Twelve people were killed in a shooting at a bar in central Mexico on Saturday, local authorities said, with growing cartel violence making the region one of the country’s most dangerous. Police believe Saturday’s attack in Guanajuato state took place when an armed group entered the bar in the city of Irapuato at around 8 pm and opened fire on customers and staff.
At least six men and six women were killed, and three others were injured, the municipal government said in a statement, without specifying the identity of the attackers or their motives.
The body of one victim was found outside next to a motorcycle, while the rest of those killed were discovered inside the bar, police said.
State police, the army, the prosecutor’s office, and the National Guard are pursuing the attackers, according to the municipal government.
This attack marks the second large-scale shooting in Guanajuato in less than a month.
Ten victims were killed by armed assailants in a pool hall in the state’s Tarimoro municipality in September.
In addition, organized crime groups murdered 20 people earlier this month at the town hall in San Miguel Totolapan, in the neighboring state of Guerrero, including the mayor. A man posing as the head of a Mexican drug cartel claimed in a video that the attack was in fact directed at him.
Authorities report that between January and August there were 2,115 homicides in the area.
Since the start of a contentious military anti-drug offensive in December 2006, Mexico has recorded more than 340,000 murders, with the majority of them being blamed on criminal organizations.
The Santa Rosa de Lima and Jalisco New Generation cartels, two rival organizations known for engaging in drug trafficking, fuel theft, and other crimes, have come to blows in the industrial Guanajuato state.
The Jalisco cartel is one of “the five most dangerous transnational criminal organizations in the world,” according to the Department of Justice. Nemesio Oseguera, aka “El Mencho,” the cartel’s leader, is one of the people that Mexican and American authorities are most interested in finding.
The Jalisco cartel is one of the Mexican cartels responsible for the influx of fentanyl into the United States, which is killing tens of thousands of Americans, according to the director of the Drug Enforcement Administration, who spoke to CBS News.
According to DEA Administrator Anne Milgram, “those cartels are acting with calculated, deliberate treachery to get fentanyl to the United States and to get people to buy it through fake pills, by hiding it in other drugs, or any other means that they can take to drive addiction and to make money.”