Security forces were busy yesterday in the capital of Nayarit with a military operation that took no prisoners.
Fifteen presumed criminals, including two leaders of the Beltrán Leyva Organization, were killed during the course of the day as Navy personnel and police, supported by two helicopter gunships, combed various neighborhoods in the city of Tepic to track down their targets.
Early in the day, Juan Francisco Patrón Sánchez, known as “H2” and believed to be one of two men controlling the cartel, was killed by helicopter gunfire in Lindavista.
Later, Daniel Isaac Silva Gárate, “H9,” was killed in a gun battle in the community of El Aguacate, near the municipality of San Blas.
He was initially identified as another leader of the Beltrán Leyva gang but today officials in the state’s Attorney General’s office said he was the likely successor to Patrón Sánchez.
The Navy Secretariat has issued a statement justifying the use of military force and the employment of helicopters in a residential area. The aircraft, reportedly Black Hawks, used “dissuasive gunfire” to intimidate the criminal elements who were sniping from the roof of a house.
The airpower was intended “to lessen the level of aggression and reduce the danger to civilians and federal forces,” said the statement.
The criminals were armed with assault rifles, at least one machine gun and grenade launchers, according to military sources.
The United States consulate in Guadalajara yesterday warned U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to Tepic and said consulate staff were prohibited from traveling to the city until further notice.
The Beltrán Leyva gang used to be one of Mexico’s most powerful cartels but has been severely weakened in recent years by the arrests and murders of its leaders. The last of the five brothers after whom the cartel was named was arrested in 2014.