Mexican troops hunt narco forces in Tampico

Mexican army troops detained the supposed leader of the powerful Gulf Cartel in Tampico, Tamaulipas, Dec. 12. Forces of the Eighth Military Zone claimed Marco Antonio RamĂ­rez del RĂ­o, alias “Tony La Palma,” is successor to Luis Reyes EnrĂ­quez, known as “El Rex” or “Z-12,” the cartel boss detained in June. Also detained were DarĂ­o Tristán MĂ©ndez, “El Dari,” and Mario Rafael Morales Agis, “El RatĂłn.” Antonio Contreras Navarro, “El Gallo,” reportedly killed himself rather than surrender. Soldiers seized a kilogram of cocaine, two pistols and two assault rifles—an AR-15 and an AK-47. (El Universal, Dec. 12) Troops in three hummers sealed off Tampico neighborhoods in the hunt for “La Palma.” (Milenio, Dec. 11)

“El Rex” EnrĂ­quez is said to be the founder of Los Zetas, a paramilitary force which has fought rivals and federal forces on the Gulf Cartel’s turf. (El Universal, June 25, 2007)

Last month, Mexican naval officers fought a fierce gun battle with narco forces outside a shopping center in Tampico. The shoot-out reportedly began when a dozen armed men in two SUVs opened fire on a navy patrol. The assailants fled on foot, and the military sealed off sections of the city in an attempt to track them down. (Reuters, Nov. 9)

See our last post on Mexico’s narco war.