Gunmen kill 26 people at rehab center as violence soars in Guanajuato

A similar incident took place in Irapuato on June 6

Gunmen kill 26 people at rehab center as violence soars in Guanajuato
The attackers shot everyone at the rehab center and state police said nobody was kidnapped - Photo: EFE
English 02/07/2020 11:31 Newsroom & Agencies Mexico City AP Actualizada 22:20

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On July 1, gunmen broke into an unregistered drug rehabilitation center in Guanajuato and opened fire, killing 26 people.

Guanajuato authorities said the attack took place in the city of Irapuato. Three of the seven wounded were reported in serious condition.

Irapuato’s Mayor Ricardo Ortiz Gutiérrez said the attack was due to the “drug war.”

After several texts were posted in social media in which the Jalisco New Generation Carte (CJNG) allegedly says it was responsible for the attack against alleged members of the Santa Rosa de Lima cartel, the mayor said the events were related to a clash between different drug gangs over the drug dealing market.

"Clearly, this was related to organized crime; it’s a confrontation between different gangs, cartels, that exist in the country and the región; of course, this is not the first time we see this situation due to the drug war.”

However, he did not mention a specific criminal group that could be involved in the attack.

The Mayor added that before the attack, the aggressors allowed women to leave the rehab center located at the Jardines de Arandas neighborhood and that others escaped running by themselves

He said there were seven agressors involved in the attack and that they fled in two vans.

The attackers shot everyone at the "Recuperando mi vida" rehab center and state police said nobody was kidnapped. Photos from the crime scene show those at the center were lying down when they were sprayed with bullets.

This is the crime with the largest number of victims this year. 

Guanajuato is the scene of a bloody turf war between the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel and the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel, a local gang, led by “El Marro.” This had led Guanajuato to become the most violent state in the country.

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However, this is not the first shooting registered inside a rehab center. On June 6, gunmen killed 10 people at a center located in Irapuato. 

No motive was given in the attack, but Governor Diego Sinhue Rodríguez Vallejo said drug gangs were allegedly involved.

“I deeply regret and condemn the events in Irapuato this afternoon,” the governor wrote. “The violence generated by organized crime not only takes the lives of the young, but it takes peace from families in Guanajuato.”

Mexican drug gangs have killed suspected street-level dealers from rival gangs sheltering at such facilities in the past. 

Also, addicts and dealers who face attacks from rivals on the streets sometimes take refuge at the rehab clinics, making the clinics themselves targets for attack. Still, other gangs have been accused of forcibly recruiting recovering addicts at the centers as dealers, and killing them if they refused.

Mexico has long had problems with rehab centers because most are privately run, underfunded, and often commit abuses against recovering addicts. The government spends relatively little money on rehabilitation, often making the unregistered centers the only option available for poor families.

Security meeting
Mayor Ricardo Ortiz Gutiérrez informed that on Thursday morning, he partook in a meeting with Guanajuato governor Diego Sinhue Rodríguez Vallejo, members from the State Attorney General’s Office, the State Public Security Ministry, and federal security authorities, during which they established the three government levels must act against the escalating violence in Guanajuato.

The problem with rehab centers
Irapuato’s mayor said that officials discussed at the meeting that something must be done with rehab centers for most of them are irregular and authorities must either seek for them to be licensed or close them.

He said this work has been complicated because although the municipality has closed some irregular centers, they soon reappear in another address.

According to the registries, Irapuato has only three licensed rehab centers; 15 are pending licenses, and 29 are irregular.

The rehab center that was attacked had been operating irregularly for at least two years, according to neighbors in the área, who assert it accepted both women and men. In the afternoon, the place turned into a religious center where the faithful would pray, dance, and sing.

On this vein, Nicolás Pérez Ponce, president of El Bajío Rehabilitation Centers, announced yesterday that from now on, they will work behind closed doors out of fear of the centers being attacked.

He said to local media he ignored the reason why armed groups have attacked rehab centers in recent months, although he acknowledged some unlicensed centers have registered cases of young people being forced to sell drugs.

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