Gunmen kill eight in Mexico

April 20th, 2009 - 4:41 am ICT by IANS  

Mexico City, April 20 (EFE) Eight law enforcement officials, including two federal police officers and two prison guards, were killed in an attack on a police convoy in western Mexico, authorities said Sunday.
According to the public safety secretariat, the assailants opened fired Saturday on the police convoy transporting an important drug suspect to a prison in the coastal state of Nayarit.

The gunmen were trying to free nine inmates, including Jeronimo Gamez Garcia, a top leader of the Beltran Leyva drug cartel, officials said.

Garcia, who is suspected of being the logistics and finance chief of the criminal organization run by the Beltran Leyva family, and was in charge of buying cocaine from Colombia’s Valle del Norte drug cartel. He was arrested in January.

Mexico has been plagued in recent years by drug-related violence, with powerful cartels battling each other and the security forces, as rival gangs vie for control of lucrative smuggling and distribution routes.

Armed groups linked to Mexico’s drug cartels murdered around 1,500 people in 2006 and 2,700 people in 2007, with the 2008 death toll soaring to more than 6,000.

So far this year, more than 1,750 people have died.

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