On Saturday, an armed convoy, made up mostly of pickup trucks, rolled in the Mexican community of Villa Union and began an attack on the town’s City Hall. Mexican Security Forces were dispatched to the area. A firefight broke out that has now claimed the lives of at least 20 people, many of whom were gunmen believed to be a part of a “cartel assault force” that is now on the run in the vicinity of Villa Union.
According to Gov. Miguel Angel Riquelme, the total number of assailants killed throughout the two-day battle now stands at 14, with four police officers killed along with two civilian hostages — reportedly a firefighter and an engineer. At least six more officers were wounded, alongside four more young people that were injured as hostages before being freed by Mexican officials.
Thus far, the reason for the attack remains unclear. The small community of Villa Union houses only around 3,000 residents and is located only twenty or so miles from the U.S. border.
As the firefight began to turn in favor of law enforcement, the assailants grabbed hostages and stole vehicles to make a hasty escape from the small town — one suspect reportedly even stole a hearse that was being used for a funeral (though it remains unclear whether or not there were anyone’s remains inside). In the aftermath of the firefight, bullet-riddled trucks could be seen abandoned throughout the city’s streets. Many of these trucks were marked with the letters “CDN” — or Cartel of the Northeast.
In these videos uploaded to Twitter, you can hear the firefight as it plays out.
#VillaUnion #Coahuila this is what’s going on in my beautiful Coahuila the north side of #mexico RED CODE in Nava, Allende &Piedras Negras the boarder of 🇲🇽 and 🇺🇸 . @unichicago @CNN @cnnbrk @NBCNews pic.twitter.com/vH1P4Q1Sfy
— Vanessa Velz (@VanessaVelz) December 1, 2019
Mexican Drug Cartel In Mexico Engage police.
The shootout happened around noon in the small town of Villa Union, a town in Coahuila state located about an hour’s drive southwest of Eagle Pass, Texas.
Coahuila, State Gov. Miguel Angel Riquelme told local. pic.twitter.com/iTTiyFCRRJ
— Leo Bruskony (@bruskony) December 2, 2019
Hey guys whoever has family in Villa union, Allende, Zaragoza, Nava and Morelos make sure to check in on them and pray for their safety. Didn’t think my family could be in danger and it’s honestly unsettling that my sisters are only a few minutes away from it. pic.twitter.com/prjcSGXchk
— Mel (@meldelirious) November 30, 2019
In this footage, you can see the convoy of pickup trucks with large weapons mounted in their beds moving into town:
Horas de terror en Coahuila Villa Unión, 5 sicarios muertos, 1 policia muerto y varios heridos, participó SEDENA, POLICIA ESTATAL vs Cartel DN
Así el terror qué niega el gobierno! 😠
Fuera LOPEZ y su bola de PNDJOs👇 pic.twitter.com/fmOUxRpYBc
— 𝕭𝖆𝖗ó𝖓 𝕸ü𝖓𝖈𝖍𝖆𝖚𝖘𝖊𝖓 (@cortes_ns) December 1, 2019
Mexico’s homicide rate has climbed dramatically over the past ten months, up nearly 2 percent since Mexican president López Obrador was elected last year. Thus far, there have been 29,414 reported homicides in Mexico throughout 2019, as compared to 28,869 in 2018. There is currently no evidence to tie this attack to the slaying of three women and six children, who held dual U.S. citizenship, in Mexico last month — though these two events represent a sharp rise in cartel violence overall.
President Trump has expressed interest in classifying these cartels as terrorist organizations, thereby dramatically increasing the military and economic options at his disposal in engaging with any threat that cartel violence may pose to American citizens or interests. Mexican officials have opposed such a classification, as it would potentially lead to American military forces taking unilateral actions within Mexico’s sovereign territory.