Chief IDs suspect in attacks on police

Jan. 31, 2012 at 11:32 PM
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JUAREZ, Mexico, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- The police chief in Juarez, Mexico, Tuesday released the identity of a drug cartel member he said was responsible for killing police officers.

Chief Julian Leyzaola said he identified Johnny Morales Gonzalez, a member of the New Juarez Cartel, in hopes it would encourage citizens to report any information about his whereabouts.

Leyzaola said Morales Gonzalez was responsible for a series of attacks, including one Monday in which three suspects were killed and three police officers wounded, the El Paso (Texas) Times reported. Three suspects were arrested.

The chief said city officials have identified nine criminal cells that may be behind attacks against police officers, but did not elaborate. The Times said experts on drug violence believe the New Juarez Cartel is a spinoff of the Juarez Cartel, which suffered heavy losses to its leadership last year.

In the Monday attack, suspects opened fired and threw a grenade at police officers pumping gas at a gas station. The grenade did not detonate.

Juarez police officers have received orders to stay at hotels with 24-hour surveillance.

"I have no choice," Juarez Mayor Hector Murguia said. "Due to several attacks against Juarez police officers, where some of them have died, they have been sheltered in several motels."

Officers have been told to wear plain clothes when their shifts end and to take their weapons home.

The safety measures come in the wake of the killing of eight police officers this month and 63 since Murguia took office in October 2010.

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