MEXICO CITY — Gunmen stormed a private drug-treatment center in Tijuana and executed at least 13 men at close range, authorities in Baja California said Monday.
The Sunday night attack was the first big assault on a clinic in the city across the border from San Diego, where Mexican officials claim their crackdown against drug gangs has weakened criminal groups and restored relative calm. Similar attacks have taken place on treatment centers in the northern state of Chihuahua, home to Ciudad Juarez, next to El Paso.
Two to four attackers gathered the Tijuana victims in a room of the El Camino treatment center and opened fire with assault rifles, authorities said.
It was not clear how the shooters gained access to the site. Authorities said they were unsure of the motive for the slayings. Victims were ages 19 to 56.
The center, one of about 175 drug- and alcohol-treatment facilities in Tijuana, was reportedly home to about 40 addicts. Elsewhere in Mexico, treatment centers have served as havens for fugitives and outlets for drug sales, making them targets for drug cartels and ordinary street gangs. In June, 19 people were slain in an attack on a clinic in the northern city of Chihuahua.
Baja California's prosecutor, Rommel Moreno, said Sunday's attack may have been tied to the Mexican army's record-setting seizure last week of 134 tons of marijuana in Tijuana. Moreno confirmed a media report that shortly after the attack, a voice was heard over a police radio frequency threatening that a person would die for every ton of marijuana seized.
Mexican officials said they believe the marijuana stockpile belonged to the Guzman drug trafficking group based in the northwestern state of Sinaloa. If true, it may signal the Guzman cartel is moving to wrest control of the Tijuana corridor from its longtime rival, the Arellano Felix cartel.