Notorious drug boss Nemesio “El Mencho” Oseguera, leader of the New Generation Jalisco Cartel (CJNG), appears to be asking Mexico’s criminal syndicates to leave priests, doctors, teachers, and other innocents out of violent confrontations, according to an unverified video that circulated on social media this weekend.
“Don’t touch anyone we shouldn't touch. Don’t touch any religion - not pastors or followers. Especially Catholics,” says a voice in the video that is being attributed to the CJNG boss.
The video comes a few weeks after two Jesuit priests were murdered inside a church in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua.
The voice is heard speaking as a group of heavily armed men pose for the camera. Other videos with a similar voice have circulated before also claiming to be from the CJNG leader.
“Let’s keep the war between us and not mess with any religion,” the unverified, minute-long video—which has been covered extensively in the Mexican media—says. “My cartel doesn’t mess with any religion or doctors or teachers. From Mencho Oseguera, CJNG. We are with the people.”
The video shows around 17 men armed with what appears to be several Barrett rifles and wearing camouflage shirts and bandana face coverings. The clip was filmed during daylight in a white room without windows. The location is unknown.
Mexican authorities have said nothing about the video. A source from the press department of the Attorney General’s Office told VICE World News they are analyzing the clip for authentication.
The murder of the priests, Javier Campos, 79, and Joaquín Mora, 80, in Chihuahua in late June, allegedly by notorious drug boss José Noriel Portillo “El Chueco”, drew condemnation from clergy around Mexico as well as Pope Francis himself. Both priests tried to protect the man from Portillo, but the three of them were killed and their bodies were taken by Portillo’s people, according to Chihuahua state authorities.
Starting on Sunday Jesuits in Mexico began a round of prayers for peace all around Mexico.
“Today we are starting a cycle of prayers for peace at the national level. It is the opening of a month marking the memory of all the people killed and disappeared,” Rev. Jorge Atilano González said during the gathering in Mexico City.
Last week, the bishop of Zacatecas suggested a “social pact” with members of organized crime as a new means of trying to reduce the violence that has plagued Mexico for more than a decade.
Weeks before, another priest in the state of Michoacán, a CJNG stronghold, was brutally beaten by unknown men as he was driving back to his hometown.
The U.S. government placed a $10 million bounty on the head of El Mencho in 2018, and he is currently No. 6 on the world’s most-wanted list by the DEA.
The last time El Mencho allegedly made a public statement like this was on May 6, 2022, in a video where he assured residents of the town of Mazamitla, in the state of Jalisco, that his cartel will not harm them during the hunt for an enemy.