4 officers wounded, 2 hostages freed after shootout with alleged cartel gunmen on edge of Mexico City


Mexico City police engaged in a shootout Tuesday with more than a dozen gunmen armed with a .50 caliber sniper rifle, grenades and a machine gun, authorities said.

City police chief Omar Garcia Harfuch said four officers were wounded, one seriously.

He said a total of 150 officers, soldiers and three helicopters participated in the operation, which came after local residents reported that armed men were holding kidnapped people captive in the area.

Garcia Harfuch said that 14 suspects had been detained and that officers freed two kidnap victims who were apparently being held against their will. He added that “a considerable amount of drugs” were also found near an abandoned restaurant the gang had apparently been using as a safe house.

Mexico Violence
National Guardsmen guard the place where a confrontation took place with what authorities say were groups of criminals, that left several police officers wounded and more than a dozen people detained, in Tupilejo, on the outskirts of Mexico City, on Tuesday, March 12. July 2022.

Marco Ugarte / AP

The shootout took place in Topilejo, a town on the city’s rural, southern edge. The pine-covered mountains on the city’s southern rim have long been used by kidnap gangs and other criminals for hideouts.

The gunmen opened fire on police as they drove past the safe house on a highway leading to the nearby city of Cuernavaca, the police chief said.

He said that the gunmen apparently worked for the Sinaloa cartel, Mexico’s most economically powerful gang, and that the kidnappings were not carried out for ransom.

Garcia Harfuch is no stranger to the fact that major drug gangs operate in Mexico City.

In 2020, some two dozen gunmen ambushed García Harfuch’s armored vehicle before dawn on one of the capital’s main boulevards. The brazen attack left him with three bullet wounds and his two bodyguards and a bystander dead.

The police chief blamed the Jalisco New Generation Cartel for the attack. The Department of Justice considers the Jalisco cartel to be “one of the five most dangerous transnational criminal organizations in the world.”   

The head of CJNG, Nemesio “El Mencho” Oseguera, is one of the most wanted drug lords in the world, with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration offering $10 million for his arrest.

“He is the number one priority for DEA and frankly for federal law enforcement in the United States,” DEA agent Matthew Donahue told CBS News in 2019.

Mexico has been trapped in a spiral of cartel-related violence that has left more than 340,000 dead since 2006, when the government launched a controversial anti-drug operation with federal troops.

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