Scene of yesterday's raid in Morelos. Scene of yesterday's raid in Temixco.

Six die in crossfire in drug lord’s arrest

2 children, 4 women killed during police raid in Morelos

Six people — including an adolescent and a one-year-old infant — were killed in crossfire yesterday during a police operation to apprehend an alleged drug lord in Temixco, Morelos.

The other victims were four women, none of whom had firearms in their possession.

The raid took place at an address used as a hideout by José Antonio Valdez, a member of the Cartel del Sur, or South Pacific Cartel, which is based in the small state located directly south of Mexico City.

According to state security commissioner Jesús Capella Ibarra, the capo known by the alias “El Señor de la V” fired at police during a confrontation that lasted two hours. The deceased include Valdez’s mother, daughter and other immediate family members who were at the same address.

Police eventually managed to subdue and arrest Valdez, who apart from being involved in the drug trade is also suspected of being implicated in the homicide of a police officer in December 2015.

Valdez was previously detained for another crime but was released three months later.

Yesterday’s operation was one of two that Morelos state police carried out in Jaramillo de Temixco, seven kilometers from the state capital Cuernavaca.

Prior to the arrest of Valdez, police took a man identified as José Manuel into custody. He is believed to be the eldest son of an alleged leader of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) known as “El Crispín.”

Security commissioner Capella lamented that Morelos was surrounded by criminal organizations from Guerrero, the state of México and Puebla, and the violence in Morelos indicated that they had gone beyond their normal borders, he said.

However, operations like those carried out yesterday had allowed the state to achieve a reduction in its homicide rate, he added. Despite innocent people dying in the raid, Capella stressed that authorities would not be deterred from fighting criminal gangs.

“We have to continue making this effort . . . minors losing their lives is what affects me the most [but] there is no reason to change the strategy if it’s delivering results in operational terms,” he said.

He attributed yesterday’s collateral damage to Valdez rather than any fault on the part of the police although he couldn’t confirm who had fired the shots that resulted in the six deaths.

“The Attorney General’s office and its experts will have to determine what happened. I am going to be very respectful of what it establishes . . . all I can do is give them [the police officers] all the moral and legal support that is necessary because they were [just] doing their jobs,” he said.

However, the partner of one of the victims has challenged the legality of the police’s actions.

Luis Daniel Preciado García accused officers of arriving at the house without identifying themselves, not having a warrant to enter the home and shooting to kill. A lawyer for the family also said that he had lodged a criminal complaint against the officers for “qualified homicide.”

Source: El Universal (sp)

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