Debate. 7-11-2012. El Fuerte, Sinaloa.Evidence of their stay still remains on top of the hill located a kilometer from the town of Tetamboca, El Fuerte. There, still intact, are the the shelters used by the killers to wait for the State Ministerial Police special group to drive by on the highway so they, the killers, could carry out their mission: to attack them.
And so they did this past Monday, a day after they set up camp at the site.
Well protected, using surprise, they fired their high powered rifles at the convoy of ministerial agents. They killed seven of them. But the criminals did not get away scott free; as best they could, the surviving agents repulsed the attack and three of the killers fell dead, among them the leader of the criminal group "Los Mazatlecos", Juan Pablo Osuna Lizarraga.
On the hill's dry, arid ground there are still spent cartridge cases and bullets. Evidence of a shootout that terrified everybody.
"The cows went crazy when they heard the shooting," says a cowboy who was looking for his cattle on top of the hill, "where they found all sorts of stuff."
The quarters.At the top of the hill, the killers built 12 "little houses" made out of the local brush. Folded branches were used as roofing to protect themselves from the sun, some had canvases and cardboard that were used as mattresses. They were made for one person, some for two or more. There, they found plates with eggs and sausage, with beans on the side.There was also a black bucket with tortillas and a bottle of hot sauce.
There were plastic water bottles everywhere, and cigarette butts. Also, blankets, a black suitcase, cooking utensils, and the remains of campfires.
The killers fixed the place up to shoot from, because they placed rocks along the edges to serve as parapets, pressed the brush down and cleared paths to make their escape.
But they never expected that some of them would fall.
"The house was left full of holes all over."
The bloodiest morning. The village residents have always lived peacefully.
There are still traces of blood on the sand, a rusty swing, a broken fence, broken windows, trash all around, walls and a pickup truck full of holes. In the distance you can hear a pig grunting and a dog panting, the wind blows in short gusts and there is a murmur of the fear that remains after the fight between ministerial police and the trigger men in Tetamboca, El Fuerte.
"I still feel my whole body shaking from fear. I didn't sleep here, I slept at my parents' house, we just got back right now at noon. The pickup truck is all full of bullet holes and so is the house," says the woman who lived through moments of panic.
She remembered that that morning they heard five shots, one after the other; she immediately took her children and they all hid in the closet. In that little space in their house they stayed safe, and prayed that they would live through the ordeal. Her daughter was crying and shaking.
"I took my children and went to hide there inside the closet because they were shooting even the top of the house," says the mother, while her four year old son plays with the police tape, using it as a leash for his dog.
The woman, who asked not to be identified, said she had just gone inside the house when she heard the gun blasts. "Because of the heat, we were sleeping outside, but I'll never sleep outside again, I'd rather sleep inside than die outside from a gunshot."
The place lacks street lighting at nights, which was the inhabitants' main complaint, plus, the brush starts just a few feet from the house, and at the top of the hill, a makeshift camp had been in place for some time without the neighbors, much less the police, being aware of it.
"The house was left with holes all over, one came in through the front window and hit the wall in the kitchen, the bullet split in two and melted from the force of the strike," she stated.
With timid smiles, more out of resignation than conviction, the neighbors of Tetamboca went into their homes, afraid that another shootout could take place at any moment.