A convoy of armed gunmen allegedly belonging to the Zetas attacked the city Thursday shooting at, vandalizing and torching the headquarters of the Tamaulipas State Police, the local transit police headquarters and nearly a dozen buildings, authorities said. The attack left one civilian and several gunmen dead. Miguel Aleman is across the Rio Grande from Roma.
According to the information released by the Mexican Army, a firefight with gunmen resulted in the death of one gunmen and the arrest of 11 more. They also reported one soldier dead.
Also on Thursday, the body count found in mass graves in rural San Fernando rose to 177. The Zetas are accused of killing those bodies and placing them several mass graves, the most recent of which was discovered Tuesday.
The attack began about 5:15 a.m. Thursday and continued until 7:30 a.m., when the Mexican military was able to run the gunmen out of town, said a law enforcement official who asked not to be named for security reasons.
The Mexican Military issued a news release that doesn’t mention the dead civilian or the other gunmen reported by the law enforcement official.
One of the groups stayed in Miguel Aleman and fought with the military while the other went toward Ciudad Mier. As a result of the firefight, the Mexican army reported seizing 20 assault rifles, eight grenades, more than 300 magazines and more than 7,600 ammunition rounds.
According to the 8th Military Zone in Reynosa, the Zetas also attacked a military patrol along the Riberena highway prior to the attack in Miguel Aleman which prompted the mobilization of army troops toward the area.
Also prior to the arrival of the military, when Zetas arrived in town, they began shooting at the law enforcement headquarters and shot at the buildings and patrol cars as well as causing other damage, the Mexican law enforcement official stated.
The group then went around town shooting at and setting fire to a number of high-profile buildings along the city’s main avenue, including the Ford and Nissan dealerships, an Auto Zone store, a Stripes convenience store, a large furniture store and a used car lot.
During the rampage, one employee of the local Coca-Cola Co. bottling plant was killed as he drove to work. His name was not released pending notification of next of kin, the law enforcement official said. When military forces arrived toward the end of the rampage, a shootout ensued.
In the San Fernando case, Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office announced the arrest of another San Fernando municipal police officer who is described as being part of the group of police officers who provided protection to the Zetas during the time that the massacres took place. Officer Joel Reséndiz Moreno was presented Thursday afternoon by the PGR as the agemcu asked for the public’s help in coming forward and filing charges against him in connection with the case. He is the 17th officer to be arrested in connection with the case.
The Tamaulipas Attorney General’s Office—PGJE, said Thursday that the first mass graves were discovered April 1, and authorities have continued to find more since. The most recent grave site was found Tuesday when authorities found three graves with six additional bodies.
Of the 177 bodies, 122 can be related to the investigation into a string of hijacked buses last month, according to a PGJE news release.
The other 55 bodies have been buried for a longer time and are not related to the investigation, the PGJE said.
The agency also said that as of Wednesday 345 individuals have appeared to look for missing relatives, 237 of those have filed complaints into the disappearance of a loved one and 280 have provided with DNA samples for investigation purposes.