EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Police forces in the city of Nuevo Casas Grandes remain on alert following an attack on the local police chief that left three of his officers and a civilian dead late last week.
At least eight assailants armed with assault rifles fired on three vehicles outside a gym as Public Safety Director Julio Cesar Ramirez Valdez and his security detail were coming out, according to local media reports.
An ensuing gun battle left officers Maria Montserrant Muro Montoya, 41; Juan Lagunas Rojo, 51; and Pedro Daniel Perez Rascon, 43, dead. A cross-fit trainer, Larisa Beltran Estrada, 30, was also killed. Ramirez survived last Thursday’s attack with only an injury to his knee.
The assailants got away but state of Chihuahua forensic experts are examining ballistic and other evidence to track down the killers, said Alvaro Serrano said, head of the State Investigations Agency.
More than 200 bullet casings and slugs recovered from the scene point to the use of AK-47 and AR-15 rifles during the attack, as well as 9mm guns.
“Investigators are looking for witnesses to the shooting, as well as possible security video from nearby businesses. It’s possible that some people may have recorded the event on their cellphones and investigators are looking for those recordings as well,” said Carlos Huerta, spokesman for the Chihuahua Attorney General’s Office.
State police officers and National Guard members on Monday continued to patrol the town to prevent more violence, he said.
Nuevo Casas Grandes is about 80 miles southeast of Antelope Wells, New Mexico and about 140 miles south-southeast of Douglas, Arizona. The city is known as a regional agricultural center, but it’s also near a busy drug corridor into the United States.
A Juarez newspaper reported that Ramirez, the police chief, had been kidnapped in 2010 by a cell of the Sinaloa cartel whose members were also responsible for the murder of a lawyer, Mario Gonzalez, the brother of former Chihuahua Attorney General Patricia Gonzalez.