Saturday, April 24, 2010

At Least 6 Police Killed in Juarez

6 Mexican police officers killed in Ciudad Juarez.

Mexican federal officials said six law enforcement officers were killed today in the intersection of Santiago Troncoso and Durango in south Juarez.

Gunmen ambushed two police vehicles at busy intersection in Ciudad Juarez on Friday, killing six officers and a 17-year-old girl who was passing by, authorities said.

Chihuahua state spokesman Enrique Torres Valadez said five of the six police officers were federal, and one was municipal. Authorities said the police officers in the vehicles were distracted by someone selling items on the street when the gunmen opened fire. The assailants then fled in three vehicles.

Members of the Federal Police cover the corpse of a policeman killed by drug traffickers in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on April 23. Six police officers and a civilian were killed in a shootout in Mexico's most violent city, on the border with the United States, according to a local police officer.

Initial reports from Ciudad Juárez were that the slain officers had simply been performing their jobs.

They were ambushed by many gunmen in an attack that investigators said might have been a response to an operation the previous day, in which the federal police detained eight people in a stolen vehicle with automatic weapons, cocaine and marijuana.

The officers were attacked by the sicarios without giving the officers time to repel the aggression. It was reported that the sicarios were travelling in at least four trucks and fired more than 70 times against the federal police officers.

"There are six police and one civilian dead but there could be more," the officer said, requesting anonymity.

Police came under fire as they attempted to stop a caravan of vehicles carrying suspected drug gang hitmen, he added.

Police officers help an injured colleague out of a bullet-riddled vehicle after a shoot-out in Ciudad Juarez April 23, 2010. According to local media, at least six police officers and one civilian were killed when two police vehicles were ambushed by hitmen.

No one has been arrested but police said they have recovered two of the three cars used in the shooting.

They 17-year-old girl killed was identified as Gabriel Arellano Sotelo, who unfortunately lost her life while walking by when the shooting started.

Another of the victim's killed was identified as policewoman Agustina Ana Nevarez who was 22 years old and who was an active element of the municipal police.

When a police officer is killed in Mexico, as six of them were Friday on the streets of Ciudad Juárez, the sad question that immediately arises is, “Whose side were they on?”

The drug gangs wreaking so much havoc throughout Mexico have long bribed officers to help keep their shipments of narcotics flowing. Traffickers consider police officers working for rival gangs to be the enemy.

But adding confusion to the matter is that the many honest officers, those who risk their lives to keep the streets safe and who are not on any criminal organization’s payroll, are also considered to be enemies by Mexico’s heavily armed traffickers.

Ciudad Juarez is one of the world's deadliest cities, and a two-year turf battle between drug cartels has left more than 5,000 people dead. The army, which had been policing the streets of Ciudad Juárez since last year to give local authorities time to train new police officers who are not corrupt, ceded law enforcement duties to the police this month.

Since then, numerous officers have been detained for various irregularities.

An operation in Monterrey, another violence-racked Mexican city, focused Friday on entire police departments believed to be linked to drug traffickers. The army took over several local police installations, replacing the officers with state agents.

Many local officers in the area are believed to be working for the Zetas, a drug gang known for its particularly ruthless ways. There is even a nickname for such officers: polizetas.

President Felipe Calderón said in a speech last week that more than 90 percent of the nearly 23,000 people killed in the drug war over the last three years were criminals.

Mr. Calderón said police officers and soldiers made up less than 5 percent of the deaths and bystanders an even smaller percentage.

Elsewhere, police in Guerrero said they found the bodies of five men who had been shot to death lying on a dirt road near Chilpancingo, the capital of the Pacific coast state. Three of the men were brothers, all in their 20s.

The state has been a major battleground for warring cartels, including the Beltran Leyva gang, but it was not clear whether the shootings were part of the ongoing drug violence.

In Morelos state, federal police and the Mexican military raided two ranch homes and arrested eight people near the town of Amacuzac. Those arrested were taken to Mexico City in a helicopter. Authorities said they are suspected drug traffickers.

An estimated 22,700 people have been killed in Mexico's drug war since December 2006.







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