Monterrey – Ten people, including three minors, died in two shootouts involving army troops and gunmen in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, officials said.
The first shootout took place Monday in Marin, a city located 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) northeast of the Monterrey metropolitan area.
Two criminals were killed and a woman was wounded in the shootout, the Nuevo Leon state Security Council said.
Army troops later engaged a group of gunmen traveling in three vehicles on the Monterrey-Laredo highway between the cities of Sabinas and Vallecillos, leaving five suspected gunmen dead.
Another group of gunmen, meanwhile, opened fire on three young men from an SUV in the San Gilberto section of Santa Catarina, a city in the Monterrey metro area.
Monterrey, Mexico's most important industrial city and the capital of Nuevo Leon, and its suburbs have been battered by a wave of drug-related violence since March 2010, when three rival cartels reportedly went to war with Los Zetas, considered the country's most violent criminal organization.
Los Zetas has been battling an alliance of the Gulf, Sinaloa and La Familia drug cartels, known as the Nueva Federacion, for control of the Monterrey metropolitan area and smuggling routes into the United States.
Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, known as "El Lazca," deserted from the Mexican army in 1999 and formed Los Zetas with three other soldiers, all members of an elite special operations unit, becoming the armed wing of the Gulf drug cartel.
After several years on the payroll of the Gulf cartel, Los Zetas, considered Mexico's most violent criminal organization, went into the drug business on their own account and now control several lucrative territories.
A total of 267 murders were registered in the industrial city in 2009, with the figure rising to 828 in 2010 and more than 900 so far this year, official figures show.