Sunday, July 11, 2010
Shootouts in Downtown Monterrey Cause Panic
Nuevo Leon State Investigative Police (AEI) on a manhunt for a criminal gang specializing in the armed robbery of gas stations, ATM’s and other businesses clashed with gang members in two separate incidents in the downtown area of Monterrey on Saturday , July 10.
Both shootings caused a momentary panic among pedestrians and motorists caught in the crossfire between the police and the criminals.
A young man identified as Manuel de Jesus Saldana, 19-year-old student at the Technological Institute of Superior Studies of Monterrey (ITESM), was hit by stray bullets during the first melee, along with three other unidentified civilians.
According to initial press reports, the first clash occurred on Pino Suarez Avenue, a few meters from the IMSS Hospital at 1 PM as the state police attempted to arrest the group of armed robbers who were in a sand colored Odyssey van. The robbers fired on the police and a running shootout ensued.
Army troops arrived within minutes to aid the AEI Police and to guard the perimeter where the clash was occurring.
All the streets within blocks were closed to traffic, while dozens of people who were outside the hospital and passing through the area rushed indoors to protect themselves from the gunfire.
It was learned that two of the robbers were killed in the chase while another gang member was shot and taken to a local hospital, and one more was apprehended by the police. An unknown number of robbers fled the scene by escaping through the hospital, a nearby church and ITESM college.
Throughout the afternoon the police and the military searched the central area of Monterrey and finally traced the remainder of the gang to the Hotel Antaris located at the intersection of Constitucion and V. Carranza.
At 4:00 PM the AEI reported the remaining group of between 5 and 7 robbers began firing on the police and swat team that had surrounded the hotel before vehicular traffic through the area was blocked.
The gunfire caused motorists and bus riders stuck in traffic to abandon their vehicle and seek safety.
Through Saturday evening the hotel was still cordoned off by the police and military and vehicular traffic still blocked as police inspected hotel rooms to rule out any gang members hiding in other rooms. It was unknown if that standoff had ended.
Unofficial reports spoke of three criminals dead and four injured and in custody. An unknown number were apprehended or still on the run. No civilians were reported hurt during the clash at the hotel.
In other news this weekend in Monterrey, Mexican Army troops raided a safe house belonging to an organized crime group, arrested 8 suspects and freed 9 captives being held for ransom.
Around 8:00 PM Friday evening a heavily armed military convoy responding to an anonymous tip surrounded a house in the Colonia Topo Chico in Monterrey where they were met by gunfire from inside the building.
The occupants of the safe house attempted to escape but were quickly arrested without any reported injuries or deaths.
Once inside the dirty workshop the military found and liberated 9 captives being held for ransom by the band of 8 kidnappers. Assault weapons, side arms, ammunition and 2 vehicles were also seized. One of the vehicles was a van used to transport captives between several safe houses.
The military allowed media access to the scene. The nine hostages had bruises on their bodies and all were allegedly tortured. When interviewed with his face covered, one of the victims said that they suffered the “mummy torture” where the face is covered with tape covering with tape. Some were also attacked with stones and kicks and even baseball bats.
All the hostages, according to the military are tenants and small businessmen and most were kidnapped from their homes and places of business.
In some cases, the sum for the ransom amounted to 3 million pesos.