11 dead in clash between villagers and criminal gang in central Mexico

Eleven people were killed in a clash Friday between gunmen from a criminal gang and residents of a small farming community in central Mexico, authorities said.

Dramatic video of the fight posted on social media showed villagers in cowboy hats with scythes and hunting rifles chasing down suspected gang members amid bursts of automatic gunfire.

Police in the State of Mexico, which abuts Mexico City, said the clash occurred in the hamlet of Texcaltitlan, a community is about 80 miles southwest of the capital.

State police said eight of the dead were members of the criminal gang, while three were village residents. Police did not identify the gang, but the violent Familia Michoacana drug cartel has been dominant in that area for a decade.

Local media said Familia Michoacana gunmen had shown up in the village earlier demanding local farmers pay a per-acre extorsion fee. Authorities did not immediately comment on that.

Drug cartels in Mexico have been known to extort money from almost any licit or illicit business that they can, sometimes attacking or burning ranches, farms or stores that refuse to pay.

The Familia Michoacana is known for its brazen ambushes of police as well as the the 2022 massacre of 20 townspeople in the town of Totolapan in neighboring Guerrero state. The attack killed the town’s mayor, his father and 18 other men.