Connect to share and comment

In Juarez car bomb, a ruthless trap for police

Raids on American-owned explosives could be behind sophisticated car bomb.

Editor's note: Check out "7 circles of Juarez," a video and text special report from GlobalPost on the hell of Ciudad Juarez.

MEXICO CITY, Mexico — The father and son team of security guards was at its usual post guarding an explosives magazine in Durango, northern Mexico, when the assailants arrived.

Two white Suburban-type SUV’s rolled up and 15 to 20 masked men stepped out bearing automatic rifles.

“The security guards were ordered at gunpoint to open the magazine, and the gunmen made off with a large quantity of Tovex brand explosives and electric detonators,” reads a report by the United States Bomb Data Center obtained by GlobalPost.

The theft was in February 2009 on a site owned by a Texan company in Mexico.

On July 15 this year, the same type of explosives went off in a car in Ciudad Juarez, killing a federal police officer, doctor and civilian.

While car bombs have long been used in Iraq and Colombia, this was the first effective use of such a weapon against police in Mexico.

Special report: inside the hell of Ciudad Juarez.

It sent waves of fear across Juarez and the nation, because car bombs have a terrifying potential to hit civilians not involved in the drug wars.

Mexican police confirmed last week that Tovex explosives were set off by a mobile phone-operated detonator, and said the explosives were likely stolen from a U.S. company.

If it was from the same magazine raided in Durango, it would implicate the gangsters have plenty more of the material.

The report states that 267.75 pounds or 900 cartridges of the explosives as well as 230 electric detonators were taken. That attack used just 22 pounds to make the bomb.

Stoking these fears, gangsters sprayed graffiti on the walls of Juarez, promising more such attacks.

“We still have car bombs,” said one message in black spray paint.

The report said the assailants threatened the guards and their families over the incident.

“The leader of the armed group took the guards’ address and threatened to return to kill the guard and his family if they reported the crime during the 30 minutes it would take the group to flee. The group initially intended to take the father with them but did not do so after he determined the guard did not know how to use explosives,” it said.

The report also warned back last year that the theft could lead to bomb attacks.

“This incident has the potential to lead to further explosives-related incidents in the region, especially if the armed subjects are connected to a Drug Trafficking Organization,” it said.

In Ciudad Juarez, 250 soldiers scoured the city for explosive material.