EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The drug wars in Chihuahua, Mexico claimed another four lives on Thursday.
State police officers trying to arrest a leader of La Linea drug cartel in the town of Buenaventura, Chihuahua, killed four bodyguards after coming under automatic gunfire themselves, the state’s top lawman said.
The shooting came a day after police found eight murder victims in two contiguous crime scenes in a neighborhood on the outskirts of Chihuahua City. The bodies of six men and two women were bound and had signs of gunshot wounds and torture.
Four state police officers suffered bullet wounds in the Buenaventura incident, and one of them is in serious condition, Attorney General Cesar Augusto Peniche said.
“It was an operation to capture a subject involved in organized criminal activity in the region. When the officers approached, they were shot at by people inside vehicles, and they returned fire,” Peniche said in a news conference on Thursday.
Mexican news media identified the alleged drug trafficker as Lorenzo G.R., a.k.a. “El Grillo” (The Cricket), a reputed leader of La Linea in northwestern Chihuahua. The Cricket got away.
Peniche on Thursday said at least four of the victims had been abducted two days earlier from Aldama, a town between the state capital and the border city of Ojinaga, across the Rio Grande from Presidio, Texas.
“We are in the process of identifying the victims. We don’t want to disclose conclusions yet, but because of the way this happened, no doubt organized crime was involved,” the Attorney General said in the conference.
He said police are investigating a lead regarding a woman nicknamed “La Doña” (The Lady) and individuals who allegedly worked for her.
“We know from some individuals who have come forward that La Doña knew some of the victims […] She would be involved in drug sales, specifically, the sale of crystal meth,” Peniche said. “She might be among (the dead), but we haven’t established that yet. […] There are two women among the dead.”
Reporters asked the attorney general about statements the victims’ relatives made regarding a drug cartel – La Linea – cleansing out rivals from Aldama to have complete control of the highways between the state capital and the border at Presidio-Ojinaga.
“We are trying to figure out if she worked for a group or was independent. (But) no doubt she affected the interests of a criminal organization,” Peniche said.
The attorney general also corroborated reports of kidnappings and disappearances attributed to drug gangs in yet another part of the state.
“We are conducting a search operation in Madera to locate four people who are missing,” he said. That includes a rancher and one of his workers, a schoolteacher and a fourth, unnamed person.
Peniche said they were last seen near Las Varas, Chihuahua.
Las Varas in April was the site of a bloody gun battle between La Linea and a cell of the Sinaloa drug cartel allegedly led by “The Jaguar.” The shooting left 19 people dead – all of them members of the Jaguar’s gang, including his brother and his nephew.