Mexico: police shoot up US embassy car

A group of Mexican federal police agents attacked a US embassy car at around 8 am on Aug. 24 in the state of Morelos just of south of Mexico City, near the Mexico City-Cuernavaca highway. The police agents shot a number of times at the car, lightly wounding two US officials who were traveling with a member of the Mexican Navy to a nearby Navy training installation. The embassy car had diplomatic license plates, while the federal police were reportedly traveling in four unmarked vehicles.

Mexican authorities detained 12 federal police agents the evening of Aug. 24 in connection with the shooting and began an investigation. The federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR) is reportedly focusing on “confusion” on the part of the agents, who claimed they had been in the area to investigate a kidnapping by a criminal group that operates in Huitzilac and Cuernavaca municipalities in Morelos. The US embassy described the attack as an “ambush.”

Mexican media identified the wounded US officials as Jess Hood Garner and Stan Dove Boss, said to be shooting instructors from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). They were apparently on their way to the installation to train Navy personnel. The US government strongly promotes the militarized “drug war” that President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa declared shortly after taking office in December 2006, and the US supplies the Mexican military and police with training and equipment under the $1.4 billion Mérida Initiative, an aid program that was launched in 2008. Since the beginning of 2007 Mexico has suffered some 50,000 drug-related deaths. (La Jornada, Mexico, Aug. 26)

On Aug. 25 the left-leaning Mexican daily La Jornada noted that US agents have been involved in Mexican anti-drug operations, and sometimes in operations Mexican agencies don’t know about. The newspaper charged that by interfering in drug operations the US has encouraged lack of coordination and even rivalry between different Mexican security forces, especially through US officials’ “marked favoritism for the Navy.” “[T]he strategy for combating drugs that the United States has imposed on various nations south of its border…has turned out to be detrimental for bilateral relations [between Mexico and the US]—now plunged into a mutual loss of confidence—and for national sovereignty, and has represented, at the end of the day, a risk for the security of US officials themselves in our country.” (LJ, Aug. 25)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Aug. 26.