Three federal police officers died in a firefight in Mexico City’s international airport after they tried to detain drug trafficking suspects, authorities said.
The shootout took place this morning near the food court of airport Terminal 2, according to an e-mailed statement from Public Security Ministry. Two of the officers were killed at the scene, while the third died of his wounds in a hospital.
Assailants with suspected links to drug traffickers opened fire after the police officers surrounded them, according to the statement. Witnesses told Milenio TV that the assailants were dressed in police uniforms themselves. The Public Security Ministry didn’t say how many people were involved in the attack and the Attorney General’s Office said in a statement that it is working to capture the suspects.
More than 47,000 people have died in drug-related violence since President Felipe Calderon ordered troops to fight organized crime groups in December 2006. The shootout caused panic among morning passengers, although no flights were canceled or delayed.
“This situation is not affecting in any way the airport’s operations or services,” the Transportation Ministry said in a statement. “Commuters can arrive as usual to the airport.”
Mexico City’s airport is a transit point for South American cocaine being smuggled into the U.S. The federal police have seized more than 200 kilograms of the narcotic at the airport so far this year, compared with 90 kilograms in 2011, the Public Security Ministry said.
The assailants may have been members themselves of the federal police force, Mexican newspaper El Universal reported, citing officials within the police department it didn’t identify.