Mexico City’s police chief is lucky to be alive after a dramatic assassination attempt that left him wounded, two of his bodyguards dead, and his police vehicle riddled with bullets.
Reuters reports that the chief survived at least three bullet wounds and blamed the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) drug cartel for the “cowardly attack” in one of Mexico City’s wealthiest neighborhoods in a Tweet from his hospital bed.
“We were attacked in a cowardly way by the CJNG,” the police chief said. “Our nation has to continue standing up to cowardly organized crime.”
Photos of the police chief’s vehicle, nearly unrecognizable from damage, appeared on social media. Local police say the attack killed at least one person in addition to the chief’s bodyguards — a 26-year-old woman who happened to be caught in the barrage of .50-caliber bullets.
“The shooting, which occurred in the prestigious neighborhood of Lomas de Chapultepec, was captured on security cameras at the scene,” German news outlet DW reported Saturday. “A dozen of the 28 gunmen reportedly involved in the attack were held for questioning by police. Later on Friday, police from the capital arrested an alleged head of the CJNG hitmen on suspicion of being the mastermind of the meticulously planned operation.’
Gunmen armed with .50 caliber rifles and grenades attacked Mexico City’s police chief this morning. He survived. https://t.co/X8oMioy75q
— Keegan Hamilton (@keegan_hamilton) June 26, 2020
Cartel violence was already on the rise in Mexico earlier this year, but powerful drug gangs have moved into a vacuum created by Mexican officials who are now sheltering in place as the country endures one of the globe’s worst coronavirus outbreaks. Dozens have been targeted and killed, including at least one other police official and a federal judge.
Cartels are also jockeying for positions within Mexico’s drug hierarchy, trying to fill a position vacated after the arrest of “El Chapo,” who exerted extensive control over Mexico’s drug trade.
Friday’s attack, experts say, is meant to send a message to higher-level Mexican officials, including law enforcement officials, that “nobody is off-limits” as the drug cartels struggle to stake out territory.
“The assassination attempt served as a warning that ‘nobody is off-limits’ and was reminiscent of previous attacks on officials during Mexico’s drug war, said Gladys McCormick, a security analyst at Syracuse University in New York,” per Reuters, who spoke to McCormick.
The Wall Street Journal adds that, until now, Mexico City has also been largely immune from the violence erupting across the rest of the country.
“Analysts said the ambush suggests the Jalisco cartel might be making a play for lucrative extortion rackets, as well as the retail drug trade in this metropolis of 20 million, which would likely lead to more violence in a city home to large companies and hundreds of thousands of foreigners,” the WSJ reported.
Mexican officials, who spoke to Reuters, indicated that the police chief is now out of surgery and “doing well.”