An internal power struggle within a drug cartel has left 28 people dead in gunfights in Mexico's northeastern coast this week, authorities said Thursday.
Ten suspected criminals were arrested after a series of shootouts rocked the Gulf of Mexico towns of Tampico and Ciudad Madero, in the state of Tamaulipas, between Saturday and Tuesday.
The Tamaulipas Coordination Group of federal and state security forces said in a statement that 16 high-caliber rifles, three handguns and 11 vehicles were seized along with cocaine.
The statement said the 28 deaths were linked to "clashes or score-settling between criminal groups."
A Tamaulipas government spokesman told AFP that the street battles were a struggle for control of the criminal business following the February detention of suspected local Gulf Cartel leader Javier Garza, alias Comandante 14.
"With the downfall of the suspected leader of the southern region, this group was left headless and began an internal battle to see who would take it," the spokesman said on condition of anonymity.
Tampico Mayor Gustavo Torres said earlier this week that the violence in his port city was apparently linked to the Gulf Cartel.
The Gulf Cartel was once the dominant gang in the northeastern coast but it has been weakened by the arrests of several leaders and a bloody turf war with their former allies, the Zetas gang.
More than 80,000 people have died in drug violence in Mexico since 2006, when then president Felipe Calderon deployed troops to crack down on cartels.