A month before national elections, Mexico is witnessing a level of violence in which drug traffickers have directly confronted the army, raising questions about whether the government’s progress in combating crime might be a hollow victory.
In an apparent first for the nation, a drug cartel in the prosperous state of Jalisco used rocket-propelled grenades to shoot down a military helicopter, killing at least six soldiers.
The attack Friday was part of a wider assault in Guadalajara, Mexico’s second-largest city; Puerto Vallarta, a tourist destination popular with Americans and Canadians; and nearby points. The daylong mayhem included the burning of banks and gasoline stations and the erecting of nearly 40 roadblocks using flaming vehicles.
A total of 15 people, including the soldiers, died, a dozen were injured and 19 were arrested.
Defense Secretary Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos referred to the killers in Guadalajara, the state capital, as unpatriotic commissioners of vile acts. “We will not let our guard down,” he said this week.