Armed clashes between a detachment of Mexican Army soldiers and a band of up to 60 gunmen resulted in the seizure of approximately 52 pounds of Tovex and 2 pounds of Detagel high explosives and a spool of detonation cord in the rugged highlands of the Sierra Madre in the state of Chihuahua.
Two separate clashes in an area known as “La Simona” in the municipality of Ciudad Madera occurred this Wednesday and Thursday (July 21-22) in the mountainous border area dividing the states of Chihuahua and Sonora.
According to a Sedena (defense ministry) press release, a detachment of 100 soldiers attacked an organized criminal group in their base of operations in La Simona. The first attack by the Army, around 1:00 PM Wednesday, led to the deaths of 8 of the gunmen and the capture of 6 more men.
It was during this attack that the explosives were seized. In addition, several assault weapons, rifles and side arms, communications equipment, 10 vehicles and 2 ATV’s, and 80 pounds of marijuana were also secured.
The second clash occurred on Thursday afternoon when gunmen attempted an ambush against the military but were repelled with the death of one more member of the criminal band.
No casualties were reported by the military and the allegiance of the criminal band was not announced. This area of Chihuahua where the Tovex explosive was seized is known to be a stronghold and marijuana growing area of the Juarez cartel.
La Linea, a group of enforcers and hitmen belonging to the Juarez cartel, claimed responsibility for the car bomb blast that killed 3 policemen and 1 civilian in Ciudad Juarez last week. Tovex is the same explosive used in that attack.
The deadly car bomb in Juarez is thought to have been composed of 10 kilos (22 lb) of Tovex. La Linea has threatened an attack using 100 kilos of Tovex if federal policemen connected to the rival Sinaloa cartel are not arrested within a 15 day deadline.
Link to the SEDENA press release for the La Simona operation:
Narco message in Chihuahua threatens to kill innocent civilians
A Narco banner placed in the city of Chihuahua on Wednesday, July 21, threatened Chihuahua state governor Jose Reyes Baeza and his Director of Public Security Gustavo Zabre with the death of innocent civilians unless their demand for the dismissal of Fernando Ornelas, the director of the Center for Police Intelligence.
The banner was signed by the Sinaloa Cartel
This is the first time in 30 months of war between the Sinaloa and Juarez drug cartels for control of Chihuahua, and Ciudad Juarez in particular, that a group threatens to kill innocent civilians.
Many innocent people have already been killed in Chihuahua since the beginning of the drug war in late 2007 although never directly targeted for terrorist attacks until now.
The threats by the Juarez cartel to reply with larger car bombs if their demands are not met, although not directly threatening innocent civilians, have the capability to inflict massive civilian casualties.
Juarez has suffered 6000 dead and the rest of Chihuahua has counted 3000 deaths since the start of the drug war in late 2007.
State Police officials declined to comment further on the banner and said that they, as well as municipal and federal police, will strengthen security protocols to prevent further attacks by members of organized criminal gangs.