NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico – Security forces members killed five suspected gunmen in two separate shootouts in Nuevo Laredo, a border city in the northeastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas, officials said on Wednesday.
“Last night, just after 2200 hours, there was an attack at the entrance to the Mexican Army Regiment in Nuevo Laredo. Military personnel went out to repel (the gunmen), with a total of five assailants killed,” Tamaulipas Attorney General’s Office spokesmen told EFE.
The AG’s office said the gunmen killed on Tuesday night wore marine corps uniforms and were armed with high-powered weapons.
A few hours before the shootout outside the army base, seven other gunmen were killed when they attacked police officers on a highway in the state.
The gunmen who attacked the army regiment’s base were traveling in an armored SUV, officials said.
“Before this incident, there was an attack on state police SUVs that had stopped at a gasoline station, with two officers wounded, who are out of danger,” the AG’s office said.
While the incidents were occurring, a group, including some children, gathered outside a hotel where state police officers are staying to denounce police “abuses.”
Officials said the two shootouts may be related and the protest may have been staged to prevent officers from going to the aid of their fellow law enforcement agents.
In the past month, gunmen on the payroll of the CDN, the gang that controls Nuevo Laredo, a city across the Rio Grande from Laredo, Texas, launched an offensive targeting state security forces.
One police officer has been killed and two others wounded by the CDN, officials said.
The shootouts and other acts of violence have not been reduced despite the deployment of the recently created National Guard, a security agency backed by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and staffed by soldiers, marines and Federal Police officers under a unified command.
Drug traffickers have expanded their presence in Nuevo Laredo because some 75 percent of the terrestrial trade between Mexico and the United States passes over the border city’s international bridges.
The CDN, the new name of the Zetas drug cartel in the border region, has controlled Nuevo Laredo since the early 2000s after waging a bloody war against the Sinaloa cartel in 2004.
In 2019, Mexico got off to the bloodiest start to a year ever, with a total of 8,493 murders registered in the first quarter, the highest number of killings in such a period since 1997, when the government started keeping murder statistics.
A total of 20,135 murders occurred during the first seven months of this year, or an average of 95.8 murder cases per day, official figures show.
Last year, 33,369 murders were recorded in Mexico, making it the most violent year since 1997.