Mexican Border State near Arizona Marks 15th Police Death in 2019

Sonora state police man a roadblock days after a gunbattle between police and a drug cartel assault force that overran a town last May 16 near the Arizona border that left 23 dead, including five police officers in the town of Cananea, Mexico, Friday May 18, 2007. The nation's top …
AP File Photo/Oman Nevarez

A Mexican municipal police commander was gunned down by a cartel gunman in Sonora Sunday. The commander was not on duty when he stood at his front doorway. The murder marks the 15th recorded this year in the border state abutting Arizona.

Comandante José Antonio Zepeda Rodríguez, 42, from Hermosillo was identified as the victim, according to local reports. The attack occurred at approximately 2:30 pm in colonia Villas del Sur, located in the southern section of Hermosillo. Witnesses reportedly heard numerous gunshots. Emergency personnel discovered the deceased commander at the doorway of his residence. Comandante Zepeda Rodríguez was most recently assigned as a bodyguard for the Hermosillo Chief of Police Manuel Enrique Cabanillas. Investigators searched for a Chevrolet Equinox supposedly used by the hitmen.

Breitbart Texas previously reported when a total of 1,800 Mexican National Guardsmen were deployed to Sonora in July to help fight the escalating violence attributed to cartel and gang turf wars. The bloodshed is attributed to a territorial dispute between the Sinaloa Cartel and the Beltran Leyva organization’s regional allies.

In the past week, Breitbart Texas reported on the apprehension of 13 suspected hitmen during a raid at a cartel safe house in Cajeme, Sonora. Those apprehended are believed responsible for at least four recent homicides, including a 3-year-old boy and his father. Cajeme is located approximately 155 miles south of Hermosillo. Breitbart Texas also reported on the discovery of three trucks equipped with homemade armor plating — including a cloned state police vehicle.

Sonora provides valuable drug and human smuggling routes into the United States, which are the primary cause of violence between rival cartels.

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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