MEXICO CITY – At least three suspected gunmen were killed in a shootout with army troops in Teul de Gonzalez Ortega, a city in the central Mexican state of Zacatecas, the Defense Secretariat said Sunday.
The shootout occurred on Friday, when “members of an organized crime group” traveling in four vehicles attacked soldiers, setting off an engagement that led to the deaths of “three assailants,” the 11th Military Region command said.
Soldiers seized 12 assault rifles, two hand grenades, 106 ammunition clips, 2,120 rounds of ammunition and four vehicles in the operation, the command said.
Soldiers, meanwhile, detained 16 people and rescued two kidnapping victims in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas in operations conducted Nov. 19-25, the secretariat said.
The army seized 103 assault rifles, 54 pistols, 10,608 rounds of ammunition, 332 ammunition clips, seven grenades, 3.5 tons of marijuana, 34 vehicles, including three armored vehicles, and other property belonging to criminal organizations, the secretariat said.
The suspects and the property seized in the operations were turned over to prosecutors.
The Mexican government has been battling the country’s drug cartels for the better part of the past 10 years.
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.