Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times, November 21, 2008
Sinaloa, a fertile state on the Pacific coast, has long been at the center of Mexico’s drug trade. It has become a hub of violence since President Felipe Calderon dispatched an army of soldiers and federal police to take on some of the biggest drug lords.
The alarming level of violence—shootouts and kidnappings almost every day—has sown panic and fear among a normally resilient citizenry.
This week, grenades were hurled at the offices of Culiacan’s largest-circulation newspaper, El Debate. Although no one was hurt, the act was widely seen as a message of intimidation.
The slain police agents (seven have been killed here in seven days) were part of a unit dedicated to cracking down on the rampant streets sales of cocaine, marijuana and other narcotics. They were ambushed a couple of blocks from their headquarters, shortly after they dropped off a suspect. Two other federal police officers with the agents were seriously injured.
After the bodies were taken away and investigators from a variety of agencies (some mistrustful of each other) did their work, a tow truck operator began the task of hauling away the agents’ vehicle, riddled by scores of high-caliber bullets, its tires flattened.