Guamuchil, Sinaloa – The brother of Hector Palma, a former leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel, and another man were gunned down at a shopping center in Guamuchil, a city in the northwestern state of Sinaloa, Mexican media reported.
Luis Valerio Palma Salazar was killed Friday afternoon in the parking lot of the shopping center.
Palma Salazar and Angel Figueroa arrived at the shopping center in an SUV and were attacked by gunmen armed with AK-47 and AR-15 assault rifles who fired more than 200 rounds.
At least six parked vehicles and a bystander were hit by the gunfire, officials said.
The crime scene was cordoned off by army troops and state and municipal police officers.
Hector Palma, known as “El Güero,” was arrested in June 1995 and extradited in 2007 on drug charges to the United States, where he is serving a prison sentence.
The Sinaloa organization is the oldest cartel in Mexico and is led by Joaquin “El Chapo” (Shorty) Guzman, who was arrested in Guatemala in 1993 and pulled off a Hollywood-style jailbreak when he escaped from the Puente Grande maximum-security prison in the western state of Jalisco on Jan. 19, 2001.
Guzman, considered extremely violent, is one of the most-wanted criminals in Mexico and the United States, where the Drug Enforcement Administration has offered a reward of $5 million for him.
Mexico has been plagued in recent years by drug-related violence blamed on powerful cartels.
Last year, according to the El Universal newspaper, was the deadliest in Mexico in the past decade, with 7,724 people killed in violent incidents attributed to organized crime groups.
So far this year, drug-related violence has claimed the lives of more than 2,500 people, the daily says.
President Felipe Calderon, who took office in December 2006, has deployed 50,000 soldiers and 20,000 federal police nationwide to combat drug cartels and other criminal organizations.
The anti-drug operation, however, has failed to put a dent in the violence due, according to experts, to drug cartels’ ability to buy off the police and even high-ranking officials.