Suspected members of a criminal cell shot down a patrol helicopter during a police operation aimed to detain the criminals. Four officers and a pilot were killed.
A patrol helicopter was shot down by suspected members of a criminal cell during a police operation in the southwestern Mexican town of Apatzingan, located in the western part of the state of Michoacan, the state’s governor said. As result, four officers and a pilot were killed.
The officers were going to arrest gang leaders of the town, known for its drug cartels, and the helicopter provided air support to the police operating in the area.
“During the operation, an official helicopter which was supporting the patrol in area of difficult access was shot down,” governor of the state, Silvano Aureoles wrote on Twitter. “We lament the death of the pilot, three police officers and a police officer who was injured.”
The governor also promised that gang violence in the city will be continued to be tackled by both the federal and the state authorities.
“In compliance with the responsibility to protect citizens, neither the state, nor the federation is going to give up in the struggle against crime,” Aureoles said, pointing out that the efforts to detain the criminals are under way.
However, the incident was not the first one, when the gang cells knock down a helicopter, belonging to the local law-enforcement in Mexico.
In May 2015, a military helicopter, participating in the anti-cartel state offensive codenamed ‘Operation Jalisco,’ was shot down with a rocket-propelled grenade by mobsters from Jalisco New Generation drug cartel in the western state of Jalisco. As result, six soldiers were killed.
The state of Michoacan is known as one of the centers of organized crime in Mexico. In December 2006, then-President Felipe Calderon sent the country’s army to the state, trying to counter the sprawling drug mafia there.
Apatzingan town was a stronghold of the Knights Templar drug cartel, whose leaders were detained by the police in February 2015. After this, the struggle for power in Michoacan between several rival gangs has exacerbated.