Police killed three suspected gunmen in a shootout in the Mexican Gulf state of Veracruz, state officials said.
The shootout occurred on Saturday in Orizaba, a city about 270 kilometers (167 miles) east of Mexico City.
The officers, who were participating in an anti-crime operation, spotted several people in an SUV that had been reported stolen.
Officers stopped the vehicle at an intersection, setting off the shootout.
The three gunmen were pronounced dead at the scene and officers seized three rifles, two handguns and ammunition in the vehicle.
Army troops and Veracruz Attorney General’s Office investigators responded to the shootout.
Thousands of migrants headed for the United States pass through Veracruz each year, and drug traffickers use smuggling routes in the state to move narcotics into Mexico’s northern neighbor.
The federal government expanded its presence in neighboring Tamaulipas state in May to fight the Los Zetas and Gulf drug cartels, which have unleashed a wave of violence in the region.
Veracruz’s government has stepped up patrols along the border to prevent the cartels from moving into its territory.
The state government has been working with the army and marines to hunt down the members of criminal organizations, especially those involved in kidnappings, this year.
Veracruz, Mexico’s third most populous state, has been plagued by a turf war between rival drug cartels that has sent the murder rate skyrocketing in the past few years.
The Gulf, Los Zetas and Jalisco Nueva Generacion cartels, as well as breakaway members of the once-powerful Familia Michoacana organization, are fueling the violence in the state.
The port city of Veracruz will be the site of the 24th Ibero-American Summit of heads of state and government and will host the 22nd Central American and Caribbean Games later this year.