Gunmen Massacre 17 at Mexico Rehab Center

By: From CBS News
By: From CBS News

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico -- Gunmen broke into a drug rehabilitation center and shot 17 people dead in a northern Mexican border city, an official said.

The attackers on Wednesday broke down the door of El Aliviane center in Ciudad Juarez, lined up their victims against a wall and opened fire, said Arturo Sandoval, a spokesman for the regional prosecutors' office. At least five people were injured.

Authorities had no immediate suspects or information on the victims. Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas, is Mexico's most violent city, with at least 1,400 people killed this year alone. Most of the homicides are tied to drug gang violence.

Dozens of sobbing relatives rushed to the center to find out if their loved ones were among the dead. Soldiers and federal agents patrolled the streets surrounding the center in the Bellavista neighborhood.

President Felipe Calderon sent thousands more troops and federal police to Ciudad Juarez earlier this year, but the surge has done little to stem the raging violence. The city is home to the Juarez drug cartel, which is battling other gangs for trafficking and dealing turf.

Calderon defended his efforts against the cartels in a speech to the nation Wednesday, delivered at the Palacio Nacional. "As never before, we have weakened the logistical and financial structure of crime," the president told legislators.

The president has had to sacrifice millions in public spending on social welfare programs in favor of the expensive offensive against the drug gangs. Yet, in his state of the nation address Wednesday, Calderon vowed to renew his government's commitment to tackle poverty. The president has had a very rough year, and he has now set goals which seem impossible to achieve.

The government is struggling to revamp Ciudad Juarez's police force, which is plagued by corruption and the assassination of many of its officers. Other police have quit the force out of fear of being targeted.

The massacre capped a particularly bloody day in Mexico's relentless drug war. Gunmen killed the No. 2 security official and three other people in Calderon's home state of Michoacan, where the government is locked in an intensifying battle with the ruthless La Familia cartel, blamed for a string of assassinations of police and soldiers.

Jose Manuel Revuelta, who was promoted less than two weeks ago to state deputy public safety director, is the highest-ranking government official killed in the wave of assassinations sweeping Michoacan, the cradle of La Familia drug cartel.

Attackers drove up alongside Revuelta as he headed home and opened fire, state Attorney General Jesus Montejano said.

Revuelta tried to speed away, but only made it a few blocks before he was intercepted by two vehicles. Six gunmen got out and sprayed Revuelta's car with bullets, killing him, two bodyguards and a truck driver caught in the crossfire, Montejano said.

It was the boldest cartel attack yet on Mexico's government. Authorities said say La Familia was retaliating for the arrest of one of its top members.

The government has since rounded up more La Familia suspects, including Luis Ricardo Magana, who is alleged to have controlled methamphetamine shipments to the United States for the gang. Days before his capture, prosecutors detained the mother of reputed La Familia leader Servando "La Tuta" Gomez despite his threat to retaliate if police bothered his family. The woman was released after two days "for lack of evidence" of involvement in the cartel.

Drug gang violence has since surged, claiming more than 13,500 lives, including more than 1,000 police officers.

The federal Attorney General's Office, meanwhile, announced the arrest of its two top officials in Quintana Roo, a state on the Yucatan Peninsula, for allegedly protecting the Gulf and the Beltran Levya drug cartels.

Officials provided no further details on the allegations against the prosecutors, who were ordered jailed by a court Wednesday pending the investigation.

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