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Dec 6, 10:37 PM EST

Mexico: 20 gunmen killed in shootouts in Veracruz


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Mexican cartels reaching farther into U.S.

XALAPA, Mexico (AP) -- Twenty suspected criminals were killed in a series of shootouts with police and troops in recent days in Mexico's troubled Gulf coast state of Veracruz, authorities said Tuesday.

The state's joint security agency had previously announced that 14 presumed gang gunmen died in a shootout Monday in Veracruz, which is a smuggling corridor and a hotspot for drug cartel violence.

On Tuesday, the agency updated the death toll, saying six other suspected criminals had been killed in shootouts with military units in the same area over the weekend and Monday, putting the three-day death toll at 20.

In the most serious incident, authorities said a police patrol came under fire Monday on a road in the town of Jesus Carranza, near the border with Oaxaca state. The patrol called for backup, and marines arrived to join in a firefight that killed 14 suspects, officials said.

A separate shootout in Jesus Carranza resulted in the deaths of three attackers Saturday, officials said. The agency also reported three more gunmen killed in similar circumstances in the same area, but gave no details on when or where.

Police and military reinforcements dispatched to the area found a total of 28 weapons, including 13 assault rifles and a weapon capable of piercing armored vehicles, officials said. They also found about 147 pounds (67 kilograms) of cocaine.

Two suspects have been arrested, and authorities said they were from the Pacific coast state of Nayarit. The suspects identified two of the dead men as being from the northern border state of Nuevo Leon, which was long dominated by the Zetas cartel.

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