- Associated Press - Friday, July 21, 2017

MEXICO CITY (AP) - The Latest on drug cartel-fueled violence in Mexico (all times local):

3:45 p.m.

Security officials in the central Mexican state of Puebla say that a Navy operation to capture the leader of the state’s principal fuel theft ring has resulted in the death of four suspects and one marine.

The Puebla state security coordinating group said in a statement Friday that the gunfight occurred when marines moved into the Vicente Guerrero township, targeting a man identified by his nickname “El Bukanas.” The statement did not say if he was captured or killed in the encounter.

Two other marines were wounded and authorities were working to identify the dead.

Fuel theft, in which pipelines carrying gasoline are illegally tapped, is estimated to cost Mexico $1 billion a year.


2:40 p.m.

Mexican government statistics show June was the country’s deadliest month in at least 20 years, with murders reaching 2,234.

The one-month total also makes 2017 the deadliest first half of a year that Mexico has seen in at least two decades.

From January to June the country recorded 12,155 homicides, nearly 31 percent higher than the same period last year. It also tops the number seen in the first half of 2011, the previous high.

June was the third consecutive month when murders increased.

Especially troubling for the government is that they are distributed across a number of states. In 2011 the high murder numbers could largely be blamed on a couple of states with intense drug cartel feuds.


2:25 p.m.

Burnt vehicles. Road blockades. A raging gun battle between marines and gang members that killed eight.

Such scenes have been common in places like Reynosa and Nuevo Laredo during Mexico’s decade-old drug war. But residents of Mexico City were stunned this week to see that kind of mayhem in their own city, long considered something of an oasis from the violence wreaking havoc elsewhere.

The shootout saw some 1,300 police and marines deployed on the streets of the poor southern borough of Tlahuac. Photos show the slain suspects were carrying assault rifles instead of the pistols usually used in most armed crimes in Mexico City.

The violence has left authorities scrambling to maintain long-held claims that no drug cartels do not operate in the capital.

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