MEXICO CITY – Armed men apparently from a drug gang raided a police convoy in central Mexico on Thursday, killing eight state police officers and five prosecutor’s investigators in a hail of gunfire.
The massacre of the 13 law enforcement officers was the country’s largest single murder attack since October 2019, when cartel-armed men assaulted and killed 14 state police officers in the neighboring state of Michoacan.
The recent ambush sparked a major search for the killers in a rural, gang-ridden area southwest of Mexico City, surrounded on three sides by the State of Mexico. The dead police officers worked for the state.
While the state of Mexico includes suburbs of the capital, it also includes lawless mountains and scrubland like the one where the attack took place.
Rodrigo Martínez Celis, the head of the state’s public security department, said soldiers, Marines and National Guard forces combed the area by land and air in search of the killers.
“The convoy was patrolling the region to target the very criminal groups that operate in the region,” said Martínez Celis. “This aggression is an attack on the Mexican government.
“We will respond with all our might,” he added.
There was no immediate indication of which gang or cartel the armed men might belong to. Several are operating in the Coatepec Harinas area where the attack took place.
The city is near a hot spring spa known as Ixtapan de la Sal, which is popular with Mexican residents as a weekend getaway. But it’s also relatively close to cities like Taxco, where authorities have reported activities by the Guerreros Unidos gang, apparently allied with the Jalisco cartel, and the Arcelia gang, dominated by the Familia Michoacán crime organization.
The attack appears to be a challenge for President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has pursued a strategy not to confront drug cartels directly in order to avoid violence.