Funeral Shootout Leaves 8 Dead in North Mexico

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Gunmen opened fire on a funeral in Torreon and began a shootout with armed mourners that left eight dead and more injured, pointing to a continued struggle for control of the north Mexican city.

The funeral was being held for Ricardo Valdes Bolivar, who was gunned down on September 22. A note authored by a drug gang was left by his body, reported EFE, though details of the message have not been reported.

At Valdes’ funeral on September 24, three cars of gunmen pulled up and opened fire, while several mourners reportedly drew their own weapons. So far, eight people, including a 6-year-old girl, have died as a result of the firefight, and a further 22 are injured.

Investigators at the scene discovered several weapons hidden beside tombs in the cemetery, according to the Associated Press.

InSight Crime Analysis

This latest dramatic bloodshed is indicative of how organized crime-related violence has impacted on normal life in Torreon in recent years. In August 2011 a gun battle forced a soccer game to a halt while players and fans took cover, while in June, gunmen murdered 11 people at a drug rehabilitation center in the city.

The roots of the violence can be traced back to 2007, when the Zetas arrived and launched an offensive against the rival Sinaloa Cartel to win control of the city. Since then, Torreon has gradually inched up the table of most violent cities. In June, it saw more organized crime-related homicides than any other urban area in Mexico.

There is no evidence as yet that the funeral shootout is related to the Zetas-Sinaloa rift, but the circumstances strongly suggest a link to organized criminal disputes, indicating that the city is still being fought over. One of the worrying aspects of the attack is that the cemetery was located next to a military base, suggesting gangs in the area are brazen enough not to feel threatened by the authorities.

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