again anytime a disaster hit’s Mexico’s capital.

READ: A Major Earthquake Has Devastated Parts Of Southern Mexico

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Mexico’s Newest Growing Cartel Ambushed Mexican Police Killing 14 And Injuring 9

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Mexico’s Newest Growing Cartel Ambushed Mexican Police Killing 14 And Injuring 9

lopezobrador / Instagram

Minutes after Mexico’s President Lopez Obrador told reporters that his new approach to curb cartel violence is working, Mexico’s fast-growing threat, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), killed 14 police officers and set their cars on fire during a deadly ambush. The police convoy was passing through El Aguaje, a small town in the state of Michoacan, to serve a warrant when 20 armed vehicles ambushed the officers. Fourteen officers were declared dead and another nine were injured.

“You can’t fight fire with fire. You can’t fight violence with violence … you have to fight evil by doing good.” Obrador said at a news conference on Monday morning. While Obrador, a year into his term, continued to speak about how his new policy is affecting change, police officers were calling for backup. “I’m dying,” one officer barely blurted on his radio, according to audio recordings of police scanners at the time.

As first responders arrived on the scene, they found handwritten messages, signed “CJNG.”

Credit: @AlertaGDL / Twitter

Families of the victims are angry that their loved ones weren’t more heavily armed to defend themselves against the thirty gunmen who attacked the police convoy from behind. One day after the attack, a memorial service became a town hall of sorts. Grieving family members shouted at Michoacán Governor Silvano Aureoles, “Like sheep to the slaughter!” 

Five families refused to allow the coffins of their loved ones to be present in the company of those they feel were responsible for the deaths: the officials who didn’t adequately arm the police to defend themselves. 

Obrador’s strategy to end cartel violence is two-fold: end corruption and provide resources to poverty-stricken regions.

Credit: lopezobrador / Instagram

“We are going to continue with our strategy,” López Obrador later said. “For us it is very important for there to be well-being, that peace with justice can be achieved … and also avoiding that authorities mix with crime.” Experts think Obrador’s strategy is smart for long-term success in stabilizing Mexico. Still, in the short-term, murders have only increased in Mexico. Last year, a record number of 29,000 murders were recorded, and 2019 may just break that record.

Falko Ernst, a Mexican analyst for the International Crisis Group, says Michoacán will continue to be “deep narco-war territory” until the state develops a strategy to de-signify the land.

Credit: @falko_ernst / Twitter

In a Twitter thread, Ernst recalled the decades-long history of cartel conflict in a small, rural village called El Aguaje. It “sits on a key overland road connecting the Hot Land region with the Sierra Madre, and was once a stronghold of the Milenio Cartel, big-time coke runners in the ’90s/early 2000s,” Ernst tweeted. At the time, a young Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, who would later become “El Mencho” and the boss of CJNG, was a member of the Milenio cartel. 

Ernst was there in 2011 when Milenio drug lords were dragged out of their mansions and executed. “La Familia” then took over the town, until it split into two conflicting gangs. That’s when El Mencho broke away to form the Jalisco (or CJNG) cartel.

Now, El Mencho, personally ousted by La Familia, is warring for their territory, leaving civilians in the crossfire.

Credit: lopezobrador / Instagram

El Mencho lived in the U.S. at one point, without papers, and served three years in prison for selling drugs stateside. As soon as he was released in 1997, he was deported to Mexico, where he went on to serve on the Jalisco state police force. For some reason, he left the force to join the Milenio cartel. El Mencho was born just a few miles away from El Aguaje. Now, he’s leading CJNG to reclaim what they think belongs to them–la puebla del Aguaje. 

The DEA has dubbed El Mencho one of their “most wanted,” and has offered a $10 million bounty for his arrest.

“El Chapo was violent, but El Mencho has taken it to a new level,” the lead DEA agent told Univision.

Credit: @KonnieMoments1 / Twitter

“Decapitations, dissolving bodies in acid, public executions, ripping out the heart, killing women and children, bombings against people. It happens almost every day,” DEA agent Kyle Mori told Univision. “El Chapo was violent, but El Mencho has taken it to a new level.” 

In August, CJNG hung nine bodies from a bridge in Uruapan, Michoacán, and hung up a large banner that read, “Lovely people. Carry on with your day.” Ten other bodies were dumped on the road nearby.

