March 19, 2008 / 3:19 PM / 9 years ago

Truck with "extras" confiscated from gang

<p>Soldiers patrol a road on the outskirts of the border city of Rio Bravo in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, Mexico January 10, 2008.Tomas Bravo</p>

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican soldiers battling a violent drug gang and corrupt local police confiscated a sport utility vehicle decked out with extras worthy of a James Bond movie.

Cartel members rammed their SUV into a military truck patrolling in the state of Tamaulipas and threw a hand grenade before making their escape with the help of local police, the army said in a statement late Tuesday.

Following a shootout with the gang, soldiers said they arrested four municipal police and confiscated an armored Jeep Grand Cherokee equipped with a smoke machine and spike sprayer meant to deter pursuers.

Soldiers also confiscated dozens of rifles, pistols and hand grenades, 3,000 of rounds of ammunition and $20,000 in cash, the army said.

President Felipe Calderon has deployed thousands of soldiers and federal police to hot-spots across Mexico, where cartel violence has killed more than 300 people so far this year and left more than 2,500 dead in 2007.

Soldiers busting drug smugglers in Mexico often uncover federal police uniforms, sophisticated radio equipment and even gold-plated pistols and assault rifles.

Tuesday, police arrested a woman on suspicion of overseeing a network of spies that tracked police for the powerful Gulf drug cartel, which dominates smuggling in the state of Tamaulipas.

Reporting by Noel Randewich; Editing by Jason Lange and Vicki Allen

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