Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Pre Apocalyptic Ambush

This is Mexico, where at times the "pre-" in front of the "apocalyptic" might be questionable.

We have an ambush on a police group that worked, but not as well as planned. 

Note that the translated nature of the transcript may add a little inexactitude to the language.  I have changed the ordering of some of the paragraphing to make for a more linear timeline to the account.  Since the account is unclear, as the action was probably a little chaotic to the participants as well, we are going to make assumptions about the incident, as we are more interested in generalities than the specifics of the people.

Un Vato, Borderland Beat 11 July 2012

The [ambush site is just outside Tetamboca, El Fuerte, Sinoloa], which lacks street lighting at nights, which was the inhabitants' main complaints, plus, the brush starts just a few feet from the houses, and at the top of the hill, a makeshift camp had been in place for some time without the neighbors, much less the police, being aware of it.

Evidence of [the assassins] still remains on top of the hill located a kilometer from the town... There, still intact, are the the shelters used by the killers to wait for the State Ministerial Police special group to drive by on the highway so [that] they, the killers, could carry out their mission: to attack them.

At the top of the hill, the killers built 12 "little houses" made out of the local brush. Folded branches were used as roofing to protect themselves from the sun, some had canvases and cardboard that were used as mattresses. They were made for one person, some for two or more. There, they found plates with eggs and sausage, with beans on the side.There was also a black bucket with tortillas and a bottle of hot sauce.
The killers fixed the place up to shoot from, because they placed rocks along the edges to serve as parapets, pressed the brush down and cleared paths to make their escape.
But they never expected that some of them would fall.
And so they did this past Monday, a day after they set up camp at the site.
Well protected, using surprise, they fired their high powered rifles at the convoy of ministerial agents. They killed seven of them. But the criminals did not get away scott free; as best they could, the surviving agents repulsed the attack and three of the killers fell dead, among them the leader of the criminal group "Los Mazatlecos", Juan Pablo Osuna Lizarraga.
Later more details come out.  It sounds like mahem.

The details of the massacre
Un Vato, Borderland Beat 11 July 2012

Additional information from military and ministerial sources who had access to the interrogation of suspects in earlier incidents shows that, despite the loss of lives, neither of the adversaries fell apart [during the confrontation]; the ministerial police officers regrouped immediately, while the gangsters promoted men on the spot. There's also talk that new operatives arrived to reinforce the attack perimeter and [keep open] the only land route for supplies and personnel for the siege of Choix, which the Beltran Leyva triad has maintained for two months to take control of the marijuana and gum opium producing area from the Sinaloa cartel: the Golden Triangle.
The reports state that the attack was carried out by the group "Los Chacales", an armed clandestine group that maintains access routes and highways for the Mazatlecos from the Los Mochis north exit to Jahuara, El Fuerte. According to evidence compiled by the PGJE at the scene, on Monday, June 9, the state forces were attacked when they were returning on Highway 44, Los Mochis-El Fuerte, from patrol operations in Choix after the assassination of Municipal Police Chief Hector Echavarria Islas, which took place March 29. They were to be relieved the next day. The shooters were placed on the right hand slope of a hill.
After the first volley of gunshots, the convoy broke apart into two segments, with about 100 yards between them. From the rear of the ministerial police officers, an armored truck with grey side boards, with a sharpshooter riding in the back, drove towards the first group of police officers to finish them off. In fact, the vehicle drove around in circles until it was finished with the massacre. Then the armored truck went after the first convoy, but could not finish them off because they had taken cover behind the railroad tracks and on the roof of a nearby house on top of a hill, from where they were shooting.
The armored truck climbed up on the hill and drove around the house, with the gunmen shooting at the ministerial agents on the roof. However, the sharpshooter was hit by a shot from one of the police officers, and was killed instantly. Unexpectedly, the truck lost traction; it got stuck on a sand bank when the drive shaft broke off from the transmission and twisted the differential. Stuck, the occupants of the armored truck abandoned the vehicle and, believing they would get reinforcements, attacked the police agents and were killed.
After the shooting ended, the area was flooded with police officers and was closed to traffic. 
The originating video for the following photos is here, with Mexican station DBT tv apparently being the originator.
Impromptu sun shade

Overview of road from ambush site

Unspent round
All right, the bad guys get there early to set up.  At least some of them have done this before as one of the bad guy casualties was linked to an ambush that occured a year ago.  There "foxholes" are not shown clearly in the video, but look relatively shallow.  The rocks at the edges are likely impromptu bench rests for their rifles.  They are not too worried about the investigative powers of the Mexican authorities, so their site is a bit sloppy.  Since they are going to be there a while, they set up a sunshade to keep out of the sun, and likely have a few people keep an eye out for the approaching convoy.

