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El Paso Hospital Locked Down by Police to Protect Mexican Assassination Target

January 29, 2008  | 

The effects of cross-border violence fueled by drug cartels spilled over into El Paso Wednesday as a local hospital was locked down to protect a Chihuahua police commander who survived an assassination attempt.

El Paso police, sheriff's deputies, and federal agents patrolled the hospital with assault weapons and all visitors were screened for metal as part of the lockdown.

Chihuahua Police Commander Fernando Lozano is in critical but stable condition in the hospital following an ambush attack in Juarez. Two vehicles full of gunmen attacked Lozano as he drove in a Jeep Cherokee. More than 50 shots were fired in the attack.

Lozano was the third high-ranking Chihuahua police official attacked in two days, and the only one to survive. He was brought to El Paso's Thomason Hospital under police escort in an ambulance.

The lockdown was ordered by the El Paso Police Department, the El Paso County Sheriff's Department, and U.S. Customs and Immigrations Enforcement (ICE).

"We have taken every precaution necessary to ensure the security of everyone," sheriff's spokesman Rick Glancey told the El Paso Times.

Chihuahua state officials issued a statement that said: "The wave of violence that has been seen in the country is a response to the offensive initiated by the federal government against organized crime. In the state of Chihuahua, the attacks and executions that we have seen correspond to the enforcement undertaken by federal, state, and local agencies."

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