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- President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said changes need to be made to the law enforcement departments in the state of Guanajuato
- At least 28 people have been reported dead following an attack at a drug rehabilitation center in the municipality of Irapuato on Wednesday
- At least four patients remained hospitalized as of Thursday morning
- There were 35 murders reported in the central state of Guanajuato on Wednesday
- Violence has exploded between rival cartels within the last four years
- This is the second time gunmen have opened fire in a rehabilitation center in Irapuato since June 6
- The identities of the victims and suspects have not been disclosed yet
Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the central state of Guanajuato should consider reshuffling its law enforcement departments following the massacre of at least 28 patients at a drug rehabilitation center Wednesday.
Guanajuato authorities registered a total of 35 homicides in a day in which 14 other states across the Mexican republic failed to report any murders.
'It is not interference. We are not going to recommend it to anyone. This has to come from the government itself, but changes must be made to resolve the issue of Guanajuato. Yesterday was very strong,' López Obrador said during his daily press briefing Thursday morning.
Authorities in the municipality of Irapuato said that several gunmen barged into the facility located in the Jardines de Aranda neighborhood at 5:20pm and opened fire on the rehab patients.
Images of the gruesome attack that were shared across social media showed all of the victims were most likely gathered in one room before they were all shot dead and left lying beside and on top of each other on mattresses and the blood-soaked floor.
Guanajuato government officials said Thursday that the rehabilitation facility did not have the required permits to operate.
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Once a tranquil state following a truce between local cartels, violence has exploded across Guanajuato over the last four years due to an ongoing turf war between the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, viewed by analysts as the most dynamic criminal organization in the country.
Murders in Guanajuato increased by 222 percent in 2019 with 3,540 homicides after 1,096 were reported in 2016. At least 1,903 murders have been reported in the first five months of 2020.
At least 61 homicides were reported in June in the city of Irapuato.
López Obrador, who has blamed his predecessors for the wave of violence that has engulfed Mexico two years into his term, said that the Guanajuato state government permitted the insecurity issues to escalate and that there needs to be an investigation into possible ties between authorities and criminal organizations.
'You have to see if there is no collusion, that is, a criminal association between crime and authority,' the leftist president said. 'Because one of the things to avoid is that criminal association. There has to be a full division, paint the line, crime is one thing and the authority is another.'
Mexican newspaper El Universal reports that a group of armed suspects arrived to the rehabilitation center in a red truck and fired several rounds at patients after entering the building.
The suspects reportedly fled the scene. Some victims were rushed to local hospitals while others reportedly left on their own means.
No motive was given in the attack, but Governor Diego Sinhue said drug gangs appeared to have been involved.
'I deeply regret and condemn the events in Irapuato this afternoon,' Sinhue wrote.
'The violence generated by organized crime not only takes the lives of the young, but it takes the peace from families in Guanajuato.'
Videos taken from the scene showed heavy law enforcement presence and civilians could be heard crying in the background.
Neither the identity of the victims or the suspects have been publicly disclosed.
It is the second such attack to take place in Irapuato in the past month.
On June 6, 10 men were killed when gunmen opened fire in a rehabilitation center for addicts in Irapuato. It was not immediately clear if the same facility was hit both times.
On February 8, five patients were gunned down when armed men raided an Irapuato rehabilitation facility. At least two homes, a car repair shop, cars and motorcycles were set on fire by the suspects after they fled the scene.
Mexican drug gangs have killed suspected street-level dealers from rival gangs sheltering at such facilities in the past.
Wednesday's incident was one of the deadliest attacks on a rehab center since 19 people were killed in 2010 in Chihuahua 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.