Mexican officer trying to hunt down “El Mencho” became his prey back in 2015

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Mexican police officer Ivan Morales and more than a dozen soldiers climbed aboard five military helicopters at the Colima airport — six hours south of Puerto Vallarta— for a secret mission. 

They weren’t told the name of their target, so they didn’t realize the danger ahead.  

Their destination was a Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación compound, the hiding spot of Rubén Oseguera Cervantes, known as “El Mencho” — the most sought-after drug kingpin in the world. 

What they and Mexican and American authorities would soon learn is just how powerful the CJNG cartel had become — and how willing El Mencho was to use that power in brutal ways. 

Ivan Morales loved being a Mexican federal police officer. Now he is disfigured and unable to return to work after the CJNG cartel shot down a military helicopter with a grenade in 2015, killing several and leaving Morales with severe burns.

After learning of his hideout, the military flew north over the mountain peaks of rural Jalisco, cartel headquarters.

El Mencho and his team of mercenaries were ready inside their own caravan of trucks and heavily armed. Mexican officials told the ATF the cartel fired the .50-caliber semi-automatic machine gun from Portland along with other weapons. A round tore through the rotor of Morales’ aircraft, causing it to catch on fire and spiral to the ground.

Ivan Morales, 37, a Mexican federal police officer, ran through flames to escape the wreckage of a military helicopter shot down by CJNG. He was on a mission to arrest cartel leader El Mencho.
Ivan Morales, 37, a Mexican federal police officer, ran through flames to escape the wreckage of a military helicopter shot down by CJNG. He was on a mission to arrest cartel leader El Mencho.

During an interview with the local press in 2019, Morales said: “I thought I was going to die.” Before leaving home early that morning, his wife told him he was going to be a father for the first time. The then-33-year-old repeatedly told paramedics and doctors so they would understand that despite the severity of his injuries, he had to fight to live.

CJNG, which has an army of 5,000, also set up “narco blockades,” roadblocks at major intersections to the main city, Guadalajara. They set businesses on fire, blew up gas tanks at convenience stores, and created chaos.

“That was a message to the Mexican government from El Mencho, saying: ‘We run Jalisco. Don’t come after me again. Don’t do it again or this will be the result,'” said Donahue, who worked for years in Mexico City, overseeing agents hunting for El Mencho and teaming with SEDENA soldiers.

“It absolutely worked,” he said.

“If you look at today, the Mexican government has zero control of Jalisco, and Guerrero, as well,” Donahue said. “The military does not go in there. The Navy does not go in there.”

Guerrero, known for its coastal tourist town of Acapulco, is one of six Mexican states with “do not travel” warnings from the U.S. State Department. Department officials also advise reconsidering travel to Jalisco.

CJNG produces an enormous amount of illicit drugs in both Guerrero and Jalisco, known as “narco states.”

In this wanted poster, the U.S. announces a rare $10 million reward for help finding El Mencho, a ruthless cartel boss and billionaire.
In this wanted poster, the U.S. announces a rare $10 million reward for help finding El Mencho, a ruthless cartel boss and billionaire.

The downing of the helicopter and ensuing violence is a key reason why El Mencho remains free to this day, despite a decade-long search by the DEA and a $10 million reward.

“Even though there’s a warrant for his arrest in Mexico as well as the United States, they haven’t even taken a run at him since then,” Donahue said.

“That tactic ― attacking innocent people, blowing everything up, and going after government buildings ― worked for him. They know he’ll do it again.”

Mexican officials initially said an RPG, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, was used to strike the helicopter’s rotor and down the aircraft. It’s unclear whether investigators believe the helicopter was struck by both. It’s also unclear where Mexican investigators found the .50-caliber and how they know CJNG used it to help down the aircraft.

Ivan Morales with former Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto

Source: Vanguardia

Mexico Daily Post