By Chris Covert
A total of 13 individuals were killed in ongoing drug and gang related violence in Zacatecas state including seven armed suspects shot to death in an armed encounter with Mexican Naval Infantry, according to Mexican news accounts.
A news report which appeared in the online edition of El Sol de Zacatecas news daily said that the gunfight took place in Sain Alto municipality.
The report said that the Mexican Marine road patrol encountered armed suspects on a road which connects the village of El Cazadero at around 0600 hrs Saturday. Marines also seized a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck at the scene, which indicates that other vehicles may have been involved in the shootout, but which escaped.
Among the dead, all in their 20s, was reportedly a female.
Sain Alto sits astride Mexico Federal Highway 45 in western Zacatecas on one of the most dangerous stretches of road in Mexico. Highway 45 connects Fresnillo with Durango in Durango state.
One example is of one unidentified man found tortured to death in Trancoso municipality Sunday.
According to a separate report in El Sol de Zacatecas the victim was found on Highway 45 with two severed limbs. The report said the victim was mutilated with a saw while still alive .
A note was left at the scene signed by Cartel del Norte, which is reportedly affiliated with Los Zetas. The contents of the message was not disclosed in the news account,
In other news, four unidentified individuals were found murdered in Fresnillo municipality a week ago, according to Mexican news reports.
A news account which appeared on the website of El Sol de Zacatacas said that the four victims were found in a hidden grave in the mountain community of Purisima del Maguey in an area called San Bajio.
The victims were found in an advanced state of decomposition, but the report said that three of the victims were males and one was female. The victim had been killed at least three weeks before their discovery.
The report notes that the four were killed in a settling of accounts between armed criminal gangs, and that the area where the dead were found is known as a graveyard for such murders.
The report does not specify which group or cartel may have been involved. Los Zetas, the Sinaloa and Gulf cartels are known to operate in Zacatecas state, and several gunfights between local criminal gangs have been reported in Fresnillo in recent weeks.
Fresnillo has been the focus of security incidents in the last ten days.
In one example, an unidentified man in his 60s was shot to death May 8th in Guadalupe municipality which is directly adjacent to Fresnillo.
The victim was found shot to death on calle Sicomoro in Arboledas colony.
Also, a Mexican Army unit with the 97 Infantry Battalion took over the headquarters of the Fresnillo municipal police corporation Monday in a surprise weapons inspection.
The action began at around 0700 hrs and lasted until 1200 hrs when the military unit left. No one was reported detained nor were any weapons reported seized.
The Mexican Army is charged by law with the enforcement of the Mexican federal Firearms and Explosives Act, and has in the past disarmed whole police departments when irregularities were found.
The best example was late last winter when the traffic division of Gomez Palacio, Coahuila municipal police were disarmed, and then later detained.
As with every other state, Zacatecas is under pressure by the federal government to provide trained police officers which have passed confidence tests in anticipation of the creation of a new police agency dubbed Policia Gendarmaria. The head of the federal Secretaria de Gobierno (SEGOB) or interior ministry, Miguel Osorio Chong has decreed that every police agent, state and municipal must be certified by November 1st, 2013, or face losing their jobs.
Every municipal and state police agency in Mexico is heavily funded by the federal government, municipalities with passthrough funds. Municipal president are severely constrained by Mexican law as to how much money they can raise through taxes, fines and fees, and how much can be spent on security operations.
Mexican state governors are also expected now to take a greater hand in coordinating security operations between states. Reports can be found in Mexican press about security meetings being held amongst the governors of states in five separate regions. Those meeting often include representative from the Mexican Army, Mexican Navy and national police agencies within SEGOB.
Zacatecas state has been coordinating with other states in its region including Aguascalientes and Jalisco states.
Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for Rantburg.com and BorderlandBeat.com