Two regional leaders of the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas were taken down on the weekend in Tamaulipas, one of whose deaths triggered a violent retaliation in the city of Reynosa.
Early Saturday morning, a vehicle swerved to avoid a deployment of Army soldiers in the Lucio Blanco neighborhood of the border town, crashing into a tree.
The passengers stepped out of the vehicle and opened fire on the soldiers, with the subsequent shoot-out resulting in the death of Juan Manuel Loisa Salinas, also known as “El Comandante Toro.” He was the highest ranking member of the Gulf Cartel in the state.
In response, gangsters mounted 32 blockades on the streets of Reynosa in the early hours of the morning on Saturday, burning vehicles and other objects at 11 of them.
Shops were pillaged and torched, and 11 vehicles were reported stolen.
Gangsters commandeered several gas stations and stole whatever fuel they needed for the night of rioting.
Gunfights and exploding grenades could be heard for some three hours throughout Reynosa, particularly in the neighborhoods of El Olmo and Cumbres and along the Hidalgo boulevard and the Monterrey-Matamoros highway bypass.
The federal Attorney General’s office was fired on several times.
Despite the intensity of the response by the Gulf Cartel, the only casualties reported by authorities happened during the confrontation that killed Loisa. His nephew — identified only by his nickname El Betito — and another unidentified man also died.
Loisa had been sought by the Army since 2015. Federal forces had mounted six operations this year to apprehend him.
He has been linked to extortion, kidnapping, theft and trafficking drugs to the United States and was presumed responsible for the increase in homicides and widespread violence in the state.
In the aftermath of the night of violence, Reynosa’s municipal government warned the public via social media of the situation, advising citizens to “protect themselves and to take precautions.”
By that time, the fires had been put out and the street blockades lifted.
In an unrelated event on the highway to the port of Ciudad Victoria, the state leader of the Los Zetas Vieja Escuela gang, Francisco Javier “Pancho” Carreón Olvera, was killed in a gunfight between criminals and Army personnel.
Marine Commander Francisco Pérez Rico said later that both Loisa and Carreón were priority targets for security forces, as they were “the main sources of violence in the state.”
Those forces disarmed 15 Gulf Cartel and Zetas cells last year, according to authorities, but 10 remain, operating mostly in the municipalities of Nuevo Laredo, Tampico, Ciudad Reynosa, Matamoros and Ciudad Victoria.