Twenty-four young men were shot and killed in an attack on an unregistered drug rehabilitation center in Irapuato, Guanajuato, on Wednesday afternoon, local authorities said.
At least seven other people were wounded in the attack, and at least two are in serious condition in hospital.
Irapuato Police Chief Pedro Cortés Zavala said that several armed men entered the rehab center and opened fire at about 5:24 p.m. Wednesday. He said the gunmen arrived at the facility in the Jardines de Arandas neighborhood in a pickup truck and forced their victims to the floor before executing them.
Spent bullet casings from assault rifles such as AK-47s were found at the scene of the crime. The National Guard and municipal police secured the rehab center and carried out searches for the aggressors but no arrests were reported.
Cortés said the center was not registered with local authorities. Irapuato Mayor Ricardo Ortiz said recently that just 15 of 265 rehab centers in the municipality were operating with the appropriate permits.
Guanajuato Governor Diego Sinhue condemned the attack in a Twitter post and pledged to hold the perpetrators to account and restore peace in the state, Mexico’s most violent.
“Guanajuato and its institutions have an absolute commitment to justice. … We’re working and we won’t rest until we’ve returned tranquility to Guanajuato,” he wrote.
The attack in Irapuato, promoted as the strawberry capital of the world, was one of the worst in terms of the number of victims since President López Obrador took office in December 2018 pledging to reduce the high levels of violence plaguing Mexico.
It came less than a month after a gunmen killed 10 people in another rehab center in the city, located about 50 kilometers south of Guanajuato city.
Attacks on rehab centers are fairly common in Mexico, and have resulted in the deaths of scores if not hundreds of people over a period going back more than a decade.
Some rehab centers are believed to double as safe houses for crime and drug gangs and are thus targeted by rival criminal groups.
Some gangs have also carried out attacks on rehab centers that targeted ex-members who checked themselves in as a way of leaving their criminal lives behind.
Source: El Universal (sp)