A helicopter from the Secretary of the Navy collapsed on Friday afternoon in the vicinity of Los Mochis (Sinaloa), causing the death of 14 soldiers. The fall of the helicopter coincided with the operation that led to the recapture of Rafael Caro Quintero in the Sierra Madre Occidental, on the border between Sinaloa and Chihuahua. The Mexican Navy explained that the Black Hawk helicopter was transporting 15 people and that one person is receiving medical attention. The president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, confirmed that the aircraft crashed “after fulfilling the mission of supporting those who executed the arrest warrant against Rafael Caro Quintero.”
The military sources consulted by EL PAÍS indicated that the group participated in the capo’s capture, although not directly in his arrest, but that the helicopter was mobilized as part of a broader operation. The Mexican navy statement, however, said that both issues, the crash of the helicopter and the arrest of Caro Quintero, are not related, although the United States included both issues in its statement thanking Mexico for the capture. “We join the mourning for the 14 Mexican soldiers who gave their lives in the service of their country and we express our condolences to the loved ones they left behind.”
The reasons for the possible accident are still a mystery and an investigation has been opened to determine the causes of the fall of the aircraft. “There is no information that the plane crash is related to the arrest of the alleged drug trafficker,” the statement ends.
According to information from Admiral José Rafael Ojeda Durán about the accident, there is no evidence that he was shot down by the operation that arrested Caro Quintero, nor that he was traveling on the aircraft. According to the admiral, in the morning three helicopters left the Valle del Fuerte airport, in the city of Los Mochis, for the municipality of Choix, on the border with Chihuahua, to participate in the operation to recapture Caro Quintero.
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After noon, the aircraft returned to Los Mochis, when the Narco de Narcos had already been captured, but before landing at the airport, in a planting area, a helicopter collapsed for unknown reasons. At the time of the accident, other helicopters helped the victims with Red Cross ambulances and the Airport Rescue helicopters picked up a deceased person, for which they transferred the injured to hospitals. The initial death toll was six, but as the hours passed it rose to 14.