Any doubts that Jalisco authorities have the manpower and capacity to respond to a security crisis were dispelled Wednesday, October 4 when scores of police patrols swooped into the north shore area in response to a shoot-out between a presumed gang of kidnappers and state investigators hot on their trail.
The gunfire started around noon when detectives assigned to the state’s anti-kidnapping unit cornered suspects holed up at Hotel Perico on the Chapala-Ajijic Libramiento, where they had arranged the exchange of a hefty ransom for the release of man and woman being held captive in Jocotepec. Realizing that they had been trapped by authorities, the suspects started shooting, wounding one of the officers as they attempted escape.
With a report of a man down, dozens of state police patrols, a motorcycle squad and a helicopter were quickly deployed to the scene to join the manhunt. Federal police, Mexican Army units and municipal officers from Chapala, Jocotepec, Ixtlahucan de los Membrillos, Tlaquepaque and Tonalá rushed to the area to provide backup. Witnesses counted around 100 vehicles participating in the operation.
Patrols were posted at both ends of the bypass to detour traffic away from the action, causing an intense midday backup of cars and trucks traveling the Chapala-Jocotepec highway. A dozen armed, plain-clothes officers stood guard outside the Walmart parking lot, screening passing vehicles on the outlook for other suspects. More police were spotted by the highway at the outskirts of Ixtlahuacán and at different points along the north shore corridor.
Meanwhile, three educational institutions located in the immediate vicinity of the Libramiento were put on lock-down until the coast was clear.
Following warnings put out on social media, many nervous lakeside residents sheltered in place throughout the day.
According to official reports by State Attorney General (FGE), the four-hour operation ended with the capture of three women and two men alleged to be members of the gang and the death of their presumed ringleader, gunned down while shooting at chasing officers as he fled into the hills on foot.
The captives were found safe and sound when they were freed from a Jocotepec property the kidnappers used as a hideout. Media reports suggested that the male victim was a foreigner working in Jocotepec’s berry industry. His nationality was not mentioned. The injured officer was under medical care, recovering in stable condition.
FGE acting director Marisela Gómez Cobos revealed that investigations carried out by the agency indicated that the criminal gang has been involved in at least eight kidnappings reported in Ajijic and Jocotepec.