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Gunmen Kill 6 People at Ciudad Juarez Restaurant

Mexico: Officials won't speculate on motive, but suspicion centers on a turf war in wake of drug kingpin's death.

August 05, 1997|From Times Wire Services

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — Gunmen walked into a border restaurant and fired more than 100 rounds at a single table, in an incident that left six people dead and three others wounded in what may have been part of a war for control of the Juarez drug cartel.

One of the dead was a prison official who was gunned down outside, apparently after he walked from a nearby bar to investigate the shooting.

Authorities declined to comment on possible motives in Sunday night's shooting at the Max Fim restaurant, but at least 11 people have been slain in Ciudad Juarez since Amado Carrillo Fuentes, reputed head of the Juarez drug cartel, died July 4 after plastic surgery.

His followers have reportedly been jockeying for control of the drug empire he left behind.

Officially, Chihuahua Judicial State Police spokesman Ernesto Garcia said authorities have no conclusive evidence to link any of the killings to Carrillo's death.

The Max Fim is across from the Ciudad Juarez bullring in a commercial district surrounded by bars, other nightspots and stores.

According to police, four armed men went to the restaurant about 9:30 p.m. Sunday. At least two carrying automatic weapons entered while the others stood guard at the door.

The gunmen went to a table and sprayed it with .45-caliber bullets. Police estimated that the two men fired more than 100 rounds.

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Three men and two women were killed inside the restaurant. Killed outside was Armando Olague, 44, the chief of custody at the Chihuahua state prison in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso.

Garcia said one of the dead women was apparently not part of the group that was targeted in the attack. "She happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Three men, including one waiter, were wounded. Police would not disclose where they were hospitalized or their condition. All the dead and wounded were believed to be from the El Paso-Ciudad Juarez area.

Monday afternoon, a large smear of blood stained a pillar of the restaurant's marquee, about a foot above the pavement. Faded bloodstains also could be seen on the sidewalk. One front window of the restaurant was blown out, with Venetian blinds protruding through the shattered glass.

Police examined four cars that might have belonged to the victims, Ciudad Juarez Dist. Atty. Jorge Ramirez said. One had Texas plates.

Despite speculation about this summer's rash of slayings, Ramirez said investigators didn't know yet if Sunday's massacre was drug-related. Asked specifically about the bar's reputation, he said the Max Fim wasn't reputed to be a drug rendezvous.

"It would be premature to talk about a motive," he said.

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