File picture of Mexican Federal Police
'Hero' Halted Plans For July 4th Mass Shooting, 223 Rounds of Ammo Seized Photo by Hector Guerrero/AFP via Getty Images

A video that was posted last week on social media showed a man claiming to be the leader of a Mexican drug cartel saying he was actually the main target of the recent mass shooting in Mexico. Authorities who authenticated the video referred to the man as Jose Alfredo Hurtado, also known as “The Strawberry” and leader of the Familia Michoacana cartel.

According to AP News, the attack on Wednesday that killed 20 people including the town mayor of San Miguel Totolapan, was supposedly aimed at Hurtado. “The attack was aimed at me,” Hurtado stated in the video as he described the bloodshed that took place while Mayor Conrado Mendoza was holding a meeting with officials at City Hall. His father, former Mayor Juan Mendoza was among those killed in the shooting. In his video, Hurtado explained that he was scheduled to attend the meeting however the gunmen opened fire before he could step out of his bulletproof vehicle. He managed to escape the attack unharmed.

“We had set up this meeting with the mayor and his father, and the peace group they have,” Hurtado stated.

The peace group here referred to is an active vigilante group in Totolapan, which is a typical means for town residents to alleviate pressure from an oppressive cartel trying to take control. Rival cartels set up vigilante groups to fight off other cartels. In turn, local farmers and town business establishments pay these groups protection payments.

On the same day of the brutal shooting, a video was posted on social media which showed armed men who identified themselves as members of the Tequileros gang. The gang, known to be in a long-standing dispute with the Familia Michoacana in the region, claimed full responsibility for the killings.

“A group known as the Tequileros dominated the region for some time; it was a group that mainly smuggled and distributed opium, but also engaged in kidnapping, extortion and several killings in the region,” Mexico’s assistant secretary for public safety, Ricardo Mejia said.

In 2015, a video surfaced showing the capo of the Tequilleros, Raybel Jacobo de Almonte, also known as “El Tequilero”, drinking with former Totolapan mayor Juan Mendoza. It was not clear if the elder Mendoza was invited or forced to sit in the meeting.

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