All hell broke loose in the small, usually quiet town of San Antonio Matute, in the northern Mexican state of Jalisco, when armed forces personnel clashed with heavily armed drug gang members, with a death toll between five and eight, according to local officials and conflicting news reports.
Witnesses told reporters that a “war” broke out at about 7:00 a.m. local time on Tuesday and lasted for hours as federal forces opened fire on alleged members of the Jalisco New Generation drug cartel.
Over 50 troops apparently stormed a property where a group of criminals were gathered. The soldiers were received with bullets, sparking a fierce gun battle.
The tweet reads: After shootout between civilians and army troops, five dead.
Apparently, the fighting between federal forces and the drug gang continued on hours later in a nearby town. No details regarding the second scene of the conflict have been reported.
“You could hear loud gunfire and you could hear helicopters overflying the area and firing their artillery weapons against the people on the ground,” an unidentified local resident told reporters.
The shootout prompted the University of Guadalajara, located about 3 miles away from where the armed confrontation took place, to suspend classes.
According to La Jornada, the precise number of deaths could not be corroborated because federal forces had cordoned off the whole area.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that one of the cartel's leaders, Juan Carlos Marquez, better known as “El Duende” or “The Dwarf,” was gunned down in the shootout.
Milenio newspaper, however, said El Duende was detained along with various other of his associates and has since been taken to Mexico City.
SDPNoticias said there were conflicting reports regarding El Duende, as the Ministry of Defense acknowledges that the operation was launched to detain Marquez, who is a close associate of the cartel's kingpin Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, aka “El Mencho”, who is allegedly in jail. But it is not clear whether he was arrested or killed in the gun battle.
The Mexican news website also said that people in the El Grullo municipality claim that El Mencho has been seen in clinics, restaurant and other businesses in the community. El Mencho is said to be responsible for a massive attack in April on a state police, killing 15 officers. He is also accused of gunning down a military helicopter killing approximately three of the people on board.
State officials said that in fact the objective of the operation was to detain El Duende, at which point his bodyguards attempted to prevent the arrest from taking place.
Another news outlet, 24HS said that police confirmed El Duende's arrest and that high-power weapons and armored vehicles had been seized.
Some locals in Ameca said they were tired of announcements made by the government regarding the arrest of local drug leaders.
“We are sick and tired of this. The government continuously tells us they have detained the leaders. And a few days later they say the same thing all over again. We are being lied to,” a person identified only as Javier commented on SDPNoticias.