Tags: Mexico | crime | drugs | chopper | downed

Mexico Seeks Missing Troops After Chopper Downed

Saturday, 02 May 2015 04:55 PM

Mexican authorities searched Saturday for three missing soldiers after gunmen brought down their helicopter in a field during an counternarcotics cartel operation that sparked mayhem in Jalisco state.

Three other soldiers were killed while 10 troops and two federal police officers were injured Friday when the assailants hit the Cougar helicopter's tail rotor, forcing an emergency landing.

The attack came on a day of violence across the western state that authorities say was launched by the Jalisco New Generation Drug Cartel in a bid to thwart a military and police operation against the gang.

Jalisco has emerged in recent months as a new challenge in President Enrique Pena Nieto's battle to contain drug violence in Mexico.

The New Generation cartel, led by Nemesio Oseguera, alias "El Mencho," has violently defied authorities, killing 20 police officers in two ambushes in March and April. It has forged alliances with gangs around the globe.

A total of seven people died in Friday's violence, which included roadblocks with torched vehicles in several towns, arson attacks against banks and gasoline stations, and shootouts in four locations.

Authorities detained 19 people.

 

 

The violence included the rare attack on the military helicopter between the towns of Casimiro Castillo and Villa Purificacion.

Some 200 soldiers guarded the site of the emergency landing, an area of pastures with thick vegetation near a hill.

A white sport utility vehicle was left behind by the gunmen, with their assault rifles still inside.

Soldiers and investigators from the attorney general's office were searching for the three missing troops in a 100- to 200-meter (yard) area around the helicopter, federal officials told AFP.

The soldiers could either be hiding, unconscious or dead.

"We still don't know what happened to them," one of the officials said on condition of anonymity. "It's a very detailed search to find them."

But officials would not speculate on whether the cartel could have kidnapped the soldiers.

"We maintain the version that they are missing," a second official said.

The flames and shootouts reported in various parts of Jalisco sowed terror in 25 towns on Friday.

 

 

A state police officer was killed in a gun battle in the town of Autlan, some 60 kilometers (37 miles) east from where the helicopter was hit.

Witnesses said people hid in their homes when a group of men set fire to a bank and a gasoline station.

The smell of burning rubber and metal still hung in the air from the remnants of a charred semi-trailer truck that was used to block the road.

Humberto Casian, a congressional candidate for the leftist Morena party in June elections, said in Autlan that the area near the Pacific is a key smuggling route for synthetic drugs.

"What's happening in Jalisco is bad. There's a readjustment by a criminal organization that has had great complacency from the state government, which has let it grow," Casian said in an interview.

"When a fight erupts, we're caught in the middle."

Residents were too fearful to talk openly about what happened.

"I prefer not to give my opinion because you can't with these guys," said one man wearing a sombrero who was buying a newspaper in the main square.

A hat seller said he saw one man enter the local bank Friday morning, pour gasoline inside it and set it on fire.

Raul Benitez Manaut, a security expert at Mexico's National Autonomous University, said the violence shows that the New Generation wants to "directly attack government forces so that they will come look for them and they can counter-attack."

 

© AFP 2017

 
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Mexican authorities searched Saturday for three missing soldiers after gunmen brought down their helicopter in a field during an counternarcotics cartel operation that sparked mayhem in Jalisco state.Three other soldiers were killed while 10 troops and two federal police...
Mexico, crime, drugs, chopper, downed
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2015-55-02
Saturday, 02 May 2015 04:55 PM
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