Authorities in the avocado-growing zone of western Mexico say five suspected drug cartel gunmen have been killed in a massive firefight between gangs
MEXICO CITY — Authorities in the avocado-growing zone of western Mexico said five suspected drug cartel gunmen were killed in a massive firefight between gangs Thursday.
And gunmen killed the mayor of a nearby town that has been the scene of a protracted turf battle between the Viagras, also known as the United Cartels, and the Jalisco cartel.
Police in Michoacan state said they had found five bodies in the town of Nuevo Parangaricutiro, and detained 32 suspects.
Video posted on social media showed what appeared to be a home-made armored truck with a machine gun firing from a turret in Parangaricutiro.
Dozens of army troops and state police officers were sent to the largely Purepecha Indigenous town to quell the violence.
The town has long been the scene of disputes between the Viagras gang, self-defense patrols and rival gangs. The criminal groups have long extorted protection payments from avocado growers.
The town was built after the old village of Parangaricutiro was partly buried by the eruption of the Paricutin volcano in the 1940s.
In the nearby town of Aguililla, gunmen killed Mayor César Arturo Valencia. Aguililla had been the epicenter for the battle between the Viagras and the Jalisco cartel until a month ago, when the government sent the army in to the town to expel Jalisco gunmen.
Michoacan Gov. Alfredo Ramírez Bedolla wrote in his Twitter account that “we energetically condemn the killing” and promised to punish the killers.
Some townspeople had objected to the army's presence, saying the soldiers and state police favored the Viagras gang.
The killing of the mayor, who was shot to death in his truck, will likely be a blow to the army's claim it had returned the area to normality.
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