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MAY 10 2008 17:42h

Son Of Mexico's Most Wanted Drug Lord Killed

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Guzman's common law wife Frida Munoz Roman identified the body of the 22-year-old son of the drug lord.

A son of Mexico's most wanted drug kingpin, Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, has been gunned down and killed by rival cartel hitmen, authorities said on Saturday.

A spokeswoman for Mexico's Attorney General's Office confirmed that one of three shot dead in the northwestern city of Culiacan was the son of the drug lord.

Around 40 assassins opened fire on Edgar Guzman and two other men as they parked an armored pickup truck outside a shopping center in Culiacan on Thursday night, El Universal newspaper said.

The three died in the hail of bullets -- criminal investigators recovered 500 bullet shell casings according to La Jornada newspaper -- and the assassins fled in pickup trucks, media said.

"Shorty" Guzman, who escaped from a high security prison in 2001, is the head of the powerful Sinaloa cartel and is locked in turf wars with other Mexican cartels, especially one based in the border city of Ciudad Juarez.

The drug traffickers are fighting for control of lucrative drug routes taking cocaine and marijuana to the United States, the world's top consumer nation.

Guzman's common law wife Frida Munoz Roman identified the body of the 22-year-old son of the drug lord and also the body of his cousin Cesar Ariel Loera Guzman who was with him, El Universal reported.

The slayings came in the same week five high-ranking policemen were killed.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has deployed tens of thousands of soldiers and federal police around the country to bring powerful drug cartels under control, but the army has failed to reduce spiraling violence.

More than 2,500 people were killed in drug related violence in Mexico last year. Another 1,100 people have died so far this year as the drug gangs battle each other and security forces.