Operation Michoacan

Operation Michoacan
Operation Michoacán
Part of Mexican Drug War
Fuerza del Estado Michoacán.jpg
Mexican troops during a gun battle in Apatzingan, Michoacán
Location Michoacán, Mexico
Result Ongoing
Flag of Mexico.svg Mexico La Familia Cartel
Commanders and leaders
Flag of Mexico.svg Felipe Calderón
Flag of Mexico.svg Guillermo Galván Galván
Nazario Moreno González
José de Jesús Méndez Vargas
Servando Gómez Martínez
Dionicio Loya Plancarte
Casualties and losses
50 soldiers killed
100 police officers killed
500 killed

Operation Michoacán is a joint operation by Federal, Police, and Mexican Military, to eliminate drug plantations and to combat drug trafficking. Initiated on December 11, 2006, the operation is under the supervision of The Secretary of Public Safety, Attorney General of Mexico (PGR), Secretary of the Interior, Mexican Navy, and Mexican Army.

In some occasions state and municipal police have participated despite not being part of it.The joint operation has distinguished itself as one of the operations against organized crime, drug trafficking in this case, which has employed the largest number of military and police elements, as well as most state forces.



On December 12, President Felipe Calderón ordered the military to send 4,000 troops to his home state of Michoacán, where drug-related crime has left over 500 dead. Troops were assigned to areas under the control of organised criminals, conducting raids, making arrests and establishing control points on highways and secondary roads.[1] In 2007 May 8 in Apatzingan, Michoacán, Soldiers from the 51st Infantry Battalion engaged drug traffickers. Soldiers driving HMMWV armed with Mk 19 grenade launchers killed 4 cartel gunmen, 3 soldiers were reported wounded.[2]


Local government officials arrested

  • On May 2009, federal officers detained 10 mayors of Michoacán and 20 other local officials suspected of being associated with the cartel[3]
Mexican soldiers detain cartel suspects in Michoacan
Federal Police forces arrive in search of cartel suspects.

The arrest of Arnoldo Rueda & retribution

  • On July 11, The Federal Police trapped and arrested one of three of La Familia leaders. Arnoldo Rueda Medina aka La Minsa is one of three cartel lieutenants was capture in Morelia, Michoacan.[4] On the same day as a response to the capture of Arnoldo Rueda, La Familia launched the biggest attacks in the history of Organized crime against Federal Police and Military installations in 8 cities in the western part of Mexico. Even attacking the Federal Police building where Arnoldo was held in. Cartel hitmen were reported using fragmantation grenades, AK-47's and AR-15's in. Three Federal Police officers, two soldiers were reported killed and 18 wounded.[5][6]
  • On July 14, the bodies of 12 Federal Police officers that were investigating criminal activity in the area were found murdered and abandoned along a highway between Lázaro Cárdenas-Morelia[7]

Government response

  • On July 17, as a response to the violence, the federal government stepped up a plan to "surround" Michoacán by Sea, Air and Land. The government have sent 5,500 soldiers and federal police officers, also arriving were fully armed helicopters and vehicles to reinforce the already 7,000 government forces already posted in the state. Furthermore, 25 bases will be deployed for mobile operations on freeways and highways of the first order, which brings to Michoacán in adjacent areas of the states of Guanajuato, Guerrero, Colima, and Jalisco, where troops are participating in the various areas adjacent to the 12th Military Region. The government is considering building 67 mobile bases of operation, nine of joint operations by personnel of the Army and Federal Police, strengthening air support aircraft both fixed wing and rotary wing.[8]
Mexican Navy corvettes will patrol the Michoacan coast line.
  • On July 21, The army completed the reinforcement of "Joint Operation Michoacán" with 2,500 troops to assist the already 1,000 troops already in the state. Also the Secretariat of the Navy announced that the navy launched sea, air, and land surveillance operations at the coast and also sent 1,500 marines.[9]
  • On July 30, The Federal Police arrested "La Familia's" financial operator Armando Quintero Guerra aka "El Licenciado"(The Bachelor) and the cartels alleged leader Servando "El Tuta" Gomez girlfriend Lourdes Medina Hernández in Uruapan. The PFP also captured another financial operator of Nazario Moreno González aka "El Chayo".[10]

Ongoing confrontations

  • On July 30, SEDENA has reported that 6 cartel gunmen were killed in a confrontation with troops in the town of Guayuameo in the municipality of Zirándaro. Soldiers from the 21st military zone were "attacked with firearms inside a home, so they proceeded to repel aggression." army officials said.[11]
  • On August 15, Federal Police forces captured a boss of La Familia, along with other 7 lieutenants. Héctor Manuel Oyarzabal Hernández aka "El Héctor" was in charge of the municipalities of Ixtapaluca, Chalco, Valle de Chalco and Ozumba in the State of Mexico. The operation succeeded without a shot being fired.[12]
  • On August 25, Federal Police forces captured Manuel Alejandro Sotelo Barrera aka "El Bolucho". He is supposed leader of La Familia's Leon, Guanajuato chapter and nephew of Servando Gómez aka "La Tuta".[13] On the same day the army captured Luis Ricardo Magaña Mendoza aka "El 19 y medio" (19 and a half) another leader of the cartel and five other cartel members in Manzanillo, Colima.[14]


  • January 8 - during a routine patrol, troops were attacked by gunmen in a pick up vehicle, provoking a gunfight that lasted for various minutes in Michoacán. 4 gunmen and one soldier were killed.[15]
  • January 30 - 5 federal police officers were ambushed by gunmen while traveling on the Highway Occidente; seven federal officers were reported injured. The ambush scrambled federal helicopters, troops, and state police to find the ones responsible.[16]
  • April 24 - A three vehicle convoy carrying the Public Safety Secretary was attacked by gunmen which left two bodyguards and two bystanders dead. Hours later a police station in Morelia was attacked by grenades, the explosion damaged three vehicles.[17]
  • June 14 - 10 Federal Police officers were ambushed and killed while several others were injured during a firefight in Zitácuaro. The Federal police managed to kill and injure the gunmen who are presumed to be part of La Familia Michoacana cartel, immediately after the gunfight army air and land units were sent to secure the area.[18]
  • June 16 - After the June 14 ambush attack on Federal Police officers, the mexican army doubled there patrols in the rural areas of Zitácuaro.[19]
  • November 5 - After a suspected Drug Leader was trapped in Tzurumútaro (a little town located near Morelia), a series of consequtives attacks took place on Morela. There attacks consisting of narcobloqueos (narcoblocks, a series of run blocks) with cars on fire, with gunfight between the Federal Police, Mexican Army and hitmans [20]


Operation Michoacán is the first stage of the so-called War Against Drug Trafficking implemented by the federal government of President Felipe Calderón.The joint operation has been questioned about the human rights violations that may have occurred, given the military presence among the civilian population of the state of Michoacán. The chairman of the National Commission on Human Rights, José Luis Soberanes, in May 2007, charged that had been at least 53 complaints of human rights violations by the military to the civilian population.[21]


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