MORELIA, Mexico – Nine suspected drug traffickers died in a shootout between rival gangs in the western Mexican state of Michoacan, state police said.
The shootout involving Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG) and Nueva Familia Michoacana gunmen occurred Saturday in Poturo, a village outside the city of Churumuco.
Gunmen armed with assault rifles and explosives fought for more than 10 minutes, terrifying villagers, police said.
The bodies of five men who belonged to a group of hitmen on the payroll of Edilberto Bravo Barragan, a former Caballeros Templarios cartel member who now belongs to the CJNG, were found in Poturo’s main street.
Four other bodies were found inside three SUVs abandoned around the village by Nueva Familia Michoacana members.
Army troops, Federal Police officers and state police launched an operation in the Tierra Caliente region to find the gunmen who fled from the village.
The Tierra Caliente region gets its name from the high temperatures in the area and straddles Michoacan, Guerrero and Mexico states.
The bodies were sent to the coroner’s office, where Michoacan Attorney General’s Office specialists will try to identify them.
A number of different drug trafficking organizations, including the CJNG, La Nueva Familia Michoacana, Los H-3, Los Viagras and several smaller gangs operate in Michoacan.
The gangs have been battling for control of drug production and smuggling routes into the United States.
Criminal organizations use Michoacan’s 270 kilometers (168 miles) of coastline to smuggle chemical drug precursors for the production of synthetic drugs into Mexico and move the finished products out of the country.