MEXICO CITY – Friday’s brazen attempt on the life of Mexico City’s public safety secretary was the work of the Jalisco New Generation drug cartel, the intended target of the attack that left three people dead tweeted from the hospital where he was being treated for non-life-threatening wounds.
Hours after the assault, Omar Garcia Harfuch identified the Jalisco outfit, known in Spanish by the initials CJNG, as the authors.
“What it (the attack) shows is that we must do a very good job in order to guarantee peace and security in the city,” capital Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum told a press conference, confirming that 12 suspects were in custody.
Two of Garcia Harfuch’s bodyguards and a motorist on her way to work were killed in the assault, which took place just after 6:30 am in an affluent area of Mexico City.
Rosa Gomez, a sister of the motorist who died, told EFE that another sister who was in the car remained hospitalized in serious condition.
The armor-plated SUV carrying the public safety secretary was struck by hundreds of bullets fired from Barrett .50-calibre sniper rifles.
Police subsequently found fragmentation grenades in the vehicle used by the assailants.
“With the (use of the) Barrett 50, what surprises me is that the secretary survived. That can be due to two things: first, a great reaction by his bodyguards; second, that the intention was only to send him a strong message; and third, the criminals’ lack of skill,” specialist Juan Carlos Montero told EFE.
“Practically all the big cartels have a presence” in the Mexican capital, where they fight among themselves for control of the retail drug trade, according to Montero, a researcher with the School of Social Science and Government at Monterrey Tech university.
Garcia Harfuch has pursued “all of the criminal organizations” since taking charge of the Mexico City police last October and will continue to do so, Sheinbaum said.
“There is no retreat here,” the mayor said.
Montero said that Friday’s spectacular attack – the first on a prominent official from Mexico’s ruling leftist Morena party since the party came to power in December 2018 – was a reaction not just to the efforts of the municipal police, but to growing pressure on the CNJG from the federal government.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s administration recently froze some 2,000 bank accounts linked to the CNJG and is intensifying operations against the cartel.
“This attack on a government so emblematic for Morena and for Mexico as that of Mexico City is a clear message,” Montero said.
The first official reaction came from Lopez Obrador, who interrupted his daily morning press conference to share news of the assault and condemn it.
“Without a doubt, all this has to do with the work that is being carried out to ensure peace and tranquility in Mexico City and in the country,” the president said during a visit to the western state of Michoacan.
The federal public safety secretary, Alfonso Durazo, said later Friday at a press conference that the CJNG had made threats against high-ranking police officers.
In response to a reporter’s question, Durazo said authorities had no evidence that police or municipal government insiders had provided the CJNG with information about Garcia Harfuch’s place of residence or his habitual route to the office.