MEXICO CITY, Mexico (CNN) — Police in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, arrested five suspected drug-cartel gunmen they blame for at least 45 killings, including 28 patients fatally shot at two drug rehabilitation centers, officials said Sunday.
A spokesman for a joint police-military operation in the border city said that the men, arrested on Friday, identified themselves as hit men for the Sinaloa drug cartel, the official news agency Notimex reported.
Enrique Torres, spokesman for the joint operation, said the men admitted to authorities that they were behind the killings in shootings at Vida Rehabilitation Center, where 10 people died, and El Aliviane rehab center, where 18 people were killed, Notimex said. They admitted to at least 45 killings in total, the agency reported.
Drug-related killings in Juarez began to spike in early 2008, when the Sinaloa cartel began a turf war with the Juarez cartel over lucrative smuggling routes into the United States. More than 1,600 people have been killed this year in Juarez, more than in all of 2008.