Members of an ultra-violent Mexican cartel killed at least 14 police officers on Monday, after ambushing a convoy with armored vehicles and opening fire with high-powered rifles.
At least 9 other officers were wounded in the attack, according to the federal public security ministry.
At a press conference that morning, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador claimed his efforts to end Mexico’s gang violence problem were working. "You can't fight fire with fire,” he said. “You can’t fight violence with violence... You have to fight evil by doing good.”
Minutes later, over a dozen police officers had been massacred.
The attack took place while police were on an operation to carry out a court order in the small town of El Aguaje, in the western Mexican state of Michoacan, which has seen a significant uptick in violence since Obrador took office last December.
The attackers left behind handwritten messages at the scene signed by “CJNG,” short for the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, an ultra-violent criminal gang that has taken over as Mexico’s public enemy number one from El Chapo’s Sinaloa cartel.
Obrador had hoped to address Mexico’s spiraling murder rate by tackling the root causes of the violence, including corruption and poverty, but as his first full year in office draws to a close, he’s on course to presiding over a record number of killings.
Monday’s police murders are just the latest in a series of high-casualty attacks conducted by the CJNG cartel, which is headed up by 53-year-old Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes. Known as “El Mencho,” he lived in the U.S. illegally in the 1980s and served three years in prison there for selling drugs, before being deported to Mexico in 1997.
He is currently among the DEA’s “most wanted” fugitives, with a $10 million bounty on his head.
“They are very violent,” Kyle Mori, the DEA agent leading the charge to capture Oseguera, told Univision this week. “Decapitations, dissolving bodies in acid, public executions, ripping out the heart, killing women and children, bombings against people. It happens almost every day. El Chapo was violent, but El Mencho has taken it to a new level.”
In August the cartel hung nine bodies from a bridge in
Michoacán state and dumped 10 more bodies nearby. The group hung a banner next to the bodies that read: “Lovely people. Carry on with your day.”
Cover: A charred truck that belong to Michoacan state police stands on the roadside after it was burned during an attack in El Aguaje, Mexico, Monday, Oct. 14, 2019. At least 13 police officers were killed and three others injured Monday in the ambush. (AP Photo/Armando Solis)
This article originally appeared on VICE US.