Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Five Years Ago, the CJNG Ambushed the National Police in One of the Boldest Attacks Seen in Mexico

"Morogris" for Borderland Beat

Note: This post includes excerpts from the Wikipedia page of the 2015 Ocotlán ambush, which was published by "Morogris" in November 2017. It includes over 140 sources gathered by "Morogris" in both Spanish and English. 

The five police officers killed in the ambush
Exactly five years ago, on 19 March 2015, the Mexican police suffered one of the deadliest and boldest attacks ever conducted by an organized crime group in Mexico. The attack took place in a residential neighborhood in Ocotlán, Jalisco, when a convoy of the National Gendarmerie, a subdivision of the Mexican Federal Police (PF), was ambushed by gunmen of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG). Five policemen, four CJNG gunmen, and two civilian bystanders were killed.

According to police reports, as the PF convoy pulled up next to a parked vehicle, gunmen shot at them from the vehicle and from rooftops. The police attempted to shield themselves using their patrol cars, but reinforcements from the CJNG arrived at the scene and overwhelmed them. The shootout lasted between thirty minutes to two hours before the CJNG fled the scene. It was later confirmed that multiple officers from the Ocotlán Municipal Police force participated in the ambush alongside CJNG members.

The attack was one of the deadliest incidents against security forces during the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto, and the first and deadliest against the National Gendarmerie, at that time the newest police force in Mexico, in the ongoing Mexican Drug War. The motives behind the ambush remain unclear, but many have been proposed, including one that suggests that the gunmen ambushed the police to protect their leader, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes (alias "El Mencho"), who was reportedly in the vicinity.

National Gendarmerie logo
The National Gendarmerie was created on 22 August 2014 by President Enrique Peña Nieto to combat crime in Mexico. All of the officers had received training from the Army and had not been part of any other police force prior to joining. The cadets were mostly young, college-educated recruits, and they were recruited without previous police training under the rationale that this prevented corruption in the National Gendarmerie's ranks. The commanders of the units were trained by police forces in the United States, Colombia, Chile, Spain, and France. The force was initially made up of 5,000 officers.

Since late November 2014, around 300 National Gendarmerie officials had been stationed in Ocotlán to safeguard the borders of Jalisco–Michoacán and Jalisco–Guanajuato, and prevent the incursion of the Knights Templar Cartel, a Michoacán-based criminal group and a rival gang to the CJNG. They conducted patrols after there were reports of cargo theft in the region.

Weeks prior to the ambush, law enforcement officers carried out several covert operations in Ocotlán and the entire Ciénega area. According to intelligence reports, they had information that the suspected CJNG leader, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes (alias "El Mencho"), was in the area. On the day of the attack, the police reportedly had information that El Mencho was in a meeting in Oxnard street, in the neighborhood where the attack occurred.

Ambush and shootout
At 9:15 p.m. on 19 March 2015, seven vehicles from the National Gendarmerie drove through a street in the La Mascota neighborhood of Ocotlán, Jalisco. As one of the police vehicles moved alongside a white car parked near the sidewalk, several gunmen from that vehicle began shooting at the police officers with high-caliber rifles. Other gunmen reportedly shot at the officers from rooftops.
Blood stains in the street where the ambush took place
The ambush forced the policemen to take cover, using their vehicles as shields while they prepared to return fire. However, as the policemen tried to protect themselves from the gunfire, twelve vehicles with additional gunmen arrived at the scene and began attacking them from several directions.

In total around 40 CJNG gunmen participated in the attack. The shootout lasted between thirty minutes and two hours. It extended to nearby streets as the gunmen continued to fire their weapons while attempting the flee the scene.

Policemen guarding the scene after the ambush

Eleven people were killed in the attack: five of them were officers from the National Gendarmerie; four were from the CJNG; and two were civilian bystanders who were killed in the crossfire. Five officers were wounded, though only one of them was reportedly in a serious condition; all of them were hospitalized.

Reactions and crackdowns
The attack made national headlines and prompted reactions from the highest levels of the Mexican government. Within hours, the PF ordered its seven departments to work on the case. The federal government ordered an increase in the number of federal troops in Jalisco and the area close to the border with Michoacán by bringing in additional PF members and requesting additional support from the Mexican Army, the Jalisco State Police, and municipal forces.

