Helicopter used to gun down Mexican drug cartel leader hiding in house
An alleged regional leader of the Beltran Leyva drug cartel and 11 accomplices have been killed in clashes with Mexican marines who poured gunfire into a house from a helicopter-mounted machine gun.
Juan Francisco Patron Sanchez headed the cartel's operations in the Pacific coast state of Nayarit and in the southern part of Jalisco state, the federal interior department said.
Patron and seven accomplices had opened fire on marines and had barricaded themselves in the upper part of a house in the Nayarit state capital of Tepic, a Mexican navy official said, i dentifying Patron by the criminal nickname "H2."
The official said that a helicopter gunship had been called in to provide "dissuasive fire", to suppress outgoing gunfire from the structure on Thursday.
Use of such "minigun" weapons from a helicopter gunship is extremely rare in urban areas.
They have apparently been used before by Mexican police, but usually only in rural areas.
The navy said the helicopter gunship was used in accordance with its rules of engagement, "with the aim of reducing the level of aggression and reducing the risk of civilian or federal casualties".
The navy said that a grenade launcher and several rifles and pistols were found at the scene.
The navy said a second gunbattle occurred soon afterwards near Tepic airport, when federal forces came under attack from gunmen.
They returned fire, killing four members of the same cartel.
The Beltran Leyva cartel has been active in the northern state of Sinaloa and the southern state of Guerrero.
It has since reportedly expanded into other states, and may have allied itself with Mexico's fastest-growing gang, the Jalisco New Generation cartel.