Three Mexican soldiers are dead and three are missing, after a drug-cartel retaliation during a day of widespread and coordinated violence in the Mexican states of Jalisco, Michoacán, and Guanajuato. Twenty-five cities suffered through 36 vehicle hijackings, 39 roadblocks on 26 roads and highways, and at least five gas stations set on fire.
On Friday, May 1, Mexican federal forces launched Operation Jalisco, with the goal of capturing leaders of the Jalisco Nueva Generación cartel, including the cartel’s leader, known as El Mencho. According to Mexican National Commissioner of Security Monte Alejandro Rubido, at around 7 a.m., 11 soldiers, two federal policemen, and five crew members were in the middle of an aerial reconnaissance mission aboard a Cougar Matricula 1009 helicopter when they located a convoy of vehicles transporting armed individuals on the Casimiro-Castillo-Villa Purificación highway, about 200 kilometers from Guadalajara. Upon realizing that they were detected by the federal forces, the armed individuals opened fire on the helicopter.
The rotor of the helicopter was hit, forcing an emergency landing. Three soldiers died in the incident, and three more have still not been found, while the remaining 12 passengers were injured. After the incident, soldiers and federal police located four abandoned automobiles.
The cartel’s criminal reprisals began shortly thereafter: at 9:51 a.m. drivers on Periférico and Acueducto, a major intersection in Guadalajara, watched as a Chevrolet with four passengers intercepted a white truck, pulled out the driver, and lit the truck on fire. This proved to be only one of dozens of violent reprisals that lasted until about 2 p.m., creating chaos in several municipalities in the state of Jalisco, leaving an additional four dead: one security personnel and three presumed criminals.
Jalisco Governor Aristóteles Sandoval confirmed the damage, which was not limited to Jalisco’s capital, Guadalajara. It extended throughout the state, including the popular beach town of Puerto Vallarta, where three gas stations and three banks were lit on fire.
Other states were affected as well: simultaneous to the events in Jalisco, drug traffickers set up roadblocks and hijacked at least four vehicles in Michoacán, including a passenger bus and a cement truck. In León, Guanajuato, vehicles were hijacked and set on fire to block roadways in the city’s center. In all, 25 municipalities were affected, and 39 roadblocks were created by the cartel.
Mexican National Commissioner of Security Monte Alejandro Rubido reported that the roadblocks and vehicle hijackings were designed to obstruct the government’s attempt to capture the cartel’s leaders, indicating that Friday’s violence was in response to Operation Jalisco, in swift response to its initiation that morning.
During the night, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto tweeted that the federal government will continue working for a return to security in Jalisco: “The criminal group responsible for today’s deeds will be disbanded as has been the case with other organized criminal groups.”
El grupo delincuencial responsable de los hechos de hoy será desarticulado, como ocurre con las demás organizaciones del crimen organizado.
— Enrique Peña Nieto (@EPN) May 2, 2015
“The criminal group responsible for today’s deeds will be disbanded as has been the case with other organized criminal groups.”
Edited by Fergus Hodgson.