MONTERREY, Mexico – An officer was killed and three others were wounded in a grenade attack on a police station in Monterrey, the capital of the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, officials said.
The assailants, who were traveling in several vehicles, threw at least two grenades and fired bursts with assault rifles at the municipal police department’s Oriente station, Monterrey Public Safety Secretary Jorge Fernandez Garza said.
The attack occurred just after shift change on Tuesday night, Fernandez Garza said.
This was not the first attack on the Oriente police station, but it was the first in which an officer died, the public safety secretary said.
Gunmen have staged about 30 attacks this year on police stations and officers, killing more than 15 municipal police and transit police officers.
Nuevo Leon and neighboring Tamaulipas state have been rocked by a wave of violence unleashed by drug traffickers battling for control of smuggling routes into the United States.
More than 1,100 people, including about 80 police officers, have died in the violence in Nuevo Leon in the past year.
The violence intensified in the two border states after the appearance in Monterrey in early 2010 of giant banners heralding an alliance of the Gulf, Sinaloa and La Familia drug cartels against Los Zetas.
Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, known as “El Lazca,” deserted from the Mexican army in 1999 and formed Los Zetas with three other soldiers, all members of an elite special operations unit, becoming the armed wing of the Gulf drug cartel.
After several years on the payroll of the Gulf cartel, Los Zetas, considered Mexico’s most violent criminal organization, went into the drug business on their own account and now control several lucrative territories.
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. EFE