1709263656 At least three soldiers were killed in an ambush in

At least three soldiers were killed in an ambush in Tepalcatepec, Michoacán

At least three soldiers were killed in an ambush in

At least three soldiers of the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena) were killed this Thursday in an ambush in the municipality of Tepalcatepec, in the state of Michoacán, the Mexican army confirmed to EL PAÍS. The local press has reported the death of a fourth soldier, information that has not yet been confirmed by the Sedena, which, however, acknowledges that there are “about six or seven” wounded with “various injuries” who are already in hospitals in the Region were relocated zone. “There are some who are still under investigation and some where the diagnosis is unfavorable,” a military spokesman said, meaning the death toll could potentially rise.

The soldiers were ambushed while conducting reconnaissance operations between the towns of El Montoso and El Terrenatillo, a mountainous and rural area. According to the local press, the military convoy drove along a mined road according to information not confirmed by Sedena. After the ground explosive exploded, a group of armed men took advantage of the confusion, opened fire on them and bombarded them with drones loaded with homemade explosives.

According to Sedena, the soldiers were stationed in the 43rd Military Zone, a Mexican Army base under the responsibility of Brigadier General Óscar Rentería Schazarino. The military barracks are located in the municipality of Apatzingán, less than 70 kilometers from Tepalcatepec, the site of the ambush. There is reportedly a dispute in the area between the Jalisco Nueva Generación cartel and a local group called El Abuelo, which is allied with the Knights Templar.

According to Sedena, the reconnaissance mission is a common army protocol in the region, based on the logic of “being present on a routine basis to prevent criminal activities.” [los militares] “They are present in the area.” The convoy consisted of 20 to 30 soldiers.

On December 26, 2023, two months ago, in the same municipality of Tepalcatepec, there was a shootout between members of the CJNG and members of the Carteles Unidos, another criminal group with a presence in the area. A detachment of soldiers from the 43rd Military Zone intervened to “restore order.” No fatalities were reported in this confrontation.

In September last year, another CJNG commando killed three workers in the lemon fields of Tepalcatepec, a municipality of about 24,000 residents, many of them farmers. The three farmers were kidnapped, tied up and then shot. Their bodies were abandoned. A month earlier, in August, hitmen from the same criminal group attacked the city, but were repelled by the residents themselves.

This Thursday is not the first attack with drones and anti-personnel mines that has taken place in the community. In January 2022, a Sedena armored truck also exploded when ground explosives rolled over it while it was patrolling the area. That same month, a video shot by a drone released by the CJNG went viral, showing the unmanned aerial vehicle dropping homemade bombs on Tepalcatepec.

According to an analysis by the Insight Crime portal, which specializes in violence and organized crime, it was the first drone attack registered in Mexico. “Right now, drones only work as a terror tactic due to their lack of lethality. However, if the arms race between criminal groups continues, it may only be a matter of time before civilian deaths occur,” the article defends. If it is confirmed that the three murdered soldiers died under drone fire, it would indicate an evolution in the “arms race,” as Insight Crime mentioned.

Experts interviewed by EL PAÍS then pointed out that the use of drones by organized crime is currently carried out in response to surveillance tasks, the transport of small quantities of drugs and, in certain cases, attacks. The drones used by groups like the CJNG are not designed for combat. On the contrary, they are commercial models that anyone with enough money can buy on the Internet (a quick look at the website shows that there are copies available for a few hundred dollars). It is then not difficult to attach a hook, remotely controlled by the cell phone, to which the bomb is attached and fired at the target in question.

Michoacán is one of the most violent states in Mexico, where criminal groups such as the CJNG, the Sinaloa Cartel, the United Cartels, La Familia Michoacana and Los Caballeros Templarios are controversial. In 2022, at least 2,242 people were murdered in the entity, which, together with Guanajuato, the State of Mexico, Baja California and Chihuahua, accounted for 45% of the total homicides recorded in the country (14,307), according to the organization México Unidos Against. Crime.

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