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Cartel Violence Leaves At Least 18 Dead In Mexican Border City Of Reynosa

Reynosa has long been known as one of the most dangerous cities in Mexico’s northeast and is a hub for criminal activity along the U.S.-Mexico border. But over the weekend, the violence escalated to new levels after a string of shootings left at least 18 people dead in the city located just across the border from McAllen, Texas.

Residents of Reynosa are living in fear after extreme weekend violence.

For years, drug cartels have fought for control in Reynosa, just across the border from Texas, making it one of Mexico’s most violent cities. But over the weekend, the cartel related violence soared to new heights as a string of shootings left at least 18 people dead.

Cartel gunman fired from cars in several neighborhoods killing 14 people, including taxi drivers, workers and a nursing student, and security forces responded with operations that left four suspects dead. What is so striking about this weekend’s violence is that the 14 victims appeared to be what Tamaulipas Gov. Francisco García Cabeza de Vaca called “innocent citizens” rather than members of one gang killed by a rival.

Olga Ruiz, whose 19-year-old brother Fernando Ruiz was killed by the gunmen, said her sibling was working as a plumber and bricklayer in a company owned by his stepfather to pay for his studies.

“They killed him in cold blood, he and two of his companions,” she told the AP, adding that the gunmen arrived where her brother was fixing a drain.

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

Reynosa is in the middle of a turf war between rival cartels.

Reynosa is a point of contention between the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas and violent encounters between the two criminal organizations and authorities occur on a regular basis. 

The U.S. Department of States Overseas Security Advisory Council called the situation in Reynosa “consistently violent and pretty dire,” in a report issued on June 24. “Rolling gun battles between police elements and transnational criminal organizations occur daily in Reynosa,” the report stated, adding that although crime in Tamaulipas, in Reynosa violence remains elevated.

In fact, it was only a few months ago that residents of the border city had to deal with massive narco-blockades in the wake of the arrest of a major cartel leader. In September, roadways were littered with burning tires and road spikes and some streets completely blocked by trucks and buses. The show of force by the cartel was likely an act of revenge as criminals and authorities are locked in a tit-for-tat battle for control of Reynosa’s streets.

President AMLO is beginning to see his approval ratings drop because of the cartel violence.

Security across the country – not just in the border region – is one of the greatest challenges facing the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO). And although he has assured Mexicans that he is fighting the root cause of the violence – rather than sending in the military – violence continues to break records. His policy of “hugs, not bullets” doesn’t seem to be working as the extreme violence continues across the country.

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