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US teens shot dead in violent Mexican city

Associated Press / February 9, 2011

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EL PASO — Two of three teens shot to death at a car dealership in Mexico last weekend had crossed the border from Texas for a party in Ciudad Juarez, one of the most dangerous cities in the world, then stayed overnight to shop for a used car, friends in El Paso said yesterday.

Arturo Yanar said he went to the house party with Carlos Mario Gonzalez Bermudez, 16, and 17-year-old Cesar Yalin Miramontes Jimenez on Friday night.

Yanar said he decided to return home to El Paso after the party in the early hours of Saturday morning, while his two friends stayed on in the city in Chihuahua state to look at cars. He said Gonzalez had been talking about buying himself a car for months.

“It was a fun night, a great night. At least we had fun one last time together,’’ Yanar said, sniffling.

Yanar is a 16-year-old sophomore at Cathedral High School in El Paso where Gonzalez also was a sophomore.

He said he didn’t know the third victim, 15-year-old Juan Carlos Echeverri, who had been a freshman at the same high school last year.

Gonzalez and Echeverri were American citizens. The nationality of Miramontes was not immediately clear.

The three boys were gunned down at the car dealership just across the border from El Paso on Saturday afternoon. At least 60 bullet casings were found at the scene.

Arturo Sandoval, a spokesman for Chihuahua prosecutors, said authorities have no leads on suspects or a motive.

Ciudad Juarez is the center of a fierce turf war between the Sinaloa and Juarez drug cartels. More than 3,000 people were killed last year in the city of 1.3 million residents.

Many Ciudad Juarez residents travel across the border daily for work or study. Some Mexicans live in El Paso for safety reasons and commute to Ciudad Juarez.

Yanar said he grew up in Juarez but had moved to El Paso 18 months ago. He said his father had forbidden him from returning there but that he violated the order to go to the party with his friends.

Yanar and another friend, Javier Martinez, 17, said Gonzalez and Miramontes had no problems with gangs or drugs and that they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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