REYNOSA — A violent push by the Zetas for control of the rival Gulf Cartel’s turf in Matamoros and Reynosa has shattered the relative peace of recent weeks, said sources outside law enforcement familiar with organized crime in Mexico.
Since Sunday, the northern Tamaulipas border cities have reportedly experienced a fresh wave of road blockades, grenade attacks, firefights and slayings.
On Tuesday afternoon, a bomb threat prompted Mexican authorities to surround the U.S. Consulate in Matamoros, local police confirmed, though the threat would prove to be a false alarm.
About three hours after that threat was made, shootouts broke out near the Empalme area, which lies along the Reynosa-Matamoros Highway, and Ejido Santa Adelaida, the site of the Matamoros State Prison, sources outside law enforcement confirmed. Road blockades were set up near the shootouts and near the Matamoros police station, reportedly to keep authorities away.
On Monday afternoon, downtown Reynosa came to a standstill as gunmen set up road blockades, said sources outside law enforcement familiar with organized crime in Mexico.
The violence included at least three shootouts, the sources said. Additionally, the Mexican military engaged in a chase with gunmen.
One shootout between groups of gunmen took place along Vista Hermosa Avenue near a large bronze rooster statue, which is said to signal a strengthened alliance between the Gulf and Sinaloa cartels in their fight against the Zetas.
Later Monday afternoon, another shootout between groups of gunmen took place near Villa Florida.
The most intense shootout — one between gunmen and Mexican military — took place along the Ribereña highway near Rancho Grande. That highway connects Nuevo Laredo, which is Zetas territory, to Reynosa. According to the Mexican army, during that shootout, an unknown number of gunmen opened fire on the troops. The military fought back and reported killing one gunman, but sources outside law enforcement said the body count was much higher.
Another shootout near the Ribereña highway took place less than a mile from the Anzalduas International Bridge.
The clashes on and near that highway followed attempts by the Zetas to enter Reynosa, said sources outside law enforcement.
A Gulf Cartel lieutenant identified only as Comandante Tachas is presumed missing or dead, said two sources outside law enforcement.
On Sunday afternoon in Matamoros, a short firefight took place right outside of the Tecnológico de Matamoros along Lauro Villar Avenue, which connects the city with Playa Bagdad. The firefight left an unknown number of dead, but two hours later, at least two grenades were thrown at the Matamoros police station by the occupants of a moving SUV. Two Mexican soldiers were critically wounded in the blast. A law enforcement official not authorized to speak to the media said one of the soldiers later died as a result of his injuries. The Mexican military has not confirmed the soldier’s death.
Several individuals were killed in a shootout Monday afternoon at a Ciudad Victoria bakery owned by the Tamaulipas state governor’s father, said sources outside law enforcement familiar with organized crime in Mexico.
A “violent incident” at the El Mostachón Bakery off the busy 16th Street in the state capital was confirmed by a Mexican law enforcement official who was not authorized to speak to the media.
But local media outlets in Mexico have remained mum about the attack, and neither the Tamaulipas State Attorney’s Office nor any other law enforcement agency has released official information on the shooting.