A municipal police commander in Empalme, Sonora, was killed by multiple cartel gunmen Monday. The officer was driving his personal vehicle when he was intercepted and shot. He marks the seventeenth officer killed in the border state abutting Arizona in 2019.
The deadly cartel attack occurred Monday at approximately 7pm when Comandante Manuel Oswaldo Marrufo Duarte was traveling in colonia Moderna when a vehicle occupied by cartel gunmen pulled alongside and fired at least six rounds of rifle fire. Marrufo Duarte was gravely wounded and came to a stop off the roadway as the attackers sped away. Responding personnel removed the mortally wounded comandante from his vehicle and drove to a medical facility. Officials announced a short time later that Marrufo Duarte died from his wounds.
Sonora is seeing an uptick in cartel-related violence as rivals engage in a turf dispute over valuable smuggling routes leading to the U.S. Last week, the government announced the deployment of additional military personnel to assist police in fighting the crime wave. Empalme/Guaymas is approximately 260 miles south of the Mexican border with Arizona and features the San Carlos Bay, a tourist destination. Breitbart Texas previously reported that a total of 1,800 Mexican National Guard personnel was deployed at the start of July. The violence is attributed to a dispute between the Sinaloa Cartel and the Beltran Leyva organization’s regionally aligned gangs, in addition to Sinaloa Cartel infighting.
Comandante Marrufo Duarte is the fifth police officer killed in the Guaymas/Empalme area in 2019 and the eleventh since October 2018. Guaymas/Empalme has a joint population of less than 200,000.
In January, the police chief from Empalme was gunned down while his bodyguard was wounded by a group of cartel shooters.
In April, the commander of the tourist town of San Carlos was wounded and his bodyguard killed in their vehicle in Norte de Guaymas.
On June 29, gunmen attacked Guaymas municipal police at a gas station, killing two and wounding three.
Also in late June, gunmen carried out a series of attacks in Guaymas that left three civilians dead and damaged a police substation.
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.)