The bloody battles between Los Zetas and the Cartel del Golfo (CDG) for control of the Tamaulipas plazas in la Frontera Chica (Reynosa, Miguel Aleman, Camargo and Guerrero) and Nuevo Laredo are now spreading west to the Piedras Negras, Coahuila area.
All these cities and towns face the Rio Grande and South Texas and together with the Ciudad Juarez-El Paso plaza are major conduits for the trafficking of drugs and humans north into the Mid-Western and East Coast areas of the U.S..
A narco-guerrilla war of attrition between both groups has been fought in the Frontera Chica since the fracture of the Z-CDG alliance in February of this year with hit and run battles on an almost daily basis in the rural areas as the rivals attack each other and in turn fight against the Mexican military’s efforts to pacify the area
Nuevo Laredo, a long-time stronghold of Los Zetas, lived through major encounters in February which are now being repeated on a bigger, more vicious scale as the CDG again attempts to push the Zetas out.
Piedras Negras is in a semi-isolated area of the border at the very fringe of the vast Chihuahuan desert. At this point in time, criminal bands associated with Los Zetas are in control of Piedras Negras and Ciudad Acuna, another border city further west in Coahuila.
Past this two cities drug trafficking is controlled by the Juarez cartel, beginning in Ojinaga bordering the Big Bend region of Texas.
If the Zetas are pushed out of the border areas mentioned above, they will lose free access to the U.S. market for their products.
The financial consequences are staggering for the already cash poor Zetas on the Texas borders whose estacas, or lower level cannon fodder, are already living off the land by robberies and extortions, especially of the more vulnerable citizens who are victimized to an obscene degree.
It is rumored that some of these thugs, mainly those brought in from Central America who have no roots in the area, no longer get paid.
It is within this scenario that Piedras Negras may inevitably meet the fate of the Frontera Chica and Nuevo Laredo.
Although Piedras Negras, or simply Piedras as it is commonly called, has not escaped the insecurity and violence of Mexico’s most affected regions, the turmoil has not been on a scale as severe as seen in Tamaulipas.
After a brief but brutal period in April during which the Zetas consolidated their hold in Piedras, the cartel on cartel violence has not risen above the “calentar la plaza” which is the use of violence by a rival cartel to disrupt another in its territory.
These tactics often include attacks against law enforcement and locations where innocent civilians are targeted.
The events of this Sunday may mark the beginning of a battle for control of Piedras.
Unconfirmed rumors of attacks and shootings have increased in recent days. Social networking sites warn that shootings between los Zetas and rival groups have intensified and recommend that citizens not leave their homes at night.
On Sunday, August 1, Piedras awoke to an almost exact reproduction of the murder scene in Nuevo Laredo where 4 bodies were found with narco messages in the same severe tone including similar threats. Even the presence of dead pets was reproduced.
It is believed the killings were done by los Zetas as a warning to the population not to lend support to rival criminal groups, just as in the Nuevo Laredo killings.
In Piedras, the bodies of two men bearing signs of severe torture and gunshot wounds were found Sunday morning at the entrance to a destroyed “narco” mansion belonging to the local kingpin Jesus “el Chucho” Romo Lopez.
El Chucho, a long time resident who was loyal to the CDG, was driven out of Piedras when los Zetas consolidated their hold on the city in April. The mansion, along with several other homes that belonged to el Chucho, were demolished (or “reventadas” in cartel slang) by the Zetas.
Many people in Piedras believe that el Chucho’s real name is Jesus Cardenas Guillen and that he is the youngest brother of Osiel Cardenas Guillen, previous head of the CDG and now serving a 20 year sentence in the U.S. federal prison system.
Both dead men had placards with messages certainly designed to keep the climate of fear in Piedras at a high level. The men were accused of being the attackers who, under orders of el Chucho and others, allegedly threw grenades at the local Zocalo newspaper and a night club/casino earlier this year.
One man, identified by authorities as Miguel Angel Moreno Gomez, had two dead dogs draped over his lifeless body. The other man, unidentified, had a dead cat draped over his body.
The placard on Moreno Gomez’s body made reference to the quinceanera party for the daughter of Antonio Romo Lopez “la hamburgesa” in which the infamous Mexican pop star Gloria Trevi provided entertainment.
The second message read: “This a warning to all who support “el Mellado”, Antonio Romo Lopez “la Hamburgesa” and Jesus Romo Lopez “el Chucho”
“These Idiots that I leave here are responsible for the grenade attacks on el Zocalo, the hotel and the casino. Their families met the same fate as these 2 guys. Their mothers, uncles, brothers wives and children. Even the dog and the cat. All for letting themselves be used.”
“Warning this same fate will meet anyone who does not obey this message and breaks the peace we have in Piedras Negras.”
Message in Spanish
"Éste es un aviso para todo aquél que apoye al Mellado, a Antonio Romo López alias "La Hamburgesa", y Jesús Romo López alias "Don Chucho".
"Éstos pendejos que aqui les dejo, son los que arrojaron granadas al periódico Zocalo, al hotel y al casino, su familia tubo el mismo final que estos weyes, su mamá tios hermanos esposa e hijos, y hasta su perro y su gato mamaron, todo por dejarse engüilar", "Ojo, el mismo destino les va a tocar al que haga caso ajeno a este mensaje y trate de alterar la tranquilidad que tenemos en Piedras Negras".