Marines found the bodies of eight suspected drug traffickers in Tamaulipas, a state in northeastern Mexico, after a shootout, the Navy Secretariat said Wednesday.
The shootout occurred Tuesday in Valle Hermoso, a city located 1,018 kilometers (633 miles) north of Mexico City and close to the U.S. border, after marines got a tip that armed individuals riding in SUVs were in the area.
The gunmen opened fire on the marines and escaped into the undergrowth, the secretariat said.
A marine sustained “wounds that are not life-threatening,” the secretariat said.
Marines “found the bodies of eight suspected members of an organized crime group” during a search of the area, the Navy Secretariat said.
Five vehicles, arms, ammunition and ammunition clips were seized at the crime scene and handed over to federal prosecutors.
The violence has intensified in Tamaulipas and neighboring Nuevo Leon state since the appearance in Monterrey, the capital of Nuevo Leon, 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.