MEXICO CITY (AP) — A Mexican soldier was killed and a general wounded Monday when traffickers opened fire on a military patrol that sought to intercept a drug plane as it landed on a roadway, officials said.
The dramatic pre-dawn shootout in the Caribbean coast state of Quintana Roo showed the brazenness of drug cartels that are flying increasing amounts of cocaine in from South America.
The traffickers pulled up in two vehicles near where the small plane landed on a road near the coastal lagoon resort of Bacalar and tried to unload an estimated 1,750 to 2,200 pounds (800 and 1,000 kilograms) of cocaine in 26 packages, authorities said.
When soldiers pulled up — the plane had been tracked by radar — the traffickers opened fire with a .50 caliber rifle and at least three other guns, officials said. Two suspects were detained nearby.
The general and two other soldiers wounded in the confrontation were listed in stable condition. The Quintana Roo state governor said the general was the local commander of military forces in the area.
While violence in the coastal state, which is home to the resort city of Cancun, has declined somewhat from the high levels of 2018, there was an uptick in Cancun over the weekend. Prosecutors reported six killings, including three men shot dead on a dirt road in a low-income neighborhood.
State prosecutor Óscar Montes de Oca suggested the killings were drug-related, saying they “are the product of the fight against crime and infighting among gangs.”