EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Nuevo Leon state police officers who came under fire on a highway leading to the U.S. border killed 10 assailants in a gun battle on Monday, state authorities reported.

Members of the state police’s Civil Force were patrolling the Monterrey-Nuevo Laredo Highway – often called La Carretera de la Muerte (Death’s Highway) because of a history of robberies and kidnappings – when a group of heavily armed men on pickup trucks attacked them, the state police said in a statement on social media.

The first gun battle at milepost 56 near the town of Salinas Victoria left one officer wounded and five assailants dead. A pursuit ensued and a second gun battle at milepost 72 left five additional assailants dead. Three state officers engaged in the pursuit were injured when their patrol unit overturned and crash, state government said. All four injured officers are recovering.

An AK-47 recovered from the scene. (State of Nuevo Leon Photo)

Nuevo Leon state authorities identified the assailants as presumed members of organized crime but did not say which group they are suspected of belonging to. U.S. security experts have told Border Report that the Northeast Cartel (the former Zetas) control much of the illegal activity in Nuevo Laredo and have a strong presence in the northern industrial capital of Monterrey.

Authorities seized 12 rifles, 13 bullet-proof vests, nine tactical helmets, grenades and hundreds of rounds of ammunition from the scene. Three trucks with steel plates on doors and windows also were seized, the state police reported.

Independent posts on social media show the overturned black-and-white state patrol unit, ambulances and a state government helicopter hovering over the scene of the second gun battle.