Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Piedras Negras, Coahuila Under Lockdown
"POR ESTE MEDIO QUIERE FELICITAR EL EJERCITO POR DEFENDERNOS SIGAN ASI YA QUE ESTO ES UN PUEBLO SIN LEY."
"Muchas felicidades al ejercito son ustedes muy valientes sigan asi por favor los necesitamos mucho son los unicos que no se han vendido por unos dlls"
"QUE COMIENZE LA GUERRA DE LOS SOLDADOS CONTRA ESTOS PERROS"
"Un aplauso a los valientes del Ejercito Mexicano, han puesto mas en peligro su vida"
These were a sample of many posts on a message board utilized by Piedras Negras citizens as applause and appreciation was showered on the military by the population of this border city after a series of gunfights late Wednesday morning between the Mexican army and drug cartel gunmen in at least 2 locations
Piedras Negras, a city of 200,000 people is located across the Rio Grande from Eagle Pass, Texas. There has been a long simmering discord among the citizens over the ineptness and perceived co-optation of the local municipal police forces and the administration of this city by drug cartels. This state of affairs has allowed the criminals to act with relative impunity.
This drug trafficking corridor, or “plaza” has recently been in flux as members of the Zeta and Golfo/Sinaloa cartels have fought for ownership of this territory. The disappearances of up to 40people connected to organized crime, several shootouts between competing criminal gangs, and the increasing lawlessness associated with extortions and robberies of businesses and citizens has resulted in a high level of insecurity.
On Wednesday, around 10:30 AM, there was a confrontation between gunmen in a white Suburban suv and elements of the military in the “Laguito Mexicano” area of the city. The confrontation continued outside the “Las Barrocas” restaurant a short distance away.
Witnesses who were caught in the crossfire at both locations spoke of the military’s restraint in the confrontations so as to minimize the risk to civilians on the streets. One witness stated that the military only returned fire at the first location after taking casualties from the reckless fusillade of the gunmen.
The citizens also voiced their disdain for the local police who endangered innocent lives by failing to take any measures in blocking traffic into the areas under fire. A chaotic situation arose in the city until the military effectively took control.
Military roadblocks were in effect throughout Piedras Negras throughout the day and evening and all traffic leaving the city was blocked until the early evening.
The casualties as of early Wednesday evening were 1 soldier dead and 1 soldier gravely injured and in intensive care in the local IMSS hospital. 3 gunmen were injured in the altercation, 1 of them in serious condition. 8 other gunmen were captured and were being held in the military garrison.
After the shootings the 2 international bridges on the border with Eagle Pass, Tx were put on full alert on both the Mexican and U.S. sides to prevent the escape of any gunmen into Eagle Pass. In Eagle Pass, the traffic on the bridges was briefly halted as well armed I.C.E., Border Patrol and Sheriff’s Deputies provided security.
In a related event that may signify a new aggressive policy of confronting drug trafficking gangs in the area by the military, the command of the Mexican army detachment in Piedras Negras was transferred to brigadier general Alejandro Pinacho Lopez on Monday of this week.
General Lopez previously served as an advisor and military attaché in the Republic of Nicaragua.