Gunmen murdered two police commanders and an 8-month-old child in the Mexican resort city of Cancun at a shopping mall frequented by American tourists. The officers were husband and wife and recipients of death threats for their cartel crackdowns.
A team of assassins was waiting for the family outside of a local theater in the Gran Plaza shopping center, Mexico’s Milenio reported. The victims have been identified by the Quintana Roo Attorney General’s Office as Police Commander Julio Cesar Duran Cardenas and Police Commander Alia Shagrei Lugo, and their son.
When the gunmen performed the ambush, they killed Duran while his wounded wife tried to flee with the child in her arms. The woman and child were later shot execution style, as well. Emergency responders rushed the child to a local hospital where he later died.
Duran was a commander of an organized crime unit in Playa del Carmen and was reported to have recent success against cartel activity. However, a series of narco-banners hung throughout the city point to Duran having picked a side, Noticias Pedro Canche reported. Prior to his murder, Duran was the target of numerous threats, including narco-banners hung by the Gulf Cartel accusing him of colluding and protecting Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG). In the banners, the Gulf Cartel identified Druan as “Comandante Diablo” or “Chilango” with the Ministerial Police. In that banner, Gulf accused Duran of having captured and released Alberto Ken “Comandante Yago” Varona and Luis Angel Rodriguez Cardenas–both key regional leaders of the CJNG.
The once quiet beach resort areas of Cancun and Playa Del Carmen saw a dramatic uptick in violence in recent months, Breitbart Texas reported. For years, the areas were popular tourist spots effectively immune to drug violence seen in other parts of Mexico. The violence is attributed to the fight over the lucrative drug markets by CJNG, Los Zetas, Gulf, and independent groups loyal to the Sinaloa Cartel.
In response to the ongoing escalation of violence, the U.S. Department of State updated their standing travel warning for Mexico. In the consular warning, State officials warn about the risks of traveling to certain parts of Mexico due to the ongoing cartel violence, Breitbart Texas reported. In the latest version of the travel alert, the State Department added the states of Quintana Roo (Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, and Tulum) and Baja California Sur (Los Cabos and La Paz).
Robert Arce is a retired Phoenix Police detective with extensive experience working Mexican organized crime and street gangs. Arce has worked in the Balkans, Iraq, Haiti, and recently completed a three-year assignment in Monterrey, Mexico, working out of the Consulate for the United States Department of State, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Program, where he was the Regional Program Manager for Northeast Mexico (Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas.)