Shootout in Mexico’s Embattled Jalisco State Leaves 8 Dead

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A shootout between Mexico’s federal police and alleged criminals has left at least eight dead in Jalisco state, in what could be a harbinger of more violence as security forces intensify their offensive against the Jalisco Cartel. 

The gunfight took place on May 18 in the municipality of Villa Purificacion, the same town where the Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (CJNG) shot down a military helicopter using a rocket-propelled grenade launcher (RPG) earlier this month, reported Reuters

An unidentified Mexican government official said the individuals killed in the shootout belonged to a criminal group, but no futher information has been released. “Preliminary [reports] show eight civilian deaths,” the official told Reuters.

The shootout follows a series of bloody attacks carried out by the CJNG in recent months that have rocked Jalisco. In April, CJNG gunmen ambushed and killed 15 police officers on a highway near the town of Soyatan. In addition to the attack on the military helicopter that left eight soldiers and one federal police officer dead, in early May the cartel engaged in violent confrontations with security forces in several parts of the state.

InSight Crime Analysis

The bloody shootout in Jalisco may foreshadow an increase in violent confrontations involving security forces as they attempt to dismantle the CJNG, which has rapidly become one of Mexico’s most feared drug cartels. On May 1 — the same day the CJNG shot down a military helicopter — authorities initiated “Operation Jalisco,” a security offensive headed by an army general aimed at capturing the CJNG’s top leadership and restoring peace in the embattled state.

There is reason to believe “Operation Jalisco” will successfully diminish the power and influence of the CJNG. Militarized government offensives against other Mexican drug trafficking organizations such as the Zetas have resulted in the capture or killing of numerous top criminal leaders.

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However, a victory against organized crime in Jalisco could come at a high price. Past military interventions in places wracked by organized crime violence such as Ciudad Juarez have led to a spike in reports of human rights violations perpetrated by Mexican security forces. Last October, Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission found that soldiers had summarily executed at least 15 individuals in June 2014 in Mexico State (Edomex), a brutal reminder that the militarization of domestic security as part of the country’s “drug war” can at times lead to the use of excessive force by security personnel.

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