3 Police Dead in Mexico City Shootout With Cartel Gunmen

3 Police Dead in Mexico City Shootout With Cartel Gunmen
Mexico City police officers in Mexico City on March 12, 2022. (Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

MEXICO CITY—Three police officers and one suspect were killed and seven suspected drug cartel members were arrested Friday following a dramatic running gun battle on the eastern edge of Mexico City.

It was a glimpse into drug cartel violence that the nation’s capital rarely sees, but which has become frequent in northern and western parts of the country.

Police said two officers were killed in a town just east of the capital early Friday when they approached a house where a kidnap and murder gang were believed to be hiding, according to police in the State of Mexico, which borders the capital. They said the suspects also were being sought for murders.

Four kidnap victims were found in the house before the gunfire erupted. The initial gunfight occurred near the town of San Antonio La Isla, about 35 miles (50 kilometers) east of the capital.

The suspects then fled in a vehicle into Mexico City, and continued shooting at pursuing officers, killing one capital police officer. The suspects then crashed their car against a lamp post. Some were injured in the crash, and some fled on foot but were taken into custody.

Those arrested included one woman. Weapons found at the crime scene included a number of high-powered rifles.

City police chief Omar Garcia Harfuch said the suspects apparently worked for the hyper-violent Jalisco cartel. “They say they belong to a group in Jalisco,” Garcia Harfuch said. “They were carrying insignias linked to the Jalisco cartel.”

He said the suspects were trying to reach a safehouse the gang apparently operated in Mexico City.

Mexico City officials have long acknowledged that the country’s major drug cartels have some presence in the capital. But they have claimed the sheer size of the Mexico City police force—some 90,000 officers by some counts—and terrible traffic jams have prevented cartel gunmen from operating openly in the city as they do elsewhere.

Garcia Harfuch was himself targeted by the Jalisco cartel in a 2020 attack on a street in Mexico City.

In the 2020 attack, some two dozen gunmen ambushed García Harfuch’s armored vehicle before dawn on one of the capital’s main boulevards. The brazen attack left him with three bullet wounds and his two bodyguards and a bystander dead.

Prominent Mexican journalist Ciro Gómez Leyva escaped shaken but unharmed from an attack last December, when two gunmen on a motorcycle tried to kill him in a late-night attack on a Mexico City street. He was saved because his SUV had bullet-proofing.

In raids and searches that led to the detentions of 11 suspects, police found a cap with the letters CJNG, the initials of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.