A joint Mexico-U.S. investigation linked a weapon bought in Oregon with helicopter blast

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A joint Mexico-U.S. investigation linked a weapon used to blast a Mexican military helicopter out of the sky to a supplier from Oregon, federal firearms officials confirmed to The Courier-Journal.

Eight Mexican soldiers with SEDENA, Mexico’s national defense, and one Mexican police officer died in the 2015 crash on a mission to arrest top U.S. target El Mencho, the world’s most powerful cartel boss. But the link between the incident and Portland, Oregon, had not been made public until now.

“That’s huge,” Matt Donahue, retired chief of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s foreign operations, said after learning of the connection.

Erik Flores Elortegui, a Mexican native and U.S. citizen who lived in Portland, now tops the Most Wanted list of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and is blamed for supplying cartel members with a belt-fed .50-caliber semi-automatic rifle, said Jason Chudy, spokesman for the ATF’s Seattle Field Division, which includes Oregon.

“After it was recovered, we obtained information, and we were able to trace it back to Erik Flores,” he said.

The short summary under his photo on the ATF’s website mentions an indictment charging the 40-year-old fugitive with illegally buying weapons and smuggling them out of the U.S., but it doesn’t describe the ensuing death toll.

The Mexican Attorney General’s office asked the ATF to trace a .50-caliber semi-automatic machine gun they say helped take down the military helicopter in an infamous May 1, 2015, incident that rattled law enforcement on both sides of the border.

Along with the nine who died, there were others who were injured. Ivan Morales, the only other Mexican police officer on board, had to crawl through the fiery wreckage and suffered severe burns and disfigurement.

A Mexican soldier watches the horizon for cartel members after CJNG downed a military helicopter with a grenade in Villa Purificaciόn, Jalisco. The deadly 2015 attack was part of escalating violence during CJNG's power grab.
A Mexican soldier watches the horizon for cartel members after CJNG downed a military helicopter with a grenade in Villa Purificaciόn, Jalisco. The Deadly 2015 attack was part of escalating violence during CJNG’s power grab.

They had been on a mission so secretive that they weren’t told about it until they hurried in the darkness to a caravan of six helicopters at the Colima airport, six hours south of Puerto Vallarta, and headed out to capture the leader of global powerhouse Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación, or CJNG.

Many Americans don’t know his name ― Rubén Oseguera Cervantes or El Mencho ― but he plays a big role in the availability of illegal drugs in bustling cities and rural towns across the U.S., driving up record-high overdose deaths.

Source: Excelsior

Mexico Daily Post