Mexico launches raids after assassination attempt of police chief

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A soldier stands guard after Mexico City's Public Security Secretary Omar Garcia Harfuch was wounded in an attacked in Mexico City, on June 26, 2020Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Soldiers have been deployed to guard the scene of the crime

Mexican authorities have carried out a series of raids while investigating the attempted assassination of Mexico City's police chief, according to local media.

Omar García Harfuch was shot several times during an ambush on Friday, though his injuries are not said to be life-threatening.

Two of his bodyguards and a female passerby were killed.

The attack is believed to be linked to the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.

Police said cocaine was found during raids on three locations, according to El Universal newspaper on Saturday.

Mr García Harfuch - who was shot in the shoulder, collar bone and the knee - tweeted after the attack, laying the blame on the cartel. "Our nation must continue to confront the cowardly organised crime," he wrote.

What happened in the attack?

Twenty-eight people attacked Mr García Harfuch's armoured vehicle at dawn on Friday on Paseo de la Reforma, a boulevard that leads to the exclusive Lomas de Chapultepec neighbourhood, home to various embassies and mansions.

The hitmen brandished grenades and sniper rifles.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Dozens of bullet encasings littered the tarmac after the attack

Although Mexico has long suffered from extreme violence, the brazen nature of this attack - on a high-profile figure in a high-security area of the capital - has increased concerns.

It also comes shortly after the murder of a federal judge, Uriel Villegas Ortiz, and his wife, Verónica Barajas, earlier this month.

Security Minister Alfonso Durazo Montaño said on Friday that preliminary investigations into the prior incident also suggest the involvement of the New Generation Jalisco Cartel.

What has happened since?

More than a dozen arrests have been made since the attack on Mr García Harfuch's car, investigators say.

The alleged mastermind of the plot, José Armando Briseño, known as Vaca (Cow), was detained on Friday night.

Ulises Lara López, a spokesman for the Mexico City prosecutor's office, said the group of assassins was hired three weeks prior to the attack and was divided into four different cells to carry out the act. They were given ski masks and weapons the night before the assault, he said.

Three separate ambush points were then set up, including an unused one that was one block from the city's central "Angel of Independence" monument.

What is the background?

Omar García Harfuch, 37, was appointed as Mexico City's secretary of security and citizen protection in 2019, having previously worked as an intelligence coordinator for the mayor's office.

It was unclear whether the attempt on his life was related to his recent work or earlier investigations.

The Jalisco cartel, which formed in about 2010, has expanded rapidly across Mexico and is now one of the country's most dominant organised crime groups.

Its rise in recent years has been fuelled by its use of extreme violence.

It has previously downed an army helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade and killed dozens of state officials.

In recent weeks, there have been unconfirmed reports of the death or arrest of Jalisco's leader, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, known as "El Mencho".

Officials have denied this, but he remains at the top of the US Drug Enforcement Administration's most-wanted list, with a $10m (£8m) bounty on his head.