Members of an organized crime group set at least four trucks on fire on Wednesday to pressure truckers to end their blockade of the international crossing between Reynosa, Tamaulipas, and Pharr, Texas.
After being threatened by presumed members of the Gulf Cartel, the truckers terminated their protest, which began Monday in response to a more stringent vehicle inspection program implemented last week by the government of Texas. The new policy caused lengthy delays at the border and threatened billions of dollars in international trade.
The trucks set alight by gangsters were located near the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge and in at least one other part of the Tamaulipas border city. One truck on Avenida Puente Pharr was set on fire at approximately 11:00 a.m. by four men who first doused the vehicle with gasoline, the newspaper El Universal reported.
Another truck was set on fire near Parque Colonial, about seven kilometers from the border crossing. The gangsters also set a vacant lot on fire, the newspaper Excélsior reported.
As Civil Protection personnel extinguished the blazes there was a gunfight between the presumed cartel members and the National Guard, El Universal said. No casualties were reported.
State police arrested three presumed members of the Gulf Cartel and seized two vehicles used by the criminal gang.
Edgar Zambrano Quintallan, Reynosa president of the National Chamber of Trucking, said that protesting truckers were advised to end their blockade due to safety concerns. “We explained to the drivers that the best thing was to move,” he said.
Blockades at border crossings began after truckers faced delays of up to 30 hours due to Texas’ stricter vehicle inspection program, introduced by Governor Greg Abbott to detect migrants and drugs and increase vehicle safety. It was suspended Wednesday at the border crossing between Colombia, Nuevo León, and Laredo, Texas, but remained in place at other border crossings between Mexico and the Lone Star state.
Abbott and Nuevo León Governor Samuel García signed a memorandum of understanding Wednesday that ensured the stricter program would be suspended at the Colombia-Laredo crossing.
It said the two states would cooperate to ensure that vehicles crossing the border meet safety standards and to reduce human trafficking and the smuggling of fentanyl and other drugs.
The memorandum also said the neighboring states would collaborate to stem the flow of migrants into Texas and that Nuevo León has begun and will continue enhanced border security enforcement measures.
In addition, it said the two states would work cooperatively to restore the border-crossing inspections process to allow crossings at a faster pace.
At a press conference with García, Abbott criticized U.S. President Biden for failing to secure the border with Mexico and said he was open to negotiating with the governors of other states that share a border with Texas.
“President Biden must assert the national security priority that comes with being the commander in chief of the United States,” the Texas governor said.
“Until then, Texas will use its own strategies to secure the border and continue to negotiate with Mexico to seek solutions.”