The police chief of Pueblo Nuevo, a city in the northwestern Mexican state of Durango, was gunned down in the city of El Salto, state prosecutors said.

Jose Armando Vega Cordero was walking down a street around 12:50 p.m. on Monday when "unidentified individuals aboard a white late-model vehicle intercepted him and opened fire on him," the Durango Attorney General's Office said in a statement.

The 44-year-old Vega Cordero was shot multiple times, the AG's office said.

The police chief was gunned down in the presence of several pedestrians, media reports said.

The states of Durango, Chihuahua and Sinaloa make up Mexico's so-called "Golden Triangle" of the illegal drug trade.

The Sinaloa cartel, Mexico's oldest and largest drug trafficking organization, has been trying to gain control of Durango, press reports say.

Durango, one of the states most affected by drug-related violence, is said to be the hiding place of Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquin "El Chapo" (Shorty) Guzman.

Unofficial tallies put the death toll from Mexico's drug war at more than 50,000. EFE