GUANAJUATO, Mexico – A police officer and eight gunmen were killed early Monday in a shootout in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato, Gov. Diego Sinhue Rodriguez said.
Another member of the security forces was wounded, he said.
The confrontation took place after midnight Sunday in Villagran, near Santa Rosa de Lima, the birthplace of the likenamed drug cartel founded by Jose Antonio Yepez Ortiz, who was arrested in August 2020.
Units of the state police and Mexico’s National Guard on patrol in the area encountered a group of gunmen traveling in SUVs.
“Criminals who were on their way to commit their acts, to execute people, are confronted by our police and that’s why we need to pay our police well,” Rodriguez said during an event to commemorate National Nurses’ Day.
Authorities did not mention any arrests.
Guanajuato has led Mexico’s 32 states in homicides for three consecutive years. The number of murders grew from 3,290 in 2018 to 3,540 in 2019.
The state suffered 4,190 homicides in the first 11 months of last year, accounting for 13 percent of the nationwide total, while the first nine days saw 18 people slain in three separate incidents in Guanajuato.
One of those massacres took place in Leon, the state’s largest city. The other two were in Celaya, 20 km (12mi) from Villagran.
Authorities say that nine out 10 murders in Guanajuato, which is home to much of the Mexican auto industry, can be attributed to organized crime, specifically to the territorial struggle between the Santa Rosa de Lima outfit and the Jalisco New Generation cartel.
The Jalisco mob (known by the Spanish initials CJNG) is now seen as Mexico’s most powerful criminal organization.
Salvatierra, Guanajuato, a city of some 34,000, made news in October for the worst kind of reason: the discovery of 59 bodies in a cluster of clandestine graves.
“It is truly a cemetery there in Salvatierra. And I know that there will be more than 100 bodies there,” Norma Patricia Barron Nuñez, representative of the volunteer organization Una luz en mi camino (A light on my path), told EFE then.
Less than a month ago, the former governor of the western state of Jalisco was assassinated at a restaurant in the resort city of Puerto Vallarta.
Aristoteles Sandoval, 46, and another man entered the Distrito 5 establishment shortly after 10.00 pm on Dec. 17 and were later joined by a third male and a female.
Around 1.40 am on Dec, 18, Sandoval rose from the table to go to the bathroom, where he was ambushed by two assailants.
As many as 10 more assailants were waiting outside the restaurant and they opened fire as Sandoval’s bodyguards tried to evacuate him.
The former governor had a 15-person security detail and traveled in an armor-plated vehicle. But some media outlets said that only two bodyguards were with Sandoval at the time of the attack.