GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Police found a “narcotank” following a shootout in Mezquitic, a town in the western Mexican state of Jalisco, that left five people dead, state officials said.
Ten other people died Friday in nearby Florencia de Benito Juarez, a city in the central state of Zacatecas near the border with Jalisco.
The armored vehicle was abandoned on a rural road and apparently belonged to the group that engaged police and rival gunmen on Friday night in western Mexico.
The large pick-up truck was equipped with homemade armor, but no weapons were found inside.
The vehicle has armor plates, tinted windows and portholes to allow those inside to fire at targets.
The Jalisco Public Safety Secretariat deployed a large number of police officers on Saturday in an effort to find the gunmen involved in the shootouts and prevent new clashes.
The shootout in Mezquitic was followed by another in Santa Maria de Los Angeles, where three municipal police officers from the towns of Huejucar and Colotlan, who were called in to provide support, were wounded.
Gunmen belonging to Los Zetas, considered Mexico’s most violent drug cartel, and Carteles Unidos battled it out on Friday in the western state.
Carteles Unidos is an organization created by the Sinaloa, La Resistencia and La Familia Michoacana cartels, Jalisco officials said.
Mexico’s most powerful drug trafficking organizations, according to experts, are the Sinaloa, Tijuana, Gulf, Juarez, Los Zetas and Beltran Leyva cartels, and La Familia Michoacana.
The Sinaloa organization is the oldest cartel in Mexico and is led by Joaquin “El Chapo” (Shorty) Guzman, who was arrested in Guatemala in 1993 and pulled off a Hollywood-style jailbreak when he escaped from the Puente Grande maximum-security prison in the western state of Jalisco on Jan. 19, 2001.
Guzman, considered extremely violent, is one of the most-wanted criminals in Mexico and the United States, where the Drug Enforcement Administration has offered a reward of $5 million for him.
Los Zetas, a band of Mexican special forces deserters who originally worked as hired guns for the Gulf cartel, are now in the drug business on their own and control several lucrative territories.