6 die in Mexico gunbattle: Police vs. Army
The area around Monterrey now seems to be having these kind of incidents with some regularity. How very unfortunate for everyone who lives there.
By DUDLEY ALTHAUS
Houston Chronicle Mexico City Bureau
MEXICO CITY — Six men were confirmed dead Friday in a gunbattle between state police and two off-duty soldiers along an 80-mile stretch of desert highway south of the border at Laredo.
Three state policemen, the two men reported to be active-duty soldiers and a civilian were killed.
The violence appeared to be sparked by a drunken argument between the soldiers and the civilian, said Luis Carlos Treviño, the attorney general of Nuevo Leon state where the killings occurred. An autopsy, he said, indicated a high level of alcohol in the soldiers' bloodstreams.
There was no immediate indication that the killings were linked to the region's ubiquitous narcotics trafficking and drug-related violence, Treviño said. The military had no immediate comment on the incident.
Nuevo Leon Gov. Natividad Gonzalez told reporters in Monterrey that state officials were demanding an explication from the army, which has traditionally been closed-mouthed about its operations.
"There is a very good communication with the regional military command," Gonzalez said in a press conference.
"There will have to be an explanation for what happened today."
Soldiers stole pickup
Thousands of Mexican troops and federal police have been deployed to the arid ranchlands and burgeoning industrial cities bordering South Texas from Laredo to the Gulf of Mexico. The region is the domain of the so-called Gulf Cartel, a narcotics smuggling organization that employs ex-soldiers as assassins.
The rampage began about 10:30 p.m. Thursday when the soldiers stole a pickup truck, then abducted and killed the civilian in the town of Lampazos, about midway between Monterrey and the U.S.-Mexico border, according to El Norte, a Monterrey newspaper.
Stealing another vehicle, the two soldiers fled south along a main highway toward Monterrey. State police agents intercepted them near the town of Villaldama, igniting a shootout that left one of the policemen dead and other fatally wounded.
The uniformed assailants then stole the patrol car of the fallen officers, and continued fleeing south. Tracking the patrol car by its global positioning system, state and municipal police caught up with the men near Salinas Victoria, on the northern outskirts of Monterrey.
Second gunbattle erupts
In a second shootout, the two soldiers and another state police agent were killed. Both soldiers were reported to be carrying Galil rifles, weapons used by the Mexican military.
Monterrey and Nuevo Laredo, across the Rio Grande from Laredo, have been the sites of gangland violence as the Gulf Cartel battled with rivals from the Pacific Coast for control of smuggling routes.
Repeating a similar action in 2005, President Felipe Calderon last December ordered thousands of federal troops and police into the area in an attempt to quell the violence. A similar military deployment was ordered last week for Ciuadad Juarez, across from El Paso, and other areas of Chihuahua state, where the bloodshed has been among Mexico's worst this year.
6 die in Mexico gunbattle south of border from Laredo | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle