Monday, February 19, 2018

U.S. officials believe embassy car was targeted in Mexico ambush

MEXICO CITY — There is strong circumstantial evidence that Mexican federal police who fired on a U.S. Embassy vehicle, wounding two CIA officers, were working for organized crime in a targeted assassination attempt, the Associated Press reported Tuesday, citing an unnamed senior U.S. official.

A Mexican official with knowledge of the case confirmed on Tuesday that prosecutors are investigating whether the Beltran Leyva Cartel was behind the Aug. 24 ambush.

The Mexican official said that is among several lines of investigation into the shooting of an armored SUV that was clearly marked with diplomatic license plates on a rural road near Cuernavaca, south of Mexico City.

The Mexican official said one line of investigation is that members of the Beltran Leyva Cartel were interested in attacking the people in the car because some of their lookouts had seen them passing through the area and presumed they were investigating the cartel. It's possible they didn't know they were Americans.

Federal police, at times battered by allegations of infiltration and corruption by drug cartels, have said the shooting was a case of mistaken identity as officers were looking into the kidnapping of a government employee in that area.

When asked by the AP if the Mexican federal police officers involved in the shooting were tied to organized crime, the U.S. official said the circumstantial evidence is pretty strong.

Both the U.S. and Mexican officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the diplomatic issue.

The federal police on Tuesday maintained the position that their agents fired on the vehicle by mistake, thinking it belonged to a band of kidnappers they were pursuing, according to a spokesman who was not authorized to speak on the record.

The U.S. State Department declined to discuss details.

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