Six local police officers were killed in Culiacán, Sinaloa, June 27 when two carloads of heavily armed men cut off their vehicle in an ambush. The attack came two hours after a shoot-out between armed men and federal army troops assigned to the Mixed Urban Operations Base, leaving one gunman dead and several wounded, including a solider. That same day, Mexican authorities applauded the US Senate’s approval of a $400 million drug war aid package for Mexico.
The attack followed the slaying June 26 of Igor Labastida, a senior officer in the Federal Preventative Police, when a gunman opened fire on him as he ate lunch in a Mexico City restaurant. One of his bodyguards was killed as well. Labastida was the fifth top commander slain in 13 months.
Labastida had survived an earlier assassination attempt, and his name appeared on a hit list circulated by drug gangs. Another senior commander on the list, Edgar Millan Gomez, was killed in May. More than 4,400 people have been killed in drug violence in Mexico, including hundreds of police officers, since President Felipe Calderón took office in December 2006.
The assassinations, along with the gangs’ growing habit of decapitating their victims and issuing threats using posters and the Internet, “have a clear objective to intimidate, frighten, paralyze society and, with that, force the federal government to retreat,” said Government Secretary Juan Camilo Mourino. He hailed the approval of the so-called “Plan Mexico” funds—despite criticisms that the US is not doing enough to halt the flow of guns into Mexico. Mourino praised the aid package as “a concrete expression of the principle of shared responsibility” in the drug war. “Are we totally satisfied with what is being done? Not yet,” he said at a press conference. “But we are satisfied at having made the US government aware of the level of the problem, what it represents for our country and the need to take steps on the US side.” (LAT, June 28; La Jornada, June 27; El Universál, June 26)
Earlier this week, police found four decapitated heads in a picnic cooler along a highway in Durango, along with a note saying, “This is a warning,” listing an alphabet soup of Mexican police agencies. “You get what you deserve.” Police in neighboring Chihuahua state found five bodies accompanied by a hand-lettered placard reading, “This is what happens to stupid traitors who take sides with Chapo Guzmán”—an apparent reference to Sinaloa Cartel kingpin Joaquin “Shorty” Guzmán. (LAT, June 11)