Investigators of the Chihuahua state prosecutor’s office arrested 15 members of a Mexican border state municipal police force, including their commander, earlier this week for allegedly protecting drug cartels. The arrests took place in the border state of Chihuahua in the municipality of Ciudad Madera.

Investigative personnel of the Fiscalía General del Estado (FGE) de Chihuahua (state prosecutor’s office) arrested 15 members of the Municipal Police of Ciudad Madera on Wednesday. The arrest follows an attempt by the Madera police officers, led by their commander, to prevent investigators from the state prosecutors office from carrying out arrest warrants in Mesa del Huracán. The area is located in the rural community of Ejido El Largo Maderal which is in the outskirts of the municipality of Ciudad Madera.

During an operation by investigative elements of the state prosecutor’s office,  uniformed state police officers and the Mexican army approached a roadblock staged by the Ciudad Madera municipal police officers. The Madera municipal police used two official marked police vehicles and two trucks equipped with homemade armor plating to block the roadway into the area where prosecutors intended to execute search warrants. Their commander, later identified as José Luis M. M, confronted state officers by pointing a handgun at them warning them to turn around and leave the area, according to local media reports. State police and military forces disarmed the commander and 14 of his officers and placed them under arrest. Officials ordered the police commander held under investigative detention while later dismissing his 14 officers pending a future court date and further investigation, according to local media reports.

The state investigators had been attempting to carry out arrests warrants of suspected cartel gunmen who had been involved in a deadly confrontation approximately a week earlier in Las Varas —  a small rural community in the northeast section of the municipality of Ciudad Madera. At least six gunmen were killed and numerous others wounded during the armed confrontation between rival cartel affiliated gangs. These gangs operate in key drug trafficking mountainous communities along the Sonora and Chihuahua border.

The areas along the Sonora and Chihuahua border witnessed an uptick in cartel-related violence as criminal gangs affiliated with the Cartel de Juarez/La Linea battle with Sinaloa cartel affiliated criminal gangs. In some cases, criminal cells affiliated with the Sinaloa cartel are fighting amongst each other in both Sonora and Chihuahua.

Breitbart Texas reported on the discovery of a cartel camp in Northern Mexico along the Sonora/Chihuahua border, near rural Sahuaripa, Sonora, where Mexican army personnel discovered three trucks equipped with homemade armor plating — including a cloned state police vehicle. Two of the fake police vehicles featured gun turrets.

Robert Arce is a retired Phoenix Police detective with extensive experience working Mexican organized crime and street gangs. Arce has worked in the Balkans, Iraq, Haiti, and recently completed a three-year assignment in Monterrey, Mexico, working out of the Consulate for the United States Department of State, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Program, where he was the Regional Program Manager for Northeast Mexico (Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas.) You can follow him on Twitter. He can be reached at robertrarce@gmail.com.

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