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Mexico's drug war: Massacres continue unabated

October 28, 2010 |  3:09 pm

Tepito shooting death mexico drug war

Four mass shootings have left 48 dead in a week across Mexico, signaling an unabated pace for drug-related violence in the country's four-year drug wars, which has claimed more than 28,000 lives overall.

The 28,000 figure was reported by federal authorities in August, and since then hundreds more have been slain, disappeared, or turned up dead. The carnage has extended from the southern state of Guerrero to the border city of Ciudad Juarez, by far the deadliest in Mexico and sometimes called the deadliest city in the world. More than 2,600 people have died in Ciudad Juarez this year alone, and "very close to 7,000" people have been killed since intense daily violence began there in January 2008, according to independent researcher Molly Molloy, who keeps a tally of deaths in Juarez.

Here is a breakdown of this week's worst killings, following the coverage of The Times, wire services, and Mexican news sources:

* On Friday, Oct. 22, gunmen stormed a house party in Ciudad Juarez and began shooting, leaving 14 people dead after one of the victims died the next day. The shooters were reportedly looking for a man identified as "The Mouse," but it was unclear whether the man was at the house or if anyone there knew him (link in Spanish). Several of the victims were identified as teenagers, recalling a similar massacre in Juarez in January that left 15 mostly young people dead at a party.

* On Sunday, Oct. 24, 13 people were killed inside a drug rehabilitation clinic in Tijuana after gunmen stormed the building, lined up the victims, and executed them. The mass killing was the worst seen in recent memory in Tijuana, where only days previously the government trumpeted the seizure and destruction of 134 tons of marijuana bound for the United States. A state investigator initially said the clinic massacre could be related to the drug bust, but officials have not elaborated on the possibility since.

* On Wednesday, gunmen approached a carwash in the city of Tepic, Nayarit, and opened fire, killing 13 men. The gunmen, arriving in SUVs and carrying rifles, shot at workers and managers but gunfire erupted first from inside, witnesses and authorities said. The carwash was tied to a drug treatment center.

* This morning, six young men died after a shooting before dawn in Mexico City's gritty Tepito neighborhood. Despite Tepito's notoriety as a hub of black market trade in drugs and contraband, mass shootings are not common within the neighborhood. Mexico City's attorney general said at least two of the victims had criminal records, while the city's government secretary warned that the Tepito incident should not be tied to the massacres in Juarez, Tijuana or Tepic (links in Spanish).

There are numerous cases in recent months of mass kidnappings or discoveries of mass graves, to say nothing of isolated killings or kidnappings in cities and towns up and down Mexico. Early this morning, four people outside Ciudad Juarez died after gunmen opened fire on a bus taking them home from work at a border factory.

In late August, the case of 72 migrants executed in the state of Tamaulipas shocked Mexico and left several Latin American nations in mourning. The discovery of mass graves -- called "narcofosas," or "narco-graves" -- is now common in Mexico. Four bodies were found in a grave days ago in Oaxaca state and six to eight were found near the city of Monterrey earlier this month (links in Spanish).

Late last month, 20 Mexican tourists were kidnapped in a mass "levanton," or "lifting," near the resort port of Acapulco. The men were traveling together from the state of Michoacan, and their whereabouts remain unknown. As the Times' Ken Ellingwood reported last week, the case is a complete mystery.

-- Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City

Photo: A man places a candle near the body of a shooting victim in the Tepito neighborhood of Mexico City, October 28, 2010. Credit: Agence France-Presse