The Naval ministry (Semar) reported that the shooting began when a unit of Marines conducting operations in San José de Lourdes was attacked by a large group of gunmen from a safe house.
The shooting wounded six Marines, who were all reported out of danger.
The fighting began at 6:00am and as of 7:00pm Marines were still conducting house to house searches in search of more suspects in San Jose. Residents of the community reported a large amount of explosions from grenades and heavy weapons during the fighting.
Between 8:00am and 11:00am gunmen hijacked buses, large trucks and passenger vehicles and used them for “narcobloqueos”, or blockades, on the main roadways in and out of Fresnillo to obstruct vehicular traffic and limit the movement of authorities.
Shooting was reported in the afternoon in the important religious center and pilgrimage site of Platero, also in the municipality of Fresnillo, where the church of the Santo Niño de Atocha is located.
Units of Federal Police and Army troops reinforced the Marines, manning checkpoints and searching the central bus station and hotels throughout the municipality.
According to the statement from the Naval Ministry a large number of arms and ammunition and several vehicles were also confiscated during the operation.
Initially the fighting in San Jose de Lourdes was reported as a street to street battle that began when a Marine patrol intercepted a large convoy carrying over 250 Zetas, but this version of events was later denied by Zacatecas’ State Attorney General, Arturo Nahle Garcia.
In his statement Nahle Garcia explained that the number of 250 pertained to the number of armed Zetas believed to reside in the municipality of Fresnillo.
The Attorney General revealed that Los Zetas have a headquarters in Fresnillo and use the city as a center of operations. He stated that the criminal group is also present in other parts of the state.
“Without a doubt, Fresnillo is important to them (Los Zetas), they set up camp here 5 or 6 years ago and it is only recently that we have begun to fight them with the help of federal forces. It seems that previously their presence was tolerated.”
One of the Zetas killed in the battle with state police in La Lobera, Jalisco this past June 14, where the 6 young female Zetas recruits were captured, was a mid level Zeta commander based in Fresnillo.
It is not known if intelligence gathered at La Lobera and from the interrogation of the Zetas captured there led to the location of the safehouses attacked by the Marines in San Jose de Lourdes.
Zacatecas en linea images courtesy of Osvaldo Martinez.