Last week saw a shoot-out in one of Mexico’s international airports, resulting in the death of three officers. They apparently saw, via surveillance camera, another officer by the name of Zefarino Morales Franco visit a bathroom. The bathrooms of airports are a common area for passengers smuggling cocaine to make their drop-offs before heading through customs. Corrupt officers working for cartels then visit the bathrooms and retrieve the goods to be delivered somewhere else later. When they went to arrest the officer, two other men came to his aid, ending in the shootout that claimed their lives.
At first the shooters were simply thought to be drug traffickers disguised in police uniforms - a common practice. Now it has been determined that they were indeed corrupt federal officers. Another officer, their supervisor, has also been determined to be involved, as he left the scene immediately after the shooting took place. Currently, the Mexican authorities are offering a massive $360,000 for information that will lead to the suspects’ arrests.
Drug cartels operate in many ways, and employing corrupt officers is a common practice. Still, when those officers feel comfortable enough in their position that they openly gun down other officers in the middle of a place as public as an international airport, it creates a sense of foreboding. Do the cartels really feel that they carry enough weight to perform such acts? Or are they getting desperate because of the increased pressure from the government to shut them down? Either way, this level of escalation puts a new focus on the battle between government and cartels. No doubt the government will feel the need to push their war even further given the publicity that such an event generates and the damage that airport shootings can do for their tourist dollars.