Mexican National Guard chief killed in shootout against organized crime

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Mexican National Guard chief killed in shootout against organized crime

Soldiers from the Mexican Army and the National Guard perform security exercises during a presentation to the media at a training center in Santa Gertrudis, Chuihuahuahua state, Mexico, on October 22, 2022. MARCO UGARTE AP MEXICO CITY - The head of the Mexican National Guard in the state of Zacatecas was killed in a confrontation with armed men during an operation against organized crime, authorities said.

An unidentified attacker was also killed and four members of the National Guard were wounded, the state prosecutor's office said.

General Jose Silvestre Urzua, one of the highest-ranking commanders of Mexico's militarized police force and head of its Zacatecas branch, died on Wednesday, Security Minister Rosa Icela Rodriguez said.

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The state prosecutor's office said Urzua was killed during a confrontation with armed men. Two men and a woman had been arrested with weapons, in an operation that had among its objectives a review of the weapons held by local police.

The central state of Zacatecas has become one of the most violent places in Mexico because of the conflicts between criminal gangs over drug traffickers. In the last year, the state recorded 1,050 murders, about 200 more than in 2020.

In order to curb violence, lawmakers approved extending the role of the armed forces in public security until 2028. Congress has voted to put the National Guard under army control.

After coming to power at the end of 2018, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador backed the formation of the National Guard, which was supposed to fight organized crime and end endemic police corruption in its predecessor, the federal police.