Villa Union is a small town of about 6,000 in Mexico which is located 25 miles from the Texas border. Over the weekend, a convoy of trucks, some with .50 caliber machine guns mounted in the back, invaded the town and engaged in a shootout with police that lasted an hour. The death toll from the attack stands at 22 people. Sixteen of those were cartel members, two were civilians, and four were police. Miguel Angel Riquelme Solis, the Governor of the Mexican state of Coahuila, said Cartel del Noreste made frequent attempts to enter the region:
“Organized crime, specifically the Cartel del Noreste, tries to get into Coahuila every day at some point, in one of its areas,” he said, adding, “Today they got in by force and with a contingent that is not like anything we have seen in a long time.”
But “we won’t allow organized crime to come to the area,” he said.
“Many years ago they came in with impunity,” Solis said. “They came into our cities and municipalities and nothing happened. Not nowadays. This was a forceful response.”
Local residents captured video of the convoy entering the town: “These are not common civilians, it is terrorism and as such should be treated…”
Hoy en Villa Unión Coahuila, Mex. Estos no son civiles comunes, es terrorismo y como tal debe tratarse, este es el CDN @lopezobrador_ @realDonaldTrump @POTUS @CarlosLoret @CiroGomezL pic.twitter.com/bido5wgsrN
— Primero soy Militar (@PrimeroMilitar) December 1, 2019
State police arrived in their own trucks and surrounded the town:
#AlMomento Elementos del Ejército Mexicano, Fiscalía del Estado y Policía Civil arriban al municipio de #VillaUnión para salvaguardar a los ciudadanos que se encuentran entre el fuego cruzado. pic.twitter.com/n48wgqUdOf
— Coahuila En Línea (@coahuilaenlinea) November 30, 2019
There was a massive shootout. You can hear the shots being fired in the background:
🚩👁️Integrantes del Cártel del Noreste, atacaron a balazos el edifico de la presidencia municipal de Villa Unión, en Coahuila.
— Oscar (@ALEPHBIO) December 1, 2019
After it was over the state governor toured the scene:
— Estefany Solis (@fanysolis) November 30, 2019
This clip shows some of the damage to city hall as well as a few of the cartel trucks that have been shot to pieces.
The AP points out that this is part of a pattern in Mexico:
Mexico’s homicide rate has increased to historically high levels this year. After a string of massacres, critics have charged that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s government does not have a coherent security strategy.
López Obrador was scheduled to meet on Monday with about 30 relatives of the nine women and children, all dual U.S.-Mexican citizens, killed by gunman from the Juarez cartel in the border state of Sonora in November.
President Obrador’s stated approach to cartel violence is “hugs not bullets,” but that doesn’t seem to be working out too well. Last month another cartel with a very similar convoy took over a small town after one of El Chapo’s sons was arrested. Police eventually had to release the son to avoid an ongoing gun battle in the middle of town. Two weeks later one of the police officers believed to have been involved in the raid was murdered in broad daylight by cartel members.
While Obrador is asking for more time for his “hugs” plan to work, President Trump suggested in a recent interview that he would consider designating the cartels as terror groups. But Mexico has no intention of allowing Americans into the country to fight the cartels. Friday, the day before the attack in Villa Union, President Obrador said, “Armed foreigners cannot intervene in our territory. We will not allow that.”