An armed confrontation between competing cells of the same criminal organization left eight people dead in Michoacán on Wednesday.
Two groups identified as factions of the Familia Michoacana cartel clashed in the municipality of Tuzantla, located 170 kilometers southeast of Morelia near the Michoacán border with México state and Guerrero.
The eight presumed criminals were killed in the town’s main square. Three minors were among the dead, according to preliminary information cited by the Reforma newspaper.
The confrontation occurred after one faction entered the turf of a rival faction based in Tuzantla to carry out an attack, according to Deputy Security Minister Ricardo Mejía Berdeja, who addressed President Lopez Obrador’s daily press conference Wednesday morning. Five men and one woman have been arrested in connection with the incident, in which the attackers arrived in cars, pickup trucks and motorcycles, he said.
The Tuzantla-based cell returned fire but was overwhelmed by the heavily armed invaders, El Universal said.
The dispute between the two competing groups, who are led by criminals Mejía only identified only as “El Pez” (The Fish) and “El Chaparro” (Shorty), appears to be related to the murder a few weeks ago of another individual whom Mejia only identified as “Lalo Mantecas.”
Four abandoned pickup trucks, one of which had been torched, were seized after the shootout, the newspaper El Universal reported. According to Mejia, drugs and weapons were also confiscated.
Security forces including the army and National Guard responded to the violence. Michoacán Security Minister José Alfredo Reyes Ortega also traveled to Tuzantla, where he told reporters that security would be bolstered in the area.
He said that a National Guard barracks would be established in Melchor Ocampo, a Tuzantla community 20 kilometers southwest of the municipal seat. Reyes said that México state-based criminal groups enter Michoacán in that part of the state and that the presence of the National Guard would stop that.
Michoacán was the second most violent state in the first seven months of the year, with 1,587 homicides, the federal government reported last week.
In addition to the Familia Michoacana, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel and the Cárteles Unidos – a criminal group led by Los Viagras – operate in Michoacán, one of six Mexican states classed as “Level 4: Do Not Travel” by the United States Department of State.