Three members of a Puebla anti-kidnapping force were themselves abducted on Thursday and later killed, triggering an operation in which 87 people — including a mayor — were arrested.
The massive operation yesterday of state and federal forces captured members of a criminal gang linked to the Zetas cartel and dedicated to kidnapping and pipeline theft, as well as the mayor and municipal police of Atzitzintla, a town and municipality in the east of the state.
The three officers belonging to the Kidnapping and High-Impact Crime Prosecutor were investigating the gang, believed to control pipeline theft in the region known as the Red Triangle, when they were detained by Atzitzintla police.
It was not clear whether the police turned them over to gang members or if they were taken by force. One officer was able to send a message and alert state and federal officials.
But it didn’t arrive in time to prevent their assassination. Bodies of the three officers were found Thursday in nearby Veracruz. They had been shot.
Puebla Interior Secretary Diódoro Carrasco Altamirano and Attorney General Víctor Carrancá told a press conference that police detained Atzitzintla Mayor José Isaías Velázquez and 86 others and seized 21 firearms, three fragmentation grenades, 30 vehicles, ammunition and six pipeline taps.
Carrasco said Mayor Velázquez and local police had been offering protection to the gang, led by a man known as “El Buchanans,” who escaped during yesterday’s operation.