Mexican drug cartel kills 9 at arcade in Uruapan, Michoacán

In Michoacán, drug cartels control the drug trade and are now trying to control the avocado

Mexican drug cartel kills 9 at arcade in Uruapan, Michoacán
The shooting was linked to a dispute between rival drug cartels Jalisco Nueva Generación and Los Viagras - Photo: Mark R. Cristino/EFE
English 04/02/2020 15:10 Newsroom & Agencies Mexico City Reuters Actualizada 15:15

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Yesterday, gunmen killed nine people, including a 12-year-old boy and four teenagers, in a shooting at a slot-machine arcade in Uruapan, Michoacán, the latest incident in a violence-ridden state, considered as Mexico’s avocado heartland.

After the attack, Michoacán’s Attorney General said that 8 people died during the arcade shootout in Uruapan, the state’s second-largest city. Another person died while receiving medical attention and several others were injured.

Photo: Patricia Juárez/EL UNIVERSAL

The youngest victims were aged 12 and 13. Others aged 14, 17, and 18 also died, the Prosecutor’s Office said. Footage shared on social media showed bodies lying in pools of blood on the floor of the arcade.

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Authorities did not explain the reasons behind the attack in Uruapan, a city that has suffered from violence for years as drug cartels fight to control production and transport of drugs such as crystal meth, and the lucrative avocado trade.

The four gunmen were reportedly after two people nicknamed “El Ruso” and ”El Pelón,” who are alleged members of Los Viagras. According to intelligence reports, “El Ruso” is linked to vehicle theft.

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While it is uncommon for children to be targeted by Mexican drug cartels, things have changed. In November 2019, three women and six children from the LeBarón family were massacred in northern Mexico. Drug cartels in Mexico are also often involved in extorting money from slot machine businesses.

Media reported that the shooting was linked to a dispute between rival drug cartels Jalisco Nueva Generación and Los Viagras, which are seeking to control the trade in synthetic drugs. A spokeswoman for the Attorney General declined to comment, adding that the investigations are ongoing.

According to locals, drugs were sold in the arcade.

Uruapan is a major center for the processing and export of avocados grown in orchards that spread across Michoacán’s hillsides.

The prosecutor said four shooters used weapons only authorized for the Mexican army. In the aftermath of the shooting, it said authorities had found 65 9 mm shell casings in the arcade.

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Over the weekend, state authorities also reported the discovery of a mass grave that contained 11 partially decomposed bodies in the Uruapan area as local authorities were searching for a missing person.

Last week, the arrest of a senior leader of the Los Viagras cartel in the Uruapan area led cartel members to burn vehicles and block roads.

State police, the National Guard, municipal police, and the Attorney General of Michoacán are carrying out an operation to find the gunmen.