Drug cartels Mexico
Mexican security forces have been waging a long war on drug cartelsReuters

Mexican security forces were caught up in gunfights in one of the country's biggest cities along the US border they arrested a leader of one of the main drug gangs in the area.

Parts of Reynosa , a city across the Rio Grande from McAllen, Texas, ground to a halt on Friday 17 April after vehicles were set ablaze and shooting began, authorities said.

Earlier in the day, federal police and marines captured "El Gafe," a leader of the Gulf Cartel, said a spokesman for police in Reynosa, a city of more than 600,000 people. El Gafe was subsequently taken to Mexico City, he added.

At least two people were killed in the fighting, but this was not yet confirmed, the spokesman said.

City out of control

Reynosa is one of the most violent cities in Mexico, wracked by turf wars among the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas, two drug gangs that have been fighting for control of border smuggling routes and crime rackets.

"The city is completely out of control," Francisco Garcia Cabeza de Vaca, an opposition senator and ex-mayor of Reynosa, told Reuters.

More than 100,000 people have died in gang-related violence in Mexico over the past eight years., and President Enrique Pena Nieto pledged to restore order when he took office in December 2012.

Despite a drop in the number of murders, border areas have seen outbreaks of violence.