Sicarios of "La Barbie" confront the military in Taxco; 15 killed
People stand next to a puddle of blood while peeking into a house where 15 suspected drug gang members died in a shootout with Mexican soldiers in TaxcoJune 15, 2010. Suspected drug hitmen attacked soldiers who were intending to inspect a cartel safe house in the colonial town of Taxco southwest of Mexico City. Soldiers returned fire, killing the assailants in a 40-minute gunfight, the defense ministry said in a statement.
Taxco de Alarcón, Guerrero - A total of 15 sicarios were killed yesterday morning during a shootout with the military in the city of Taxco.
A citizen's complaint about presumed illicit activities at a house led authorities to dispatch soldiers to a house in the town, which is located about 100 miles southwest of Mexico City,
The incident occurred about 10:30 am when soldiers attached to 27th Infantry Battalion based in Iguala, arrived in the colonial city aboard three trucks and virtually laid siege in the community of El Pantheon.
According to witnesses the soldiers were stationed in front of a house marked with number 24, located in Moisés Carvajal Street where they suddenly started shouting commands to the occupants to come out and surrender with their hands up. The military troops were greeted by gunfire and, acting in self-defense, responded with gunfire of their own
Bullet holes are seen next to a sticker left by censor's workers and a seal placed by the state prosecutor on the door of a house where 15 suspecteddrug gang members died in a shootout with Mexican soldiers in Taxco.
As the occupants refused to obey, again the soldiers opened fire on the building and the occupants responded with gunfire. Witnesses at the scene said that the exchange of gunfire lasted for about an hour and a half before the sicarios stopped firing. The soldiers then entered the building where they found 15 dead sicarios that had been gunned down, most of them appeared to be young men.
The process of identifying the bodies was under way. No soldiers were hurt in the 40-minute shootout. Twenty guns and two homemade explosives were recovered.
Subsequently, ministerial authorities arrived to process the crime scene and pick up the bodies, while the military moved to the township of Cocula located north of Iguala.
Youngsters peek through a fence at bullet impacts in the walls of a house where 15 suspected drug gang members died in a shootout with Mexican soldiersin Taxco.
According to local authorities, in the safe house where the shooting occurred in Taxco, was a cell of sicarios and informers in the service of Edgar Valdez Villarreal, La Barbie, who directs a young man by the name of La Perra, who by the way managed to escaped along with others.
Taxco, popular with foreign visitors because of its colonial architecture and more than 2,000 silver shops, has increasingly been the scene of cartel turf battles.
The Army's action in Taxco dates back when a soldier from 27 infantry battalion was executed in mid-May, an event that culminated on May 29 with the arrest of 15 sicarios in Iguala and the finding of a narco-grave in the mine of San Antonio La Concha where 55 bodies were extracted.
The battle in Guerrero state came one day after 12 federal police officers were killed in an ambush in neighboring Michoacan state, a stronghold of drug activity. It was unclear if the two shootouts were related.
La Barbie fell in Taxco?
Mexican President Felipe Calderón is going to give a especial press conference at 2100 hours tonight, will he be announcing the capture of "la Barbie?" [UPDATE: no confirmation in the President's press conference]
Rumors have been circulating that in the place of the confrontation in Taxco between sicarios and the Mexican military Edgar Valdés Villarreal, "La Barbie," was present and presumably was taken in to custody. Another rumor is that La Barbie died in the shootout in Taxco.
This information has not been confirmed. This is the same instance when there had also been a rumor that Nacho Coronel had also been apprehended during an operation in Jalisco, none of these rumors have been officially confirmed.
People stand on a blood-stained staircase next to a house where 15 suspected drug gang members died in a shootout with Mexican soldiers in Taxco.
Calderon Press Conference
In a televised message Tuesday night, President Felipe Calderon asked Mexicans to support the fight against organized crime and urged them to report criminals to authorities.
"I say this is a fight of all Mexicans, because criminals don't discriminate and hurt all of society," Calderon said as a telephone number for anonymous tips flashed on the screen. "The information that you can give us is key in helping us advance in this fight."
"This is a battle that is worth fighting because our future is at stake," Calderon added during the 10-minute address. "It's a battle that, with all Mexicans united, we will win."
Two more executed
In another story, the bodies of two young men were found in the city of Iguala on the federal highway Mexico-Acapulco.
The bodies were dumped along with a narco-message at the edge of the road at the intersection of Santa Ana on the outskirts of Iguala. Their hands were tied and both shot in the head.
According to a report by the state Public Safety Department the ministerial authorities collected at least 20 9mm casings, and a large card with the following message: "This is going to happen to all the rats, "Cadeneros" (chain wearing people) and violators; that is just the beginning, heads will fly. Atte. Yo (me)."
A police man stands guard near the crime scene where 15 suspected drug gang members died in a shootout with Mexican soldiers in Taxco.
Official sources said that the men were abducted by a commando at about three o'clock in Iguala, and an hour later they appeared executed.
So far only one body has been identified as Hector Manuel Flores Bahena, 25 years old.
Wave of Violence engulfs Mexico
Also Monday, gunmen killed three federal officers in the northern city of Chihuahua, and inmates at a prison in northern Sinaloa state used guns apparently smuggled inside to kill 21 prisoners in what officials said appeared to be a dispute between gangs. At least eight more inmates were later stabbed to death in apparent reprisals at the same prison.
The dozens of deaths on Monday and Tuesday followed a particularly bloody pair of weeks. Last week, gunmen killed 16 people in one day in the northern city of Ciudad Madero, and attackers burst into a drug rehab center in Chihuahua and shot 19 men to death.
Drug violence has killed more than 23,000 people since late 2006, when Calderon took office. Mexican officials attribute much of the bloodshed to turf battles between drug cartels, but the gangs are increasingly turning to attacks on police and prosecutors.