MEXICO CITY—Mexican security forces killed at least 42 suspected gang gunmen in a three-hour battle Friday in the state of Michoacán, the government’s federal security commissioner said.
The incident is the deadliest in a string of clashes this spring between security forces and gunmen linked to a local narcotics cartel in Western Mexico.
One federal policeman was killed and at least one other injured in the confrontation, which took place in at least three distinct locations on a large ranch near the town of Tanhuato, near the eastern shore of Lake Chapala, an area popular with retirees from the U.S. and elsewhere.
Other federal officials earlier had reported that three policemen were killed in the confrontation.
“Thanks to the training and equipment of the federal forces that participated in the actions, there were no more dead or wounded during the clash,” Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido said in a statement Friday night.
Three suspected gunmen were detained, Mr. Rubido added. He suggested the casualty toll among the alleged criminals could rise.
Mr. Rubido didn’t identify the criminal organization involved.
But earlier Friday, Michoacán state Governor Salvador Jara told Mexican TV station Milenio that the gunmen appeared to be members of the Jalisco New Generation cartel, a rising narcotics gang that has clashed repeatedly with federal forces in recent weeks, killing dozens of security officers.
Members of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s security cabinet are traveling to the area to assess the incident, the officials said. The death toll is based on preliminary estimates and could change, they added. Gov. Jara declined to provide additional information.
Friday’s was the bloodiest by far of a series of armed confrontations this spring between security forces and alleged members of the New Generation gang.
An offshoot of previous gangs aligned with the so-called Sinaloa Cartel, New Generation allegedly produces and markets methamphetamine to U.S., Mexican and other consumers. Michoacán and Jalisco states have emerged as major sources of the drug, which is produced in makeshift laboratories in rural communities, authorities say.
New Generation has risen to prominence with ambushes and gunbattles with federal police and soldiers across Jalisco, the capital of which is Guadalajara, Mexico’s second-largest city.
Officials said New Generation gunmen ambushed a state police convoy on a highway linking Guadalajara with the resort of Puerto Vallarta in early April, killing 15 officers. The gang is also blamed for the downing of a military helicopter in the region’s rugged mountains earlier this month that killed nine soldiers and federal policemen.
Officials have said all the battles erupted as security forces attempted to capture Nemesio “El Mencho” Oseguera, the group´s purported leader. Mr. Oseguera is still at large.
Friday’s clash began when federal police investigating the reported takeover of the ranch exchanged fire with occupants of a vehicle who then retreated into the property, Mr. Rubido said. The police called for reinforcements, including a helicopter, initiating a running battle that flared in three locations on the nearly 300-acre property, he said.
New Generation also has clashed repeatedly with gangland rivals, primarily Michoacán´s Knights Templar, in the area where Friday’s battled took place.
Police uncovered clandestine graves in November 2013 outside a town near Tanhuato that yielded 75 bodies of the alleged victims of those feuds. A faction of the cartel claimed responsibility for the 2011 abduction and killing of 35 people in the Gulf port of Veracruz whom it accused of belonging to the Zetas rival gang.
More than 100,000 people have been killed in eight years of criminal violence pitting narcotics gangs against one another and security forces. At least another 22,000 people have gone missing.
Human-rights abuses have also been common, observers said. Army troops killed 22 suspected members of a kidnapping ring in June 2014 near the town of Tlatlaya, about 150 miles south of Mexico City. The Army later acknowledged that some of the men and women were killed after they had surrendered. http://www.wsj.com/articles/gunfight...ead-1432325854 http://www.periodicoeldespertar.com/...nfrentamiento- http://elblogdelnarco.com/2015/05/nu...ac%C3%A1n.html