Five Sinaloa State Preventive Police (PEP) officers and three Navolato Municipal Police officers were murdered in an ambush by gunmen as they drove from south to north on the “La Costera”, or Coastal, Highway outside of the state capitol of Culiacan.
Four other officers survived the attack that occurred Monday at 10:30 am at kilometer 85 of the Coastal Highway within the municipality of Salvador Alvarado, during a routine state and municipal police patrol of the highway.
The joint patrols, sometimes including Federal Police agents, were started several months ago to deter robberies and hijackings of citizen’s motor vehicles at false police checkpoints operated by organized criminal groups.
The authorities believe that the perpetrators were traveling in several trucks and SUV’s marked with the letter "X", as a similarly marked red Jeep Commander was found abandoned at kilometer 104 of the Coastal Highway. The Jeep Commander had multiple bullet holes in the bodywork, but it is unknown if any dead or injured suspects were found within.
Just a week ago on Thursday night, gunmen in a convoy of 27 trucks marked with the letter "X" held the town of Guamuchil during an hour long reign of terror, during which a local business was blasted with hundreds of rounds of rifle fire and one man was abducted and killed.
Bands of criminals and hitmen loyal to the Sinaloa cartel, such as the “Grupo Antrax”, are known to use the letter “X” to mark their vehicles during operations.
68 People murdered in 10 days
From the first to the tenth of October 68 murders linked to organized crime have already been recorded in Sinaloa, which will make this month the deadliest so far this year if the wave of shootouts between rival criminal groups, abductions and executions continue unabated.
This past Sunday 10 murders occurred in this state of a little over 2 million inhabitants. In the resort and port city Mazatlan, for example, 7 men were killed in 4 separate shooutouts. Two other men were killed in Culiacan and one person was killed in Navolato.
In September, 146 murders linked to organized crime occurred in Sinaloa, and for 2010there have already been almost 1900 deaths recorded during this wave of violence. The total so far in 2010 amounts to 600 more deaths than the entire year of 2009.
During the administration of the PRI governor of Sinaloa, Jesus Aguilar Padilla, that began in 2005, approximately 6,240 murders have already been recorded.
A cell or cells loyal to “La Linea”, a branch of the Juarez cartel, have been identified in Mazatlan. The attack on the Mazatlan offices of the El Noroeste newspaper in September were reportedly carried out by La Linea gunmen after the newspaper refused to publish stories stating that the federal government protects “El Chapo” Guzman and the Sinaloa cartel.
In northern Sinaloa, criminal groups that are still loyal to Alfredo Beltran Leyva, “El Mochomo”, who was arrested in January 2008, remain active.
According to Sinaloa media sources, in the hard hit municipality of Navolato that saw 18 murders in September, and 6 so far in October, local authorities have already given up and no longer arrive at the locations of crimes and killings.
The State Ministerial Police, tasked with investigative functions, in most cases no longer arrive until after the Army is present at crime scenes.
However, even with the presence of soldiers, the killings did not cease.
It has been reported that the left of center PRD governor –elect, Mario Lopez Valdez, has been unable to find a qualified candidate willing to serve as Attorney General or state Public Security Secretariat due to the high levels of fear and insecurity prevalent in Sinaloa.
Rumors also persist that Manuel Torres Felix “M-1” or “El Ondeado”, a top lieutenant in the Sinaloa Cartel, has put a contract out for the murder of Lopez Valdez.
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