A senior U.S. official told the Associated Press that the Mexican federal police who shot up a U.S. embassy vehicle on Aug. 24 were attempting an assassination for a drug cartel. “That’s a ‘We are specifically trying to kill the people in this vehicle’ [sort of operation],” a U.S. official familiar with the investigation told the AP. “This is not ‘Whoops, we got the wrong people.'”
Mexican police initially said the attack was a mistake.
A Mexican official confirmed to the AP that prosecutors are investigating whether the Beltran Layva cartel was behind the ambush that left two CIA agents wounded.
The Beltran Layva cartel was once aligned with Mexico’s most powerful cartel, Sinaloa, but the groups split in 2008. Its leader, Arturo Beltran Leyva, was killed by U.S.-backed Mexican marines in December 2009.
On Aug. 24 the Americans and a Mexican Navy captain were riding in an armoured Toyota Land Cruiser with diplomatic licence plates on a dirt road about 35 miles south of Mexico City.
Mexican federal police approached on trucks with mounted guns and opened fire when the black SUV attempted to evade them and return to the main highway.
Three other vehicles carrying federal police subsequently joined the chase and fired on the vehicle.
“The same car with the same people had been going up and back [reportedly to a marine installation] for a week, so perhaps some lookout who worked for drug traffickers informed the police, or the Beltrans,” Raul Benitez, a security expert at Mexico’s National Autonomous University, told the AP.
Twelve Mexican police were detained after the incident and are being held under house arrest pending possible charges. 50-one Mexican officers have testified in the case.
Benitez cited Mexican military sources when he told AP that “the attack was not an error,” and “the objective was to annihilate the three passengers in the car.”
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