Mexico City: Over 40 Slaughtered In Rival Drug Cartel’s Turf Wars Over 24 Hour Period

10 Jul

Forensic workers load a truck with bodies after gunmen stormed into a nightclub in Monterrey, Mexico, Friday July 8, 2011. At least 17 people were killed in the bar massacre Friday night in the northern Mexican city when riflemen opened fire on the clientele and employees, a state forensic investigator said. (AP Photo/Hans Maximo Musielik)

Forensic workers load a truck with bodies after gunmen stormed into a nightclub in …

Forensic workers load a truck with bodies after gunmen stormed into a nightclub in Monterrey, Mexico, Friday July 8, 2011. At least 17 people were killed in the bar massacre Friday night in the northern Mexican city when riflemen opened fire on the clientele and employees, a state forensic investigator said. (AP Photo/Hans Maximo Musielik)

Forensic workers load a truck with bodies after gunmen stormed into a nightclub in …

 

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Fighting among the Zetas gang and other vicious drug cartels led to the deaths of more than 40 people whose bodies were found in three Mexican cities over a 24-hour span, a government official said Saturday.

At least 20 people were killed and five injured when gunmen opened fire in a bar late Friday in the northern city of Monterrey, where the gang is fighting its former ally, the Gulf Cartel, said federal security spokesman Alejandro Poire.

Eleven bodies shot with high-powered rifles were found earlier Friday, piled near a water well on the outskirts of Mexico City, where the gang is fighting the Knights Templar, Poire said. That is an offshoot of the La Familia gang that has terrorized its home state of Michoacan.

Poire said an additional 10 people were found dead early Saturday in various parts of the northern city of Torreon, where the Zetas are fighting the Sinaloa cartel headed by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

“The violence is a product of this criminal rivalry … surrounding the intent to control illegal activities in a community, and not the only the earnings that come with it, but also with transporting drugs to the United States,” Poire said in a news conference.

Poire provided no more details on the killings in Torreon in the border state of Coahuila.

Coahuila state officials said the 10 bodies in Torreon had been mutilated and left in a sports-utility vehicle. Seven of the victims were men and three were women, and all had been killed several days earlier, said Fernando Olivas, a state prosecutor’s representative in Torreon.

In Monterrey, 16 people died at the Sabino Gordo bar in the worst mass killing in memory in the northern industrial city, where violence has spiked since the Gulf and Zetas broke their alliance early last year. Four others died later at the hospital, said Jorge Domene, security spokesman for the state of Nuevo Leon, where Monterrey is located.

Domene said at a news conference that six people were wounded, two of them critically.

At least two men emerged from their vehicles and opened fire on the bar with AK-47s and AR-15s, Domene said. Several of the victims were employees of the bar, which has led police to conclude that employees were targeted, he said.

Cocaine was being sold at the bar and ziplock bags of drugs were found at the crime scene, Domene said.

Other downtown businesses closed earlier than usual after news of the massacre broke.

Outside Mexico City, police investigating the mass killing in the working class suburb of Valle de Chalco found one man alive along with 11 bodies and was taken to a hospital, said Antonio Ortega, a spokesman for the Mexico State police.

He said some of the bodies were blindfolded and had their hands tied. Poire said one woman was found seriously injured.

State officials said police found another body nearby a few hours later but could not confirm it was related to the mass attack.

Ortega said he didn’t know if the victims were shot at the scene or were dumped there.

The capital region has been largely spared the widespread drug violence that grips parts of Mexico.

But some poorer areas of the sprawling metropolis of 20 million people have begun to see killings and decapitations committed by street gangs that are remnants of splintered drug cartels.

In another incident allegedly involving the Zetas, the Mexican navy said Friday that it rescued a former mayor of Reynosa, across from McAllen, Texas, who had been kidnapped along with his son. Four alleged Zetas members were arrested at the scene after an anonymous tip that former Mayor Humberto Valdez was abducted Thursday, a navy statement said.

Also Saturday, the government announced it sent 1,800 federal police to the western state of Michoacan, where drug gang members have blocked highways and fired on officers in recent days. The force deployed with close to 200 vehicles, including ambulances, and also with Black Hawk helicopters.

