Last Thursday at 5 am, 2 miles from my house at the crossroads where the two major highways converge on the north side of town, there was a gun battle that left 25 men dead and an unknown number of wounded.

Apparently the bad guys from the neighboring state of Jalisco were coming into town where they were discovered at a roadblock manned by a group of armed vigilantes. In the ensuing shootout, 15 bad guys were killed along with the rest of the dead being either federales or vigilantes.

I asked if this was true, because it wasn’t in the local news or national news or any news for that matter. He replied that it was hushed up, bad for local business, and then grimly went on to say that it all was witnessed by many (many) local people. I asked again, how could that be true, it was 5 am?

He said the gun battle raged for 2 hours with every side calling in reinforcements. So from 5 to 7 am –  at the busiest intersection in town – traffic came to a standstill and the roads ran with blood. (And I am told there is still blood there).

And for those of you that haven’t been following along, Jalisco is only like 20 miles away. And the bad guys in Jalisco – like the bad guys here – have made this little corner of Michoacan highly contested territory. Oh, if you want to go the airport or Guadalajara? You take one of these two highways.

So imagine. 25 dead. In a gun battle on the edge of town. To the best of my knowledge, there has been nothing like that since the Lincoln County War back in 1878 which more or less ended when the last man standing – Billy the Kid – was murdered three years later. The war itself, which took place in the New Mexico Territory, lasted mostly a year or so with 22 killed and 9 wounded. I read up on the history of that war as my mother’s great-great uncle, Henry Lease fought close by in the Second Battle of Adobe Walls just 4 years prior and personally knew Billy the Kid.

By contrast, the local war here is almost unimaginable. It has been going on now for something like 6 years and within only a 20 mile radius of this little town of Sahuayo it has left hundreds, if not thousands dead. And unlike the Lincoln County War there appears to be no end in sight. Maybe simply because there is no one last man to kill.