MEXICO CITY – A thousand municipal police officers have been mobilized to combat the Tlahuac gang, Mexico City’s mayor said Friday, a day after eight suspected members of the criminal outfit died in a shootout with marines.
The gang is “a broad, violent and expansive criminal organization that has gone beyond the Tlahuac borough,” Miguel Angel Mancera told a press conference.
At the same time, the mayor said that while the self-styled Tlahuac cartel had established a presence in the neighboring boroughs of Iztapalapa, Xochimilco and Alvaro Obregon, the group did not really qualify as a cartel in terms of its size and structure.
Though gunfights in the street have become all too common in other Mexican cities, capital residents were shocked by Thursday’s pitched battle between marines and gang members in Tlahuac, one of Mexico City’s poorest boroughs.
Among the eight suspects killed was Felipe de Jesus Perez, the gang’s reputed leader.
The shooting erupted during coordinated raids targeting the Tlahuac group, which engages in drug trafficking, extortion and robbery and is blamed for more than 50 homicides.
As the police-marine sweep got under way, Tlahuac members and sympathizers commandeered vehicles and set them ablaze to block the streets in a “narco-blockade,” the first time that the tactic has been seen in Mexico City.
Following the battle, 16 people were arrested for sabotage, vandalism and other offenses.
With a thousand cops on patrol, Tlahuac enjoyed a peaceful Friday.
“But we cannot lose sight of the fact that the city is composed not only of Tlahuac, but of 16 boroughs that we must be protecting,” Mancera said.
The mayor said he wouldn’t hesitate to seek help from the federal security forces in the future if circumstances warrant.