Gunmen shot and killed 17 patients and wounded two others at a drug rehabilitation center in northern Mexico, the mayor of Ciudad Juarez announced. Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz said authorities believe a rival drug gang attacked the men at the El Aviane rehab facility.
“At the very least, it was one organized crime group thinking that another group was operating in that place,” Reyes told CNN.
Wednesday night’s shootings, he said, are similar to an attack at a drug facility in March that left 20 patients dead. A Mexican civic group said last week that Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas, had the most slayings per capita in 2008 of any city in the world.
More than 1,420 people have been killed in Juarez this year, Reyes told CNN on Monday. About 1,600 people were killed in Juarez in 2008, he added.
Since President Felipe Calderon declared war on drug cartels shortly after coming into office in December 2006, violence in Mexico has greatly increased. More than 11,000 people have died, about 1,000 of them police.
In Juarez, much of the violence is being committed by the rival Sinaloa and Juarez drug cartels, which are fighting for lucrative routes into the United States as well as local street sales, Reyes said.
According to a report released last week by the Mexican Citizens Council for Public Security watchdog group, Juarez had an estimated rate of 130 killings per 100,000 people. The city has a population of around 1.5 million.
In comparison, the homicide rate in New Orleans, Louisiana, the deadliest city in the United States in 2008, was 64 homicides per 100,000 residents, based on preliminary FBI figures.