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Cartel battle leaves church damaged in Mexico

Saint Joseph the Worker parish in San José de Chila, about 25 miles southwest of Apatzingán, found itself at the center of a power struggle between the Jalisco New Generation Cartel and the Knights Templar Cartel the evening of March 19.

Speaking to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language sister agency, Fr. Isaac Barajas Castañeda, the pastor of Saint Joseph the Worker, said the drug traffickers “engaged many weapons, a lot of ammunition, armored cars, they left many men dead, many pools of blood” in the village.

The church was reportedly seized as a fort by one of the cartels, leading their opponents to open fire. Barajas was not at the parish at that time since he had left the village two days prior to the confrontation, on March 17. He is now assessing the damage to the church and rectory.

“The bell tower is full of bullet holes, the bells are shot through, the baptismal font is overturned, they opened up the sacristy, broke windows, knocked down doors,” he said.

“They went looking for people and at the same time for money, jewelry, weapons, they searched everywhere, there wasn’t a small box they didn’t open.”

The drug traffickers took from the church a motorcycle, money, and gold objects, as well as the priest’s personal belongings.

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Photo: Billie Parker 

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