At least eight people were killed and 11 injured when competing groups of workers clashed at a cement plant before dawn Wednesday in the central Mexican state of Hidalgo, authorities said.
The deadly clash to control the cement plant near Tula, Hidalgo caps at least a decade of angry, sometimes violent disputes within the employees’ cooperative that owns both the cement plant and one of Mexico’s top soccer teams.
Hidalgo Gov. Omar Fayad said via Twitter that he strongly condemned the violence at the Cruz Azul cement cooperative’s plant. He said nine suspects had been arrested in the clash.
The Hidalgo state public safety agency said in a statement that emergency calls began coming in early Wednesday from the plant about 60 miles (95 kilometers) north of Mexico City. Facilities and vehicles were damaged.
Authorities only identified those involved as two groups of people, but local media said the clash was related to a long-running leadership dispute at the cooperative.
Starting more than a decade ago, a former cooperative leader allegedly appropriated or misspent funds from the cooperative. The man, Guillermo Alvarez, is now a fugitive, but his supporters apparently retained control of some assets, including the factory.
Hidalgo Prosecutor Alejandro Habib told local media that appears as many as five trucks or vans and 200 people were involved in the assault on the plant.
Alvarez faces charges equivalent to money laundering and embezzlement. He reportedly used the Cruz Azul soccer team in Mexico’s top league as a front for illicit deals, allegedly overstating the amount of money paid to recruit top players and then pocketing the difference between that and the real price.
The group opposing the old leadership denied in a statement that they were responsible for the violence, saying they had used legal channels to try to recover control of the facility.
The cooperative was formed by workers in 1930 to buy out the cement plant.