A clash pitting Mexican marines against suspected enforcers for a drug cartel active in the northern border region left four gunmen dead, officials said.
The northeastern state of Tamaulipas’ information office, known as the CIO, said on its Web site Thursday that a gun battle had occurred in the town of San Carlos.
Four gunmen were killed by gunfire, the CIO said.
Nuevo Leon and neighboring Tamaulipas have been rocked by a wave of violence unleashed by drug traffickers battling for control of smuggling routes into the United States.
The violence has intensified in the two border states since the appearance in Monterrey in February of giant banners heralding an alliance of the Gulf, Sinaloa and La Familia drug cartels against Los Zetas, a band of Mexican special forces deserters turned hired guns.
After several years as the armed wing of the Gulf cartel, Los Zetas went into the drug business on their own account and now control several lucrative territories.
The cartels arrayed against Los Zetas blame the group’s involvement in kidnappings, armed robbery and extortion for discrediting “true drug traffickers” in the eyes of ordinary Mexicans willing to tolerate the illicit trade as long as the gangs stuck to their own unwritten rule against harming innocents.