January 08, 2008

It is the wild west (at high noon too) mixed in with some more contemporary narco themes.

Shootout in Mexican border town leaves 3 dead | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle: "MEXICO CITY — Mexican soldiers killed at least three suspected gangland gunmen in a shootout Monday in the border town of Rio Bravo, across the Rio Grande near the South Texas town of Weslaco.

The shootout, which erupted on a highway on the edge of the town about noon, also left three federal agents and five soldiers wounded, a Mexican government source said. An unknown number of other gunmen were reported captured after hundreds of Mexican troops and police swarmed into the town.

Several thousand troops and federal police were dispatched to Rio Bravo and the nearby city of Reynosa five weeks ago following the daytime slayings of six men on a downtown street. The dead included Juan Guajardo, a twice-elected former Rio Bravo mayor and federal legislator, and four federal agents acting as his bodyguards.

Guajardo, 49, had lost a bid to reclaim city hall in November elections, following a campaign in which he accused local politicians of protecting drug traffickers and other criminals.

Details of Monday's shooting remain vague, with the press offices of the Mexican Defense Department, Attorney General's Office and the Public Security Ministry, which controls the federal police, all promising information that was never released. But one spokesman, on condition of anonymity, confirmed the deaths and injuries.

Federal agents also prevented local reporters from accessing the scene of Monday's shooting, reportedly roughing up a few photographers and threatening others with arrest.

Hundreds of troops and police poured into Rio Bravo, a city of about 120,000 people, shortly after the shootings, backing up traffic along the main highway that flanks the border in Mexico.

The Gulf Cartel controls narcotics trafficking and other organized crime in the Mexican cities bordering South Texas. The cartel's enforcers include gunmen known as the Zetas, or the Zs. The Zetas were founded by deserters from the Mexican army's special forces, and their ranks are thought to include many ex-soldiers.

The Gulf Cartel's battles with rivals over control of smuggling routes into the United States have roiled Mexican cities and towns for four years. Gangland violence claimed as many as 2,500 lives in the country last year.

The reputed leader of the Gulf Cartel, Osiel Cardenas, awaits federal trial in Houston on drug-related charges after being extradited to the United States a year ago.

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