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No hugs, just bullets: damage in Villa Unión after Saturday's attack. No hugs, just bullets: damage in Villa Unión after Saturday's attack.

Cartel attacked Coahuila town in bid to secure drug route to US

Death toll rises to 23 after weekend attack in Villa Unión

The Northeast Cartel attacked police and the municipal building in Villa Unión, Coahuila, on Saturday in an attempt to take control of the area to run drugs, arms and people into the United States, according to state authorities.

The attack by the cartel’s military wing Hell’s Army left 23 people dead, including 17 cartel members, four police officers and two civilians. Police have arrested 10 suspects, who confirmed the cartel’s plans to take over the region.

“The statement [of the attackers] is confidential, but I can say that we have found that the route to the United States is attractive to the criminal group for the trafficking of people, arms and drugs,” said Coahuila Attorney General Gerardo Márquez.

He said about 50 civilians opened fire on the municipal building in Villa Unión, where they were met by 15 police officers who fought back until other security forces arrived.

The cartel hitmen were ultimately driven away from the town but not before they had taken several people hostage. Officials reported that all the hostages were later released.

The area resembled a ghost town after the attack, with empty streets, three closed schools and most people too scared to leave their homes to attend Sunday mass at the local church.

The National Guard installed a base of operations in Villa Unión on Monday to secure the town.

“From today [Monday], we are going to establish personnel here permanently to provide more confidence . . . to the people of Villa Unión and we’re going to coordinate with the municipal authorities so that they can start carrying out their normal activities,” said National Guard coordinator Rubén Barraza.

Sources: Milenio (sp)

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