Pubdate: Wed, 13 Aug 2008
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2008 Los Angeles Times
Author: Ken Ellingwood, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Mexico Under Siege


The Victims Include Two Top Commanders in Michoacan, a Senior
Investigator in Chihuahua and a Deputy Chief in Quintana Roo.

MEXICO CITY -- A deputy police chief and another commander in western
Michoacan state were slain, authorities said Tuesday, in the latest
signs of violence in which at least half a dozen officers have been
reported dead across Mexico in the last two days.

The victims include a senior investigator gunned down in the border
state of Chihuahua and a deputy police chief in the Caribbean state of
Quintana Roo, shot dead along with a bodyguard.

Violence has escalated since President Felipe Calderon launched an
offensive against organized crime nearly two years ago, and police
officers have been frequent targets. More than 500 officers, including
dozens of commanders, and soldiers have died, according to Mexican
media tallies.

Local police have been hardest hit, prompting some officers to quit or
flee to the United States. Many municipal and state officers also work
as hired gunmen for drug traffickers and often are caught up in feuds
between rival gangs.

In the latest attack on police, Javier Hernandez Sanchez, 43, the
deputy chief in the Michoacan town of Tepalcatepec, died late Monday
after being shot 18 times, the state prosecutor's office said. Gunmen
wounded his brother and a second officer as they fled.

Earlier in the day, authorities found the bullet-riddled body of Raul
Juarez Navarrete, 46, the third-ranking officer in the town of
Huaniqueo. He had been missing since Friday.

Also Monday, Pedro Aragonez, head of forensics investigations in
northern Chihuahua state, was fatally shot while driving in the
capital, Chihuahua city.

In Quintana Roo, home of the Cancun resort, gunmen ambushed and killed
Manuel de Jesus Lopez Kantun, deputy chief for the municipality of
Solidaridad, and his bodyguard as they drove in his car.

In addition, a member of the federal preventive police was fatally
shot and two colleagues wounded as they returned to classes at the
government's police academy in the northern state of San Luis Potosi.

The men, assigned to the state of Mexico, came under fire as they
drove on a highway early Monday. The incident prompted about 100
fellow officers to boycott classes, which are required as part of a
restructuring of the federal police. Early this month, four federal
agents from Michoacan were abducted on their way to the academy and

Violence continued to claim civilian victims. At least 20 deaths have
been reported since Sunday in Chihuahua state, where a war between
drug gangs this year has killed more than 600people. According to
unofficial tallies, drug violence nationwide has claimed more than
2,000 lives this year.