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Gunmen kill 5 police officers, 14 civilians in western Mexico

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Morelia, Mexico, Mar 24 (EFE).- Five Federal Police officers and 14 other people died in attacks staged by suspected drug traffickers in the western Mexican states of Guerrero and Michoacan, a Federal Police spokesman told Efe.

A group of Federal Police officers and soldiers were attacked while unarmed and off duty Friday night at the Las Vegas bar in Ciudad Altamirano, Guerrero, the police spokesman said.

Five officers and three other patrons died in the attack, and three officers were wounded.

Four people were gunned down in Coyuca de Catalan, a city in the mountains near Ciudad Altamirano.

Different drug cartels operate in Guerrero and Michoacan, using the mountains and rivers in the states to move illegal drugs.

The bodies of seven men who had been tortured and murdered were found Saturday in Uruapan, the second-largest city in Michoacan, state prosecutors said.

A message accusing the men of involvement in burglaries was left near the bodies.

The Caballeros Templarios cartel is among the gangs that operate in Michoacan.

The drug trafficking organization was founded in March 2011 by former members of the La Familia Michoacana organization and deals in both synthetic drugs and natural drugs.

The cartel has been fighting rival gangs for control of turf and smuggling routes in Guerrero and Michoacan states, both of which are located on the Pacific.

Michoacan's forests and mountains are used by drug traffickers to grow marijuana and produce synthetic drugs.

Both La Familia Michoacana and Los Caballeros Templarios are known for hanging banners in the region proclaiming themselves to be crime fighters.

The two criminal organizations are involved in kidnappings, extortion rackets, contract murders and smuggling drugs into the United States, federal and state prosecutors said.

The war on drugs launched by former President Felipe Calderon, who was in office from 2006 to 2012, left about 70,000 people dead in Mexico, officials say.

Calderon deployed thousands of soldiers and Federal Police officers across the country to fight drug cartels, which infiltrated many state and municipal police departments.

Mexican press tallies estimated that about 12,000 people died in violent incidents linked to organized crime groups in 2012.

A total of 1,104 people died in violent incidents in Mexico in January, the government said.

Some 914 drug-related murders occurred in Mexico in February, the government said in a recent report.

More than 3,100 people have been killed in drug-related violence since President Enrique Peña Nieto took office on Dec. 1.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/agencia-efe/130324/gunmen-kill-5-police-officers-14-civilians-western-mexico