Sunday, July 28, 2013

Mexican vice admiral killed in further Michoacán violence

His wife is seriously injured in the latest attack, as the narco dominated state spirals out of control

Guadalajara -
A Mexican vice admiral was killed in an ambush in warn torn Michoacán state today, the Secretary of Marine and Naval Forces announced late this afternoon.

Admiral Carlos Miguel Salazar Ramonet died when a naval SUV in which he was traveling came under small arms fire by yet unidentified insurrectionists in the region. The government says they are most likely members of the powerful Los Caballeros Templarios drug cartel.

Last Tuesday Mexican Federal Police were ambushed a half dozen times while their heavily armed convoys patrolled disputed regions of the state. Six officers were killed. At least 10 federal agents have died in Michoacán since July 18, together with many gunmen. Michoacán erupts; 22 dead as regional violence escalates.

On Thursday president Enrique Peña Nieto acknowledged, "Regrettably, parts of the state have passed into the hands of organized crime." There are about 2,500 federal troops or paramilitaries in Michoacán this evening, with more on the way. Federals will remain in Michoacán, says Peña Nieto.

The state border between Jalisco and neighboring Michoacán is under heavy military surveillance, with checkpoints on all major roads. Mexican army units fortify Jalisco-Michoacán border.

Salazar was participating in operations designed to restore security to local communities. But cartel operatives and their allies are well entrenched and heavily armed, according to the government.

The admiral, who had commanded the Eighth Mexican Naval District based in Puerto Vallarta since February 2012, was traveling in a naval vehicle accompanied by his wife, a driver and one personal escort. The group was on its way back to Jalisco state when it came under fire.

The admiral's SUV was riddled by gunfire - one of almost a dozen ambushes by presumed cartel gunmen in Michoacán state in less than a week. They show no fear of federal authority.

It is not clear if the assailants specifically targeted Salazar, or were aware that they were firing on an admiral. At least one other naval functionary died at the scene, a terse SEMAR statement said, and Salazar's wife was "gravely wounded," as was another service man.

Three suspects were taken into custody by security forces soon after. They have not been identified.

In a Twitter message earlier this evening Peña Nieto expressed his "sincerest sympathies over the loss of Vice Admiral Salazar Ramonet's life, and for the others who died this afternoon in Michoacán."

Colleagues and officials in Puerto Vallarta who knew Salazar said they had enormous respect for the admiral, noting that he "opened the doors of the Naval District" for humanitarian and charitable works. "He showed how much he loved Vallarta," said one.

The main cartels operating in Michoacán are Los Caballeros Templarios; the Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG), also known as Los Matazetas (the "Zeta killers"); and Los Zetas. In addition there are many regional and local gangs which work in alliance with the larger organizations.

Mexico's drug war enters its 80th month next Thursday. It began on Dec. 11, 2006, when former National Action Party (PAN) president Felipe Calderón Hinojosa sent federal troops marching into Michoacán. The state yet remains a seedbed of organized crime activity and drug war violence, with no immediate end in sight. Fiasco in Michoacán suggests little has changed under new government.

Feb. 19 - NY Times finally figures it out: in Mexican drug war, Enrique Peña Nieto = Felipe Calderón
July 24 - Civilian militias stop Mexican army near Acapulco
July 24 - "¿Por qué deberíamos preocuparnos?"
July 28 - Mexican armed forces arrest 4,760 drug traffickers in first eight months of PRI administration
July 30 - Mexico's attorney general: no withdrawal of forces from Michoacán until security is restored

Vice Admiral Carlos Miguel Salazar Ramonet, commander of the Puerto Vallarta naval district - dead at the hands of narco assassins today.

© MGRR 2013. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

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