Six state police officers were killed in an ambush in the southern Jalisco town of La Huerta at around 4 p.m. on Monday, December 3. One officer survived the attack, in addition to a suspect who had earlier been detained by the patrol.
The Attorney General’s Office (Fiscalía General) said the ambush was carried out in order to release the suspect but also in reprisal for the November 22 arrests of alleged members of the Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación de Jalisco (CJNG) in the area. The cartel has turned this region of the state into one of its major strongholds, often by coopting local public officials.
The gunmen fled in a Jeep Wrangler and two white pickups in the direction of Autlan, as Mexican Army soldiers from the 41st Battalion joined in the hunt for the perpetrators, along with helicopters from the Fiscalia and Guadalajara police department.
In a bid to obstruct the arrival of more police units, the criminal gang created blockades on two main roads by setting fire to various vehicles.
A number of La Huerta municipal police officers have been called in to testify in the investigation, but a state spokesperson said there were no plans to demobilize the local force, as has occurred in other Jalisco municipalities where drug cartels have compromised local law enforcement agencies.
The municipality of La Huerta borders Villa Purificacion, where in May, 2015 a military helicopter was shot down during an operation to locate the CJNG’s leader, Nemesio Oseguera (alias “El Mencho”). The ambush cost the lives of six soldiers. To create confusion in the wake of that attack, the CJNG set fire to vehicles in 39 blockades in 29 Jalisco municipalities, including metropolitan area Guadalajara,
Outgoing Jalisco Governor Aristoteles Sandoval expressed his outrage at loss of life in La Huerta and praised the police officers for their labors, while recognizing that despite recent improvements to their equipment, training and salaries, they were often still at a disadvantage when faced against criminals with high-capacity weaponry.
During Sandoval’s six-year term (2012-2018), 37 state police officers have died while carrying out their duties, while 27 have suffered injury. The worst single incident was on April 1, 2015, when 15 officers were massacred in an ambush carried out by the CJNG on the Mascota-Las Palmas highway in the municipality of San Sebastian. Once again, the attack was in reprisal for the death of a leading cartel member.