A 15-day operation staged by the armed forces in four states in northern Mexico resulted in the deaths of 22 suspected criminals in shootouts, the seizure of arms and drugs, and the rescue of 14 kidnapping victims, the Defense Secretariat said Monday.
The second phase of “Operation Scorpion” was carried out Sept. 10-24 by army and air force personnel, the secretariat said.
The operation’s goal was to “rein in the activities of the criminal organizations that operate in the states of Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, Coahuila and San Luis Potosi in a forceful manner,” the secretariat said in a statement.
The four states have been plagued by drug-related violence blamed on a war for control of smuggling routes into the United States being waged by the Los Zetas and Gulf drug cartels.
Military personnel arrested 307 suspected criminals during the operation, the secretariat said.
The operation resulted in 13 engagements with criminal organizations, leaving 22 suspected gunmen dead and three soldiers wounded.
Military personnel seized 4.8 tons and 2,099 individual doses of marijuana, 6.9 kilos and 474 doses of cocaine, 2.3 kilos and 357 doses of crack cocaine, and 202 doses of crystal methamphetamine, the secretariat said.
The operation also led to the seizure of 459 rifles, 118 handguns, 108,000 rounds of ammunition, 3,237 ammunition clips, 84 grenades, 272 vehicles, including nine equipped with homemade armor, nine boats, $292,191 in cash and 7.2 million pesos (about $526,000).
Jonathan Emmanuel Estrada and Tomas Barbosa Sanchez, who allegedly participated in the Aug. 25 arson attack on the Casino Royale in Monterrey that killed 52 people, were arrested during the operation, the secretariat said.
The arrests of the two suspected Los Zetas drug cartel members had been announced last week.