Amid Mexico’s spiraling cartel and drug war violence, and the police and military’s uphill battle to get a handle on surging crime especially in sprawling urban poor neighborhoods, a brazen and shocking assassination attempt has targeted Mexico’s City’s chief of police on Friday.
Mexico City’s public security chief, Omar Garcia Harfuch, survived the attack and his now considered "out of danger" according to Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum. The top cop was wounded and is in the hospital, while at least two of his police bodyguards were killed.
Though details remain sparse, the attack appears to have been a major public street shootout scenario, akin to much of the cartel violence Mexican towns have been prone to, given the mayor also said an "undetermined number of people were killed" in the morning shootout.
"The police say that gunmen armed with .50 caliber sniper rifles and grenades exchanged fire with the chief’s security detail," AP reports. A woman who happened to be driving by was also shot and killed.
Local media says the attack occurred at around 6:30am, shocking the wealthy neighborhood district of Lomas de Chapultepec. Interestingly, such a violent scene is said to be extremely rare in the that part of the city. Gunshots were reportedly heard ringing out for several minutes as the streets erupted in chaos.
It’s as yet unclear who the assassins or perpetrators were, however, Reuters described based on local officials that arrests have been made:
Separately, Ernestina Godoy, attorney general of Mexico City, said 12 people had been arrested.
Speaking at a regular government news conference, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador attributed the outbreak of violence to the work of local officials to establish order in the city.
Residents said heavy gunfire rang out for several minutes during the attack in Lomas de Chapultepec, which is home to many wealthy residents and the location of ambassadorial residences.
Aftermath and massive police presence at the upscale Lomas de Chapultepec district:
And further police are now blaming a powerful cartel:
Mexico City police chief Omar Garcia Harfuch blamed the powerful Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) for attempting to assassinate him early on Friday when he was shot and injured in an attack in a wealthy part of the capital.
“This morning we suffered a cowardly attack by the CJNG, two colleagues and friends of mine lost their lives,” Garcia said in a post on Twitter.
Some local reports described that high-power weapons used in the assault, including 50 caliber machine guns, account for the high casualty toll, including among innocent passersby.
Typically such scenes have only play out in poorer neighborhoods.
It’s perhaps a sign that organized crime elements are becoming more daring in targeting high level law enforcement authorities that they would go after the country’s most visible city police chief and in broad daylight in an upscale neighborhood.