JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) – A drug gang is suspected in two attacks that left one Chihuahua state police officer dead and six of his peers wounded.
The attacks took place Thursday morning 20 minutes apart from each in a region in the western part of the state where two rival drug cartels have been fighting each other for more than a year.
One attack involved shots fired against a National Guard unit escorting social workers to the town of Madera, state Attorney General Cesar Augusto Peniche said in a teleconference. The shots did not strike any soldiers or civilians, and the convoy of vehicles proceeded to its destination.
The second attack involved an ambush to a state police patrol unit along a road that leads from the farming and logging community of Largo Maderal to Madera, the attorney general said.
“Armed civilians caught them by surprise along the road. As a result of this attack, we have six State Security Commission officers injured and one officer dead,” Peniche said, adding that one of the wounded officers was in serious condition at a hospital.
Additional state police units have been sent to the site of the shooting to look for the assailants; both the National Guard and the Mexican army have joined in the search, he said.
State officials said they don’t know who is responsible for the attacks. However, they suspect the involvement of a Sinaloa cartel cell called Gente Nueva or Sonora faction. The gang is allegedly led by a man state police have identified as Francisco Arvizu Marquez, a.k.a., The Jaguar.
Gente Nueva and a cell of La Linea allegedly led by a man called “El 32” last April engaged in a gun battle that left 19 members of The Jaguar’s gang dead.
A month later five men were murdered in a saw mill near Madera, as the two groups tried to assert their control of illegal logging.
The state police, whose top officials have publicly accused Mexican federal authorities of not wanting to prosecute drug traffickers, has moved aggressively to curb drug-violence and illegal logging in the region. Their officers have come under fire more than once this year.