According to Coahuila state government officials, the hour-long gun battle between cartel forces and Mexican security forces occurred when the suspected cartel members arrived in a convoy of trucks and assaulted the Villa Unión city hall on Saturday.
Videos from the attack posted on social media show the local government office and a police vehicle peppered with bullet holes. In other videos, shouts from civilians can be heard telling people to stay indoors.
Collectively, 21 people were reported killed during the gun battle, including 15 cartel gunmen, 4 police officers, and 2 civilians, a firefighter and an engineer, who were killed after first being abducted.
A second firefighter and other municipal workers are still reported missing.
Additionally, 4 minors and 6 state police officers were among those reported wounded.
According to an official statement from Coahuila state Gov. Miguel Angel Riquelme, authorities apprehended 17 vehicles, 4 of which were equipped with 50-caliber weapons, more than 18 long weapons, and thousands of cartridges of ammunition.
In the aftermath of the attack, a bullet-strewn truck bearing the initials C.D.N., presumed to stand for Cartel Del Noreste, was found abandoned at the scene.
Mexican security forces are scheduled to remain in the town of Villa Unión over the next several days to help restore peace and order to the area.
Located about 40 miles from Villa Unión along the U.S.-Mexico border, Eagle Pass maintains two International Bridges connected to sister cities in Mexico, one of which, Piedras Negras, is located in the Mexican state, Coahuila, where Saturday’s attacks occurred.
According to Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a number of organized smuggling groups operate in Piedras Negras, many of whom use public transportation from the interior to staging areas close to Piedras Negras.
“A variety of routes from Eagle Pass into the interior of the United States have traditionally attracted smuggling activity,” CBP says when describing the area of responsibility that the Eagle Pass CBP station encompasses.
Saturday’s attacks come less than a month after nine Americans–including two 8-month old twins–were killed as a result of cartel violence near the border state of Sonora, less than 100 miles from the Arizona border.
Additionally, the attack in Coahuila comes less than a week after President Trump announced his intention to designate Mexican cartels as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs), an initiative pushed for last spring by Texas Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX-21).
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Sarah McConnell is a reporter for The Texan. Previously, she worked as a Cyber Security Consultant after serving as a Pathways Intern at the Department of Homeland Security – Citizenship and Immigration Services. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Texas A&M as well as her Master of Public Service and Administration degree from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M. In her free time, Sarah is an avid runner, jazz enthusiast, and lover of all things culinary.