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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

6 Mexican police officers, prosecutors killed in series of roadway bomb blasts

A coordinated series of roadway bomb blasts in western Mexico that officials said were a trap organized by a drug cartel killed six police officers and prosecutors’ agents, the latest example of the increasingly open, military-style challenge posed by the country’s drug cartels.

The governor of Jalisco state said the blasts late Tuesday in Tlajomulco, a city near the state capital, Guadalajara, were set up by an anonymous caller who gave a volunteer search group a tip about a supposed clandestine burial site near the roadway. The bombs also wounded 12 people.

For years, police have been unable to locate the more than 110,000 missing people in Mexico, but they accompany volunteer search groups that look for such hidden graves. The volunteers, usually the mothers of missing people, often get anonymous tips about where their relatives may be buried.

Jalisco Gov. Enrique Alfaro said a total of eight “improvised explosive devices” were planted on the roadway, seven of which detonated simultaneously as a police convoy passed by.

“This is an unprecedented act that shows what these drug cartels are capable of,” Alfaro wrote earlier on his social media accounts. “This attack also represents an open challenge to the Mexican government on all levels.”

Alfaro did not say who he suspected of setting the bomb, but the Jalisco drug cartel has significant experience in using improvised explosive devices, as well as bomb-dropping drones. IEDs also wounded 10 soldiers in the neighboring state of Michoacan in 2022 and killed a civilian.

Earlier Tuesday, a federal official acknowledged that another cartel had used a car bomb to kill a National Guard officer in the neighboring state of Guanajuato.

Army personnel guard

Army personnel guard the area as evidence is collected after an explosives attack against police officers and prosecutors, in Tlajomulco de Zuniga, Mexico, on July 12, 2023.
(ULISES RUIZ/AFP via Getty Images)

A few days later, another IED killed a farmer when he drove over the device in his pickup truck. The farmer’s son was wounded in the blast, which was apparently fueled by a device containing ammonium nitrate.


Special squads of Mexican army troops equipped with metal detectors and bomb suits were later deployed to the area. Dozens of such devices were found along rural roads and fields in the area around the township of Aguililla.

The IEDs included devices detonated by radio or telephone signal, by pressure — as when someone steps on them — or even by vials that break and combine two chemicals.

The Jalisco cartel has been fighting the local Viagras gang, also known as United Cartels, for control of the area for years. Those battles have featured the use of trenches, pillboxes, homemade armored cars and drones modified to drop small bombs.

The cartels’ bomb-carrying drones have caused more terror in Michoacan than the land mines. While initially crude and dangerous to load and operate — and still worrisomely indiscriminate — drone warfare has improved; it’s not unusual to see metal barn or shed roofs opened like tin cans from the impact of drone explosions.

However, six volunteer search activists have been killed in Mexico since 2021. While the motives in those killings remain unclear, activists say the cartels have tried to intimidate searchers, especially if they investigate graves sites that are still being used.

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