Police killed in airport gunfight shot by drug racket cops

Jun 26, 2012

Rogue cops were running drugs-trafficking operation of out Mexico City international airport

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THREE Mexican police officers killed in a spectacular shoot-out at Mexico City's Benito Juarez airport were likely killed by fellow policemen running a drug-trafficking operation out of the international airport.  

According to the Mexican newspaper El Universal, two suspected drug-traffickers who fled the scene on Monday were caught on airport security cameras and identified as federal police officers.

Jose Ramon Salinas of the Public Security Secretariat told El Universal that the men involved had been "completely identified" as serving officers and said "intelligence units are getting close to finding and arresting them".

It is understood the rogue police officers were involved in the racket with other public servants from various government agencies also working in the airport's Terminal 2.

The gunfight, which saw civilians fleeing to dodge the bullets according to the Los Angeles Times, began in the Terminal 2 food hall after police investigating the drug smuggling operation moved in to arrest the suspects. Two federal officers were killed during the incident, with a third later dying from his injuries.

"Seeing themselves surrounded by federal police, [the suspects] fired on police," an official statement released by authorities said.

Despite the Western perception of Mexico as a crime-riddled country, much of the violence in the country's brutal six-year-long drug war that has claimed almost 50,000 lives takes place outside of the 20m-population capital, which has a murder rate lower than American cities such as Washington DC and New Orleans.

However the airport has been a hotbed of smuggling activities, with more than 440lb of cocaine being found by authorities there during the last year - twice the previous year's amount - and more than 180 people being arrested.

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In 2009, NPR analyzed thousands of news releases on the federal attorney general’s website announcing arrests for organized crime, weapons and drug offenses. The information surveyed spanned from the day Calderon assumed the presidency in December 2006. The analysis showed that Nationwide, 44 percent of all cartel defendants are with the Zetas and Gulf cartels. Only 12 percent of the defendants are with the Sinaloa cartel. The numbers contradict the Mexican government, which claims it has arrested twice the percentage of Sinaloa gang members.

“I think you’ve identified an issue of concern, and that is, why is the Sinaloa doing so much better than the others and why is the Sinaloa cartel been the one that has escaped a lot of the prosecutions compared to the other cartel numbers?”

— U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), a former federal prosecutor who sits on the Homeland Security Committee, when asked to review the NPR analysis.

NPR’s analysis is supported by a Mexican law professor and organized crime expert, Edgardo Buscaglia, who has done his own analysis of cartel arrests.

“If you look at the main organized crime group in Mexico, that is, the Sinaloan confederation, it has been left relatively untouched. The Sinaloa has been clearly the winner of all that competition among organized crime groups. And as a result of that, they have gained more economic power, they have been able to corrupt with more frequency and corrupt with more scope. Now you see that Sinaloa is the most powerful criminal group, not just in Mexico, but all over Latin America,”

— Law professor and organized crime expert. Edgardo Buscaglia

“Has the Sinaloa infiltrated the Mexican government? Absolutely. Has the Sinaloa infiltrated the Mexican military? Absolutely.”

— Texas Congressman Michael McCaul

“When the Sinaloan cartel began to be protected by all the apparatus of the government after 2001, it felt the power for the first time in history to occupy plazas that for dozens of years belonged to other cartels. So you saw them take on the Gulf cartel in Nuevo Laredo [in 2005], My hypothesis, after five years of investigation, is that Joaquin Guzman Loera is the best example of corruption in Mexico.”

— Anabel Hernandez, an award-winning investigative reporter who has spent five years researching a book on Guzman.