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Jun 27, 2008 | 16:07 GMT

2 mins read

Mexico: A Brazen Cartel Killing

Igor Labastida Calderon, a commander of the traffic and contraband division in Mexico's Federal Preventive Police investigating the death of Edgar Millan Gomez, was shot dead by a gunman June 26 while he lunched at a Mexico City restaurant. Labastida had worked with Millan on regional security before the latter died in a drug cartel-related killing May 8. The killing of Labastida, whose role in investigating the Millan killing most likely made him a target, represents yet another cartel-arranged killing of a high-level police official. More seriously, it highlights that the cartels felt confident enough to kill a leading investigator into cartel activity in broad daylight in the seat of Mexican public power, something that would not happen in a strong state. In the Labastida killing, a gunman exited his car and entered the Anita restaurant in the Argentina Antigua neighborhood of Mexico City, opening fire with two handguns, a .380 caliber pistol and a 9 mm. The shooter quickly left, driving away in a Volkswagen Bora. Though several federal police agents were at the restaurant at the time, it appears the gunman was specifically targeting Labastida. Labastida's bodyguard also died in the shooting, while three other federal police officers at Labastida's table were injured. The killing of Labastida is the fifth in a series of high-profile police killings in Mexico City that started with Roberto Velasco on May 1 and continued with the killings of Millan, Jose Aristeo Gomez and Esteban Robles. These deaths represent a drug cartel offensive against the government that threatens to destabilize Mexico. While is not yet clear which cartel was behind the Labastida attack, the incident probably was connected to the Beltran Leyvas, who recently broke with Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman and were behind Millan’s death. The brazenness of this attack is meant to communicate to Mexican police that no one is safe — whether in their home, where Millan was killed, or in a public space like Labastida. The fact that the killer targeted a group of police with protection in broad daylight shows that security for officials in Mexico remains misdirected even after the recent spate of high-profile killings.

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