Look at it and interpret it as you will. Last Friday’s deadly ambush in the wee hours against a heavily armed platoon of the Mexican Army outside the city of Culiacán, in the state of Sinaloa, home of the nation’s most fearsome drug-trafficking gangsters was a carried out to let the Army, the Navy and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents stationed in the area is that drug trafficking is alive and ready to defend its turf.
The ambush left five Mexican soldiers dead and nine more seriously wounded including a medic who had taken care of a felon named Julio Oscar “El Kevin” Ortiz Vega, a minor hoodlum who was being “secretly” transported to a military hospital after he himself was wounded in a clash with soldiers.
The ambush left a feeling of helplessness for the Army as immediately after they mobilized throngs of troops in the region and the perpetrators had vanished.
On Wednesday afternoon, President Enrique Peña Nieto was scheduled to fly to Culiacán to have a private meeting with the families of the dead soldiers where there was to be no media allowed.
As to who were the highly skilled and trained, as well as brutal attackers remains to be seen, regional commander General Alonso Duarte Mújica at first blamed it on the two sons of imprisoned drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera but both claimed innocence immediately through their fathers’ defense lawyer. This is not to say that the Guzmán boys are not wanted for their participation in several territorial disputes against other gangs, but at least they claim they had nothing to do with the ambush on the soldiers.
But if it wasn’t them, then who did it? Several experts on the issue know the show of force used by the attackers was not so much about rescuing the politically meaningless “El Kevin” but carrying out a military type of attack in which they caught more than 20 soldiers by surprise on the outskirts of Culiacán, where they achieved their two objectives, rescuing the injured individual the soldiers were guarding and annihilating as many of them as possible.
A question that stands out is that this was a highly secret mission and nobody aside from inside forces within the Army was supposed to know about it. The answer is that the Army has enemies within who are betraying them.
But they sent their message clear to both the Army and the always scurrilous DEA agents (you never see them when these things happen, and they do more often than not) and theirs, a source says, that they are sending a message of anarchy in the region and to show their solid stronghold of the Sinaloa poppy and marijuana growing fields.
Another reason for the near “secrecy” of the ambush is owed the federal government”s public relations tactic as it is clear that, as columnist Pablo Hiriart writes in El Financiero, “if those who were murdered had been the drug traffickers, the media would be demanding punishment for the military who gunned them down and human rights associations would be demanding punishment for the culprits and an ‘impartial investigation’ on the part of the government. But as the fallen, ambushed and massacred were members of the Mexican Army, nothing much is happening except for a mention in a newspaper.”
Hiriart says that the number of gun men attacking the Army convoy was made up of about 60 hit men.
Another famous columnist, Raymundo Rivapalacio, an associate editor of The News, is blunt about describing the ambush as “a declaration of war against the Mexican State. The government doesn”t know it … but the objective of the group of hire gun men at the service of drug traffickers was to make vulnerable the last security frontier of national security, who did not respond to the size of the affront.”
The next step, Rivapalacio concludes, is that the lack of action against the perpetrators from the civilian Mexican government is just not what the government in Washington wants to see next door; a government controlled by drug runners.
How to interpret all this? Your opinion is as good as anybody’s, but the fact is, blood is flowing downstream.