A new round of raids in search of fugitive drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán left two Mexican Marines dead this week in a coastal town in Sinaloa state, Spain's El País newspaper is reporting.
Marines were patrolling the streets of Angostura, a town of about 5,000 people, Monday night when they pulled over a pickup truck. The driver got out and opened fire on the unit, the Spanish paper said. One marine was killed instantly and a second one died of his injuries at a hospital hours later.
The attacker, who according to El País was identified by Secretary of the Marines (Semar) as an ex–convict named José María Peñuelas Rubio, was killed in the firefight. No more information on the shootout has been made available.
Since Guzmán’s daring escape from a maximum security prison in July, security forces have been conducting raids in the so-called Golden Triangle area – a mountainous region that includes parts of the states of Chihuahua, Durango and Sinaloa, Chapo’s home state.
This is the second time in less than a week that the hunt for the cartel kingpin has been met with fierce resistance.
On Christmas Day, Marines and armed men battled in Guzmán’s hometown of Badiraguato. Authorities didn't release information about military casualties, but two of the attackers were killed. Their weapons were automatic rifles, grenades and munitions that are supposed to be exclusive to the Mexican Army.
In that incident Marines also confiscated four tons of marijuana.
Hundreds of people in the region have fled their homes to escape the military operations, which include house-to-house searches and sometimes turn violent.
The hope is not only to find Guzmán, but also prominent Sinaloa cartel members who are believed to be hiding out in the area, including Chapo’s right hand, Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada and Rafael Caro Quintero, one of the people responsible for the 1985 murder of Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique Camarena.