CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico – A high-level official at the state prison in Chihuahua city, the capital of the like-named northern Mexican state, was gunned down and one of his sons was wounded in an attack, officials said.
Gerardo Ortiz and his son, who has not been identified, were followed and attacked Saturday while driving through the city, the Chihuahua state Attorney General’s Office said.
The attack occurred at the intersection of Fuerza Aerea Mexicana and Juan Pablo II avenues in the eastern section of Chihuahua city, the AG’s office said.
“We believe because of the area where he was attacked that he may have possibly left the CERESO state (prison). He was with his son in his personal vehicle when they were attacked. His son was wounded, but Gerardo Ortiz died at the scene,” AG’s office spokesman Carlos Gonzalez said.
Ortiz served as the warden of the state prison in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico’s murder capital, last year and was removed from his post for allegedly playing a role in the escape of drug traffickers from the facility.
Six guards assigned to a prison in Chihuahua were murdered on Oct. 13 while they sat in a parked pick-up truck in the northern section of the state capital.
The six men worked at the Morelos district prison in Aquiles Cerdan, a city just outside Chihuahua city.
Prison guards and officials are frequently killed in northern Mexico as members of rival gangs fight for control of prisons in the region, officials say.
Chihuahua, bordering Texas, is Mexico’s most violent state, registering nearly 3,000 murders so far this year.
The state is home to Ciudad Juarez, a gritty border metropolis located across the border from El Paso, Texas, where more than 6,000 people have died in drug-related violence since 2008.
The Juarez and Sinaloa cartels, backed by hitmen from local street gangs, have been fighting for control of the border city.
The Mexico City daily Reforma reported recently that gangland killings have topped 10,000 this year in Mexico.
The newspaper, which included the figures in its “Ejecutometro” (Execution meter), said the dead included 637 police officers and 52 military personnel.
Nearly 30,000 people have died in drug-related violence since President Felipe Calderon declared war on Mexico’s cartels shortly after taking office in December 2006.
Calderon has deployed tens of thousands of soldiers and Federal Police officers across the country to combat drug cartels and other criminal organizations.
The anti-drug operation, however, has failed to put a dent in the violence due, according to experts, to drug cartels’ ability to buy off the police and even high-ranking officials.