GOMEZ PALACIO, Mexico (AP) — Twenty-one members of a drug gang linked to the Sinaloa cartel have been detained in connection with as many as 30 killings and the abduction of five non-editorial employees of a newspaper who were later released, Mexican authorities said Thursday.
Prosecutors in the northern state of Durango said the kidnap-killing of a local politician in February was among the gang's alleged crimes. The victim, Mario Alberto Landeros, had been planning to run for mayor of a city in the state.
A statement from the state prosecutor's office said the suspects included at least six females; all were arrested in the northern city of Gomez Palacio and surrounding areas. Police said they recovered 20 rifles and bags of drugs in making the 21 arrests.
State Attorney General Sonia de la Garza said the gang dealt drugs, but also acted as an enforcement wing for the Sinaloa cartel led by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.
Prosecutors' spokesman Raymundo Enriquez Partida said the suspects were being investigated in as many as 30 killings, and they were apparently responsible for arson attacks against businesses owned by the mayor of Gomez Palacio, a large city in Durango.
The newspaper employees worked at the Siglo de Torreon, a newspaper in the neighboring state of Coahuila. Abductors snatched two people who operated its online services, two employees of the advertising department and one administrative employee in February; they were released hours later.
Also in February, the Siglo de Torreon's building was the target of shooting attacks for three consecutive days.
The third attack killed a bystander and wounded two federal police officers guarding the building. The newspaper's offices have been attacked periodically by gunmen since 2009. No one had been hurt until March. The newspaper decided after the first attack in 2009 to stop all investigative journalism.