MEXICO CITY – Fourteen police officers died on Monday in an attack by drug-cartel gunmen in the western town of Aguililla, the Mexican government said.
The federal Secretariat of Security and Citizen Protection said on Twitter that it will put at the disposal of authorities in Michoacan state “all of our human and technological resources to apprehend the aggressors and bring them to justice.”
The Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion claimed responsibility for the attack in Aguililla, Michoacan, a town roughly 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the boundary with neighboring Jalisco state.
Besides killing the officers, the assailants set police vehicles on fire and made off with weapons and ammunition.
The Nueva Generacion outfit is now seen by authorities as Mexico’s most powerful criminal organization following the weakening of the Sinaloa cartel, whose founder, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, is serving a life sentence in the United States on multiple drug trafficking and murder charges.
Mexican authorities have offered a reward of 30 million pesos ($1.6 million) for information leading to the arrest of the cartel’s boss, Nemesio “El Mencho” Oseguera Cervantes.
Mexico suffered 23,063 homicides in the first eight months of the year, according to the latest official figures. And Michoacan accounted for nearly 1,200 of those killings.
The number of murders in Michoacan in August alone was 202, up 46.4 percent from the same month in 2018.
That was the third-largest interannual increase among Mexico’s 33 states, surpassed only by Morelos (104.2 percent) and Sonora (52.9 percent).
Five people were gunned down last month at a bus terminal in Cuernavaca, the capital of Morelos.
State government official Jose Manuel Sanz Rivera told reporters at the time that the Sept. 2 attack may have been linked to the arrest of Cartel de Los Rojos leader Santiago Mazari.
Morelos has been dealing with a wave of violence that left 88 people dead in August amid a turf war among rival drug gangs, including Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion.
While Nueva Generacion is based in western Mexico, its ambitions extend to the Gulf coast, where the group is locked in struggle with the Zetas gang for dominance of smuggling routes.
That battle is blamed for an outbreak of violence in Veracruz, Mexico’s third-most populous state, where 28 people perished in late August in the fire-bombing of a crowded bar.