Earlier in the week, federal police killed four gunmen who attacked them in Michoacan, triggering reprisal attacks by gang members who blocked highways with burning trailers, buses and pickup trucks.

Police said the gunmen were members of the Knights Templar, a criminal organization that split off from the La Familia cartel, a cult-like drug gang.

On Saturday, federal police killed three more riflemen after confronting them on a highway where they were trying to pull motorists out of their cars, the Michoacan state prosecutor’s office said.

Poire repeated the government insistence that criminals, not the government’s crackdown on organized crime, are causing the violence. More than 35,000 people have died since President Felipe Calderon stepped up the attack on organized crime in 2006, according to official figures. Some groups put the number at more than 40,000.

“The violence won’t stop if we stop battling criminals,” Poire said. “The violence will diminish as we accelerate our capacity to debilitate the gangs that produce it.”

Federal authorities apprehended La Familia’s alleged leader in late June, claiming the arrest was a debilitating blow to the gang. Jose de Jesus Mendez Vargas was alleged to be the last remaining head of the cartel, whose splinter group, the Knights Templar, continues to fight for control of areas La Familia once dominated.

Mexican authorities also arrested Jesus Enrique Rejon Aguilar, a co-founder of the Zetas drug cartel who is suspected of involvement in the February killing of a U.S. customs agent.

_____

Associated Press writers Porforio Ibarra in Monterrey and Oscar Villalba in Piedras Negras contributed to this report.

NEWS UPDATE:

Mexican soldiers stand outside the El Sabino Gordo bar securing the area next to transport vehicles after twenty people were killed by gunmen at the bar in Monterrey on July 8. Mexican authorities sent in an extra 1,800 police Saturday to fight the country's gruesome and deadly drug war, with at least 41 people slain over the weekend including 10 who were decapitatedEnlarge Photo

Mexican soldiers stand outside the El Sabino Gordo bar securing the area next to …

MEXICAN authorities sent in an extra 1,800 police Saturday to fight the country’s gruesome and deadly drug war, with at least 41 people slain over the weekend including 10 who were decapitated.

Fully 1,800 federal agents were sent into Michoacan state on Saturday, in a battle there mainly with the Knights Templars, a splinter group of the La Familia drugs cartel.

The reinforcements were backed by 170 vehicles, 15 ambulances and 4 MI and Black Hawk helicopters, the Public Safety office announced.

National Security Council spokesman Alejandro Poire called it a “reinforcement operation faced with the possibility of greater mobilization by organized crime groups.”

“They are waging an absurd war, to the death, for control of criminal turf and drug trafficking routes to the United States,” he stressed.

The federal government already has about 50,000 army troops and thousands of federal police in its fight against drug cartels. It blames the groups for most of the 37,000 people killed since it started a military offensive against the cartels in December 2006.

And this weekend was no exception to the staggering degree of fearsome bloodletting, at times meant to intimidate and also often inflicted when groups of people refuse to cooperate with drug traffickers.

Police in the northern city of Torreon said Saturday they found the headless bodies of seven men and three women in the back of an abandoned pick-up truck.

Police chief Guillermo Flores told AFP that only one head, belonging to a woman, was found on site, and that the killers had placed it on the truck’s hood.

The pick-up truck was parked on a highway that goes around Torreon, a city of some 650,000 where two major highways heading north to the United States converge.

The victims had apparently been executed “several days ago” in disparate locations, and their bodies were piled up in the abandoned pick-up truck “in an attempt to sow terror among the citizens of Torreon,” the city municipal police said in a statement.

Police have not said if they have suspects yet, but Coahuila state, where Torreon is located, is a battleground for two powerful Mexican drug cartels: the Zetas, founded by former Mexican special forces soldiers, and the Pacific cartel, headed by Joaquin “Chapo” (Shorty) Guzman.

The decapitated bodies were discovered hours after 20 people were killed late Friday when gunmen attacked a local bar in the northern city of Monterrey, Mexico’s third most important city.

The attackers, who arrived in two pick-up trucks and a car, stormed into a bar in Monterrey’s busy nightlife district and opened fire on the patrons.

Separately, 11 people were shot dead Friday afternoon in Chalco, a town on the outskirts of Mexico City.

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