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Gunmen seized near Cancun as Mexico marks bicentennial year

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • The six are all between ages 18 and 21
  • It's unclear whether they belong to any drug cartel

(CNN) -- Mexican police arrested five heavily armed men and one woman near Cancun as the nation marked its bicentennial year.

The six arrested Wednesday in the town of Rancho Viejo were all between ages 18 and 21, Quinatana Roo state's attorney said.

Police confiscated marijuana and weapons, including handguns and three grenades.

The arrests were a result of an operation between the Mexican army and the state police.

Authorities could not say whether the suspects belonged to any drug cartel.

It's up to the attorney general's office to make that determination, said Francisco Alor Quezada, the state's attorney.

Quezada said reports that the suspects were planning an attack during independence celebrations are speculation at this point.

Mexico celebrated its bicentennial Wednesday, an event known as "El Grito," the shout for independence first credited to a Catholic priest who demanded freedom from Spain.

For many Mexicans, though, it's a quiet shout of despair.

The country is mired in a bloody drug war that has seen more than 28,000 people killed in less than four years. The economy has barely started to rebound from the global downturn that hit Mexico harder than most Latin American countries.

Tourism, a major lifeblood for the nation, is drastically down because of the violence and a flu pandemic last year that began in Mexico.

Despite government efforts to mark a boisterous independence event, some remained subdued.

"The climate in which we're living in this country does not lend itself to a real celebration," said Adrian Jesus Garrido Gomez, who owns a car rental company and chauffeur service in Villahermosa in Tabasco state.

CNN's Rafael Romo and Arthur Brice contributed to this report.