Three Mexican state police officers assigned to a special operations group in the border state of Chihuahua were killed after being ambushed by cartel gunmen. The gunmen attacked the police officers with rifle fire and grenades on Friday. This deadly confrontation also left two other police officers wounded and five cartel gunmen dead.
The attack occurred just before 1130 a.m. in the rural community of Peña Blanca located in the municipality of Gómez Farías which is approximately 150 miles northwest of the state capital of Chihuahua. The state police were patrolling in two marked duty trucks when cartel gunmen opened fire with grenades and rifle fire, according to local media reports. The gunfire immediately incapacitated one of the patrol vehicles which became engulfed in flames killing a police commander. In the ensuing gunfire, the attackers killed two more police officers and wounded two others who worked to repel the attack of an estimated 50 cartel gunmen. The attackers arrived in several trucks and vans. After several minutes, the cartel gunmen fled from the area leaving behind five cartel gunmen who had also been mortally wounded.
Officials identified one of the three deceased officers as the squad commander, Inspector Luis Hurtado Armendariz, according to media reports. He reportedly died inside the patrol unit which became engulfed in flames during the initial attack. It is believed that Hurtado Armendariz’s patrol unit took a direct hit from what is believed to be a rocket-propelled grenade, according to Breitbart News’ law enforcement sources.
Officials identified the two other officers as non-commissioned officers Sergio Carrillo Sinaloa and Francisco Hernández Márquez. Both died while attempting to repel the ambush, according to a statement released by Jesús Manuel Carrasco Chacón, the state attorney general for the Western Zone of the state of Chihuahua.
Inspector Luis Hurtado Armendariz received decorations for his actions during actions during search and rescue operations in the La Condesa and La Roma sections of Mexico City after a September 2017 earthquake.
Chihuahua government announced the deployment of 100 state police officers as well as additional military and federal police elements to the municipality of Gómez Farías in order to establish security in the area. The increased law enforcement presence will be utilized to search for the cartel gunmen believed responsible for the attack.
Immediately after the attack, schools and businesses closed after panic spread throughout the region, according to local media outlets. Two vehicles believed to be involved in the attack against the state police were later discovered abandoned in a neighboring municipality. Investigators reported that one was a Dodge Ram which was previously reported stolen in La Cruces, New Mexico. Another was a Dodge Aspen reported stolen in Ciudad Juárez.
The municipality of Gómez Farías and surrounding areas have a history of violence due to multiple confrontations between rival criminal drug gangs as well as numerous attacks against the civilian population and patrolling security elements. In February of 2017, the state was forced to assume command of public safety in the area of six municipalities, including Gómez Farías, due to uncontrolled violence in the area and police corruption with the various municipal police agencies. The region in and around Gómez Farías has been highly disputed by an ongoing cartel war between the La Línea–Nuevo Cártel de Juárez and the La Gente Nueva of the Sinaloa Cartel.
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.) You can follow him on Twitter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.