Tacambaro, Michoacán – On Monday morning, October 23, 2023, an ambush by heavily armed gunmen left 7 dead and at least 3 injured in downtown Tacambaro, Michoacán. The brazen attack targeted Ricardo Moriya, brother of Tacambaro mayor Artemio Moriya Sánchez, and resulted in the deaths of 4 innocent civilians caught in the crossfire.
The attack occurred around 9:30 AM near a federal high school in the city center as Ricardo Moriya drove down the street. Video footage shows at least 5 gunmen jumping out of a white van and opening fire with assault rifles. Municipal police officers assigned as Mayor Moriya’s security detail immediately returned fire, triggering a fierce gun battle that lasted several minutes.
Attack Targets Brother of Tacambaro Mayor, Killing 4 Civilians in Crossfire
In the aftermath, authorities confirmed that 4 civilians had been killed, including a restaurant worker and 3 residents with no gang affiliations. The civilians were simply passersby when the attack commenced. A municipal police officer was also killed in the line of duty defending Mayor Moriya’s family.
Additionally, Mayor Moriya’s brother Ricardo was seriously wounded along with 2 other police officers. The injured were rushed to a local hospital and remain in serious condition from gunshot wounds.
Michoacán state authorities have strongly condemned the brazen attack, sending a multidisciplinary investigative team to determine the motive and circumstances behind the aggression. However, organized crime groups have allegedly circulated threats against Mayor Moriya and the municipal treasurer following the incident.
Escalating Violence Against Mayor’s Family
This marks the second assassination attempt against Mayor Moriya Sánchez’s family members in just 3 months. In late July, the mayor’s 34-year-old nephew, Yoshio Moriya Villaseñor, was gunned down in Tacambaro similarly.
The escalating violence illustrates the helplessness of local authorities against the ruthless drug cartels seeking to control Michoacán state. Despite deployments of federal police and National Guard forces, the cartels continue terrorizing citizens with impunity.
Mayor Moriya, a member of Mexico’s ruling MORENA party, has not publicly addressed the attack that nearly killed his brother. However, the incident casts serious doubts on the government’s security strategy as murders continue soaring across Michoacán.
Ongoing Cartel Turf War Fuels Violence
Strategically situated on key trafficking routes to the U.S., Michoacán has long been contested by rival drug cartels the Jalisco Nueva Generación, Los Viagras, and remnants of La Familia Michoacana. Their bloody turf war has turned parts of the state into a warzone, with regular gun battles, roadblocks, and executions.
The cartels exert control over large swathes of territory, extorting businesses, commandeering public resources, and infiltrating local police forces. Tactics involve terrorizing citizens to prevent collaboration with authorities.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador sought to curb violence by creating the National Guard, but the 65,000-strong militarized force has failed to rein in organized crime. Nationwide, there have been over 30,000 murders in 2022 to date.
Citizen self-defense groups and vigilantes have sprung up across Michoacán, yet are vastly outgunned in confronting cartel hitmen. Sunday’s brazen attack in Tacambaro underscores the lawlessness permeating parts of Mexico despite repeated government vows to restore order.