At Least 24 Killed in Attack on Drug Rehab Center in Mexico, Police Say

No motive was given in the attack, but Guanajuato Gov. Diego Sinhue said drug gangs appear to have been involved

Irapuato officers oversee security of a main road in March 2019.
Irapuato Government

Gunmen burst into an unregistered drug rehabilitation center in Mexico and opened fire Wednesday, killing at least 24 people and wounding several others, according to the city of Irapuato Security Secretariat.

Officials in the north-central state of Guanajuato said the attack occurred Wednesday afternoon in Irapuato.

The attackers seemingly shot everyone at the rehab center and no one was abducted, state police said. Photos purporting to show the scene suggest those at the center were lying down when they were sprayed with bullets.

Irapuato Mayor Ricardo Ortiz Gutiérrez on Twitter confirmed the "devious attack" and called for authorities to work together, without confrontation, so that the city and Mexico as a whole could "return to tranquility."

Guanajuato, now the most violent state in Mexico, is the scene of a bloody turf battle between the Jalisco cartel and a local gang.

No motive was given in the attack, but Guanajuato Gov. Diego Sinhue said drug gangs appear to have been involved.

Sinhue condemned the violence in a Twitter post.

"The violence generated by organized crime not only deprives young people of life, but also robs the peace of Guanajuato families," Sinhue wrote.

Mexican drug gangs have killed suspected street-level dealers from rival gangs sheltering at such facilities in the past. The attack Wednesday is one of the deadliest attacks on a rehab center since 19 people were killed in 2010 in Chihuahua city in northern Mexico. More than a dozen attacks on such facilities have occurred since then.

Mexico has long had problems with rehab centers because most are privately run, underfunded and often commit abuses against recovering addicts. The government spends relatively little money on rehabilitation, often making the unregistered centers the only option available for poor families.

In addition, addicts and dealers who face attacks from rivals on the streets sometimes take refuge at the rehab clinics, making the clinics themselves targets for attack. Still, other gangs have been accused of forcibly recruiting recovering addicts at the centers as dealers, and killing them if they refused.

Associated Press/NBC
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