26 die in Mexico gunfight amid rising gang-related violence

A gun battle between criminal gangs ended with 26 people in northern Mexico dead on Wednesday, according to the Chihuahua state prosecutor's office.
By Lila Alexander | Jul 08, 2017
A gun battle between criminal gangs ended with 26 people in northern Mexico dead on Wednesday, according to the Chihuahua state prosecutor's office. The bloody episode is the latest incident in a rising tide of criminal violence embroiling much of the country.
Felix Gonzalez, a spokesman for the Chihuahua state prosecutor, said that the gun battle erupted at around 5 a.m. in the town of Las Varas and raged for two hours. Members of the La Linea gang were in a shootout with a branch of the Sinaloa, a powerful cartel whose operations extend across 31 Mexican states, the United States, and other parts of the globe.
The Mexican government has struggled for the past 10 years against drug cartels that operate in vast swaths of the country, often with the tacit assistance of corrupt police and magistrates. But cartel violence has reached unprecedented new heights this year. Authorities opened 2,186 new homicide investigations in May, the most they have opened in any month since the government started publishing homicide statistics in the 1990s.
Wednesday's shootout followed a gun battle in the adjacent Sinaloa state several days prior, in which 30 people died; and a clash between a cartel and police officers near Mazatlan that resulted in 19 suspected cartel members dead.
The violence isn't just a Mexican problem, either. Cartels are responsible for some violent crimes in the United States, as well, and additionally pose a grave threat to any American visitors to Mexico.
"Illicit drug trade is indeed the most important cause of violence in Mexico, and drug trafficking is costing thousands of lives both in Mexico and the U.S.," Mexico's Foreign Ministry said last week.

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