U.S. intel told Mexican Navy: Cartel violence will attack Mexico City, aiming to bomb buildings and government officials.
MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s navy seized 45 pounds (20 kilograms) of powerful explosives Wednesday in a bohemian residential neighborhood in the capital after exchanging information with U.S. authorities.
Four Mexicans suspected of links to organized crime were being questioned after a pre-dawn raid on a hostel in Mexico City’s Roma neighborhood, the navy said in a statement.
Officials said the explosives are the type used in demolition that can be applied directly to structures and have enough force to break apart metal.
Investigators declined to say whether the explosives are linked to drug traffickers, but federal authorities have said they recently intercepted communications that reveal cartel gunmen are seeking explosives for attacks, possibly on buildings or along roads.
U.S. Intel working actrively in Mexico City.
The discovery of the explosives suggests that cartel violence could be inching closer to Mexico City, which has avoided most of the drug-related violence that has claimed nearly 23,000 lives since President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against traffickers in late 2006.
The hostel is several blocks away from city police headquarters, target of a failed 2008 plot to bomb a Mexico City police commander that was traced to Sinaloa state, apparently in retribution for a series of weapons seizures and arrests. A person carrying the bomb died in the attack.
A high-ranking marine at the scene Wednesday said that a man from the neighboring state of Hidalgo rented a room at the hostel and left the explosives, but that there was no evidence about their intended use. He declined to speak for attribution because of the ongoing investigation.
The explosives were found near the back of a three-story hostel that charges about $44 a week for individual rooms.
A queen-sized bed barely fit inside the room where marines found an orange duffel with a bottle of nitroglycerin inside. Another bag contained a small barrel with jumper cables on top, while a shelf held four plastic bottles with liquid, a small kitchen scale, several latex gloves in a plastic bag, two walkie-talkies and a phone.
Neighbors described how children at the hostel cried when armed marines tried to break down doors as they showed them a picture of a young man on a cell phone and asked if they recognized him.
Josefina Trejo began to cry as she described the scene.
“They forced us into the hallways regardless of how we were dressed,” she said. “I was so scared.”
Gilberto Bernal, a security guard who works near the hostel, said the block is relatively calm, except for Friday nights, when people flock to a disco across the street.
It is unclear which U.S. agency the Mexican Navy was working with. Navy spokeswoman Lt. Cindy Espinosa said she could not release further information. READ MORE HERE.