It was only a question of time. Mexican drug traffickers fighting to control northern Mexico have turned their guns and grenades on the Mexican army, authorities said, in an apparent escalation of warfare that played out across multiple cities in two border states.

In coordinated attacks, gunmen in armored cars and equipped with grenade launchers fought army troops this week and attempted to trap some of them in two military bases by cutting off access and blocking highways, a new tactic by Mexico’s organized criminals.

Los Angeles Times’s Tracy Wilkinson writes that in taking such aggressive action, the traffickers have shown that they are not reluctant to challenge the army head-on and that they possess good intelligence on where the army is, how it moves and when it operates.

At least eighteen alleged attackers were killed and one soldier wounded in the fighting that erupted Tuesday in half a dozen towns and cities in the states of Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon, the army said, topping off one of the deadliest months yet in a drug war that has raged for nearly three-and-a-half years.

Wilkinson notes that traffickers previously have fought with army patrols, but the attempt to blockade garrisons came after weeks of an intense, bloody power struggle between two rival organizations, the Gulf cartel and its erstwhile paramilitary allies, the Zetas, to control the region bordering South Texas.

Source: Homeland Security Newswire

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