The Mexican Army patrolling the neighborhood after the ambush
Over the months, they arrested multiple members of the CJNG who were accused of planning or being involved in the attack. Among them included regional leaders Javier Guerrero Covarrubias (alias "El Javi"), Alonso Guerrero Covarrubias (alias "El 08") and Fernando Castillo Rodríguez (alias "El Toro Valencia"). This last one is the brother of Julio Alberto, one of El Mencho's in-laws. However, despite the major crackdowns, El Mencho was not found.

Aftermath and tit-for-tats
The Ocotlán ambush was the start of a series of armed conflicts between the PF and the CJNG throughout 2015. 

On 23 May 2015, Heriberto Acevedo Cárdenas (alias "El Gringo"), a suspected regional leader of the CJNG, was killed in a shootout with the Jalisco State Police. According to investigators, El Mencho reportedly ordered the CJNG to carry out attacks against government security forces in Jalisco as retaliation for El Gringo's death.

On 30 March, suspected CJNG members carried out an attack against Jalisco's security commissioner, Francisco Alejandro Solorio Aréchiga, while he was driving in Zapopan, Jalisco. Over 100 shots were fired in total, but Solorio Aréchiga's bodyguards were able to repel the CJNG's attack and he was unharmed. Investigators confirmed that this was an assassination attempt against Solorio Aréchiga, and that it stemmed from the government crackdowns on the CJNG's leadership.

Ocotlan (in green) within Jalisco state
A few days after this incident, the CJNG carried out an ambush in San Sebastián del Oeste and killed fifteen PF officers in the boldest attack seen by the CJNG at that time.

On 22 May, the PF raided a ranch located in Ecuandureo, Michoacán, close to the border with Tanhuato. They suspected that a CJNG cell responsible for the Ocotlán ambush was stationed there. Forty-two suspects and one PF officer were killed. The official government account stated that the PF responded to a request to investigate the ranch, where they were attacked.

However, human rights organizations and the family of the victims stated that the one-sided victory of the PF suggested that the gunmen were extrajudicially killed, likely as vengeance for previous attacks against law enforcement officers.

Two years after the ambush, Ocotlán mayor Hernández Zague stated Ocotlán was still working to recover from the attack. "We are undertaking corrective and preventative measures to change what we once saw in Ocotlán", the mayor said. "But this change does not happen overnight. It is a long process."


  1. However, human rights organizations and the family of the victims stated that the one-sided victory of the PF suggested that the gunmen were extrajudicially killed, likely as vengeance for previous attacks against law enforcement officers they say.
    How ridiculous that these criminals come to take over a ranch telling the workers to get out or they get killed, are now victims. The police did what they were supposed to do. Fuck the criminals. The family of those criminals are the ones whit one sided story.

    1. Fun fact if you read the entire report I wrote on Wikipedia: It was later discovered that more than half of the CJNG victims in that shootout were originally from Ocotlán. Some of them had their eyes, fingers and teeth removed.

      The PF was obviously angry at the CJNG and I'm sure that some police officers involved in that 42-to-1 shootout in Ecuandureo had colleagues who died in the Ocotlán ambush.

      Thanks for reading.

    2. I would do the same if I was a cop. If the criminals would have been arrested. They will be out of jail in days. The system in Mexico is so bad that a judge will see a flaw on the arrest and will let them go. Like the wife of el Marro.

      Dice el dicho que muerto el perro se acabo la rabia.

    3. MX I watch more than one video on YouTube of people being interviewed by reporters and they said that there was more than 60 armed people who took over the ranch. And they told the workers and others to keep their distance or else. They also said that the town people reported the incident to police.

    4. Do you have a link for the Wikipedia article ?


    5. @TheMexican: That's very interesting. Raw interviews like those are always my favorite because they give you a glimpse that most official reports won't cover. Feel free to share the links here!

      @Anon 12:01 PM: The one about this ambushed is linked above in in the "Note" disclaimer right below my signature.

      The other shooting about the alleged extrajudicial killing is this one:

      I wrote both articles back in the day but the information is up-to-date. Please consult the sources for more information.

      Thanks for reading!

    6. MX here’s one of the links. Let me see if I’ll find the other two.

    7. I have also seen the videos of relatives complaining why they didn’t just arrest all of them. The funny thing is that in Mexico is not only the police who lies about things. Relatives will always claim that family members are innocent. Either don’t know for sure or they are lying. A while back there was a bunch of sicarios killed at a warehouse and some relatives claimed that they were executed. The mother of a teen runaway said her daughter was a good person but that she was addicted and had bad friends. And stories are almost the same. Remember La Barbie was also claimed to be a victim and persecuted by others.

