Thursday 12 December 2013

Shootout rattles tourist zone in Mazatlan, Mexico

Under control?
When authorities in Mazatlan, Mexico, heard last Saturday that armed men were holed up in an upscale house only a few meters off of Avenida Camarón Sábalo, near the Pacific resort town’s tourist zone, they sprang into action, with the city’s municipal cops attending the scene.

(For more recent news see Mazatlan's carnival marred by shooting in Plazuela Machado).

However, the occupants, who allegedly formed part of a car theft ring, weren’t about to leave peacefully. They opened fire on the local officers – it was about 2:30 in the afternoon – resulting in a  brief gunfight.

Fortunately, wiser heads prevailed, with the municipal cops calling in support from state police and the military, who quickly cordoned off the area as alarmed residents and businesspeople remained indoors, waiting for the dust to settle.

After securing the area the state police set up loudspeakers to try and coax the occupants out of the building. When that failed, the police threw in tear gas canisters.

About this time the commander of the state police, Jesus Antonio Aguilar Iniguez, showed up accompanied by his deputy, Jesús Antonio Sánchez Solís. Shortly after this Pablo Andrés Hernández Lizárraga, the secretary of public security for Mazatlan, also arrived, with a helicopter now hovering overhead.

Finally accepting that the jig was up, at 4 pm the suspects surrendered. Four men aged 19, 22, 23, and 25 were arrested. The police seized three 9 millimeter handguns (one with a silencer), an AK-47 assault rifle (other reports claim two AK-47s), a stolen Tiida automobile, as well as some marijuana and crystal meth.

The events caused a fair share of anxiety among locals and tourists alike, with the route from the Golden Zone to the Marina closed off, and traffic from Cerritos diverted to Paseo del Atlántico and Avenida La Marina.

The local paper El Debate shot and posted a brief video of the scene outside the cordoned off area, which can be seen here.

(TE Wilson is the author of Mezcalero, a Detective Sánchez novel.)

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