el gafe in reynosa El Gafe and a burning bus during yesterday's battle in Reynosa. milenio

Cartel leader captured in Reynosa shoot-out

Gang members mounted an assault in an attempt to free their leader

There was gunfire in the streets of Reynosa, Tamaulipas, yesterday, leaving three armed civilians dead and two law enforcement officers wounded.

But security forces appear to have won the battle by having captured a leader of the Gulf Cartel, José Tiburcio “El Gafe” Hernández Fuentes, described as “one of the most important” people in the gang’s structure and the person responsible for the wave of violence seen in the region since February.

National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido told a press conference this morning that El Gafe’s arrest had been one of the principal objectives of a security strategy in Tamaulipas.

But his capture had been complicated until yesterday by the gang leader’s use of more than eight different false identities, said Rubido.

He was picked up with three accomplices yesterday, which provoked a violent response from gang members who attempted to free him from elements of the Federal Police, the Army and Fuerza Tamaulipas.

Rubido said the gang deployed 15 trucks carrying at least 60 gunmen with assault rifles and created 11 blockades by setting vehicles on fire in an attempt to prevent police from moving their prisoner. The Attorney General’s office also came under attack.

In the end, El Gafe and the three others captured were extracted by security forces with two helicopters.

El Gafe’s apprehension triggered a red-alert warning at 4:00pm by Reynosa government officials who warned citizens to avoid the Reynosa-Monterrey and Reynosa-Río Bravo highways and several city boulevards. But authorities had the situation under control by 6:00pm.

Along with making the three arrests, they seized several firearms, three fragmentation grenades, one vehicle and US $278,000 and 1.2 million pesos in cash.

El Gafe is believed to have been in the military and got his name from that of a special forces army unit known as the GAFE, or Special Forces Air-mobile Group.

Some unit members deserted in the 1990s and went to join Los Zetas, which used to be the enforcement arm of the Gulf Cartel.

Federal officials said the Reynosa gang leader was chief of Los Metros, a Gulf Cartel cell that controlled Reynosa and the regional trafficking of drugs, arms and people.

Authorities have captured several Tamaulipas gang leaders so far this year, including Alfredo “Comandante 58” Martínez Aguilar and Jorge Omar Aguilar Gallardo of the Gulf Cartel.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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