Although "high power" rifles are noted, the unspent cartridges being filmed look like a 7.63x39 from the very popular AK-47 style automatic rifles.  The high power rifles were likely in the armored truck with the "sharp shooters".  The highway, as filmed, is relatively close to their position, so the shooting is well within range, and the solid steel core ammunition typical is adequate for penetrating light barriers like automobiles. 

Some general commments:  
  1. Keeping everyone on alert 24/7 will wear your crew out.  The rest area with sunscrean is not a bad idea.
  2.  There is not going to be artillery present, your foxholes can be a bit shallower.  Likely their big problems came when they could not suppress the fire of their opponent, a foxhole on a forward slope of a hill can be difficult to escape from under fire. 
  3.  There positions lacked adequate concealment.   A deeper "hole" where the rifle is not sticking out over the edge of the escarpment might have been one solution.  This of course would require more work.
  4.  Their postions appear to be limited in scope.  The authorities did have access to helicopters, and only one major road through and out of town.  Likely they were concerned with getting out of the area quickly with a limited number of vehicles.  Thus there options in this regard may have been limited.
  5. They did not adequately make provisions for guarding their line of retreat.  They obviously assumed that the armored truck would take out everyone in the convoy.  I suspect they did not anticipate how (extremely) difficult it is to hit somebody with firearms fire from a moving vehicle.  Likely the first group of police officers was stopped near the stationary firing positions on the hill overlooking the road.
  6. The bad guys lost four known people, a major leader, two of his leautenants, and one of his "sharp shooters".  It is also noted that neither side "seized up" during the action.  The bad guys promoted people on the spot to fill the vacated leadership positions: which shows frightening composure.
Satelite shot of area (from here)

A hail of fire stopped at least one of the groups, and the close assault by the armored vehicle did the damage early before the police could find cover.. Once the ambushed responded by  finding their own cover, the tactical advantage was lost. It may even have been reversed when the bad guys  had to break cover to retreat.  It appears that the positions that the police took was overlooking the foreword slope ambush positions, and the ambushers had some difficulty extracting themselves from the situation. The police obviously had at least one person (and as we know that is all it takes) who kept their head and was able to lay down effective fire.

I have done some "sand table" style simulations with miniatures.  It pretty much confirms the story here.  Firefights between alert opponents, with both groups under some sort of cover is a very mixed bag.  The first shots count for allot.  Given that they were firing from a fixed position, and likely planned little maneuvering, this is one case where having the heavier round (bullet) than the carbines (AK-47s) would have been more useful.  As it is the bad guys certainly did a lot of damage.


PioneerPreppy said...

Some makeshift IED's or claymores along the road would have been perfect.

I am actually surprised they haven't been used down there since they have progressed to armored trucks.

Anonymous said...

Some VERY graphic photos of prior Mexican gang war shootouts back in 2010.

Mustangworld linked shootout had a bunch of empty Wolf ammo boxes lying in one area. No evidence of stoppages that I see.

The scrbd linked shootout had quite a few live rounds scattered on the ground but I'm unable to ID the ammo.

Both shootouts were ambushes, using preset vehicles and positions. Every weapon appears to be high capacity types.

The gangs possibly used the same type shoes and color of clothes as uniforms.

Apologies for the graphic photos. Russell, please delete this post if necessary.

I hope to never see days like this.


Anonymous said...

I can't believe that a gang attacked a convoy of cops. You have your assassinations and shootings at PD stations but usually the convoys being attacked/ambushed are between the gangs.


russell1200 said...

PP: They do use IEDs. Or at least car bombs. But in war zones they have repurpoed dud shells/bombs, surplus rounds of the former regimes, or warlords, and foreign powers smuggling them in. In Mexico that would be harder to come by, and there is not the decades of experience on how to use them.

Plus that would likely require digging. If you look at the depth of their foxholes, they were not much into digging, and their were citizens somewhat nearby, who if they noticed anything going on, might report it to the police.

You cannot easily drive armored vehicles around without the military noticing. I suspect that they were able to disguise the one they used. Since bullets work on SUVs, they seem to like bullets.

Degringolade said...

Per your book reading posts...there might be some fodder for you here

russell1200 said...

D: Thanks for the tip. I am reading Steven Greenberg's "Enfold Me - A Novel of Post-Israel" and so far it is pretty depressing.

russell1200 said...

GK: Your posts got lost for a while.

The 2010 I've seen before. They actually swiped the picks from a well known Mexican reporting site. The one I use is easier because it is in English. It is a very famous ambush. They went into the mountains and a small army was waiting for them. The "X" on the back window shields were identifying signs.

I am not completely convinced on the footwear, but it is an interesting idea.

If you track back through some of the reports about the ambush in this post, it appears that the leader who was killed was a veteran of similar ambushes. If they don't ambush the cops more often, it is only because they can't get the scoop on where their travel schedule. Here, there were probably limited ways they could get back home so it is possible that they just where waiting for them to come back from their away operation. But to risk bringing in an armored vehicle, you do suspect a rat.