MEXICO CITY – A gunbattle between Mexican soldiers and drug cartel gunmen near the border with Texas killed 11 alleged gang members and prompted the U.S. to reinforce security at international crossings, officials said Thursday.
The soldiers came under fire Wednesday afternoon when they were investigating a tip about the presence of armed men in the town of Nueva Ciudad Guerrero in Tamaulipas, the Mexican Defense Department said in a statement. Eleven of the gunmen were killed in the ensuing gunbattle but no troops were hurt, it said.
Afterward, soldiers arrested two surviving gunmen who told authorities they belonged to the Zetas drug gang, the statement said. Troops also seized nine assault rifles, four handguns a grenade launcher and ammunition.
Reports of the gunfire prompted the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to reinforce security at the Falcon Dam and Roma international crossing, agency spokesman Rick Pauza said. He said both crossings remained opened, however.
Mexico's southeastern border with the U.S. has a seen a surge in drug-gang violence this year since a turf war erupted between the Zetas and the Gulf cartel. Shootouts, assassination and blockades have become daily occurrences in Mexican cities and towns across the region.
Earlier Thursday, President Felipe Calderon acknowledged that drug-related violence in Mexico is at "intolerable and inadmissible levels" and called for united action across different branches of government.
Calderon, speaking at a meeting of state and federal officials on security matters, said the "ambition and absolute lack of scruples" of drug lords are to blame for the violence. But he also said government inaction was partly responsible for the escalation in violence and urged state and federal officials to work together to combat the violence.
Nationwide, more than 28,000 people have died in drug violence since December 2006, when Calderon took office and intensified a crackdown on drug traffickers.
In the Caribbean resort city of Cancun, meanwhile, police discovered a house being used to package cocaine and marijuana in a residential area. Suspects fled the home as troops, acting on an anonymous tip, arrived at the house and there were no arrests, said Francisco Alor, the attorney general of Quintana Roo state, where Cancun is located.
Also in Cancun, the owner of a company that distributes plastic bags was shot to death in a parking lot near the hotel zone, according to the state Attorney General's Office.
Elsewhere in Quintana Roo, a mother, father and their adult son were found dead from gunshot wounds in Majahual, a fishing village near the border with Belize. The family, owned a seafood restaurant in the nearby city of Chetumal.
Police had not determine a motive for the killing of the family or the businessman, the attorney general's office said.
While Quintana Roo has not seen the levels of violence plaguing Mexico's northern border, the region is a major drug trafficking zone.
Associated Press writers Terry Wallace in Dallas and Gabriel Alcocer in Cancun contributed to this story.