At least 12 suspected criminals were killed on a highway near Hermosillo in the northern Mexican state of Sonora, a state official said Sunday, in what authorities called a foiled attempt to rescue the son of a cartel hitman.
Another seven escaped and some are probably wounded, the Sonora’s state attorney’s office said in a statement. A spokesperson confirmed to Reuters that 12 had been killed.
Two security officials were hospitalized after the crossfire but are now in stable condition, the statement added.
The office said it suspected the group, armed with assault weapons, was attempting to rescue the son of Jesus Humberto Limon, a suspected hitman working for a faction of the Sinaloa Cartel led by the sons of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.
The suspected hitman’s son, Carlos Humberto, had been detained minutes before for “crimes against health” in Camino del Seri, it said, without giving further details.
The attorney’s office said government agents had been targeted on Saturday afternoon on a highway connecting state capital Hermosillo with Bahia de Kino on the Pacific coast, but security forces managed to repel the attack.
Security forces recovered 21 assault weapons including AR-15s and AK-47s, chargers, bulletproof vests, camouflage kit, six modern vans and a “considerable” quantity of ammunition.
This comes as the Mexican government prepares for a long-delayed court hearing on Feb. 22 over an appeal seeking to hold gunmakers responsible in a U.S. court for arms trafficked to criminal organizations across the border.
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