Fri, Oct 29, 2010 - Page 7 News List

Fifteen recovering addicts killed at Mexican carwash

AFP, MEXICO CITY

A gruesome drug war opposing dueling cartels is taking record numbers of victims in Mexico, where a third massacre in less than a week killed 15 recovering addicts working at a carwash on Wednesday.

About 100 people were killed across the country since last weekend. A nationwide crackdown that saw Mexican President Felipe Calderon deploy 50,000 troops has so far failed to stem the bloodletting that has killed about 28,000 victims in nearly four years.

Calderon condemned the latest killings and said he remained unflinching in his resolve to combat “organized crime.”

He deplored what he called “intolerable acts of barbarism perpetrated by unscrupulous people who kill young people.”

Most of the latest victims were killed in the northern part of the country, where cartels are locked in a bloody fight for control of lucrative trafficking routes to the US, the world’s biggest consumer of cocaine.

However, the 15 youths killed early on Wednesday died in Tepic, capital of the western state of Nayarit, which had managed until recently to keep one of the lowest rates of violence in the country. Another three people were injured in the shooting.

Most of the victims were recovering addicts and worked at the carwash as part of a drug rehabilitation program, a frequent target of the cartels, a police source and a member of the rehab center said.

Detoxification clinics were the site of at least three mass slayings this past year.

Based on statements by witnesses, eight to 10 gunmen traveling in three vehicles shot at the victims. Authorities said no arrests have been made in the case.

Another 13 recovering drug addicts were gunned down at a rehabilitation center in Tijuana late on Sunday.

That followed Saturday’s massacre of 14 young people, mostly teenagers, at a birthday party in Ciudad Juarez, in an attack that also bore the chilling hallmarks of a drug cartel assault.

Located just across the border from El Paso, Texas, with 1.3 million inhabitants, Ciudad Juarez is also the scene of a relentless turf war between the local Juarez and Sinaloa drug cartels. The city has the highest murder rate in all of Mexico.

The drug war is also ravaging the resort city of Acapulco in the south, where 30 bodies have been found since Thursday last week — usually bound hand and foot and propped up by the side of a road.

Police also said unidentified gunmen fired guns and four grenades at a police station in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, causing minor injuries to seven police officers and a bystander.

Police are not sure whether the drug rehab center massacre was a revenge hit by small dealers or by a major drug gang, although suspicion has fallen on Mexico’s most powerful Sinaloa cartel.

As many as 134 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 slayings may have been linked to it.

The rehabilitation center is located in the same neighborhood where the drugs were seized and destroyed. Drug violence has claimed more than 7,000 lives nationwide so far this year, making it the deadliest year since Calderon launched his campaign against organized crime.

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