WORLD

Just four cops left on cartel hit list

PATRICIA TREBLE May 26 2008
WORLD

Just four cops left on cartel hit list

PATRICIA TREBLE May 26 2008

Just four cops left on cartel hit list

Mexico’s powerful drug cartels have assassinated at least four senior police commanders since May 1 in retaliation for the government’s stepped-up campaign against organized crime. Last Thursday acting federal police chief Ëdgar Millán Gómez was fatally wounded by assassins waiting inside his Mexico City home. The murder was apparently retaliation by the Sinaloa cartel for the recent arrest of several gang leaders and hit men. After the funeral on Friday, President Felipe Calderón pleaded with his countrymen: “We have to come together to confront this evil, we Mexicans have to say, ‘That’s enough!’ ”

Since taking office in 2006, Calderón has tried to break the power of Mexico’s drug cartels. He’s deployed 25,000 troops and federal cops and stepped up arrests. However, the gangs have reacted with brutal violence, employing weapons ranging from AK47s to rocket-propelled grenades to battle security forces as well as each other. At least 1,100 have been killed so far this year. Joaquin Guzman, head of the Sinaloa cartel, is one of the most ruthless drug traffickers, and recently his cartel has been moving into rival territory in the border city of Ciudad Juárez, which is across from El Paso, Texas.

More than 200 people have been killed there since Jan. 1. Last week, three senior police officers were executed, including Juan Antonio Roman, the city’s No. 2 cop. According to local papers, his death came after a hit list was found on a memorial to slain officers. Roman’s name was at the top. Hours later, the police chief resigned. (Only four of the 12 officers on the hit list are still alive.) The next day, while thousands marched silently through Ciudad Juárez to protest the violence, police in neighbouring Sinaloa state seized a huge cache of weapons and arrested six alleged drug traffickers. One was Guzman’s cousin. M

PATRICIA TREBLE