Mexican Drug Cartels Make Fake Military Uniforms

PHOTO: A Mexican marines stand stand guard in streets of Veracruz State, Mexico on Jan. 24, 2012.

Mexican authorities said Thursday that they have busted a factory on the U.S. border where drug cartels were allegedly manufacturing copies of Mexican military uniforms.

The Mexican Navy said that an unnamed cartel was making the copies in a Piedras Negras factory to "discredit" the Marines, who have been battling the cartels. Drug gangs have used fake uniforms in the past to impersonate the military and carry out murders and hijackings.

Acting on a tip, Marines raided the factory in Coahuila state just across the Rio Grande from Eagle Pass, Texas, and found 225 vests, 151 pairs of camouflage pants and 170 camo shirts, as well as holsters and ammunition, officials said.

The Zetas drug cartel, which operates in Piedras Negras, includes many former members of the Mexican military and has issued threats against the police and the Marines.

On Thursday morning, gunmen opened fire on a hotel in Nuevo Laredo, four miles from the U.S. border, and then detonated a carbomb. Officials in Tamaulipas state blamed the attack on the Zetas cartel.

Eight members of a new state police force staying in the Hotel Santa Cecilia were injured. The attack was the first on the state police, who took over from a municipal force that was disbanded because of alleged corruption. Several hours earlier, assailants had hurled gasoline bombs at a popular nightclub. After the hotel attack, gunmen fired on a local university.

The Zetas were founded by former members of the Mexican special forces who had been hired by the Gulf drug cartel as enforcers. Los Zetas broke away in 2010 and now control the drug business in much of the north and east of the country.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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