Mexican Troops Kill 11 Gunmen Near U.S. Border

December 12, 2011 - 5:55 PM

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican soldiers battled suspected drug cartel members just south of the Texas border, killing 11 gunmen, the army said Monday. One soldier was reported wounded.

The clash began when soldiers on patrol were fired on Saturday from a building in the city of Valle Hermoso, south of Brownsville, Texas, the Defense Department said in a news release.

The troops later seized the building, finding 11 dead gunmen and 73 rifles inside, it said. Two suspects were arrested.

The wounded soldier was taken to a hospital for treatment. His condition was unknown.

Both the Gulf and Zetas drug cartels operate in that area.

In Veracruz, a Gulf coast state bordering Tamaulipas to the south, unidentified assailants tossed a bomb into a building where a cockfight was being held early Sunday, state prosecutors said in a statement.

One man was killed and nine others slightly wounded, the statement said. The wounded were treated at hospitals and released.

State prosecutors did not specify what type of explosive was involved. They also did not say if they had arrested any suspects or uncovered a motive for the attack.

Federal prosecutors also announced Monday that a judge sentenced five former soldiers to 25-year prison terms for aiding a drug cartel.

The rare convictions occurred in the northern state of Sinaloa, home to the drug cartel of the same name.

The five included a major assigned to the military court system, three lieutenants and a sergeant. They were convicted of organized crime and assisting in drug trafficking.

Prosecutors said in a statement the former officers gave "strategic military information and protection" to Alfredo Beltran Leyva, who was a leader of the Beltran-Leyva drug cartel before he was arrested in January 2008.

Beltran Leyva and his brothers were allied with the Sinaloa cartel, but the two gangs split in part because of Alfredo's arrest.