Three officers killed in shootout at busy Mexico City airport




Posted on June 25, 2012 at 9:19 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 26 at 1:58 AM

MEXICO CITY — Federal police in Mexico City continue to search for two suspects who gunned down three officers at the busy international airport Monday morning.

The suspects were captured in airport surveillance video and have been fully identified as corrupt police officers who were working for drug traffickers. They remain at large, the federal Public Safety Department said in a statement.

The shootout just before 9 a.m. sent passengers and employees scurrying for cover.

“I ran inside when I heard the shots,” said Ignacio Silva, a baggage handler at the airport for 16 years. Silva says he heard multiple gunshots, but did not see the gunmen.

The incident took place at a food court near the security checkpoint. Two federal officers died at the scene and another died from his wounds at a hospital.

Tourists arriving from the U.S. were not aware of the shootout at the airport. Krysten Petracek was catching a connecting flight with her parents, sister, and a group of girlfriends.

“I’m nervous, guys; I don’t like this," said Petracek, who was celebrating her high school graduation with a trip to Cozumel.

The group arrived in Mexico City as police raided several airport money exchange houses. Investigators are saying little about the crime except that the murdered officers were working on a drug trafficking case at the airport.

Witnesses said the shooters were also wearing police uniforms. Some reported seeing female police officers firing weapons. Police would not confirm whether the gunmen were real officers or impostors dressed like cops.

The suspects escaped on foot into a parking garage.

Terminal 2 remained open, even immediately after the shooting, but yellow crime scene tape roped off the food court area where the officers were killed. Crime scene investigators in white lab coats gathered evidence as passengers rushed to catch flights.

Mexico City is Latin America’s largest airport, and it’s often used to smuggle cocaine into the country. But violence related to drug trafficking has seldom, if ever, occurred in passenger areas at the airport itself.

The federal Public Safety Department said it had spent 18 months investigating corrupt federal and local officials who were part of a cocaine trafficking ring and had seized 648 pounds of cocaine during that time at Mexico City's airport.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.