Monday, June 24, 2024

Ambush in Guerrero leaves 13 police officers dead and 2 injured

A group of armed men killed a municipal security secretary and 12 police officers in a coastal area of the southern state of Guerrero on Monday, according to authorities.

An unidentified criminal group ambushed the town of Coyuca de Benítez’s municipal police on the highway between Acapulco and Zihuatanejo shortly after midday, according to reports. At least 30 armed men participated in the attack, the El Financiero newspaper reported.

Papayo, Guerrero
The ambush occurred in El Papayo, about 50 kilometers from Acapulco, Guerrero. (CARLOS CARBAJAL/CUARTOSCURO.COM)

Security Secretary Alfredo Alonso López, Local Police Director Honorio Salinas and five police officers were reportedly murdered at the scene of the ambush in El Papayo, a community about 20 kilometers northwest of the municipal seat of Coyuca de Benítez and just over 50 kilometers from Acapulco.

Six other officers were reportedly kidnapped and taken to a nearby location where they were tortured and killed.

In addition to the 13 murders, the Guerrero Attorney General’s office said on Monday that two people were injured during “the events today in the municipality of Coyuca de Benítez.” It said in a statement that investigative police and forensic experts were present at the crime scenes to collect “the evidence necessary” to solve the crime.

Deputy Attorney General Gabriel Hernández said earlier on Monday that authorities were considering two possible “lines of investigation” in relation to the crime. He noted that Coyuca de Benítez authorities hadn’t reported any threats against local officials.

Crime scene investigators in Guerrero
According to officials, at least 30 gunmen ambushed the police officers. (CARLOS CARBAJAL/CUARTOSCURO.COM)

While the attack hasn’t been officially attributed to any crime group, the newspaper El País reported that state authorities have been aware for months of the increased presence of La Familia Michoacana in the Costa Grande region of Guerrero, which includes Coyuca de Benítez. Nearby, the notoriously violent Tierra Caliente region of Guerrero, Michoacán and México state is the stronghold of that criminal organization.

The massacre on Monday came some 10 months after former Coyuca de Benítez security secretary David Borja Luciano was targeted in an armed attack that claimed the lives of three police officers. Borja, who was injured, subsequently resigned his post.

Among Mexico’s 32 federal entities, Guerrero has recorded the second highest number of police murders in 2023 with 34, according to Causa en Común, a Mexico City-based non-government organization that tracks killings of officers. Guanajuato, Mexico’s most violent state in terms of total homicides, ranks first.

At least 341 police officers have been killed across Mexico this year, while more than 400 were murdered in 2022.

Guerrero is the biggest producer of opium poppies in Mexico.
Guerrero is one of the biggest producers of opium poppies in Mexico. (Archive)

Eduardo Guerrero, an intelligence consultant, attributed violence in Guerrero in recent years to turf wars between rival drug cartels. Opium poppies and marijuana are grown in mountainous areas of the state, which also includes popular coastal resort cities such as Acapulco and Zihuatanejo.

Guerrero, who was quoted in a New York Times report, said that some criminals in Guerrero have been targeting security forces ever since the federal government built a new military facility in the state last year.

“We have attacks [in Guerrero] every week,” he said, adding that cartels there appear to “specialize in killing police officers.”

A federal and state prosecutor were killed in the state last month, the former in the capital city of Chilpancingo, and the latter in the Tierra Caliente region.

Shortly after the police killings, academic and community leader Rigoberto Acosta González was murdered in Chilpancingo in a separate incident.

In the neighboring state of Michoacán, five people including a police officer were shot dead on Monday in an attack in Tacámbaro that targeted the brother of the municipality’s mayor.

With reports from El País, El Financiero, The New York Times and AP


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