A helicopter operated by the Mexican Navy. A helicopter operated by the Mexican Navy.

Coordination problems seen as navy helicopters fire on Jalisco police

No injuries when two choppers fire on five police vehicles

Two navy helicopters mistakenly fired at five Jalisco state police vehicles yesterday, exposing serious deficiencies in the coordination between Mexico’s security forces.

The incident, in which there were no casualties, occurred at 1:26am at the La Ruana crossroad located on the border between the states of Jalisco and Michoacán in the violent Tierra Caliente region.

The police were traveling to Jilotlán de los Dolores, Jalisco, to carry out patrols and assist in the investigation of the assassination of Mayor Juan Carlos Andrade Magaña, who was killed Sunday.

Jalisco Governor Aristóteles Sandoval attributed the incident to confusion on the navy’s part and a lack of coordination between the security forces, exacerbated by nighttime conditions.

“Fortunately, there were no injuries but we must fine tune the coordination. It’s a very complicated area where there is a navy presence and because of the time that our personnel were traveling . . . this incident occurred,” he said.

The governor also said that he would meet with Interior Secretary Alfonso Navarrete Prida to strengthen coordination between state and federal forces in order to avoid the occurrence of a similar incident in the future.

It is the second time in as many months that navy helicopters have fired on unintended targets.

Earlier this month, the Navy Secretariat (Semar) accepted responsibility for the deaths of three civilians in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, in March after the federal Attorney General’s office (PGR) determined that the victims came under aerial fire from a Semar helicopter.

In that incident, a family traveling on the Luis Donaldo Colosio Highway in the early hours of March 25 entered the line of fire during a confrontation between marines and a criminal gang.

A 28-year-old mother and two of her daughters, aged four and six, were killed.

The region where yesterday’s incident occurred is notorious for violent crime and last month more than 1,200 soldiers were deployed there after the Los Viagras criminal gang unleashed a wave of violence.

With regard to the investigation into Andrade’s murder, Sandoval said that initial inquiries had detected some omissions on the part of municipal police.

“It’s critical that he didn’t have any kind of security . . .” he said, adding that Andrade had been involved in an incident some years ago and one of his political opponents withdrew from the previous municipal election because he had been threatened.

The manner in which the mayor was killed was similar to how Jalisco congressman Saúl Galindo was killed in December, Sandoval explained.

As of last week, 78 politicians had been murdered since the electoral process began last September.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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