Three people were killed and several others wounded in a series of violent incidents, including a clash involving army troops and gunmen, in Monterrey, the capital of the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon.
Three gunmen were killed, one was wounded and another ended up under arrest Tuesday in a shootout with army troops in the Monterrey suburb of Santa Catarina, a Nuevo Leon Public Safety Secretariat spokesman said.
Assailants threw a grenade around the same time at a police checkpoint in the southern section of Monterrey, setting a patrol car on fire but not wounding anyone.
Gang members on the payroll of drug cartels stole several transit department buses, cargo trucks and automobiles a few minutes later and used them to block some of the main avenues in Monterrey.
At least five avenues were blocked by drug gangs in an effort to disrupt police and army operations, police said.
A Federal Police patrol car on its way to reinforce units taking part in an anti-drug operation flipped over after colliding with another vehicle, injuring three officers and a civilian.
Nuevo Leon and neighboring Tamaulipas state are dealing with a wave of violence unleashed by drug traffickers battling for control of smuggling routes into the United States.
More than 110 people, including more than 15 police officers, have been murdered in Nuevo Leon this year.
The violence has intensified in the two border states since the appearance in Monterrey in February 2010 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.
The army, marine corps and Federal Police have established checkpoints on the main avenues in the Monterrey metro area.
The army plans to set up at least 15 checkpoints daily in Monterrey, the capital of Nuevo Leon, focusing on enforcing federal laws, officials said.
The army checkpoints will be permanent and in addition to the 28 already established by state police to prevent auto robberies.
More than 34,000 people have died in drug-related violence since President Felipe Calderon declared war on Mexico’s cartels shortly after taking office in December 2006.
Calderon has deployed tens of thousands of soldiers and Federal Police officers across the country to combat drug cartels and other criminal organizations.
The anti-drug operation, however, has failed to put a dent in the violence due, according to experts, to drug cartels’ ability to buy off the police and even high-ranking officials.
original post: EFE