MEXICO CITY — Mexican military forces killed a suspected gang leader and seven others in a bloody shootout Thursday in southern Mexico City, which has largely avoided such large-scale drug violence.
The mid-day shootout and roadblocks of burning buses set up by gang members created a scene that is common in other Mexican cities in the grasp of drug cartels, but rare in the capital.
Mexico’s Navy said in a statement that its sailors were supporting federal authorities investigating a gang of street-level drug dealers when they came under fire. Sailors in full battle gear maintained a perimeter of several blocks.
Sixteen people were in custody on charges or sabotage and property damage related to the blockades, Mexico City’s prosecutor’s office said.
The gang operated in the Tlahuac and Iztapalapa districts on the city’s south and east sides, where it dealt drugs, and carried out kidnappings, extortion and murder, the Navy said.
The Navy only identified the leader as Felipe de Jesus “N” and did not name the gang. But local media called him “El Ojos” and said he led the “Tlahuac cartel.”
Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera, an aspirant to the presidency and prolific user of social media, had not commented on the incident Thursday evening. He did retweet a heavy rain warning for the same neighborhoods the gang allegedly dominated.