Security forces stand by after a gun fight at a Pemex station. Security forces stand by after a gun fight at a Pemex station.

Cartel violence rages in Reynosa, Río Bravo

Battles for control of Gulf Cartel in region leave 22 dead in 3 days

It was a bloody weekend in Tamaulipas and yesterday saw no improvement. Fourteen people were killed in weekend violence and another eight yesterday in the municipalities of Reynosa and Río Bravo.

Shooting in Reynosa began on Friday at 9:00pm in several neighborhoods located on the outskirts of the city, followed by an attack on several state police by armed civilians in a shopping center that triggered vehicle chases in several neighborhoods.

Then early Saturday, a gunfight broke out in Lomas de Pedregal.

Security forces deployed to the area in response to calls from residents were ambushed by gunmen, but they won the upper hand, leaving eight of the attackers dead.

Gunfire was reported through the night in many areas of the city, resulting in multiple calls to emergency services, and police were kept busy removing roadblocks erected by gangsters.

The remains of five people were found Saturday, the bodies either burned or dismembered, and a sixth who had been shot to death.

Eight more people died after gunfire and vehicle chases in Río Bravo yesterday. One was an innocent bystander.

The confrontations began when a convoy of 50 vehicles bearing signs indicating they belonged to the Scorpions, an armed wing of the Gulf Cartel, rolled into Río Bravo and began shooting, sowing chaos and terror and paralyzing the city.

The situation calmed down after military personnel were deployed and killed at least four gangsters, but not before businesses closed their doors and schools suspended classes, although as one teacher noted it was not necessary: students didn’t show up anyway.

The newspaper Reforma reported that the current round of violence began in May, triggered by the killing of gang leader Juan Manuel Loza Salinas, also known as “El Comandante Toro,” by federal forces on April 23. Since then rival gang cells have been fighting to take control of the Gulf Cartel.

A state deputy called for a permanent deployment of the military in response to what he described as levels of violence never seen in the region.

“The problem is in the whole region,” said Edgar Melhem Salinas, including Reynosa, Río Bravo, Valle Hermoso and part of Matamoros. He claimed that during the past month and a half people have been afraid to leave their homes.

Source: El Universal (sp), Excélsior (sp), Reforma (sp)

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