READ: Mexico Is Reeling After A Massive Gun Battle Over The Capture Of El Chapo’s Son

Mexicans Are Questioning Their Government’s Decision To Release El Chapo’s Son After A Massive Gun Battle

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Mexicans Are Questioning Their Government’s Decision To Release El Chapo’s Son After A Massive Gun Battle

EPA / Shutterstock

An operation to capture one of Mexico’s most powerful drug lords failed disastrously Thursday as several Mexican security officers were held hostage by heavily armed cartel fighters who laid siege to the northern Mexican city of Culiacan.

Authorities had sought to detain Ovidio Guzman Lopez, a leader of the powerful Sinaloa cartel and the son of notorious drug boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. But after briefly capturing their target, security forces ultimately retreated without him, a move Mexico’s leaders defended as necessary to save lives.

Police had attempted to capture one of El Chapo’s sons but a massive gun battle took place across the capital of Sinaloa – Culiacán.

When authorities arrived at the home in an upscale Culiacan neighborhood where Guzman was staying, they were fired upon, Mexican Security Minister Alfonso Durazo said at a news conference. Authorities returned fire, took control of the house and found four occupants inside, including 28-year-old Guzman, he said.

But soon, Guzman’s defenders arrived and “surrounded the house with a greater force,” Durazo said. It was then, apparently, that cartel gunman took several soldiers or National Guard members hostage.

Videos published on social media showed a scene resembling a war zone, with gunmen, some wearing black ski masks over their faces, riding in the back of trucks firing mounted machine guns as vehicles burned. People could be seen running for cover as machine gun fire rattled around them. Drivers drove in reverse frantically to get away from the clashes.

“With the goal of safeguarding the well-being and tranquillity of Culiacan society, officials in the security Cabinet decided to suspend the actions,” Durazo said.

The cartel’s victory in subduing authorities was a stunning humiliation for the Mexican government, which has struggled to quell growing violence across the country.

Credit: AP / Scott Reusak

On Friday, security officials gave more details about exactly how Mexican authorities found themselves so overpowered.

Secretary of Defense Luis Cresencio Sandoval said at a news conference in Culiacan that members of the army and the newly formed National Guard were seeking to execute an extradition arrest warrant for Guzman that was issued by a federal judge in the United States.

The security forces decided to try to capture Guzman without authorization from their supervisors, he said.

“The group responsible for this action, in eagerness to achieve positive results, acted in a hasty manner, with poor planning,” he said, adding that the troops who carried out the operation had failed to obtain approval from a command superior.

Though Mexican President AMLO has declared the operation a success and praised his forces for having freed El Chapo’s son.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Friday that he backed the decisions of his security officials, and added that the army operation was based on an arrest warrant.

“The capture of one criminal cannot be worth more than the lives of people,” López Obrador said, calling the response to the operation “very violent” and saying many lives were put at risk.

“This decision was made to protect citizens. … You cannot fight fire with fire,” he added. “We do not want deaths. We do not want war.”

But many Mexicans took to social media to express their outrage and embarrassment over the failed operation.

Many expressed disappointment in the decision to release Guzman while recognizing that it may have been the only option to protect those living in the city. Some also pointed out that the failure of the operation and the poor planning that must of gone into such a massive operation for it to have failed so terribly.

Others expressed doubt in their ability to trust the government to protect them and whether or not the government can even claim sovereignty over a state that the cartel seems to control.

And if the whole situation couldn’t get more intense, El Chapo’s family is holding a press conference to thank the Mexican President.

El Chapo’s family, who are high-profile celebrities in their home state of Sinaloa, held a press conference to thank the President for supporting the release of one of their own.

Guzman had been wanted by authorities in the United States, but despite his extradition request, Mexican authorities said they had no choice but to release him to avoid further bloodshed.

Gun violence driven by Mexico’s thriving drug cartels has been spiraling out of control for months.

In fact, 2019 is set to break records when it comes to the number of homicides across the country. So far there have been more than 15,000 homicides – putting the country on course to surpass the 29,111 murders of last year, an all-time high.

That’s what makes this story all that more startling. It’s another massive shoot out involving police and drug cartels, but it’s making headlines around the world because of its intensity and the fact that one of El Chapo’s sons was the intended target.