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Presumed Gang Leader Killed in Mexico City 'Hospital Hit'

Medica Sur Hospital, where the killing took place Medica Sur Hospital, where the killing took place

In an elaborate hit, two gunmen dressed as medical personnel entered a hospital in Mexico City and killed an alleged gang leader who was recovering from gunshot wounds, evidence of the pervasiveness of criminal influence in the country.

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According to Mexico City prosecutors, security camera footage shows two suspects wearing scrubs and hygienic masks entering Medica Sur Hospital on December 15, and making their way to their target's room. The victim, Crisoforo Maldonado, was found dead of one gunshot minutes later by hospital staff. The assailants fled the scene and are at large.

Authorities say that Maldonado was a leader of a gang active in Morelos and Guerrero states known as "Los Rojos," which is believed to be linked to the Beltran Leya Organization. He had been hospitalized after receiving gunshot wounds in a December 11 firefight in Cuernavaca, Morelos.

Interestingly, Milenio reports that the hospital alerted police that Maldonado was receiving treatment there, but police did not arrest the subject or dispatch a security detail. 

InSight Crime Analysis

Maldonado's murder demonstrates the wide reach of criminal gangs in Mexico. Although he fled after the shootout, his enemies were able to follow him to his Mexico City hospital bed. The fact that they were able to make it through hospital security uninhibited is a likely indicator that they had had help from, or intimidated, someone working in the facility.

Authorities' lack of response after being informed of this gang leader's presence is also suspicious. This is a serious failure on the part of police, and is characteristic of the lack of professionalization among law enforcement. This will be a major hurdle for newly-elected President Enrique Peña Nieto, as he attempts to crack down on insecurity and drug trafficking in the country. 

Los Rojos is one of dozens of small organized crime factions that operate in Mexico. As larger organizations continue to fragment, this type of organization -- unknown, local, well-armed, and dangerous -- is likely to emerge more often.

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