Mexico’s armed forces dramatically delivered a blow to one of the country’s leading drug cartels when an Apache helicopter rained down machine gun fire on a residence in the Pacific resort of Nayarit where security forces killed Beltrán-Leyva cartel regional leader Juan Francisco Patrón and seven others during a shootout.
Patrón, also known as H2, was a key figure in the cartel’s operations in Nayarit and Jalisco, Mexican officials said. After a security operation, Patrón and his accomplices took up shelter inside of a residence in Nayarit state.
Patron and his compadres opened fire on marines while barricading themselves in an upper part of the house, a Mexican navy official said.
The official said that a helicopter gunship had been called in to provide “dissuasive fire”, to suppress outgoing gunfire from the structure on Thursday.
Incredible footage showed the chopper hovering over the property before releasing a torrent of gunfire.
Use of such “minigun” weapons from a helicopter gunship is extremely rare in urban areas.
Mexico’s Naval Secretariat SEMAR, which manages the country’s naval and marine forces, tweeted just before midnight local time: “Today in a confrontation between criminals and federal forces Juan Francisco Patrol and seven accomplices were killed.”
It is not clear if the men died from the helicopter fire.
Authorities are expected to release more details of the operation that led to Patron’s death soon.