Four municipal police officers were killed and one was wounded in an ambush staged by gunmen in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico’s murder capital, police spokesmen said.
The officers were driving Saturday through Aguilas de Zaragoza, a neighborhood on the east side of the border city, when the gunmen opened fire on them at the intersection of Acamapiztle and Cuauhtlatoatzin streets.
A boy wounded in the crossfire and the wounded officer were taken to a nearby clinic, eyewitnesses said.
One of the officers killed was a woman, all four slain officers were identified as:
Andres Gutiérrez Lucero 33, Martha Hernádez Venia 32, Eloy Gutiérrez Guadalupe 38 and Román Hernández Montes 27 years old.
A large mobilization of municipal police as well as federal police was carried out in the most dangerous city in Mexico where several convoy of heavily armed police were seen moving at high speed along the city streets.
Forensic investigators collected 66 shell casings all 9mm and 7.62x39 mm caliber and will be taken to the Forensic Ballistics Laboratory for analysis.
A block from the scene police secured a vehicle described as a 2000 Dodge Caravan that had been reported as stolen.
La Polaka reported that a narco-message was written on a wall where "La Línea" takes responsiblity for the execution of the four officers and is signed by the name of Diego. The message warns of further executions during the Christmas holidays. La Línea ("The Line") is the armed wing of the Juárez cartel who is currently fighting the Sinaloa cartel for the plaza.
Ciudad Juarez, where more than 8,000 people have been murdered since 2008, has been plagued by drug-related violence for years.
More than 2,800 murders, according to press tallies, have been committed in Ciudad Juarez this year, while the number of killings totaled 2,754 last year.
The crime rate in Ciudad Juarez has fallen this month, with kidnappings, extortion and murders all down, the Public Safety Secretariat said in a report released last week.
The Federal Police has deployed some 5,000 officers in Juarez, taking control of public safety functions in the border city on April 9 and achieving a drop in crime in recent months, the secretariat said.
A total of 299 drug-related murders were registered in Ciudad Juarez in October, the federal agency said.
The Juarez and Sinaloa cartels, backed by hitmen from local street gangs, have been fighting for control of Juarez.
Arturo Gallegos, the suspected leader of the Los Aztecas gang, was arrested last month by Federal Police officers for his alleged role in 80 percent of the killings carried out in the past year in Ciudad Juarez.
Gallegos is accused of being responsible, among other killings, for the massacre of 16 people attending a birthday party on Jan. 31 in the border city’s Villas de Salvarcar neighborhood.
The gang leader, who is also accused of killing two employees of the U.S. Consulate in Juarez and five Federal Police officers, was arrested along with two suspected accomplices.