Five men were gunned down in front of a garage in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico's murder capital, while they were repairing an automobile, police said.

The victims, who ranged in age from 30 to 40, were killed Wednesday by gunmen armed with assault rifles, the municipal police department said.

The attack occurred in a poor neighborhood in the southern section of Juarez, a gritty border metropolis located across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas.

At least 14,000 "armed criminals" are in Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua city, the state capital, working for the drug cartels that are fighting for control of smuggling routes into the United States, Chihuahua Attorney General Carlos Manuel Salas said earlier this month.

"It was an inherited war, which we got from the prior administration, in which 9,000 armed criminals are fighting for Juarez and a number near 5,000 for the city of Chihuahua," Salas said.

About 5,500 of the armed criminals operating in Ciudad Juarez belong to Los Aztecas, a gang that works as the armed wing of the Juarez cartel, while the rest work for the Sinaloa cartel, Salas said.

More than 8,500 people have been killed in Ciudad Juarez since late 2006, and the death toll this year has topped 1,000.

The violence has not subsided in Ciudad Juarez despite the deployment of nearly 10,000 soldiers and Federal Police officers in the border city.

More than 3,100 people were murdered in Ciudad Juarez last year, making 2010 the worst year since the war between rival drug gangs sent the homicide rate skyrocketing in 2008.

The federal government claims that the murder rate in Juarez has fallen 60 percent this year, but local activists contend that it has only dropped 24 percent.

A total of 15,270 people died in drug-related violence in Mexico last year, and nearly 40,000 people have died since President Felipe Calderon declared war on the country's cartels shortly after taking office in December 2006.

Calderon has deployed tens of thousands of soldiers and Federal Police officers across the country to combat drug cartels and other criminal organizations.

The anti-drug operation, however, has failed to put a dent in the violence due, according to experts, to drug cartels' ability to buy off the police and even high-ranking officials.