Mexico violence claims six more officers

Times Staff Writer

A deputy police chief and another commander in western Michoacan state were slain, authorities said Tuesday, in the latest signs of violence in which at least half a dozen officers have been reported dead across Mexico in the last two days.

The victims include a senior investigator gunned down in the border state of Chihuahua and a deputy police chief in the Caribbean state of Quintana Roo, shot dead along with a bodyguard.

Violence has escalated since President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against organized crime nearly two years ago, and police officers have been frequent targets. More than 500 officers, including dozens of commanders, and soldiers have died, according to Mexican media tallies.


Local police have been hardest hit, prompting some officers to quit or flee to the United States. Many municipal and state officers also work as hired gunmen for drug traffickers and often are caught up in feuds between rival gangs.

In the latest attack on police, Javier Hernandez Sanchez, 43, the deputy chief in the Michoacan town of Tepalcatepec, died late Monday after being shot 18 times, the state prosecutor’s office said. Gunmen wounded his brother and a second officer as they fled.

Earlier in the day, authorities found the bullet-riddled body of Raul Juarez Navarrete, 46, the third-ranking officer in the town of Huaniqueo. He had been missing since Friday.

Also Monday, Pedro Aragonez, head of forensics investigations in northern Chihuahua state, was fatally shot while driving in the capital, Chihuahua city.

In Quintana Roo, home of the Cancun resort, gunmen ambushed and killed Manuel de Jesus Lopez Kantun, deputy chief for the municipality of Solidaridad, and his bodyguard as they drove in his car.

In addition, a member of the federal preventive police was fatally shot and two colleagues wounded as they returned to classes at the government’s police academy in the northern state of San Luis Potosi.

The men, assigned to the state of Mexico, came under fire as they drove on a highway early Monday. The incident prompted about 100 fellow officers to boycott classes, which are required as part of a restructuring of the federal police. Early this month, four federal agents from Michoacan were abducted on their way to the academy and killed.

Violence continued to claim civilian victims. At least 20 deaths have been reported since Sunday in Chihuahua state, where a war between drug gangs this year has killed more than 600 people. According to unofficial tallies, drug violence nationwide has claimed more than 2,000 lives this year.


Cecilia Sanchez of The Times’ Mexico City Bureau contributed to this report.