Cartel Infighting Blamed for Reynosa Massacre

Photo: Contralineas


Irving Barrios, the chief prosecutor in the northern Mexican state of Tamaulipas, said Tuesday, June 22, that the bloody massacre that left at least 19 people dead in the border town of Reynosa over the weekend was the result of political infighting between rival factions of the Gulf Cartel.

Speaking in an interview on Radio Formula, Barrios said that apparently two gangs that operate just outside the Reynosa launched a series of random attacks on that city on Saturday, June 19, in an attempt to overthrow the cartel’s rival faction, the Metros.

The prosecutor went on to explain that the Metros control the lion’s share of the Reynosa corridor that links to neighboring McAllen, Texas, and serves as a conduit for drug, arms and migrant trafficking.

Following the 2003 arrest of Gulf Cartel leader Osiel Cárdenas Guillén, Barrios said, the organized crime group began to break into three separate subgroups: the Metros, the Scorpions and the Cyclones.

Since that time, each of the three have tried to grab control of the entire region, he said.

While the Metros still control Reynosa, the Scorpions and the Cyclones currently run smuggling and extortion operations just east of that city in Río Bravo and Matamoros.

The attacks Saturday, which left 14 civilians dead in the crossfire, were carried out by gunmen from the Scorpions and Cyclones in an attempt to “destabilize Reynosa and gain territory there,” Barrios said.

Subsequently, four of those gunmen were killed in shootouts with police and National Guardsmen, and a fifth was wounded. He is now in police custody.

On Sunday, June 20, Tamaulipas Governor Francisco Javier García Cabeza de Vaca demanded that the administration of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), with whom he has an ongoing political war, take action to control the surging violence in his state.

The following day, AMLO responded by saying that there will be “a full investigation into the incident.”

Notwithstanding, since taking office in December 2018, AMLO has intentionally avoided confrontations with Mexico’s powerful drug cartels, at one point even releasing the son of notorious drug dealer Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, allegedly to avoid further bloodshed.

And earlier this month, López Obrador went so far as to praise the country’s drug cartels “for not disrupting” the June 6 midterm elections, despite the fact that at least 91 politicians and party members — including 36 electoral candidates — were assassinated during the campaign period that began in September.

“People who belong to organized crime behaved very well, in general, there were few acts of violence by these groups,” the president said, immediately courting protest from opposition leaders, including García Cabeza de Vaca.

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