MEXICO CITY – Mexican army troops and marines killed six gunmen in separate shootouts in Reynosa, located across the border from McAllen, Texas, the Tamaulipas Coordination Group (GCT) said.
Federal officials have deployed security forces units in Reynosa, which is in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, in an effort to stem a spike in drug-related violence.
Gunmen attacked military patrols in both instances, the GCT, a joint federal and state agency, said in a statement.
The first shootout occurred last Wednesday, when suspected members of a criminal organization attacked soldiers on patrol in Ejido Arguelles, a community on the Rhode Canal.
Soldiers repelled the attack, killing five gunmen and seizing two SUVs, several rifles and tactical gear, the GCT said.
Gunmen traveling in a convoy opened fire a day later on marines patrolling Colonia Rancho Grande.
The marines returned fire, killing one of the assailants, the GCT said, adding that two rifles and several vehicles were seized following the shootout.
The federal government said earlier this month it was deploying more security forces units in Tamaulipas and planned to purge the state’s law enforcement agencies in an effort to stop the surge in drug-related violence.
Government Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong announced the expanded deployment on May 13 in Reynosa, unveiling a “new phase” of the federal security strategy for Tamaulipas aimed at restoring to residents “the peace and safety they deserve.”
Patrols will be stepped up at ports, airports, customs posts, border crossings and highways, with inspections of prisons and nightspots where criminal activities occur being expanded, Osorio Chong said.
The Gulf and Los Zetas drug cartels have been fighting for control of Tamaulipas and smuggling routes into the United States for years.