Latin America & Caribbean

Mexico violence: Ten killed in Michoacán gang shootout

State police collect evidence in the area where there was a confrontation between criminal groups in the town of Arroyo Colorado, in the municipality of Uruapa Image copyright EPA
Image caption State police searched the area where the shoot out happened

Ten people have been killed and three injured in a shootout between suspected gang members near the town of Uruapán in western Mexico.

Residents said the gun battle went on for an hour and police later found military-grade weapons at the site.

Prosecutors think it was a confrontation between rival gangs Los Viagra and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG).

The area has seen a rise in violence in the first quarter of this year.

Residents called police at 14:00 local time (19:00 GMT) when they heard a volley of shots coming from the road connecting Uruapán with the town of Lombardía.

The security forces found nine bodies. The injured were taken to hospital but one later died.

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The state of Michoacán, where the gun battle took place, has been badly hit by the battle between Los Viagra and CJNG for control of lucrative drug smuggling routes.

Both criminal organisations traffic synthetic drugs.

While CJNG originated in neighbouring Jalisco state, the eight siblings suspected of running Los Viagra are from Michoacán.

Successive Mexican governments have failed to drive down gang-related violence. While the security forces caught a number of cartel leaders, including the infamous Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán during the presidency of Enrique Peña Nieto, the vacuum created by their capture only drove the number of murders up.

Current President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has created a new security agency, the National Guard, but is having trouble recruiting members for the new force.

The first quarter of 2019 has seen an increase of almost 10% in the murder rate according to figures from the National System for Public Security.

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