Saturday, February 27, 2010

U.S. Closes Consulate Due to Violence

U.S. Closes Consulate in Mexican City Due to Narco-Violence

U.S. authorities announced Thursday the temporary closure of the consulate in the Mexican city of Reynosa due to recent drug-related shootouts in the town just across the Rio Grande from McAllen, Texas.

The U.S. consulate in Reynosa “is only assisting U.S. citizens” and “will remain temporarily closed until further notice,” an official with the U.S. consulate here in Monterrey, the capital of the state of Nuevo Leon, told Efe.

In recent days, there have been several shootouts in rural towns in Tamaulipas, where Reynosa is located, and neighboring Nuevo Leon, which have taken about 25 lives.

The reason for the clashes, according to Mexican authorities, is a conflict between the Gulf drug cartel and former allies “Los Zetas,” a band of special forces deserters turned hired guns.

In addition, the U.S. consulate in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, “has restricted the travel of U.S. officials to Reynosa until further notice,” said the U.S. mission in Monterrey.

Mexican soldiers and police have been deployed along the border between Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas because of reports that Gulf cartel commandos have been sent to the region in more than 50 SUVs.

Classes have been suspended at schools in Reynosa and Nuevo Laredo, as well as in rural towns in Nuevo Leon because of the rumors circulating about potential new confrontations between the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas.

Meanwhile, in different cities in Tamaulipas signs have been appearing – allegedly signed by the Gulf cartel – calling upon the public to remain calm and assuring that the organization does not threaten the population.

Drug-related violence has claimed more than 17,000 lives in Mexico since December 2006. EFE

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