Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Law Enforcement Taking Seriously Cartel Battle

Thursday, May 13, 2010 |

U.S. law enforcement taking seriously claims about upcoming cartel battle in Mexico.

The Brownsville Herald

State authorities are warning local law enforcement agencies along the Texas-Mexico border to be vigilant this weekend for a possible outbreak of violence in Mexico.

An intelligence bulletin issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety refers to a Spanish-language flier placed on a vehicle in Brownsville last week, which states: “May 15-17 would be one of the most violent weekends in all Mexico history,” as two rival gangs allegedly plan to battle.

The bulletin was e-mailed to several Brownsville Herald reporters and was authenticated.

Brownsville Police Chief Carlos Garcia said DPS officials e-mailed him a copy of the bulletin over the weekend and that his department is taking it seriously. Claims such as the one in the bulletin are nothing new, Garcia said, but his department is taking necessary precautions in the event something occurs.

“We have to take it seriously, but in turn we don’t want to cause chaos and don’t want people to get alarmed about this,” Garcia said. “Most of these things are not going to happen on this side of the border.”

Although the Spanish-language flier urges the public to remain calm, it also states individuals should restrain from wearing dark-colored clothing since the “gunmen will be wearing black during the weekend for identification purposes.”

Authorities said there is no way to confirm the validity of the flier’s message, but because of ongoing violence across the border, they are encouraging all law enforcement to exercise extreme caution both on and off duty.

A spokeswoman for DPS said the agency does not comment on communications among law enforcement organizations.

Joe Treviño, supervisory agent for the U.S Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley Sector, said he had not received a copy of the memo but added that when his agency receives it, all agents will be advised of its content and instructed to take the necessary cautions to remain safe.

“Reports of violence are ongoing all the time and have been from the onset,” Trevino said. “Our agents are always on alert. And since we are down there (along the border) all the time, we are always ready and vigilant for something like that.”

Treviño added that if something happens this weekend, the Border Patrol will be ready to assist local agencies if necessary.

The message DPS described has appeared in various forms over the past two months. The Herald received exact copies of the Spanish message on April 28, March 24 and March 4.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of State extended its travel warning, adding three more Mexican states it advises U.S. citizens to avoid when traveling to that country. Those three are Tamaulipas, parts of Sinaloa and Michoacán. The travel warning already included the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila and Durango.

The bulletin advises Americans traveling to Mexico to only visit legitimate businesses and to try to limit travel to daylight hours.

Gus Reyna, chief deputy at the Cameron County Sheriff’s Department, said his agency received the e-mail from DPS warning of an upcoming battle and added that his department is taking the necessary precautions.

“Sometimes we get information that doesn’t go through, but we can’t afford to take this lightly,” Reyna said.

The chief deputy said his agency is in constant communication with its counterparts in Mexico to stay informed should any violent incident occur and to prepare and respond in case of any spillover violence.

An official with the Mexico Attorney General’s Office said that agency had not received any information on the matter.

A source with firsthand knowledge of recent violent events in Mexico said criminal organizations like the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas — northeast Mexico’s two dominant and once-allied drug cartels — don’t issue warnings before striking.

“They’ll place banners saying they are going after so-and-so, but they never give a date and a place,” he said. “Currently those two organizations are engaged in the area of San Fernando, fighting over the highway, and in the (Miguel Alemán-Camargo area). …

‘‘They are not going to have any large fights in Matamoros in the near future. It doesn’t make sense — Matamoros is a stronghold of the Gulf Cartel and it’s probably where they would make their stand if they were on the losing side. The information we have is that this is not the case.”

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