Mexican Organized Crime Likely Involved in Incident at Querétaro’s La Corregidora Soccer Stadium
30 March 2022
Why It Matters
The clash between barrabrava groups La Resistencia from Querétaro Fútbol Club and Barra 51 from Atlas Fútbol Club on 5 March 2022 does not necessarily translate into an impending shift in security or stability in Querétaro in the near future. The incidents can be partly attributed to the long-standing sports rivalry between the two soccer teams. However, the violent nature of the incidents and the presence of criminal actors reported at La Corregidora are alarming in the context of Querétaro, a state which presents itself as a haven within a region with a strong history of violence.
Barrabrava groups like La Resistencia and Barra 51 are organized supporters’ groups of soccer teams found across Latin America. These groups are analogous to ultras in Europe, providing fanatical support to their clubs in stadiums and often provoking violence against rival fans and the police. Across Latin America, barrabrava groups have often been involved in criminal activities, such as money laundering and drug trafficking, and many have alleged affiliations to criminal organizations in the region. In Mexico, the word porra has also been used to refer to barrabrava groups.
On 5 March 2022, barrabrava groups La Resistencia from Querétaro Fútbol Club and Barra 51 from Atlas Fútbol Club clashed violently during a soccer game at Querétaro’s La Corregidora soccer stadium. Reports and eyewitness accounts indicate that CJNG and CSRL criminal cells could have been involved in the clashes.
According to officials, 22 people were injured and there were no deaths. Eyewitnesses claim the number of injured was over 100 and numerous people were killed, despite government claims. The CJNG and CSRL in Querétaro each had a leader injured in the events.
Given the history of barrabrava groups, it’s not particularly surprising that a brawl took place. However, given eyewitness accounts of the clash and that it took place in Querétaro, often viewed as a safe haven in the face of high rates of violence across Mexico, we decided it best to take a closer look at the incident.
Although violent clashes between La Resistencia and Barra 51 were recorded in the past, what makes the incidents at La Corregidora stand out is the high likelihood that criminal organizations were involved.
During the incidents at La Corregidora, eyewitnesses reported the alleged presence of the following criminal actors:
- An individual with the alias Beto or El Betito, leader of a fuel theft (huachicolero) criminal cell based out of San Juan del Río, Querétaro, who is rumored to have had ties to CSRL. He was seen among members of La Resistencia.
- An individual with the alias El Gordo was also seen among members of La Resistencia. Allegedly, he is a subordinate of El Beto and a known Querétaro soccer fan.
- An individual with the alias El Herón was seen among members of Barra 51. Allegedly, he is a member or affiliate of the CJNG.
- Reports indicate that Barra 51 has additional CJNG members in its ranks, specifically individuals who worked under Salvador Reséndiz Hernández, aka El Rex, who was arrested in October 2021.
- El Rex was a leader of a huachicolero organization, known as Los Hades, formed in 2018 and also known as Cartel de Las Palmillas. Los Hades operated in Querétaro, Hidalgo, and México, where in addition to fuel theft, they were involved in kidnappings, drug trafficking, and drug sales at a retail level. Los Hades had a bitter dispute with El Beto for control of fuel theft in San Juan del Río, Querétaro.
Other elements that suggest the involvement of criminal organizations during the clashes include:
- Some of the people who were seriously wounded during the clashes were stripped of their wallets and left half-naked in the corridors of the stadium. This is the typical modus operandi of criminal organizations, which seek to humiliate their rivals and hinder the work of the authorities in identifying victims.
- La Resistencia coordinated simultaneous attacks against Barra 51 on several fronts inside the stadium, following patterns that could indicate organized ambushes between criminal organizations.
- After the incidents, members of La Resistencia posted pictures on social media holding their rivals’ blood-stained shirts as if they were trophies, another common practice among criminal organizations.