Mexican Cartel Gunmen Ditch Armored Vehicle South of Arizona


Sonora state police came under fire from cartel gunmen traveling in an armored SUV 80 miles south of Arizona Saturday morning. The attackers abandoned their armored vehicle in a remote desert area south of Caborca.

Elements of the Sonora State Ministerial Investigative Police (AMIC) were patrolling in two vehicles near Caborca, located 80 miles south of the Arizona border when they observed a 2000 Jeep Cherokee traveling at a high rate of speed on the Caborca-Pitiquito International Highway. Officers signaled the Jeep to stop, however, the suspect truck sped away. Upon approaching the colonia Santa Cecilia section of Caborca, the state police came under rifle fire from the fleeing Jeep. The state police radioed for assistance, which launched additional municipal and federal police along with elements of the Mexican Army (SEDENA), according to local reports.

After chasing the Jeep southbound, it arrived in a rural area known as Solomon Quihuis or “Las Cocheras.” The vehicle was abandoned and pursuing officers noted it sustained multiple bullet strikes, but the rounds did not penetrate the cab since the vehicle was armored. A search resulted in the discovery of three tactical vests, an AK-47 rifle, and five loaded magazines. Apart from the bullet strikes, the front passenger side tire was completely missing. A search of the area produced negative results for the passengers.

The area around Caborca is a strategic location for drug and human smuggling activities due to its close proximity to the U.S. border. The cities of Lukeville, Sasabe, and Nogales, Arizona, are each easily accessible from Caborca. In November of 2018, the Mexican Army seized an armored Chevrolet pickup with a mounted Browning .50 caliber rifle, four AK-47s, and multiple magazines with ammo, according to a local report.

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


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