Official: Son of Mexico drug lord killed

( AP ) - Gunmen killed the son of one of Mexico's reputedly most-powerful drug lords in the northern city of Culiacan, a government official said Saturday.

The death of Edgar Guzman, son of suspected Sinaloa cartel chief Joaquin Guzman, comes as Mexico is shaken by a wave of drug-related violence as gangs battle security forces and each other for control of trafficking routes north.

Edgar Guzman was shot dead in the Pacific Coast state of Sinaloa on Thursday, said an official with the federal Attorney General's office who was not authorized to be quoted by name.

Mexican media reports said the gunmen opened fire on Guzman in the parking lot of a shopping center in Sinaloa's capital, Culiacan. About 500 bullet casings from AK-47 rifles were found at the site, El Universal and Reforma newspapers reported.

Also killed in the attack was Arturo Meza Cazares. Meza is the son of Blanca Margarita Cazares, whom the U.S. has identified as a key money launderer for the cartel.

Joaquin Guzman, Edgar Guzman's father, escaped from prison in 2001 and allegedly started a bloody turf war that has killed hundreds of people. He is one of Mexico's most-wanted fugitives, and U.S. authorities have offered a US$5 million (euro3.2 million) reward for his capture.

Mexican investigators say Joaquin Guzman has formed an alliance known as "The Federation" with alleged drug barons Ismael Zambada and Juan Jose Esparragoza. The alliance has fought a bloody turf war with the Gulf and Tijuana cartels, using heavy weapons including rocket-propelled grenades.

El Universal reported without attribution that Thursday's fighting arose from a split in The Federation, but that could not be confirmed. The newspaper reported that a cousin of Edgar Guzman was also killed in the shooting.

Edgar Guzman, whose age was not given, was identified by his girlfriend and Cazares by his wife, according to the official at the Attorney General's office.

The official could not give more details on the shooting, and referred questions to the Sinaloa state Attorney General's office. Phones rang unanswered there Saturday.

President Felipe Calderon has sent more than 25,000 soldiers into states throughout Mexico to combat drug gangs battling for territory and for control over corrupt local police forces. Cartels have responded with a surge of violence, killing soldiers and police in increasingly brazen attacks.

On Thursday, gunmen in Mexico City killed acting federal Police Chief Edgar Millan Gomez, who had recently announced the arrests of 12 alleged hit men for the Sinaloa cartel. Police said they were investigating drug links in Millan's killing but could not say whether the cartel was involved.

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