Until very recently, the sleepy town of Paso de Ovejas was known primarily for its archeological treasures and traditional festivals. Home to less than 30,000 people, it was a peaceful backwater, rarely warranting national attention.
Yet over the last few years the town, located in the state of Veracruz, has lived through a horrendous period of terror, one in which brutal and cowardly assassinations, and kidnappings, occur continually and are committed with impunity. Although the police have occasionally seized weapons in the town, neither the municipal nor the state authorities have given importance to this interminable violence, which has been unleashed as an inferno.
Just a few weeks ago, in mid-April, three young people with no apparent criminal ties were gunned down in a car. This was just the latest in a string of similar incidents.
The wild violence, inflicted upon a defenceless civil population, revolves around the so-called Ramirez brothers, and was precipitated by the arrival of their relative Adolfo Ramirez Arana, a local deputy in Mexico's PRI political party, to take up the role of municipal president.
The Ramirez brothers have been further abetted by Ana Rosa, the mayor of Paso de Ovejas, and Ramirez Arana's wife. With the authorities turning a blind eye, the clan have consolidated and extended their power. They have even begun to execute people in plain sight during daylight hours, to the horror of the peaceful local population.
The three brothers are called Abel (otherwise known as 'El Poli'), Gregorio and Alejandro. All of them are renowned for their cruelty. And they operate a growing number of hitmen, who are more than happy to murder men, women or children. They thrive on the element of surprise and their victims are nearly always innocent and unarmed.
Some people have linked these brothers with the feared Jalisco New Generation Cartel, or CJNG, one of Mexico's fastest-growing and most vicious narco collectives. These links are based on nothing more than supposition at present, so no-one knows for certain which cartel they are working for. But it is thought that they are operating on behalf of a powerful group, and now their violence has started to radicalise other parts of the country.
Local sources claim the brothers are gaining strength every day, their brutality becoming ever more brazen and savage. They are blamed for turning a peaceful town, which previously lived in peace, into a charnel house. Many have suggested that, if the federal government and the armed forces don't investigate them and apply judicial force, the Ramirez clan will become a serious threat at state, even national level.
This article is based on information supplied by El Blog del Narco, a blog dedicated to the Mexican drug war. Visit the site by clicking here.