Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Eight Executed in Juarez

At least 8 dead across Mexico in drug killings

The Associated Press

Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua — Gunmen burst into a wake in the border city of Ciudad Juarez on Thursday and opened fire, killing 8 young men and wounding others, including a 10-year-old girl.

Eight people were shot dead and four others were wounded while attending a funeral in the northern Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez, police said Friday. According to witnesses quoted by Mexican media, the attackers arrived in two vehicles and blocked the street before shooting at those attending the funeral and others nearby.

The wake was being held at a private home for an 18-year-old man who had been shot to death in his car two days before. The man's family had apparently bought a stolen vehicle and began receiving death threats when they filed a complaint about it, reports said.

Arturo Sandoval, a spokesman for prosecutors in northern Chihuahua state, where Ciudad Juarez is located, said the bodies of the shooting victims lay in the street outside the home, after they apparently tried to flee the gunmen.

The eight murdered were between the ages of 18-30 years. One man was killed in his car as he was about to leave the service with his wife, who survived, the daily El Diario of Ciudad Juarez reported. Four other men were killed in the funeral parlour and one woman died while being taken to hospital.

Police found 66 bullet cases at the site.

There was no immediate information on the condition of the wounded, who were taken to local hospitals for treatment.

The city has been plagued by drug gang violence in which gunmen often seek to finish off wounded rivals or associates of previous victims. Gunmen have attacked homes where they believe rivals might be gathering.

With these latest killings, the number of homicides in Mexico’s murder capital so far this year has topped 470, according to media accounts based on official information.

Eight men, including an 18-year-old, were fatally shot Thursday in and around Juarez, which lies just across the border from El Paso, Texas.

The violence began Thursday morning with the killings of four men in two different incidents in the Valley of Juarez, a farming and drug-smuggling area east of the city along the Rio Grande.

In the first, three men riding in a garbage truck were fired at by a group of hit men. Two of the victims died and were identified by authorities as Julio Cesar Murillo Orozco and Jose Luis Gonzalez, both age 28, while the third was kidnapped.

In the other incident, two men were shot and killed by unknown assailants alongside a road in the Valley of Juarez.

Elsewhere, a 26-year-old identified as Filiberto Alanis, who sold candy outside an elementary school, was gunned down in front of several children in the Felipe Angeles neighborhood.

The other slayings occurred in different parts of Juarez and included the fatal shooting of an 18-year-old inside an auto-repair shop on the city’s northeast side.

Ciudad Juarez has held the dubious title of Mexico’s murder capital since 2008, with 1,600 killings attributed to organized crime in 2008 and 2,650 last year.

Long before becoming Mexico’s most dangerous city and the scene of frequent shootouts between rival drug traffickers, Ciudad Juarez had been infamous for the murder of some 500 women since 1993, with the vast majority of the crimes still unsolved.

The spate of recent homicides in Juarez is part of a larger nationwide problem of drug-related violence in Mexico, as heavily armed cartels battle each other over lucrative smuggling routes to the United States.

Shortly after taking office in December 2006, President Felipe Calderon militarized the struggle against the cartels, yet the pace of killings has only accelerated and the nationwide death toll since then has already topped 17,000.

In January, gunmen killed 16 people, many of them teenagers who had gathered for a party. Investigators believe the killers may have been acting on a false tip that the youths belonged to a rival gang.

Elsewhere in Mexico, an American citizen, two policemen, four young men and a local government official were among those killed in other attacks across the country.

Police identified U.S. citizen German Norman Hall on Thursday as one of two men murdered by gunmen with assault rifles in the border town of Piedras Negras across from Eagle Pass, Texas. Police said Hall was shot eight times in the Wednesday attack.

Four men sitting down to eat in the Mexican state of Sinaloa died when attackers burst into the restaurant with assault rifles and sprayed them with gunfire.

One victim tried to fire back with a handgun before he was killed in the Wednesday afternoon attack, said Martin Gastelum, prosecutor for drug-plague state on Mexico's West Coast.

And in the border city of Tijuana, federal police announced Thursday they had found a tunnel in a warehouse at a border assembly plant. The tunnel was dug in the direction of, but did not cross, the U.S. border, some 700 yards (meters) away.

Such tunnels are frequently used to smuggle drugs or undocumented migrants.

The tunnel was discovered after a piece of heavy machinery doing repair work in the plant's parking lot suddenly sank into a hole.

The killings don't represent a new wave of terror — about 17,900 people have been killed since President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against drug trafficking in December 2006.

But they reflect the ongoing wars for local turf and drug routes to U.S. markets among entrenched gangs.

Much of the attention in recent weeks has been centered around the border town of Reynosa — across from McAllen, Texas — where federal authorities warned residents to avoid certain neighborhoods after three people were killed in two separate shootings Wednesday.

In Chilpancingo, capital of Mexico's southern Guerrero state, two commanding police officers were killed Wednesday when gunmen opened fire on the car they were riding in, peppering it with more than 70 bullets, according to police reports. Their murders follow the killings of six other police officers in the region since last weekend.

Soldiers killed a government employee and arrested three other men, including a former politician, during a Wednesday shootout in northeastern Nuevo Leon state.

Mexican military officials say the men were traveling in the town of Apodaca in a pickup that had been reported stolen and were armed with pistols. The shootout erupted after soldiers tried to stop them. Instead of pulling over, the pickup truck driver opened fire and tried to flee.

Empty shell casings were found scattered around the vehicle following the pre-dawn attack.

Apodaca Mayor Benito Caballero confirmed the dead man, aged 20, was an events organizer for the city.

"It's regrettable that an a local official was involved in this type of activity," Caballero said.

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