Ambushes By Mexican Cartels Use Military Tactics

By Carlton Purvis

In his annual state of the nation address Friday, Mexican president Felipe Calderon said that an important part of combating cartels is purging the system of corrupt law enforcement officers. The process started this summer with the dismissal of more than 400 police officers and investigators.

According to a San Diego Law Enforcement Coordination Center intelligence bulletin, law enforcement and military personnel were responsible for training drug cartels in ambush techniques. Ambushes are showing an increased level of sophistication including preplanned ambushes and military assault maneuvers.

The bulletin, labeled “law enforcement sensitive” and “not releasable to foreign nationals” was issued last November but published online this week by the hacker collective Anonymous, along with several other law enforcement documents.

“A San Diego Police Department investigation revealed credible information that Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTO) in collaboration with San Diego street gangs are using sophisticated counter surveillance techniques and are willing to use armed ambush assaults to protect drug shipments,” the bulletin reads.

Armed with modified AK-47s and M4s, DTOs have launched numerous successful attacks on law enforcement in Tijuana. In 2009, there were 43 documented attacks on law enforcement in Tijuana that resulted in homicides.

The bulletin tells of an undated incident involving a convoy of Tijuana Cartel and San Diego street gang members. The group was assigned to protect a shipment of narcotics that was headed north. Mistaking undercover San Diego police for a rival crew, the cell used push-to-talk communications to call for additional gang members to retrieve weapons from a stash house and set up at a preplanned location in another part of San Diego. The convoy then tried to lead the undercover police into the ambush.

In this incident, law enforcement weren’t specifically targeted, but it’s a testament to the organization and rapid response capabilities of DTO enforcement cells.

Case studies showed that tactics used by DTOs to attack Mexican law enforcement show a high level of training and preoperational planning. One study showed that most were at preplanned locations and targeted specific members of law enforcement.


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