In Wednesday night’s attack in the city of Apaseo el Alto, the attackers left handwritten posters on the blood-covered floor of the bar. The messages were signed by the Santa Rosa de Lima gang, whose now imprisoned leader is known as the “Marro” or Sledgehammer.
The reports appeared to accuse the owners of the bars of supporting the rival Jalisco cartel.
Photos from the scene showed the bodies of several miniskirt waitresses who had sunk in pools of blood at the bar.
The city council of Apaseo el Alto said two other women were injured in the attack, but their condition is stable.
In October, a dozen people, including six women, were killed in an attack on a bar in another Guanajuato town. A similar attack on a bar in another city killed 10 people in September.
Guanajuato-based security analyst David Saucedo said the attacks targeted specific bars — whose owners may have refused to pay protection money or sell drugs from rival gangs — but were random once the targets were selected.
“Some of the attacks were carried out to kill drug dealers, lookouts or cartel members who were out in the bars on a night out,” Saucedo said. “But it’s going to be massacres because they also kill waitresses and customers.”
There are signs that the conflict in Guanajuato, Mexico’s most violent state, has become a proxy battle between Mexico’s two most powerful drug cartels.
The Sinaloa cartel now appears to be backing the Santa Rosa de Lima gang in their fight against Jalisco.