Mexico: 13 law enforcement officers gunned down in ambush

Gunmen apparently from a drug gang ambushed a police convoy Thursday in central Mexico, killing 13 police officers and prosecutors in a hail of gunfire, authorities said, the Associated Press reported.

The slaying of the 13 law enforcement officers in the State of Mexico was the country’s single largest massacre of law enforcement since October 2019, when cartel gunmen ambushed and murdered 14 state police officers in the neighboring state of Michoacan, according to the AP.

Eight state police officers and five prosecution investigators died in the ambush, authorities said, per the AP.

The Thursday ambush prompted a massive search for the perpetrators in a rural, gang-plagued area southwest of Mexico City, which is surrounded on three sides by Mexico State, according to the AP. The deceased law enforcement officers worked for the state.

Rodrigo Martínez Celis Wogau, the head of the Mexico State Public Safety Department, said soldiers, marines, and National Guard troops were searching the area by land and from the air looking for the killers.

“The convoy was carrying out patrols in the region, precisely to fight the criminal groups that operate in the area,” Martínez Celis said, per the AP. “This aggression is an attack on the Mexican government.”

“We will respond with all force,” he added.

The convoy on Thursday was patrolling in Coatepec Harinas, about 40 miles southwest of Mexico City, to “combat criminal groups who operate in that zone,” Martínez added in a video statement posted on Twitter, per The New York Times.

Martínez, per The Times, blamed “organized crime.”

There was no immediate indication as to what gang or cartel the gunmen might have been part of, according to the AP. A number of them operate in the area around Coatepec Harinas, where the ambush happened.

The town is near a hot springs resort called as Ixtapan de la Sal. However, it is also relatively close to cities such as Taxco, where authorities have reported activities by the Guerreros Unidos gang apparently allied with the Jalisco cartel and by the Arcelia gang, dominated by the Familia Michoacán crime organization, according to the AP.

Thursday’s slayings in central Mexico added to the 86 police officers who had been killed already this year, according to Causa en Común, a Mexican anti-corruption group that focuses on public security, as The Times noted.

Last year was the deadliest year for Mexican police since the group began tracking deaths in 2018, with at least 524 officers killed.

Thursday’s attack, the AP wrote, appears to present a challenge for President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has pursued a strategy of not directly confronting drug cartels in an effort to avoid violence.

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On Friday, López Obrador promised to bring the murderers to justice, according to Reuters.

“We are filled with sorrow about what happened in the State of Mexico,” he said at a regular news conference.

There would not be “impunity” for anyone, he added.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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