Authorities in Zacatecas have ramped up security in two contiguous towns where eight people were gunned down during the weekend.
The towns of Calera and General Estrada are located near the junction of two major Mexican highways (Mexico 45 and Mexico 54) leading to the U.S. border, and in a state international security experts say is being disputed by drug-trafficking gangs associated with the Sinaloa cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.
Authorities reported the first five fatalities in a warehouse in the town of General Estrada. The Zacatecas state police said five men who were unloading bags of chile from a trailer were shot at with high-caliber weapons. Three died at the scene and two were taken to hospitals in serious condition.
Shortly after, another man was gunned down four blocks away from the first shooting. A fifth murder in a residential neighborhood, authorities say, was linked to the first two attacks.
Further north along Mexico Highway 45, three men in the farming community of El Muerto in General Estrada were attacked by several armed subjects and died at the scene, according to the state police.
“The Secretariat of Public Safety has sent state officers and will coordinate efforts with federal authorities to implement immediate actions to contain (the violence) and prevent regrettable acts like the ones we had (on Sunday),” the state’s Security Board said in a statement.
Zacatecas has been a battleground between groups allied with the Sinaloa cartel and CJNG for several years now, with frequent massacres reported in different towns.
Last week, another eight people were killed inside a bar in Jerez, south of the capital city of Zacatecas. In early 2022, police found 16 bodies inside a warehouse near Fresnillo. And in November of 2021, police pulled down 17 bodies hanging from trees and bridges also near Fresnillo.
The State Department maintains a travel advisory urging Americans not to travel to Zacatecas due to the risk of falling prey to crime and kidnapping.