International

How the Gunfights in North Mexico That Left 23 Dead Unfolded

VILLA UNION, Mexico—When dozens of pickup trucks crowded with armed men and mounted machine guns roared into Villa Union, residents of the small town near the U.S. border began to realize they were the target of a military-style invasion.

What followed were hours-long gun battles between a cartel force estimated to number from 70 to 150 men and state police that left 23 people dead. At least 50 homes and buildings were riddled with bullet holes.

In the aftermath, authorities found about 20 abandoned vehicles, some with machine-gun turrets and welded armoring; the doors of many were professionally printed with the initials of a drug cartel. At least four had .50 caliber mounted machine guns. Residents claimed there were at least twice that many pickups, with some escaping.

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Mexico-cartels-Villa-Union-3-1200x800
A soldier walks past City Hall that is riddled with bullet holes, in Villa Union, Mexico, on Dec. 2, 2019. (Eduardo Verdugo/AP Photo)

In a statement Tuesday, the Coahuila state government raised the death toll by one from 22 previously and said 10 suspects had been arrested.

How the Day of Terror Unfolded

Residents on the east side of Villa Union—the side closest to the border city of Nuevo Laredo where a splinter of the Zetas cartel had its base—started seeing convoys of pickup trucks rolling into town. At first, many saw the ammo vests the trucks occupants were wearing and thought they were police or soldiers.

“My brother-in-law counted 50 trucks, but there were more on the other side of town,” said one man.

One shop owner counted 20 trucks but stopped counting when he saw that some had Texas plates—or no plates at all. He knew that meant they werent police.

Others began seeing pickups with the letters “CDN” on their side. “CDN” stands for “Cartel del Noreste,” or “Cartel of the Northeast,” one of the splinter groups of the old Zetas.

People Began to Hide

The shop owner who noticed the odd license plates quickly went into his shop and hid behind the counter. The attackers descended from their vehicles with assault rifles and as soon as the shopkeeper closed his door, they began firing on the town hall.

“You dont know what to think at a moment like that, you just hide,” said the shop owner. Outside, an ambulance and a police patrol truck were shot up. The truck caught fire and burned.

A block away from the town hall, a grandmother pulled her two grandchildren into an armoire to shield them as a hail of gunfire rang through the town. “It seemed like an eternity passed,” she said.

Beside the town hall, the objective of the attack, parish priest Federico de Los Santos was in his church along with a half-dozen parishioners when the gunfire began. They threw themselves to the ground as the bullets flew.

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A shops windows are riddled with bullet holes near City Hall after a gun battle in Villa Union, Mexico, on Dec. 2, 2019. (Eduardo Verdugo/AP Photo)

One young man, who was walking down the street in the towns center when the gunfire broke out, pounded on a food stall where the 71-year-old owner was starting to roast chicken. He banged until the owner let him in to take cover. They huddled inside.

“Id never seen a shootout like that except in the movies,” said the stalls owner.

The attackers split into Read More – Source

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