MORELIA, Mexico – Suspected drug traffickers downed a police helicopter in the western Mexican state of Michoacan, killing the pilot and three officers, Gov. Silvano Aureoles said.
The governor said on Twitter that the attack occurred while the helicopter was providing support to an operation aimed at arresting leaders of criminal cells in an area difficult to access by land.
He added that one other officer was injured.
The attack occurred Tuesday afternoon in La Angostura, a community in the south-central part of Michoacan, while the helicopter was providing support for soldiers and federal and state police during an operation targeting an armed group that was believed to be escorting Ignacio Andrade Renteria, or “El Cenizo.”
Andrade Renteria has been identified as the former chief enforcer of Los Caballeros Templarios (Knights Templar), a drug gang weakened since 2013 by the emergence of vigilante groups in Michoacan.
Andrade Renteria currently is on the Mexican authorities’ list of most-wanted suspects.
Last weekend, soldiers and police seized an arsenal that included two rocket launchers and three anti-tank missiles after two clashes with purported enforcers on the payroll of El Cenizo.
El Cenizo allegedly currently works for the Jalisco Nueva Generacion cartel, which operates in Michoacan along with the Nueva Familia Michoacana, Los Caballeros Templarios, Los Viagras and Los H-3 gangs, among others.