HomeNewsAnalysisWere Beltran Leyva Behind Attack on CIA Agents in Mexico?
ANALYSIS

Were Beltran Leyva Behind Attack on CIA Agents in Mexico?

BELTRAN LEYVA ORG / 3 OCT 2012 BY EDWARD FOX EN

The recent shooting of CIA agents in Mexico may have been an assassination attempt by organized criminal groups, according to a US official who spoke to the Associated Press, while Mexican authorities are investigating whether the Beltran Leyva Organization was behind the attack.

The Associated Press (AP) spoke to a US official with knowledge of the investigation who said that the August attack appeared to have been targeted. “That’s a ‘We are specifically trying to kill the people in this vehicle'” operation, “This is not a ‘Whoops, we got the wrong people.'” He said there was strong circumstantial evidence that the officers who carried out the attack were linked to organized crime.

On October 2, a Mexican official told the AP that prosecutors were investigating whether the 12 federal police involved in the incident had ties to the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO).

Two Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agents were driving with a Mexican Navy captain in the state of Morelos, central Mexico, on August 24 when they were stopped by federal police officers, who began firing. They tried to drive away, but were chased by a further three unmarked vehicles containing federal officers, none of whom were in uniform. Both US agents were injured.

The Mexican government stated after the attack that the police might have mistaken the occupants of the vehicle for suspects in a local kidnapping case.

According to the Mexican official who spoke to the AP, the Beltran Leyva angle is based on the theory that the gang’s lookouts had seen the car passing through the area a number of times and believed it to be linked to investigations into the BLO. They may not have known there were US citizens inside, the official stated.

InSight Crime Analysis

The AP report comes four days after La Jornada reported that US officials believed the BLO could be behind the attack, but that the motives were not known. Mexican military sources who spoke to the paper stated that if the BLO were involved, revenge could not be ruled out as a motive. The injured CIA agents had been working with the Mexican Navy for over three years, the sources stated, and the United States’ involvement in the killing of BLO leader Arturo Beltran Leyva in December 2009 was well known.

While the BLO has a history of official infiltration at the highest levels — former Mexican drug czar Noe Ramirez was arrested in 2008 for being on the cartel’s payroll, and four high-ranking military officials were detained this year for allegedly working with the group — they have been severely weakened in recent years. The BLO broke an alliance with the Sinaloa Cartel in 2008, precipitating a bloody battle. What’s more, since the death of Arturo they have lost numerous high-level commanders, including Edgar Valdez Villarreal, alias “La Barbie,” and Sergio Villarreal, alias “El Grande.”

Given the group’s decline, it is worth questioning if they have the power to carry out such a brazen hit. However, there are factors that make this more plausible. Morelos is one of the BLO’s main strongholds, and the BLO have formed an alliance with the powerful Zetas.

Despite being the country’s premier law enforcement agency, meant to be less corrupt than their state and municipal counterparts, the Federal Police are not immune from criminal infiltration. Ten percent of the force was fired two years ago for failing tests meant to detect corruption, and a shootout at Mexico City’s International Airport between federal officers in July shows narco-corruption is still a problem. It is plausible that the federal officers implicated in the CIA shooting were working with a criminal group, especially in light of their lack of uniforms and marked vehicles.

The Mexican government has refused to speculate on the organized crime theory, citing the fact that the investigation is ongoing. This latest round of claims, on top of those made in the aftermath of the attack by anonymous Navy officials who said that it was intentional, will put more pressure on the authorities.

Compartir icon icon icon

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Related Content

MEXICO / 22 APR 2019

Angry street vendors in Mexico City are threatening to form self-defense groups if authorities can't stop the activities of a…

MEXICO / 12 APR 2012

Mexico’s drug trafficking gangs are increasingly using newspaper ads to recruit couriers unaware of their cargo, a tactic that is…

EL CHAPO / 16 JUN 2011

U.S. officials have said that notorious Mexican criminal Joaquin Guzman, alias 'El Chapo,' is the most powerful drug dealer of…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…