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Deaths rise in Mexico's Sinaloa state amid manhunt for 'El Chapo'

By Andrew V. Pestano Follow @AVPLive9 Contact the Author   |   Dec. 30, 2015 at 1:52 PM

MEXICO CITY, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- A shootout between gunmen of drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's brother and a rival gang over territory left eight dead, while more than four tons of marijuana were seized and two suspected Sinaloa Cartel members were killed in a separate incident.

The shootout took place in La Tuna, in Mexico's Sinaloa state, the hometown of Guzman and his brother, Aurealiano, on whose ranch the incident occurred.

TeleSUR reported a war recently broke out in Sinaloa between drug traffickers attempting to take over a mountainous region where marijuana and poppy plants are cultivated.

More than 14 people have died within Sinaloa recently in confrontations between security officials, Guzman's Sinaloa Cartel and other drug gangs. Authorities believe Guzman is in hiding somewhere in the Sinaloa state.

Earlier this month, the Mexican Navy arrived in La Tuna as part of the manhunt for the escaped drug kingpin. Authorities stopped all travel in and out of the town for several days.

The marines also seized the ranch of Aureliano Guzman. Guzman's mother, Consuelo Loera, and various family members live in La Tuna.

The nephew of one of Guzman's closest associates, Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, was one of two killed earlier this month by a Mexican commando.

Separately, the Secretariat of the Navy of Mexico, also known as SEMAR, said a recent gunfight in Sinaloa left two people dead.

The Mexican Navy said during ground patrol "operations conducted in the vicinity of the Saca Rancheria Water, Sinaloa, naval personnel and a helicopter of the Navy of Mexico, were attacked with gunshots by alleged members of organized crime.

The statement said personnel called in air support, which was also attacked.

El Universal reported authorities confiscated six rifles and several weapons magazines and ammunition that seemingly belong to Mexico's armed forces. Officials discovered about 4.5 tons of packed marijuana that was "ready for transport," which was incinerated on-site, according to SEMAR.

On July 11, Guzman escaped from a Mexican maximum security prison for the second time using a mile-long tunnel, which could have taken a year to build.

"El Chapo" -- meaning "The Short One" or "shorty" -- so dubbed because of his 5-foot-6-inch frame, was captured in Guatemala in 1993 and then extradited to Mexico to face murder and drug trafficking charges. He escaped from prison in 2001 by hiding in a laundry cart after bribing prison guards, and was re-captured in February 2014.

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