by Staff Writers
Mexico City (AFP) March 14, 2016
Authorities killed at least 10 criminal suspects in northern Mexico on Sunday as their gang blocked roads with burning vehicles in a bid to thwart the anti-drug cartel operation.
Soldiers, federal police and marines took part in the pre-dawn operation in Reynosa, a city bordering the United States that has been the scene of turf wars over control of drug trafficking routes for years.
Marines clashed with criminals who were moving in a sport-utility vehicle on an avenue, leaving four suspects dead, the Tamaulipas state security task force said in a statement.
The first clash prompted criminals to hijack cars, trucks and public transport buses, which they set on fire to block various roads -- a common tactic used by gangs in Tamaulipas to prevent arrests.
Other gunfights erupted in the city, leaving six suspects dead in two other parts of Reynosa, the statement said.
A military vehicle overturned during one pursuit, leaving four soldiers with light injuries, according to the statement from the task force, which includes federal and state security forces.
The street blockades were removed four hours after they were installed by the gang.
The Gulf and Zetas drug cartels are former allies that have fought for control of the drug trade in the region, which is one of the most dangerous in Mexico.
But authorities have blamed most of the violence since 2014 on internal power struggles within the Gulf cartel.
The federal government stepped up military control over security in Tamaulipas in May 2014 after a surge in cartel violence.
The gangs have continued to wreak havoc.
Gunmen shot at a military Black Hawk helicopter in July last year in a clash that left six suspects dead in a rural area some 70 kilometers (45 miles) south of the border.
Troops discovered that same month an underground weapons cache in Reynosa that included 33 assault rifles and three grenade launchers.
Also in Reynosa, authorities discovered dozens of surveillance cameras that had been installed by a gang across the city to monitor the movements of security forces.
In Matamoros, another border city, a federal police building was hit by an explosive device in May 2015 while another one blew up in front of the national electoral institute, without causing injuries or major damage.
More than 100,000 people have been killed or gone missing since Mexico's drug war began to intensify in 2006.
21st Century Pirates
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