Mexican police: Gunmen kill 6 men at bar in northern, drug-plagued Sinaloa

Saturday, February 6, 2010

6 killed at bar in cartel-plagued Mexican state

CULIACAN, Mexico — Gunmen killed six people at a bar Saturday in the northern state of Sinaloa, a drug-violence hotspot, state prosecutors said.

At least three gunmen walked into Las Herraduras bar in the resort city of Mazatlan early Saturday and opened fire, killing a customer and two waiters, said Martin Gatelum, spokesman for the Sinaloa state prosecutor’s office.

A taxi driver and a night watchman were killed ouside the bar, where the assailants also shot to death a hostage who had led them to the bar, Gatelum said.

Sinaloa, Mexico’s drug-smuggling heartland, is the birthplace of the leaders of four of the six major cartels.

In the border city of Ciudad Juarez, authorities on Saturday announced the arrest of a second suspect in last week’s massacre of 15 people, many of them teenagers with no known criminal ties.

Chihuahua state Attorney General Patricia Gonzalez said Israel Arzate confessed to being one of several armed men who blocked off a dead-end street and opened fire at three houses, ending their rampage at one home where young people had gathered for a party. On Wednesday, police arrested a man who allegedly acted as a driver and guard during the attack.

Arzate, allegedly a hit man for the Juarez cartel, told investigators that the gunmen were looking for a member of a rival gang but that once they arrived to the neighborhood they were ordered to kill everyone, Gonzalez said.

The massacre outraged even hardened residents of Juarez, located across the border from El Paso, Texas.

More than 2,300 people were killed last year in the city of 1.3 million, making it one of the world’s deadliest metropolises. Authorities say most were drug gang members, but bystanders have increasingly gotten caught in the crossfire.

Chihuahua Gov. Jose Reyes said Saturday all state goverment officials would be transferred from the capital city of Chihuahua to Ciudad Juarez next week “to show support to the people of Juarez.”

President Felipe Calderon has deployed thousands of soldiers to Ciudad Juarez to stop vicious gangs battling for drug-dealing turf and lucrative trafficking routes north, but violent crime has only surged.

Drug violence has killed more than 15,000 people nationwide since Calderon launched a crackdown on cartels after taking office in late 2006.

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