Matamoros shooting leaves five dead Monday - Brownsville Herald: Local News

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Matamoros shooting leaves five dead Monday

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Posted: Tuesday, May 11, 2004 12:00 am

One arrested in shootout behind popular nightclub

By J. NOEL ESPINOZA

and DAVID ROBLEDO

The Brownsville Herald

MATAMOROS, May 11, 2004 Mothers day was marred in Matamoros on Monday after a bloody pre-dawn shootout killed five people.

Although officials didnt reveal the motive behind the shooting, they identified two victims connected to organized drug traffickers as Leandro Garcia, a former Matamoros policeman, and Jose Luis Guerrero, a member of the Zeta group, that is suspected of providing protection for the Gulf Cartel, state and federal Mexican officials said.

Arrested near the scene was Jose Jesus Quintanilla, 19, address unknown. Police would not say what he was charged with.

He was found driving a white Ford Mustang, which authorities said had been identified as the possible get-away vehicle for the shooters.

Garcia held a grenade in his hand when authorities found him dead just after the shootout at about 4:30 a.m. Matamoros bomb-specialists and firemen arrived to the scene to remove the grenade from Garcias hand, which they were able to do without causing an explosion.

Officials said that Garcia seemed poised to launch a grenade at his attackers.

Two of the five victims are young women. One is identified as Nancy Gonzalez, 16, and another woman who had not been identified by press time.

More than 100 bullets were fired from automatic or semi-automatic weapons into the silver Jeep Liberty in which the victims were riding when they were killed, police said.

Police also found a machine gun and two handguns inside the Jeep.

Federal, state and local police thronged to the crime scene, as dozens of onlookers milled along the street hours after the shooting occurred.

The gunfight took place between Michoacan and 16 de Septiembre streets, behind the popular Wild West dance club in Colonia Moderna, a neighborhood filled with warehouses, industrial businesses and a few meager dwellings.

The loud noise woke me up from my sleep, said Salvador Ruiz, a resident who lives about a block away on Michoacan Street. It went on for about three to five minutes. First, I thought it was the muffler of some vehicle, but then I knew. Its horrible. This is a sad day for the victims mothers.

In Mexico, Mothers Day is celebrated May 10, whereas in the U.S., Mothers Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May.

Its getting more common, these kinds of crimes here, Ruiz said. I fear for my family being in the crossfire.

At Tamaulipas State Police headquarters in the south side of Matamoros, authorities held two of the vehicles involved in the shooting, the Jeep Liberty and Ford Mustang.

Four of the victims died in the gunfight and a young woman died later on at a local hospital.

The state police would tell us whether there is some connection to drug trafficking, said Elias Gonzalez, an official with the Tamaulipas Attorney Generals Office.

Its too early to tell what happened, Pedroza Aguirre said. All we know is that five people died including the one at the hospital.

Rumaldo Rodriguez, a state police officer, identified Quintanilla as a local customs broker. He was arrested because he was driving the white Mustang, which was involved in the shootout, Rodriguez said.

Local firemen and policemen, who didnt want to be identified, said everything leads to organized crime, especially the Gulf Cartel a drug trafficking organization based in Matamoros and which has been hit hard since its leader Oziel Cardenas Guillen was captured last year.

The Gulf cartel stretches throughout the state of Tamaulipas, mainly from Veracruz to Matamoros to Laredo. In Laredo, a turf war between the Gulf Cartel and competing drug-traffickers has been waging since Cardenas was captured.

U.S. and Mexican officials could not comment on whether Mondays slayings in Matamoros were connected to a larger power struggle between drug rings.

drobledo@link.freedom.com

nespinoza@link.freedom.com

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