Certain regions in Mexico are seeing a disturbing uptick in violence reminiscent of the height of the government’s war on the drug cartels.
More than a dozen police officers were killed and more were injured in a mass shooting ambush of a state police convoy on Monday undertaken by approximately 30 gunmen belonging to a powerful drug cartel in the Mexican state of Michoacan.
Cartel ambush of Mexican state police
Fox News reported that roughly 42 state police officers were in a convoy of trucks and patrol cars headed toward the town of Aguililla to enforce a judicial order when it was ambushed by more than two dozen gunmen associated with the Jalisco New Generation drug cartel, which holds significant unofficial power in Michoacan.
While Michoacan is perhaps best known for its avocados, it also produces an abundance of marijuana and methamphetamine which is trafficked and sold by the cartels to fund their illicit activities.
The cartel gunmen were reportedly armed with AK-47s, AR-15s and even .50-caliber rifles. Some were riding in what appeared to be armored trucks when they opened fire on the convoy as it approached the small town.
Some of the 13 officers killed in the ambush never even made it out of their own vehicles to return fire in the shootout, and their dead bodies were burned along with the police vehicles they occupied when all was said and done.
Michoacan state Gov. Silvano Aureoles said in a statement, “No attack on the police will go unpunished, and this was a cowardly, devious attack because they laid an ambush in this area of the road.”
Violence on the rise
Fox noted that the deadly ambush came as cartel-related violence is on the rise across Mexico, but especially in that particular western state. It is believed that the ambush was mounted in retaliation for the recent killing of a Jalisco New Generation cartel leader by state police.
The violence has not been solely between the police and Jalisco cartel, however, as that powerful enterprise has also been fighting against a smaller splinter group known as the Los Viagras that broke away from the Knights Templar cartel.
In addition to the infighting among the various cartels, battles have also raged with local self-defense groups that have armed themselves in recent years to protect their towns and villages from both the cartels and the corrupt police. Unfortunately, some of those groups have been infiltrated and co-opted by some of the cartels and gangs in the area.
Police search for gunmen
Fox reported that many residents of the state have gone into hiding and are remaining out of sight as state and federal police, flood the area and establish roadblocks and checkpoints in search of the cartel gunmen suspected of murdering the police officers in the ambush.
It remains to be seen if the gunmen who perpetrated this egregious attack will ever be apprehended and brought to justice. Unfortunately, the most likely outcome is that most or all of those gunmen will elude accountability for the horrific massacre, and the violence will continue for the foreseeable future.