The border state of Chihuahua continues to be a hotbed for violence where cartel gunmen carry out ambushes and attacks on law enforcement officials. The attacks on authorities appear to be an effort to keep law enforcement out of the ongoing fight for control of the state’s lucrative drug trafficking territories and routes.
As the violence between forces from the Sinaloa Cartel and the Juarez Cartel continue to escalate, authorities sought to calm the public by stepping up police enforcement actions thus making lawmen a new target for cartel attacks.
In one of those attacks, two agents with the Chihuahua State Prosecutor’s Office were shot and killed. A third agent, who is a female was wounded when a team of gunmen riding in a vehicle opened fire on the agents. The attack took place outside the female agent’s home and has been attributed to the Los Azteca’s gang. Known also as Barrio Azteca, the gang is considered an enforcement wing for the Juarez Cartel. According to the El Diario, the murdered officers have been identified as Pedro Valadez Rodríguez, 25, and Héctor Manuel Montañés Ríos, 45, the female investigator who survived the attack was not identified.
The three investigators took part in a high profile investigation targeting members of La Linea dealing with the trafficking of women inside a state prison in the border city of Juarez. The work carried out by the three lawmen led to the convictions of several La Linea operators. Because of their work, the law enforcement officials began receiving threats in September, El Diario reported. One of the murdered investigators was expected to resign from the prosecutor’s office as a result of the constant threats from the cartels.
Soon after that murder, a team of gunmen ambushed two municipal police officers in Ciudad Juarez. The cops responded to a call about suspicious armed people outside of a bank when they were met with gunfire from a suspect who fled the scene. According to El Diario, the officers have been identified as 34-year-old Elizabeth Alfaro Loya and 40-year-old Sergio Alberto Macias Holguin.
So far in 2017, the border city of Ciudad Juarez alone has seen 11 murdered police officers at the hand of various gangs and cells that are aligned with either the Juarez Cartel or the Sinaloa Cartel, El Diario reported. While some of the murders have been targeted, other of the fallen lawmen have died in gun battles with cartel forces.
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.)