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Sunday, September 5, 2021

Four Police Officers Killed in Encarnación, Jalisco, In Suspected Retaliation For Safehouse Raid

"HEARST" for Borderland Beat

Please note: This is a developing story and initial coverage may not be accurate. 

Four policemen were killed while traveling on a highway in northeastern Jalisco. Later it was reported that the attack may have been in retribution for a police raid on a kidnapping safehouse and for their seizure of surveillance cameras which were placed on streets and highways to monitor police vehicle movements.

Municipal officers from the town of Encarnación de Díaz, Jalisco were traveling inside a white patrol pickup truck on the highway in between their hometown of Encarnación and Lagos de Moreno. In the front of the vehicle, Officers Humberto Joel and Officer Diego were seated while Officer Francisco Manuel and Officer Cesario sat in the back of the vehicle. 

Reportedly when they reached a bypass at the height of the off ramp going towards Encarnación de Díaz they were attacked by members of organized riding in a three vehicle convoy. El Occidental reports that the attack occurred on the night of Saturday, September 4, 2021. Whereas Quadratin is currently reporting the attack occurred at dawn on Sunday, September 5, 2021. Milenio reports it occurred at approximately 11:45 pm which would make both Quadratin and El Occidental reasonably correct.

The armed men in the convoy shot towards the officers with AR-15 style weapons in what El Occidental reports was a planned ambush. The police reportedly tried to repel the aggression but they were outnumbered by the armed suspects. All officers suffered serious gunshot injuries and the convoy escaped the scene of the shooting driving in the direction of Lagos de Moreno. 

One of the vehicles in the convoy was later identified by a witness as a gray closed cab pickup truck and another vehicle was described as a black pickup truck. 

When the attack was reported, vehicle convoys were deployed from the National Guard, the Army (SEDENA), the Jalisco State Police and neighboring municipal police divisions in order to search the larger area for the criminal group’s convoy. 

One of the Jalisco State Police patrol vehicles involved in the search located vehicles matching the attacker’s description in an area three kilometers (1.86 miles) east of Encarnación de Díaz and the vehicles were chased south to the town of Santa María Transportina.

When the armed men of the convoy saw that they had been spotted they descended the slope of the hill, hiding from site where they apparently dismounted their vehicles and hid in the undergrowth of the area. 

Due to the darkness of the area of undergrowth, none of the suspects were able to be located by the State officers. As of the writing of this story, there have been no arrests announced in connection to this ambush.

The armed mens’ black Ford Platinum pick-up, with a current theft report and license plates was seized from the area. It reportedly showed visible bullet impacts on one of the vehicle’s doors, presumably from the municipal officers' attempt to repel the attack.

 Inside the Ford they found clothing items as well as dozens of .223 caliber shell casings, in a way that suggested that the police officers had been “shot from a gunman above the vehicles”. This could possibly suggest a cartel gunman was standing in the back bed of the truck using a mounted gun or it could suggest a gunman was standing inside the cab of the vehicle, utilizing the sunroof to stand above and shoot at the officers. 

The municipal police vehicle that was attacked showed bullet impact damage on the sides and front side. Two officers were found deceased inside the vehicle, one in the front passenger side seat and the other in the rear.  The other two were found to have been ejected from the vehicle by the bullet impacts and found outside of the vehicle. All four Encarnación de Díaz municipal officers who were ambushed died from gunshot injuries. Two of the deceased were reportedly a father and son officer duo.

Reporter Luis Alberto Fuentes, who works for both Notisistema and Jalisco TV, writes that, “It is presumed to be the retaliation of a criminal group for the police action and search that culminated in the rescue of 2 women and the seizure of video surveillance equipment and drugs in El Tecuán.” 

The event Alberto Fuentes is referring to is a August 31, 2021 search on a property in El Tecuán, which is part of Encarnación de Díaz. The police search was planned with the objective of rescuing two female kidnapping victims, however the kidnappers and their two victims were able to slip out the back of the house just before the police stepped up to the front door. 

This quick escape was later found to have been aided in part by an expensive surveillance system placed at strategic location around the property. The two kidnappers were later arrested and two women rescued in Aguascalientes by law enforcement who were contacted by Encarnación de Díaz police officers 

A photo of one of the computer monitors set up to display the surveillance video feeds.

By September 2, 2021, the prosecutor’s office had managed to secure a search warrant for the property unrelated to the kidnapping, at which point the computer and video surveillance equipment was found. 

The cameras were in fact found to not just be located on the kidnappers' property but there were also cameras located on Betulia street and the highway to Encarnación de Díaz. A third camera was suspected of having been placed on the corner of the El Tecuán-Encarnación de Díaz highway because a structure and connections for a surveillance camera were found but the camera itself had already been removed by the time the location was searched by authorities. The video surveillance system, according to a September 4 article, “was allegedly used to monitor the movements of the authorities.”

Warning: Graphic photos below this point.

*Note: Many outlets are currently using the above photo for the event but it is actually from an unrelated 2019 shooting, not the September 2021 Encarnación de Díaz shooting.

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