Three Mexican Army suffered more casualties Monday evening in a shootout with gunmen in the Pacific coast state of Sinaloa. Sinaloa newspapers reported that three soldiers were killed and two others critically injured in the incident that occurred in the northern Sinaloan city of Guasave that is known as a stronghold of the Beltran Leyva gang known as La Limpia Mazatleca.
The Beltran Leyva gang in northern Sinaloa, led by "el Chapo Isidro"Isidro Meza Flores, has been waging a violent campaign against the state police and federal forces who they accuse of collusion with their bitter enemy Chapo Guzman and the Sinaloa Cartel. Los Mazatlecos are also active in the southern Sinaloa port of Mazatlan and the neighboring state of Nayarit.
According to published reports an Army patrol was in pursuit of several vehicles with armed men on board through the streets of Guasave. At least two Army trucks were able to stop the gunmen in downtown Guasave but were outgunned and overwhelmed. Witnesses reported that the gunmen also suffered casualties but they were retrieved by fellow gangmembers, leaving behind only a white pickup and several weapons.
No arrests were reported by the authorities.
The gunbattle, which occurred at approximately 6:00PM Pacific time, provoked a state of panic as the area was filled with residents trying to escape the heavy volume of gunfire. Hundreds of empty cartridges littered the scene and nearby businesses were damaged. There were no reports of injuries or fatalities of innocent bystanders.
Moments after the gunfire ended and Army and police reinforcements arrived a tense standoff broke out when it was learned Guasave municipal police officers in the area had refused to respond to the soldiers' pleas for support by radio and had only arrived after the shooting had ceased
The 40 minute standoff between the Army and state police against the municipal police officers ended with the 32 municipal officers at the scene being disarmed, handcuffed and detained for questioning, including police chief Leocadio Cabrera Delgado. Although not officially under arrest the officers were transported Tuesday morning to the state capitol of Culiacan for questioning by state prosecutors.
The remaining municipal police force in Guasave has reportedly been restricted from patroling the streets, and the Army is out in force searching for the killers.
Names of the dead soldiers:
Jesús Antonio Robles Galaviz
Pedro Javier Valenzuela
Neftalí Zacarías Santos
Names of the wounded soldiers:
José Juan Gutiérrez Zárate
Juan Miguel Flores Guzmán
These are the latest casualties that Mexican military forces have suffered within the past week. Last Friday a shootout in Nuevo Laredo left one soldier dead and five others wounded. Four gunmen belonging to Los Zetas were killed, although unofficially both the military and the criminals suffered higher losses.
In what was a sudden upsurge in violence in Tamaulipas, gunfights broke out in several of the northern border state's cities last week through today. Although impossible to confirm, there are unofficial reports of military casualties, including deaths, in Reynosa, Matamoros and Ciudad Victoria. Violence has also been reported in Valle Hermoso, Rio Bravo and San Fernando.
Matamoros, Tamaulipas after an attack outside of a police station by unidentified gunmen on January 22, 2012. On Tuesday, January 31, military forces kill at least three gunmen in separate gunbattles in Matamoros.