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More cartel cameras removed in Reynosa

Apprehended by police, installers reveal locations of surveillance equipment

A new front has opened in the war between organized crime and government in Tamaulipas, as both make strategic use of the latest surveillance and monitoring technologies.

Until recently, crime gangs relied on “halcones,” or hawks, to be their eyes so as to coordinate their attacks on rival groups and to keep tabs on government forces. The halcones are often teenagers and even children who are equipped with handheld radios and dispatched to strategic locations from which they report 24 hours a day.

Recent government operations against organized crime have focused on leaving them “blind” and “deaf” by dismantling repeater antennae used to enhance the radio signals and identifying and detaining the halcones.

On May 22, state authorities announced the dismantling of the Gulf Cartel’s communications system, a high-end radio network. Since last January, Tamaulipas police and the Mexican Army have seized 55 antennas and radio repeaters.

The cartel’s radio network included analogic and digital antennas in border towns such as Matamoros, Reynosa, Río Bravo and Miguel Alemán.

At the same time, and as part of the security and safety strategy for Tamaulipas, authorities installed hundreds of surveillance cameras in several cities. Their success in thwarting criminal activities was immediate, as was the response of the criminal organizations themselves.

Cameras in Tampico and Reynosa have been sabotaged, and in the latter city technicians in charge of installing and repairing the surveillance equipment now do so escorted by the army after the Gulf Cartel issued threats against them.

But the cartel developed a counter strategy to be able to continue monitoring Reynosa: it installed its own network of surveillance cameras and wifi routers across the city, using the existing infrastructure of utility poles and lines.

However, this is another fight the authorities seem to be winning as last week they succeeded in dismantling a surveillance network of at least 39 cameras. Two civilians had been caught as they were installing the monitoring equipment and once in custody they revealed they had been installing cameras for some time, and provided authorities with their exact locations.

The coordinated security agency Tamaulipas Coordination Group (GCT) explained that the cameras and wifi routers tapped directly into the power and telephone lines and their purpose was to spy on Reynosa security forces.

The cameras were located at key points such as the Army and Navy facilities and the Attorney General’s offices, as well as in several commercial centers and residential zones.

It was the second set of cartel cameras to be removed in less than a month. An equal number were identified and taken down near the end of May.

Source: Sin Embargo (sp)

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