    8. 5:42 Tlatlaya, is one more crimen de estado, proven by experts in Forensics, both Mexican and foreign...
      You do not need to spread misinformation just because you read it somewhere, the Mexican as army had been practicing the colombian lessons of Falsos Positivos and drug trafficking by government learned or created on the job by by former governor and president of Colombia, alvaro uribe velez, creator of AutoDefensas de Colombia, PEPES, milicos and paracos, Guerrillas and antiguerrilla drug traffickers and of the fabrication of decommissioned Falsos Positivos.
      Crime in mexico is all by the uribe velez book these days, but mayor giulianni also spent time in the capital city setting them up in business and got 10 million dollars in one year for his efforts...

    9. @TheMexican: Thanks for the link! Very informative.

  2. CJNG, ALONG with local police ambushed THEM.. Cops are cartels with badges inech mexicans state.. Crooked as they come.. Local police have been at shoot outs with Poicia federal or other agencies multiple times protecting the CARTELS

    1. You're right, it happens all the time.

      Fun fact if you read the report I wrote on Wikipedia: "Neighbors highlighted the fact that the local policemen were unusually calm and were not wearing bullet-proof vests. They stated that the PF, on the other hand, looked nervous." (Source 18). This was the following morning when investigators were at the scene. The municipal police wasn't scared because they were the ones who had carried out the attack, too.

      Thanks for reading.

  3. so the bad guys Yells Unfair fight
    and all stops
    Where was this Human Rights group
    when Good Police man are getting killed in the ambush Tjat started all this ?

    1. Cartel are at the advantage in terms of combat rules because they are the initial aggressors. Security forces cannot shoot unless criminals fire first. With the implementation of Mexico's New Criminal Justice System (NSJP) a few years ago, a lot of protocols were also changed in combat.

      Thanks for reading.

  4. Pretty crazy day here in Juarez yesterday. There were 8 seperate attacks against Estatales here.

    1. Thanks for the heads-up. I'm working on a story now so stay put! I appreciate you letting us know.

  5. The one in April 2015 was worse no? The one they shot down the helicopter

    1. On 6 April 2015, the CJNG ambushed and killed 15 PF officers.

      On 1 May 2015, the CJNG carried out a series of attacks across Jalisco and some parts of the border with its neighboring states. That's when the shot down the helicopter in Villa Purificacion.

      I'll be doing anniversary posts for both. Stay tuned!

  6. The thing that It’s weird to me that if they had information that Mencho was in that areaWhy didn’t they do a real operation qblocking off the area and Military and helicopters why would they send a Few men only

    1. That's a very interesting question which we will probably never know the real answer. The sources say that the police had info about El Mencho planning to be in the neighborhood that day for a meeting. The police did not know the exact house, and all evidence points to the fact that the CJNG ambushed them because the officers got to close to El Mencho without them knowing.

      My guess is the policemen were simply patrolling the neighborhood (as well as other parts of town) as they were told and were attacked when they got too close.

      Patrolling activities aren't very organized. Superiors tell cadets to patrol but aren't told where to go. They are simply given the vehicle and ordered to come back after the shift is over. Since most officers aren't always native to those towns/cities, they roam around not knowing the streets. Over time they learn them but often stick to the same roads.

      I believe it was a combination of all those factors along with in-experience from these young cadets.

    2. Why because Federal Police in that area was paid off by CJNG, just like at one time it was paid off by templarios, Mencho is compadre with the Guerrero family of Tinaja de Vargas in Michoacán long time criminal scum, that started out as common robbers and cow thieves, ecuandureo has always had a history just back then everything was low key, plaza boss there for the templarios supposedly died in Sinaloa, reports are it’s bullshit, and he left to hide in TJ after he made the area too hot and couldn’t afford to pay off the military anymore probably due to the drug shipment that one of his men that later flipped Viagras stole, ran like a coward and left all his men behind without weapons that’s how cjng took control caught one and he sang like a bird and Gave up the rest

  7. cjng are terrorists of mexico. they need to be eradicated like isis

  8. hey I have a couple of pics I would like to share / information on , But I dont want any trouble in doing so How can I send them to you ?
    You might not even be interested but they sure bring up a few questions in Who why what they are
    let me know if your interested
    should I leave my email or do you have one I can send them with how I got them
    i will ck back here for your answer


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