Mexico vows to catch gang members responsible for bloody prison break

Honor guard peers killed in a violent attack on a freed Mexicle leader; Victims’ relatives dispute Chihuahua governor’s claim that Juarez is safe

Juarez, Mexico (border reporting). The body of his nephew is in the coffin. José Bobadilla wonders why criminals continue to wreak havoc in his beloved Juarez, Mexico.

“We have been like this for many years, for decades, and no one can stop it. It’s getting out of control. […] There is no security, and they (criminals) are tearing us apart. It’s time to stop this,” said Bobadilla, whose truck was stolen on December 5 and learned on New Year’s Day that his nephew, a local prison guard, had been killed in a riot.

Bobadilla’s nephew Carlos Salinas Banuelos was one of 10 Cerezo 3 prison guards killed during the escape of Mexicles gang leader Ernesto Alfredo Pinón de la Cruz, also known as “El Neto”, and 29 others on Sunday. Seven prisoners were also killed in the shootout. A day later, two Chihuahua State Police officers looking for fugitives and five suspected gang members were killed in a shootout in the Villa del Sol area.

On Wednesday morning, the Mexican government commemorated the 12 murdered civil servants in a ceremony on the lawn next to the giant Mexican flag in Chamizal Park in Juarez. The coffins stood in front of a white canvas tent where their relatives sat. A photograph of each officer stood in the background on easels lined with flowers. Soldiers performed a slow military march, and state police officers fired three volleys into the air with semi-automatic rifles.

Chihuahua State Corrections officers carry the body of one of their colleagues who was killed during a forced escape of 30 prisoners on New Year’s Day, including the leader of the Mexicles gang. (photo of the border report)

As many family members wept and some complained about visiting dignitaries, Chihuahua State Attorney General Roberto Fierro promised swift justice.

“Our people didn’t deserve this,” Fierro said. “To the families of our peers, I want to say respectfully, but it is clear that you are not alone. You can feel safe and free to live your life. […] This will not go unpunished. We will look for the perpetrators responsible for these cowardly acts and bring them to justice.”

However, none of the escapees had been caught as of late Wednesday. This angers some relatives.

“I want justice for my brother, Domingo Trejo Serrano. What they did to him was wrong. It’s too painful for me; I would like to know who did this to my brother,” said a relative of the correctional officer, who burst into tears and refused to give her name.

Fierro said efforts to track down the fugitives and gunmen who broke into the prison on New Year’s Day are ongoing. He did not speak about the investigation other than what he had said in the previous days: that “El Neto” orchestrated his escape out of fear of being transferred to a maximum security prison far from Juarez, and that the warden of the prison was under investigation. allegedly for allowing him to smuggle alcohol, drugs and a plasma television into the cell.

Bobadilla supported the Attorney General’s contention that the guards were killed simply for doing their jobs.

“My nephew was great. He was a good man, a good man. He didn’t deserve it — none of his peers deserved it,” said the uncle. “But new governments come and go and we are stuck in the same place. We can’t safely leave the house.”

Cartel violence threatens Mexican border prosperity

The frontier economy has largely recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a monthly newsletter from the University of Texas at El Paso economic think tank. Cross-border trade experts say a lot of this has to do with employment at American manufacturing plants in Juarez. For every four or five out of 330,000 maquiladora jobs in Juarez, one job being created in El Paso, they say.

But brazen acts of violence, such as the New Year’s Day prison massacre and the Black Thursday riots last August, which killed 11 people, burned several stores and burned stolen cars, could scare away investors, and the governor of Chihuahua knows This.

“We can tell the people of Juarez and El Paso that we are working (on public safety) and getting results,” Gov. Maru Campos said Wednesday. “We were doing well. We had the best results in the last five years with a (25 percent) reduction in homicides. Before that, we were in control.”

US security experts say drug cartels pose a threat to Mexico. Even the heavy-handed response demanded by the relatives of the slain jailers can backfire.

“In previous incidents in Tijuana and Quintana Roo, we have seen the Mexican government deploy hundreds of additional personnel to areas where there is higher levels of violence,” said Michael Ballard, director of intelligence for Global Guardian in Virginia. “In some cases, we see cartels (lay low), but in other cases, the increased presence of security forces leads to more violence.”

The gangs responded to the arrest of their leaders with riots.

“Because you have more cartels on security force violence, this can lead to a chaotic backlash including street blockades, carjackings and arson. This is worth looking into if (the Mexican government) deploys additional security forces,” Ballard said.

The security expert recommends that Americans visiting or doing business in Mexico always be aware of their surroundings, study the places they will be visiting, not go alone if possible, and have a contingency plan in case of an unexpected cartel or street violence.

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