A shootout between a group of unidentified, heavily armed gunmen and soldiers of the Mexican Army resulted in the deaths of 5 criminals Friday morning on the toll highway between Monterrey and Reynosa, Tamaulipas.
The incident occurred in the municipality of Benito Juarez, a city of almost 100,000 residents in the greater Monterrey metropolitan area.
According to military sources an anonymous tip was called into a hotline alerting army personnel to the location of a “narco” reten on the toll highway to Reynosa on the Mexico-U.S. border across from Mcallen, Texas.
Narco retenes are roadblocks manned by gunmen associated with organized criminal groups whose purpose is to identify, and in many cases extort, civilians traveling on highways and to identify and eliminate members of rival criminal organizations.
These roadblocks are also used on occasion to hijack desired vehicles such as double cab pickups and late model SUV’s and to kidnap select victims such as the 72 migrants executed in San Fernando, Tamaulipas last week.
A firefight that residents reported lasting approximately 30 minutes began as the military unit responding to the anonymous tip approached the site of the roadblock that was manned by four vehicles, a black pickup, a Mazda SUV and two Juarez municipal police vehicles.
The municipal police vehicles may have been present to cover the roadblock and give an image of legitimacy to the affair and may even have been “cloned” vehicles used by organized crime groups and made to appear like official police and army vehicles.
The five dead gunmen were spread around and inside the black pickup. Three alleged municipal policemen who did not have proper credentials were taken into custody.
An unknown number of gunmen escaped in the Mazda SUV by driving into the Villas de San Juan neighborhood where residents reported several homes damaged by gunfire from the criminals and pursuing soldiers. Fortunately, no residents were reported hurt.
Ciudad Benito Juarez made national and international news in July of this year after clandestine grave sites containing 51 victims of organized crime executions were discovered there.