Monday, October 19, 2015

El Chapo leaves behind ghost towns

Bullet holes on roofs, charred cars and deserted villages were left in the wake of a military operation to catch fugitive drug baron Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman in northwest Mexico. Remote hamlets around the municipality of Tamazula, Durango state, are like ghost towns as hundreds of terrified residents fled to the nearest city, Cosala in neighbouring Sinaloa state, following the intense marine manhunt more than a week ago. But one place still has the attention of the marines. In El Limon, troops blocked access to a mysterious ranch, with spikes on the road to prevent cars from approaching. According to displaced villagers, it was here that marines started to shoot at homes from helicopters in an operation that extended to other parts of the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range -- the bastion of Guzman's Sinaloa drug cartel...Ines Ayon Mendoza, 24, said she was making tortillas on the morning of October 6 when a burst of bullets hit her home in Comedero Colorado, near El Limon. She ran to get her two-year-old daughter when two apparent marine helicopters struck her village even "harder." Her husband, Gonzalo Elias Pena, told prosecutors that their house had dozens of bullet holes and that her car had burned...Marta Marbella, who lives in El Verano village, showed pictures she took with her cellphone of bullet marks that were left on her house on October 6. The images show a dozen holes on the roof and more on the walls, door and outdoor bathroom, where Marbella said she had hidden with her baby. Her husband was working in the fields. "I could see the helicopter stop and shoot directly at the house. I was scared, screamed and cried, although I knew it was useless," the 32-year-old housewife said. Francisca Quintero Sanchez, 40, rushed to hide under a bed with her three children when the "rain of bullets" came down for around one hour. "It was a time of terror, fear that they would kill us," the farmer said. "Their uniforms said 'Marina' (Navy). Some think we're stupid because we are ranchers, but we know how to read and write."...more

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