La Linea targets police officers following arrest of top cartel lieutenant

Border Crime

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Mexican police have again come under gunfire as a result of the arrest of a wanted drug trafficker.

At least two vehicles were set on fire and one police officer wounded Monday evening in southern Chihuahua after the arrest of La Linea cartel lieutenant Gibran R.S., also known as “El Mocho,” state officials said.

“El Mocho” was wanted on murder, drug, and large-scale gasoline theft charges. State police officers arrested him, his wife, Daniela, and two alleged henchmen Monday in Jimenez, a city near the border with Durango, Gov. Javier Corral said in a teleconference Tuesday.

The suspects were allegedly in possession of several firearms and undisclosed amounts of crystal meth and cocaine, the governor said.

Gang members retaliated by shooting at the local police station, carjacking private vehicles and setting them on fire, and shooting up a highway toll booth where one police officer was seriously wounded, Corral said.

Last Thursday and Friday, members of another gang, Los Aztecas, killed a police officer and wounded two others during several attacks after the arrest of their leader Jose Dolores Villegas Soto. Villegas, also known as “El Iraki” or “The Iraqi,” is suspected of ordering or personally carrying out up to 50 murders in Juarez.

Chihuahua Gov. Javier Corral (left) and State Police Commissioner Emilio García Ruiz announce the arrest of a top La Linea cartel lieutenant. (photo courtesy State of Chihuahua)

“The attacks against our officers are in reaction to these arrests,” Corral said. “We are disrupting the structures of organized crime with the detention of suspects that have generated much violence in our state.”

La Linea was part of the old Juarez cartel structure that controlled drug trafficking in much of northern Mexico. The Sinaloa cartel displaced them more than a decade ago, but after the extradition to the United States of Sinaloa cartel drug lord Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman and with the support of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, La Linea is regaining control over much of Chihuahua, which is an important corridor for the trafficking of drugs into Texas and New Mexico, U.S. analysts say.

Corral said he’s placed all police departments in his state on alert in anticipation of further attacks and is making sure police officers receive bulletproof vests.

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