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Police Capture Three of Six Gunmen in Bank Robbery-Hostage Case

April 27, 1988

LOS MOCHIS, Mexico (AP) _ Police said they captured three of the six gunmen who held 42 people hostages for a day inside a bank they were caught robbing in this northwestern coastal city last week.

Five people were killed and 15 wounded in the botched holdup.

The three suspects were arrested without incident at dawn Tuesday at the home of a relative of one suspect, said Arturo Moreno, commander of the local federal police.

Moreno identified the three as Mario Valdez Soto, 26, and Ramon Terrazas Torres of Los Mochis, and Ivan Camarena Acosta, 21, of Navojoa, Sonora state.

Terrazas Torres was found seriously wounded and taken to a local hospital, said Ramiro Guerrero, news editor at the newspaper Noroeste in the Sinaloa state capital of Culiacan.

The three gunmen still at large included the gang’s reported leader, the government news agency Notimex said. A judicial police spokesman contacted Tuesday night declined to say whether police had any leads on their whereabouts.

At the house where the three suspects were arrested, police said they found dynamite, two AK-47 assault rifles, ammunition and the equivalent of $6,100, apparently taken from the bank.

An alarm alerted police to the robbery at the National Bank of Mexico branch in Los Mochis, Sinaloa state, on April 20. Los Mochis is 500 miles south of the Arizona border.

Police quickly surrounded the bank and a shootout ensued. Police allowed the gunmen to flee in an armored car the next day in exchange for the safe release of the hostages.

In a brief interview with local journalists after their capture, Camarena Acosta and Valdez Soto said they had planned the bank robbery for a month by surveying the movements of police and bank employees.

They said two of the gunmen posed as bank customers while the others took up positions inside the building before announcing the robbery, Guerrero reported.

Bank robberies and other crimes have increased in Mexico since the onset of a crippling economic crisis in 1982.

Sinaloa state is known as a crime center, particularly involving the illegal drug trade.

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