A shootout between gunmen from rival gangs left 18 people dead in the northeastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas, state officials said.
The shootout occurred on Monday morning in the town of Abasolo, the Tamaulipas state government said in a statement.
“Federal and state authorities carried out a deployment in the town to protect the population and restore order,” the state government said, adding that it was in close contact with municipal officials and federal agencies investigating the incident.
Abasolo, a farming town located about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Ciudad Victoria, the capital of Tamaulipas, is home to some 14,000 people.
The border state of Tamaulipas has been the scene since late 2009 of a war for control of territory and smuggling routes between the Gulf and Los Zetas drug cartels.
A Los Zetas boss captured Monday by the Federal Police in the southern state of Oaxaca revealed details to investigators about the war between some of Mexico’s cartels.
Marcos Carmona Hernandez said Los Zetas had entered into a non-aggression agreement with the Beltran Leyva, Juarez and Tijuana drug cartels.
The Sinaloa cartel, Mexico’s oldest and most powerful drug trafficking organization, has formed a rival alliance with the Gulf and La Familia Michoacana cartels, Mexican media reports say.
A total of 15,270 people died in drug-related violence in Mexico last year, and more than 35,000 people have died since President Felipe Calderon declared war on the country’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.