Day of bloodshed in southwest Mexico kills at least 19 people, including police and officials

MEXICO CITY (AP) – A local security secretary and 12 police officers were shot dead in Guerrero state Monday, authorities said, the worst episode in a day of violence across southwestern Mexico that killed at least 19 people.

Another person was slain in the Guerrero state capital and five people, including a police officer, were killed in the neighboring state of Michoacan, officials said.

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Eleven people were initially reported killed in the attack in El Papayo, which is in the Guerrero township of Coyuca de Benítez on the Pacific Coast. Hours later, the state prosecutor’s office said two more police officers had died.

The secretary for security of Coyuca de Benítez was among those slain, said Gabriel Hernández Mendoza, state deputy prosecutor for investigations. He gave no further details.

Rigoberto Acosta González, an academic and community leader, was reported shot to death in Chilpancingo, the Guerrero state capital 60 miles (95 kilometers) northeast of Coyuca de Benitez.

In Michoacan, north of Guerrero, at least five people, including a police officer, were fatally shot and two others were injured, the office of the state’s attorney general said on X, formerly Twitter.

Officials are finding themselves increasingly endangered in the region, where several powerful drug cartels continue to fight for control. According to figures from Common Cause, 341 police officers have been killed in Mexico so far this year. In 2022, at least 403 were slain.

In the Michoacan incident, the bodies of the five slain people were found on a highway in the township of Tacambaro after an attack targeted the mayor’s brother. The state prosecutor’s office did not say if the mayor’s brother was among the wounded.

A video of the attack circulating on social media appeared to show heavy gunfire, followed by at least five armed men running to board a pickup truck.

Despite the government sending more than 2,000 National Guard troops and military personnel last month, Michoacan remains one of the deadliest states in Mexico, according to the national security department.

Several criminal groups are known to operate in the region, including the powerful Jalisco New Generation cartel, the Familia Michoacana, the Viagras and the Knights Templar.

Gun violence has also spilled over into neighboring areas. On Sunday, a shootout at an illegal horse race killed five people and wounded five others in Queretaro, a central state on the northeastern border of Michoacan.