Violent clashes broke out between members of the Sinaloa and La Línea cartels in Chihuahua state on Wednesday, July 5. The fighting occurred in the Las Varas area of the Madera municipality and lasted for about an hour. At least 14 people were killed and another 12 wounded in the violence. According to police officials, around 60 gang members were involved in the gun battle.
The cause of the fighting is currently being investigated, but it is likely related to gaining control of drug trafficking routes in the state. Chihuahua borders the United States and is regularly used by the cartels for smuggling.
Mexico continues to suffer from high violent crime rates. According to official data, May 2017 was the country's most violent month since 1997, with 2000 murders recorded. Much of the violence is driven by narco-trafficking and other organized crime. Clashes between narco-gangs and government forces are at the highest levels since former President Felipe Calderon's war against narco-trafficking (2008 to 2011). The capture and extradition of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán, the former leader of the Sinaloa cartel, has led rival groups to attempt to take advantage of the power vacuum and establish stronger criminal networks.
Due to extreme levels of violence linked to the presence of various armed groups, many Western governments advise against travel to a large portion of Mexican territory, including Guerrero, Colima, Sinaloa, Michoacán, and Tamaulipas states and the northeastern border with the United States, as well as to a lesser extent Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Jalisco, Nayarit, Nuevo León, and Sonora states.