Members of crime gang in Mexican resort town kidnapped by rivals at popular nightspot

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A group of gunmen pulled up to a restaurant in the tourist section of Mexico’s Pacific resort town of Puerto Vallarta early Monday and kidnapped a group of 10 to 12 presumed members of a rival crime gang, authorities said Monday.

Jalisco state prosecutor Eduardo Almaguer said at a news conference that preliminary results of the investigation indicated that all involved — kidnappers and kidnapped, who appeared to be celebrating at an upscale restaurant in the popular Mexican beach resort city — were members of criminal organizations.

"They were not tourists or residents who work in legal activities," Almaguer said. "They were people tied to a criminal group we can very clearly presume."

He said authorities believe they know which groups were involved, but declined to identify them.

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Two SUVs carrying five gunmen arrived around 1 a.m. at the La Leche restaurant on the city's main boulevard, which runs through the hotel zone between the old beach city and the airport, Almaguer said.

Mexico’s Excelsior newspaper reported that people at the restaurant said the armed men pulled up to La Leche in a white Toyota Tacoma pickup truck and a Chevrolet Suburban. They entered the restaurant bearing large weapons and wore hoods to cover their faces. The kidnappers’ main target seemed to be a man in a red T-shirt and his companions, who were believed to be bodyguards..

Almaguer said that witnesses reported that four women who were in the targeted group were not abducted by the gunmen. He said authorities were searching for those women.

He said some of those taken away had been vacationing in Puerto Vallarta for a week. Authorities found lots of drinks and luxury items inside the restaurant, he said.

Five vehicles were abandoned at the restaurant.

"Obviously, those who acted (the kidnappers) — we presume with the information we have — also belonged to a criminal group that acted against members of another criminal group they located here in Puerto Vallarta," Almaguer said.

The Jalisco New Generation cartel has become the dominant criminal force in the state. It has battled the powerful Sinaloa cartel for supremacy in other parts of the country, such as Baja California Sur.

Jalisco Gov. Aristoteles Sandoval said through his official Twitter account that such violence would not be tolerated and a search was underway for the victims and the kidnappers.

"To the residents and tourists of Puerto Vallarta, I inform you that we have reinforced security so that you can go on as usual," Sandoval wrote.

Puerto Vallarta is the resort town where “Affluenza” teen Ethan Couch was caught late last year after fleeing the United States while on probation.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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