MEXICO CITY — Mexico City’s chief of police was shot and injured and two of his bodyguards killed in a dramatic assassination attempt early on Friday that he quickly blamed on one of Mexico’s most powerful drug gangs, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG).
The city’s public security chief Omar Garcia Harfuch suffered three bullet wounds as he and bodyguards came under heavy fire around dawn in an upscale Mexico City neighborhood, where the attack was captured on security cameras.
Some three hours later, apparently from his hospital bed, Garcia sent out a message on Twitter blaming his injuries and the death of two bodyguards on a “cowardly attack” by the CJNG, a gang notorious as one of the most violent in the country.
A third person, a woman apparently on her way to work, was also killed in the gunfire which ripped through the exclusive Lomas de Chapultepec neighborhood. The area is home to many wealthy people and the location of ambassadorial residences.
Grainy security camera footage broadcast on Mexican television showed a group of heavily armed men in an open-backed truck and an SUV blocking off a road to open fire on Garcia’s vehicle.
In separate images, fast-arriving police could be seen shouting and moving towards the high caliber gunfire that rang out for several minutes just after 6.30 a.m. local time (7:30 a.m. ET).
Television footage of what was apparently Garcia’s armored SUV showed a vehicle riddled with bullets roped off by police.
The shooters fled after the attack and Mexico City attorney general Ernestina Godoy said 12 suspects were later arrested.
Mexico City authorities said they had recovered military-grade long guns from the crime scene.
Led by a former police officer and based in the western state of Jalisco, the CJNG has been blamed for fueling record levels of violence in Mexico during its battles to eliminate rivals for control of drug trafficking and crime rackets.
Friday’s attack shocked residents of the western neighborhood that is rarely troubled by the bloodletting that has afflicted many poorer parts of the country.