UPDATED: Mea Culpa Maxima for not including an acknowledgment of the anonymous sources in Zacatecas.
Zacatecas top cop denies news reports of massacreBy Chris Covert
A total of two individuals were shot to death in separate instances in Zacatecas state Saturday and Monday, according to Mexican news and anonymous correspondents.
However, La Jornada news daily has claimed that at least 14 individuals died the midnight gunfight which took place in Guadalupe municipality.
An anonymous correspondent in Guadalupe claimed that a small gunfight took place, also adding, "it is not uncommon to hear gunfire isolated colonies away from the center, but there is no official information or notes from the press on the matter."
According to a news account published in El Sol de Zacatecas news daily, a gunfight erupted between local Los Zetas and Gulf cartel gangs on midnight Saturday in Guadalupe municipality in Rincon Colonial colony near the intersection of Calzada Solidaridad and Vialidad San Simon.
Units with the Zacatecas state Policia Estatal Preventiva (PEP) while returning to base were diverted to the scene, but were fired on by an unknown number of armed suspects. The unit was forced to withdraw from the scene, but was ordered back in once the shooting stopped.
Police found one individual shot to death inside a pickup truck and two others nearby who surrendered to police. A subsequent search turned up two other suspects who were also detained.
The gunshot victim was identified as Eduardo Ivan Hernandez Martinez, 23. The three detainees were identified as Martin Gerardo Perez Campos, 19, Benjamin Muñoz Garcia, 27 and Mario Jonathan "N", 17.
Police secured two AK-47 rifles from the dead victim and one more from one of the detainees. Police also seized four weapons magazines, 79 rounds of AK-47 ammunition and the vehicle.
The Zacatecas state Secretaria de Seguridad Publica (SSP), General Jesus Pinto Ortiz issued a press statement denying the La Jornada Monday report of a large massacre.
Mexican cartel shooters on both side sometimes make lavish use of the tactic of evacuating their dead and wounded as a security measure. Zacatecas state two months ago was the focus of a commitment by at least one publisher, Luis Enrique Mercado Sanchez -- former Partido Accion Nacional (PAN) deputy and publisher of Imagen and El Centinela -- to move news of shootings from the front page to other sections. The reason given was not to give the idea to visitors that Zacatecas state was engulfed in drug and gang related violence.
An incident which took place in Mexico state last summer illustrates the extent to which drug gangs and government officials -- separately and for their own reasons -- attempt to color events. In one municipality reportedly some 30 individuals were killed over a two day period, which Mexico state authorities deny, even in the face of contradicting accounts by local residents that a large number of killed and wounded were witnessed.
The Mexican federal government has made it very clear to the press that it will control how and when information will be presented, sometimes going as far as slow walking information to the press. The federal government has legal requirements that it must publish information relating to security matters, but apparently how that requirement is fulfilled is left open to question.
In a separate incident which took place Monday the owner of a gas station in Sombrerete municipality Monday. According to a news report which appeared on the website of Zacatecas En Linea, Ramiro Murillo was shot three times, once in the head and left by his pickup truck. The victim is the father of Cecilio Murillo, candidate for mayor by the Partido del Revolucionario Institucional (PRI).
Senor Murillo was reportedly kidnapped Sunday, but had failed to contact anyone before he was found dead.
In other news, gunfights have taken place in Zacatecas Sunday during a cultural festival, according to an anonymous correspondent. Gunshots were heard near Lomas de Bernardez. No reports have been published on whether anyone was hurt in those incidents.
Over the weekend Zacatecas city has been the site of a festival activities of which included use of fireworks.
According to the correspondent: "...there were fireworks [which] burned down a house in the center [from a] spark apparently from rockets, [during the] the shooting, so who knows if he had used the chaos between the fire, people, drums, concert and others. The shooting was not at the center. This time was concentrated [near the] security forces."
Special thanks to our anonymous sources for the comments and insights in Zacatecas
BorderlandBeat.com reporter Chivis Martinez contributed to this news account.
Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for Rantburg.com and BorderlandBeat.com