MONTERREY, Mexico – A car bomb exploded Thursday in the northern Mexican city of Monterrey as an army patrol drove by, but no injuries have been reported, officials said.
The bomb went off just after 4:00 a.m. in the Ladrillera section of Monterrey, the capital of Nuevo Leon state, as the soldiers chased a compact car carrying several gunmen, who apparently led them to the explosives-packed vehicle on Revolucion avenue.
The car bomb exploded in front of a garage, shredding the vehicle, damaging the pavement, blowing a hole in one of the shop’s walls and shattering windows in nearby buildings.
“The federal Attorney General’s Office is taking charge of the investigation to determine what type of explosives were used in the attack,” a Nuevo Leon state Attorney General’s Office spokesman told Efe.
The use of car bombs by criminal organizations to attack Mexican security forces is rare.
The most serious incident occurred on July 15, 2010, when a car bomb in Ciudad Juarez targeting Federal Police officers killed four people – a physician, two officers and a firefighter.
A car packed with 10 kilos (22 pounds) of C-4 plastic explosives was apparently detonated with a cell phone on a busy street in the border city.
The July 2010 incident was the first confirmed use of a car bomb by an organized crime group in Mexico.
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.
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 more than 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