Thirteen retirees were shot and killed late on Sunday at a Mexican detoxification center near the border city of Tijuana, a police official said.
The reason for the killing was not immediately known, but it was apparently linked to a brutal drug war that has claimed thousands of Mexican lives this year.
“There were 13 people killed. They were all recuperating drug addicts,” the police official said on condition of anonymity.
According to a witness, gunmen lined up their victims against a wall and executed them in cold blood. There were no wounded.
As many as 105 tonnes of marijuana were seized in Tijuana last week in the largest drug bust in Mexican history, and some law enforcement officials suggested Sunday’s killings might have been connected to this event.
The drugs had a value of more US$335 million on the Mexican street, but their worth could double or triple if sold in the US, which the traffickers had been attempting to enter, officials said. They did not confirm which of the major Mexican drug cartels owned the drugs.
The massive haul came after a shootout between Tijuana municipal police officers and gunmen in a convoy of seven vehicles. The army and state police sent reinforcements and 11 people were arrested. Some of the drugs were found aboard the trucks.
Confessions from the detainees led security forces to more of the illegal substance at a local ranch, a home and an apartment.
Meanwhile, families mourned on Sunday the victims of one of the nation’s worst shootings, weeping over the open coffins of teenagers as young as 14 as Ciudad Juarez residents expressed outrage at surging violence.
Crowding around the bodies in white and gray coffins, parents and friends sobbed as they bid farewell to the 14 people killed at a family birthday party on Friday night in the Mexican city that is the epicenter of the country’s drug war.
“This can’t be happening. Today it’s them who are killed, and tomorrow who will be next?” said a sister of one of the victims, who gave only her first name, Miriam.
The shooting in Juarez on Friday was the second massacre at a party this month in the city. Police in the state of Chihuahua where the shooting took place declined to say if there was any progress in the search for the gunmen.
They were trying to identify the killers using artist impressions based on witness reports, a source in the prosecutors’ office said.
One father told newspaper El Diario the gunmen drove up to the house and asked about a local criminal. When those in the front patio said they didn’t know of him, the men started shooting.
“Ah, you’re not going to talk? Give it to all of them,” they said, the newspaper quoted the father as saying.
The killings put new pressure on Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who condemned the massacre but faces sharp criticism across the country that his war against the cartels in Ciudad Juarez has failed and may have even provoked more violence.