MEXICO CITY (AP) — Officials in western Mexico confirmed Friday that a drug cartel has hung up banners denying involvement in a Nov. 30 grenade attack on the U.S. consulate in Guadalajara.
Several media outlets posted photos of the banners, which read: "Our cartel totally and completely distances itself from what happened at the U.S. embassy (sic)."
The banners were signed "Jalisco New Generation cartel."
A Jalisco state government official who was not authorized to be quoted by name confirmed the content of the banners, and said they were found strung on an overpass and footbridge in Guadalajara on Thursday.
The official could not vouch for the authenticity of the banners.
The professionally printed vinyl banners read, "We are not the ones who carried out the attack" on the consulate.
"You, the government, know perfectly well who is doing things with the aim of sullying our organization's image," the banner continued.
The banners appeared a couple of days after the FBI offered a $20,000 reward for information on the attack.
The FBI says a lone attacker tossed two grenades at the consulate while it was closed. Nobody was injured.
It was unclear if the Nov. 30 attack had been timed to coincide with the eve of the Dec. 1 inauguration of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Mexican cartels have been known to carry out grisly acts of violence in areas controlled by their rivals in order to provoke government crackdowns on their rivals' turf.
The Mexican and U.S. government have been focusing their efforts on the Jalisco cartel in particular, in part because it is viewed as the fastest-growing Mexican drug gang. This week, the new administration announced its first money-laundering case against the Jalisco cartel.
In past attacks on U.S. targets in Mexico, the attackers have usually pleaded ignorance or mistaken identity.
In 2010, hitmen working for Barrio Azteca, a gang allied with the Juarez drug cartel, killed U.S. consulate employee Leslie Ann Enriquez Catton, her husband, Arthur Redfels, and Alberto Salcido Ceniceros, the husband of another employee of the consulate in Ciudad Juarez.
Former gang members testified the killings were a case of mistaken identity. Redfels was driving a white SUV that was very similar to a vehicle that had been marked as a target for his team of assassins because they thought it belonged to members of the rival Sinaloa cartel.