Fear Shakes Mexico Border City Of Reynosa After Violence Leaves 18 Dead : NPR

Gunmen aboard a number of vehicles have carried out attacks in several neighborhoods of the Mexican border town of Reynosa, according to law enforcement agencies. Associated press hide caption

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Associated press

Gunmen aboard a number of vehicles have carried out attacks in several neighborhoods of the Mexican border town of Reynosa, according to law enforcement agencies.

Associated press

CIUDAD VICTORIA, Mexico – Fear has penetrated the Mexican border town of Reynosa after gunmen in vehicles killed 14 people, including taxi drivers, workers and a nursing student, and security forces responded with operations that killed four suspects.

While this town across the border from McAllen, Texas is used to cartel violence as the main trading point, the 14 victims of Saturday’s attacks appeared to be more of what Tamaulipas Governor Francisco García Cabeza de Vaca called “innocent citizens “referred to as members of a gang killed by a rival.

Local businessman Misael Chavarria Garza said many stores closed early Saturday after the attacks and people were very scared when helicopters flew overhead. On Sunday he said, “People were silent as if nothing had happened, but with a sense of anger because crimes have now happened to innocent people.”

“This is not fair,” said taxi driver Rene Guevara, adding that among the dead were two of his fellow taxi drivers whom he defended and said they were not involved in any crime.

According to the state agency Tamaulipas, which coordinates the security forces, the attacks took place in several parts of the city in the east of Reynosa and triggered a deployment of the military, national guards and state police throughout the city. Images posted on social media showed dead bodies on the streets.

Authorities say they are investigating the attacks and have not given a motive.

But the criminal activity of the region has long been dominated by the Gulf cartel and there have been rifts within this group. Experts say there has been an internal battle within the group since 2017 to control key drug and human trafficking areas. Apparently a cell from a nearby town in Reynosa broke in to carry out the attacks.

Olga Ruiz, whose 19-year-old brother Fernando Ruiz was killed by the gunmen, said her sibling worked as a plumber and bricklayer in his stepfather’s company to help finance his studies.

“They killed him in cold blood, he and two of his companions,” said Olga Ruiz, adding that the armed men arrived where her brother was repairing a drain.

“They heard the shots from afar and my stepfather said to him, ‘Son, you have to take shelter.’ So he asked for permission to enter a house, but my brother and his companions were only about to enter when the vehicles arrived, “said Ruiz. “They stopped in front of them and started shooting.”

On Saturday, the authorities arrested a person who was transporting two apparently kidnapped women in the trunk of a car.

Security is one of the great challenges for the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. He has assured the Mexicans that he is fighting the causes of the violence and has been campaigning for “hugs instead of bullets” when dealing with criminals since he began his term in office in December 2018. He also says he is fighting corruption to stop organized crime from infiltrating the authorities.

But the violence continues.

“Criminal organizations must receive a clear, explicit and urgent signal from the federal government that there will be no room for impunity and tolerance for their reprehensible criminal behavior,” said García Cabeza de Vaca of the rival National Action Party. “In my government there will be no ceasefire for the violent.”

But the Federal Prosecutor’s Office is investigating García Cabeza de Vaca himself for organized crime and money laundering – allegations are part of the López Obrador government’s plan to attack him as an opponent.

In Tamaulipas – the state where the Zetas cartel originated and where the Gulf cartel continues to operate – several of its former governors of the Institutional Revolutionary Party have been accused of corruption and links to organized crime. A former governor, Tomás Yarrington, was extradited to the United States by Italy in 2018 for drug trafficking.


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