VERACRUZ, Mexico – Five people were killed and seven others wounded in an attack on a gay club and a shootout at a bar in the Mexican Gulf state of Veracruz early Sunday, police said.
The attack on the gay club in Xalapa, the state capital, left four people dead and seven others wounded.
Gunmen arrived at the Madame club, located on Avenida Lazaro Cardenas, and killed two men inside the nightspot and two others outside.
Paramedics treated seven other people, including a minor who was shot, and then transported them to hospitals around the city.
State police officers and members of the elite Civil Force unit launched a search for the gunmen.
Officials implemented special security protocols for several hours, setting up checkpoints around the city to try to stop the gunmen, but no arrests were made.
In the city of Orizaba, meanwhile, members of rival drug gangs engaged in a shootout at the Bulldog Bar that later involved officers from the Civil Force.
The officers arrived in time to see the gunmen fleeing with wounded comrades in armored SUVs, officials said.
The officers tried to enter the bar, but they were greeted with gunfire, setting off another shootout as terrified residents sought cover.
Initial reports said at least one person, presumed to be a local gang boss, was killed at the bar in the shootout, which lasted about one hour.
The Veracruz state government has been fighting the drug cartels waging a turf war on its territory for five years.
The Los Zetas drug cartel, according to documents from security and military intelligence services, had full control over the seven most important regions in Veracruz at the end of former Gov. Fidel Herrera Beltran’s 2004-2010 term.
The Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion moved into the Veracruz-Boca del Rio metro area, Veracruz’s most important tourist zone, in mid-2011, triggering a turf war with Los Zetas.
The balance of power, however, has shifted dramatically since then, officials said.
The Gulf cartel and the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion have grabbed two regions in Veracruz from Los Zetas via executions and shootouts, and weakened the cartel in four other areas.
The Federal Police, state police and military have been fighting the cartels under “Operation Safe Veracruz.”