LATIN AMERICA

Ambush on security convoy leaves 15 dead in Mexican state of Jalisco

Police officers and gunmen are killed in what could be a drug-related revenge attack

A burned vehicle following Monday's shootout in Jalisco, Mexico between traffickers and police.
A burned vehicle following Monday's shootout in Jalisco, Mexico between traffickers and police.EFE

At least 15 people were killed and eight others injured after gunmen attacked a security convoy in the Mexican state of Jalisco on Monday, in one of the boldest strikes by drug traffickers on a group of government forces in recent months.

The ambush took place near Soyatán, a town located on the highway between the resort city of Puerto Vallarta and the state capital Guadalajara.

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The convoy, which belonged to the United Force of Jalisco, the main security apparatus in the region, was traveling toward Guadalajara when it approached a vehicle in flames blocking the highway.

Gunmen, using assault weapons and hiding in the nearby hills, opened fire on the police vehicles, according to authorities.

Local press reported that there were victims on both sides, but Jalisco investigators have released little information except to confirm that several officers “were wounded by gunshots.”

Quoting sources, EFE News Agency reported that state government officials believe the attack was related to the ambush that took place last week on another convoy escorting Jalisco security chief Alejandro Solorio.

Solorio, who was riding in an armored vehicle, survived the attack. Four people were arrested in connection with that incident.

At the time, state prosecutors said that the attack on Solorio was in retaliation for the March 23 shooting death of Heriberto El Gringo Acevedo Cárdenas, who was head of the Jalisco New Generation drug cartel.

Acevedo Cárdenas was gunned down along with two other presumed traffickers by officers of the United Force, the Jalisco contingent that groups police from all municipalities across the state.

Police are investigating if Monday’s ambush is related to a recent attack on the Jalisco security chief’s convoy

On Tuesday, the local press reported that the chief of police of Zocoalco de Torres – the same municipality where Acevedo Cárdenas was killed – was shot dead by unknown gunmen.

The Jalisco New Generation Cartel has been strengthening its drug operations across the state in recent years.

Jalisco, located in western Mexico, is one of four states that Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto  placed on a priority list for his national security strategy last November. Since March 2013, more than 70 government officials, including police officers, have been killed in Jalisco.

The other three states targeted by the Peña Nieto administration are Tamaulipas, which borders the United States, and Guerrero and Michoacán, both neighbors on the Pacific.

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