Mexican drug cartel ambushes federal police convoys
MEXICO CITY — Mexico's rough western state of Michoacan, producer of avocados and waves of migrants, is proving just as painful a thorn in the side of President Enrique Pena Nieto as it was for his predecessor, Felipe Calderon.
Coming off a stunning success with the capture of Zetas cartel leader Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, Pena Nieto almost immediately was plunged back into the bloody reality of Mexico's drug war this week as gunmen believed to be working for the Knights Templar cartel staged a coordinated series of ambushes on federal police convoys Tuesday.
Attacks continued on Wednesday, wounding at least five federal police officers. The death toll from Tuesday's clashes stood at 20 gunmen and two federal police. About 15 people were injured.
Pena Nieto sent thousands of troops and federal police to the area two months ago seeking to regain control of the state from the Knights Templar,.
The cartel's deep local roots and proven capacity for violence could make Michoacan the graveyard of Pena Nieto's pledge to reduce drug violence.
“They are challenging the Mexican state on an equal footing,” said Edgardo Buscaglia, a senior scholar at Columbia University who studies organized crime in Latin America, noting that in many areas of Michoacan the Knights Templar gang is the de-facto law. “You have state vacuums in Mexico that are not covered by any kind of institutional framework ... and the cartels are moving in to capture pieces of the state.”
The government has defended its plan to restore order, even though officials have never made very clear what that plan is.
The government doesn't seem to have a different strategy than Calderon's for the complex, bloody, multi-sided battle in Michoacan that pits the pseudo-religious Knights Templar against police, vigilante groups and the rival New Generation Jalisco cartel. New Generation, which authorities say is aligned with some vigilante groups, is looking to take over Michoacan by casting itself as a cartel interested only in moving drugs and criticizing the Knights Templar for their kidnappings and extortions of everyday people.
Vigilantes tired of crime are fighting back with self-defense groups they call “community police.” The emergence of such groups has been one factor in the new flare-up of violence.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Islamic State group pushed out of Syria’s Kobani
- Australia facing methamphetamine crisis
- Putin casts off rich cronies as sanctions hit Russian elite
- Kerry, Hagel rebuke Iraqi PM for criticism of coalition’s effort against terrorists
- Saudi King Abdullah, a gradual modernizer, dead at 90
- Turmoil confronts new Saudi king on several crucial fronts
- Japan stunned by video claiming death of 1 of 2 Islamic State hostages
- Koran ban on image of prophet challenged
- U.S. lawmakers meet Cuba foreign minister, not President Castro
- U.N. says Iran isn’t expanding nuke work
- Islamic State demands $200M ransom for 2 kidnapped Japanese citizens