Dozens of gunmen believed to be tied to the hyper-violent Jalisco New Generation Cartel carried out a brazen dawn ambush meant to kill Mexico City’s police chief.
The attackers used grenades and a .50-caliber sniper rifle to attack the chief’s armored vehicle early Friday, killing two of his bodyguards and a woman who happened to be driving by.
Police Chief Omar García Harfuch was shot in the shoulder, collar bone and knee but was reported out of danger.
He called the attack “cowardly” and blamed it on the Jalisco cartel, which has established a nearly national presence from Mexico City to the country’s most important ports, as well as in key border cities traditionally controlled by other cartels.
Police officers who converged on the scene on the capital’s Paseo de la Reforma boulevard in the upscale Lomas neighborhood rounded up a dozen of the shooters, who were hauled off for questioning, authorities said.
Later Friday, police arrested an alleged head of the Jalisco hitmen, suggesting he could have been the mastermind of the attack, according to a Mexico City police official who was not authorized to be quoted by name.
The official said police arrested José Armando Briseño on the east side of the city. Nicknamed “Cow,” he is allegedly the gang’s chief hitman in the city of Tonala in Jalisco.
The attack on the police chief was meticulously planned and involved a total of 28 gunmen hired three weeks before, according to Ulises Lara, the spokesman for the Mexico City prosecutors office.
Three separate possible ambush points were set up on major thoroughfares, including one — which wasn’t used — in the heart of Mexico City, one block from the Independence Monument.
The gunmen were divided into four different cells, and they received ski masks and weapons on Thursday night. They were taken to the ambush points at 4 a.m. to lie in wait for their target. They jumped from a truck and opened fire when Garcia’s convoy attempted to pass.
Lara said that of the suspects detained, one is Colombian and the other 11 are Mexicans from the capital and five states — Jalisco, Guerrero, Nayarit, Chihuahua and Michoacan.
It was the second high-profile attack this month, following the shooting death of a federal judge and his wife.
Mexico targeted and dismantled the Zetas cartel after it killed migrants, unsuspecting citizens and officials from 2010 to 2013.
But it remains to be seen whether the government will go after the Jalisco cartel they way it did the Zetas.
Mexico used elite military units and worked closely with the United States to go after the Zetas cartel.
But now, amid budget cuts and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s policy of not directly confronting the cartels, it is unclear whether the government has the will or ability to fight Jalisco.
Federal Security Secretary Alfonso Durazo said Mexico’s intelligence agency apparently had information that Jalisco New Generation was planning an attack, but did not offer additional details.
It was unclear whether the attack was related to recent crackdowns on Jalisco-affiliated gangs in Mexico City or to the police chief’s earlier work in federal investigations.
García, 37, is a former head of the federal police investigation division and from 2016-19 led the branch of the federal attorney general’s office that oversees investigations and arrests of organized crime members. Before being named Mexico City police chief, he spent several months as the mayor’s intelligence coordinator.
Jalisco is the same gang that U.S. prosecutors said tried to buy belt-fed M-60 machine guns in the United States and that once shot down a Mexican military helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade.
In October, the cartel’s gunmen ambushed and killed 14 state police officers in Michoacan.
Friday’s attack came two weeks after rumors swirled for a day that Jalisco’s leader, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, better known as “El Mencho,” had been captured or killed — though officials later denied that.
Oseguera is the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s most-wanted fugitive, with a $10 million price on his head.
In March, U.S. authorities arrested hundreds of Jalisco operatives in raids across the United States. They said the gang controls between one-third and two-thirds of the U.S. drug market.
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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