A gunfight between suspected drug traffickers and Mexico army troops in the western state of Michoacan left eight of the alleged criminals dead, the defense ministry said on Tuesday.
The gunbattle erupted around daybreak in the town of Tacambaro as troops patrolled the town and encountered the drug traffickers, officials said.
Tropps "moved to quell the attack, and eight of the assailants were killed at the scene," the ministry said in a statement.
Michoacan, home state to President Felipe Calderon, is one of the regions gripped by drug-related violence that has killed some 41,000 people since he launched a military crackdown on organized drug crime five years ago.
It has been the stronghold of the La Familia, or The Family drug cartel, one of the seven main narco-trafficking organizations operating in Mexico, supposedly promoting family values and quasi-religious zealotry while using brutal enforcement methods.
It is also the region where a new drug gang calling itself "Knights Templar" has emerged recently vowing to take over from La Familia, whose leader Nazario Moreno was killed last December.
The president's sister Maria Luisa Calderon is a candidate for governor in Michoacan in elections set for July 2010 that will also choose a new president and members of both houses of Congress.