Ambush of Mexico Police Chief Leaves Few Options

MEXICO CITY—The dramatic assassination attempt against Mexico Citys police chief was just the latest and clearest sign that Mexicos powerful criminal element is bringing the violence it has unleashed on the general population directly to President Andrés Manuel López Obradors door.

More than 35,000 Mexicans were murdered in 2019, the highest number on record; its a grave threat to the presidents ambitious agenda.

On June 26, more than two dozen gunmen executed a carefully coordinated plan to intercept Police Chief Omar García Harfuchs armored vehicle at dawn with grenades, assault rifles, and a .50 caliber sniper rifle on the capitals grand boulevard. García survived with three bullet wounds and within hours, blamed the Jalisco New Generation Cartel for the attempt that killed two of his bodyguards and a bystander.

It came less than two weeks after a federal judge and his wife were gunned down in their home in the western state of Colima. The Jalisco gang is also suspected in that attack.

“The cartel declared war on the government of López Obrador,” said Samuel González, a security analyst and the man who established the Attorney Generals Office special organized crime unit. “He doesnt have any other option than to go after them,” because otherwise, attacks on high-level government officials could continue.

It didnt take long for López Obrador to disagree.

“Were not going to declare war on anyone,” he said on June 27 in a video broadcast through his social media. “Were not going to violate human rights. Were not going to allow massacres. But were going to stop these attacks from being orchestrated, and were not going to make any agreements with organized crime as we did before.”

The president said the key will be perseverance, with help from the intelligence services, which reportedly gave some warning that García might be targeted by an attack.

“Now, we have given great importance to intelligence,” López Obrador said. “Before, the CISEN (National Intelligence Center) was used to spy on opponents. That is over. Now, we have an intelligence center to prevent, and that is why these attacks have been prevented or the most regrettable and serious results of these attacks have been avoided.”

In 2019, this intelligence showed some problems.

In October, a botched operation to capture a son of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán in Culiacan, resulted in the young drug capos release after cartel gunmen wreaked havoc on the city in the state of Sinaloa. López Obrador said this month that he ordered the release to avoid more bloodshed.

At the time, López Obrador pushed aside criticism that it was a sign of weakness that organized crime would continue to exploit. The president responded that his government wont be forced into a drug war.

“This is pacifying the country by convincing, persuading without violence, offering well-being, alternative options, better living conditions, working conditions, strengthening values,” he said then. He asked for one more year to “completely change this.”

On June 17, Raúl Rodríguez a columnist for El Universal, one of Mexicos largest newspapers, wrote in a column that Mexican intelligence had intercepted a conversation between Jalisco gang operators, in which it was clear they were planning to hit a major target in the city.

Rodríguez wrote that two unnamed security officials had confirmed the information and that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration had confirmed the authenticity of the conversation. No names were mentioned, but analysts determined that the four potential targets were three members of López Obradors cabinet and García.

“Its the way the mafiosos communicate with governments to tell them, You touch me and were going to kill your most important officials,” said Edgardo Buscaglia, an organized crime expert at Columbia University.

“When this happens, organized crime understands that the government is taking measures that are going to hurt its business and they begin to kill members of the political elite,” he said.

Earlier this month, Santiago Nieto, the head of Mexicos Financial Intelligence Unit, announced that in collaboration with the DEA, the unit was freezing nearly 2,000 accounts believed to be used by the Jalisco gang. Nieto was mentioned as one of the potential cabinet-level targets of the cartel this month.

There are also nearly a dozen pending extraditions of Jalisco gang associates, Buscaglia said.

The administration should continue to pressure the cartel while increasing security to protect its political elite, starting with López Obrador who continues to fly commercial and travel with little security, he said.

On June 27, Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum shared a photo with García smiling from his hospital bed and said that he was doing well and had “more energy than ever.” She praised Mexico Citys police for a rapid response that likely saved his life.

Since the attack, authorities had made 19 arrests in the case, she said, including the alleged Read More – Source