A fierce gunbattle in Piedras Negras prompted officials to close two international bridges to southbound traffic in Eagle Pass overnight Tuesday, according to Jason Buch of the San Antonio Express-News.
American officials shuttered the crossing to the Mexican state of Coahuila after hearing that narcotraffickers had taken an 18-wheeler and made it into an impromptu road blockade less than half a mile from the Camino Real bridge, Buch reported.
The fighting between the Mexican military and drug cartels spread throughout Piedras Negras and ultimately claimed the life of a female Mexican police officer and wounded six people, including another police officer.
Dennis Smith, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection based in Del Rio, told the TM Daily Post that the decision to shut down the bridges was made in coordination with Mexican officials, the Eagle Pass Police Department, and the Maverick County Sheriff’s Office. Smith said such closures happen “occasionally, for one reason or another” at border crossings but that he did not recall such a closure happening “anytime in recent memory” in Eagle Pass.
Eagle Pass Police Chief Tony Castañeda told Buch that the fighting did not get too close to the Rio Grande. “This is not out of the norm,” Castañeda said. “There’s been several gun battles going on here with the narcotics traffickers for quite some time. But it’s never gotten to this magnitude where they close bridges.”
“The attackers fled following the shootout, leaving behind a large quantity of weapons, including assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and grenade launchers,” the Associated Press reported. Bullet-ridden cars also cluttered the roadways in the wake of the fighting, Chivis Martinez reported at Borderland Beat. The cartel involved in the shootout was likely the Zetas.
This comes just three weeks after a woman in El Paso was struck in the leg by a stray bullet. Maria Romero, who moved from Juárez to El Paso to avoid the city’s violence, was walking with her family downtown when she was hit by a .223-caliber bullet fired during a gunfight between Juárez police and carjackers less than half a mile from the border.
Both bridges resumed normal operations by 7:40 a.m. Wednesday morning, but Piedras Negras remains on high alert.