MEXICO CITY — Just hours after President Felipe Calderon acknowledged Thursday that an increasingly bloody war with powerful drug trafficking organizations poses "the central threat" to Mexico, soldiers killed 25 suspected cartel soldiers in a gun battle at a ranch near the U.S. border.
The Associated Press, citing a military spokesman who refused to be named because he was not authorized to speak, reported soldiers were patrolling around noon Thursday in the town of General Trevino when they came under fire from gunmen on a ranch.
The troops returned fire, killing at least 25 and freeing three people thought to be kidnap victims.
The Calderon administration, in its annual report to Congress, said authorities made 34,515 drug-related arrests last year and confiscated more than 34,000 weapons, 2,500 grenades, 12,000 vehicles, 76 aircraft and 60 boats from criminal groups. Drug lords and their troops are increasingly using grenades against the state.
Most of the explosives are legacies of the Cold War, manufactured in the United States and shipped to Central America to fight leftist revolutionaries in the 1980s, then diverted or stolen and smuggled to Mexico.
Information from the Associated Press and Washington Post was used in this report.