“HEARST” and “Sol Prendido” for Borderland Beat 

Hitmen from los Chapitos and the Caborca Cartel battled each other in the streets of Caborca, Sonora, in a fight that left at least 7 dead, 2 of whom were innocent civilians. 

The Battle

On March 19, 2023,  Sinaloa Cartel – Chapitos hitmen battled it out in the streets of Caborca against hitmen from the Caborca Cartel. For a refresher on which groups are fighting over Caborca municipality, please see this previous story

Local reports say the shooting began at around 6:30 pm. The gunfights appeared to be intermittent and scattered, occurring at multiple locations in the city. A majority of the fighting took place inside vehicles, with heavily armed gunmen shooting at rival hitmen who were also in vehicles. Whether one group was operating more offensively than the other is currently unclear. 

Thanks to brave reporting by local journalists at Art. 7mo el Observador, hours of raw footage from the battle and immediate aftermath is available to watch online (Video 1, Video 2, Video 3, Video 4). 

Incident #01

Silver SUV Shot Up

Location: 6th of April Street and Sol Street

The first incident which drew the attention of police and journalists occurred in the southern part of the city. There, gunfire was heard.

When authorities arrived, they found a a silver Grand Cherokee SUV which had been shot 40 times. The hitmen which attacked the SUV reportedly approached the drivers side front door and opened it, pulling out the driver and forcing him into their vehicle. 

The SUV’s passenger had been stuck by a bullet and he was left by the hitmen inside the vehicle. He can be seen in some images of the SUV. 

The identity of the man kidnapped has not yet been released. The reason why he was targeted, and which side he may have been affiliated with is unclear at this time.

Incident #02

Vehicle with Ammo Inside Set on Fire 

Location: San Ignacio Street, between L Street and M Street

Beyond the scene of the shooting-turned-abduction, smoke began to rise.

A vehicle on nearby San Ignacio street had been set on fire, likely by a Molotov cocktail. The burning vehicle contained ammo, which detonated once the flames reached it.

Vehicles and homes near the burning vehicle were damaged by the ammo which was indiscriminately shooting out of the vehicle. A white Tacoma pickup which was parked nearby was struck. When assessing the damage, police found a high-powered firearm was lying in the bed of the pickup.

Soon the burning vehicle was engulfed in flame, sending up a dark plume of smoke.  

Incident #03

Bullet Ridden Red Vehicle

Location: Cocoospera Street, between L Street and M Street

On Cocoospera Street, police encountered a red SUV with visible bullet holes in the front passenger side window.

A man inside the vehicle approached the officers and asked them to help him, saying men were “going to kill him.” An abandoned black SUV, damaged from gunfire, was possibly found nearby. No further details were reported.

Incident #04

Abandoned White Minivan 

Location: K Avenue and San Javier Street

It appeared to have been recently shot up. The front windshield showed more than ten bullet holes, most concentrated on the hitting the front passenger seat.

A white minivan was found abandoned near the intersection of K Avenue and San Javier Street.

Inside the minivan, officers found firearms, ammo, tactical vests and helmets.

Incident #05

Jeep with Ammo

Location: Sonora Street and 13th Street

An abandoned Jeep Wrangler with bullet holes was found near the intersection of Sonora Street and 13th Street. Inside the Jeep, police found ammo and tire puncture devices called ponchallatas.

Incident #06 

Hitmen crash a gray sedan

Location: Rafael Muñoz and W Street

Hitmen crashed a gray sedan vehicle into the metal front gate of a property on Rafael Munoz Street. What caused them to crash into the gate, and whether it was intentional, is unclear.

After crashing, the hitmen reportedly stopped a nearby driver, holding him at gunpoint and forced him to hand over the keys to his vehicle. The hitmen then drove off in the stolen vehicle.

A further review of the video footage appears to show that the car was inside a gated property and attempted to drive through the gate in it’s way out. It’s unclear what circumstances led to this.

Incident #07

Two found dead in pickup truck

Location: Avenue M, between San Javier Street and San Felipe Street

Police found two vehicles which had been recently shot by hitmen. One of the vehicles was a gray Toyota 4Runner SUV with California plates and the other was a Nissan Sentra. Two deceased men were found near the vehicles.

One of the deceased was shirtless, and found lying on the sidewalk and the other was found lying on the ground, near some trees, close to the road.

It would later emerge that both men were not cartel affiliated and were merely innocent bystanders. Their lack of involvement was reported by multiple sources – including Radar Sonora and Rosa Lilia Torres

The men’s names were Gabriel Norzagaray and Emilio del Castillo.

The innocent men were reportedly mistaken for cartel members due to driving a gray SUV which appeared similar to a rival hitman’s vehicle.

Incident #08

Dead man found

Location: Cocoospera Street and L Street

Back near the bullet ridden red and black SUVs from Incident #03, police officers found a man who had been shot to death lying in the dirt, near a small fence. His identity has not been released.

Incident #09

Dead man with Narco Message

Location: Esther Soto Avenue, between 37th Street and 38th Street

The next night, police officers found a dead man on Esther Soto Avenue. The man had a narco message sign stabbed into his chest with a knife. 

The message allegedly comes from Los Chapitos – affiliated hitmen, who commonly refer to themselves as “Chapiza”.

The message claims that the deceased man was the hitman who killed the two innocent men (referring to Incident #07) and implies that he was killed for hurting the civilians.

The message read as follows, as translated by Sol Prendido: 

Here lies one of the individuals who killed those guys on Calzada. You’re next Victorin, Mocho, Malon, and Rojo. You’re the only ones who are left from that gang of retreating cowards. Your other counterparts have already left this world. The city of Caborca already has an owner. It belongs to the absolute Chapiza mob you fags.

Reports covering the details of the battle only cover three deaths out of the total of seven that were reported by newspaper El Universal

Who else was killed and which cartel group won the battle is still unclear. 

Sources: Esmaylin, MilenioTV, Calvarie Locus, Rosa Lilia Torres, Radar Sonora Article 1, Article 2, Ciro Gómez Leyva, Azteca Noticias, Art. 7mo el Observador Video 1, Video 2, Video 3, Video 4, Art. 7mo el Observador Post 1, Post 2, Post 3, Post 4, Post 5, Post 6, Post 7, Post 8, Post 9, El Universal, Sonora Informativo, Diario Nueva Expresion

To catch up on previous stories covering the Chapiza vs Quintero War for Caborca, click here