By : Andrea Sosa Cabrios
America World News
The Mexican state of Tamaulipas, which bumps up against the US border along the Gulf coast, has become the epicentre of Mexico's drug and crime war.
The violence has spread to neighbouring states which used to look at Tamaulipas from a great psychological distance, like the prosperous Nuevo Leon and its capital Monterrey, also in the north- east region of the country.
On Thursday, just nine days after 72 migrants were massacred by a criminal gang, there were again large-scale deaths in Tamaulipas: the Army killed 25 hit men in Ciudad Mier, at a suspected drug-gang camp which reportedly belonged to the group Los Zetas.
Two military officers were injured, and the authorities rescued three people who had been kidnapped.
On the same day Mexican media reported the kidnapping of former Tampico Mayor Fernando Azcarraga, a cousin of the owner of Mexican television giant Televisa. There are conflicting reports as to whether he has been released.
Since January, when the Gulf Cartel split from its former armed wing Los Zetas, violence has not stopped in northeastern Mexico: massacres, nightclub attacks, the killing of the favored candidate for governor just days before elections and the slaughter of several mayors.
On Friday, a clash left five people dead in the municipality of Juarez, in Nuevo Leon. Monterrey is not far from there. Mexico's business powerhouse is now in a hot zone.
Organized crime gangs are fighting a two front war - against rival gangs as well as the police and army - a battle that has claimed more than 28,300 lives in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006.
Deaths and threats happen all around Mexico, but in recent months Tamaulipas has displaced Pacific Coast states like Sinaloa and Baja California when it comes to high-impact violence.
Tamaulipas is the end of the shortest route for drugs and illegal immigrants into the US. It accounts for about 3 per cent of Mexican homicides, a figure that is growing, according to Mexican officials.
The Calderon government attributes the worsening of the war in northeastern Mexico to the split between the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas, according to the Calderon government's security spokesman Alejandro Poire. The two groups had cooperated for more than a decade.
The fight has drawn in other cartels like the Sinaloa Cartel of drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman and La Familia Michoacana, a bitter enemy of Los Zetas, who stepped into Tamaulipas to help the Gulf Cartel.
"Tamaulipas is a strategic point to take drugs in and out of the United States, since it has a vast coastline and important cities like Nuevo Laredo, Miguel Aleman, Reynosa, Rio Bravo and Matamoros, which are the closest destinations for the criminals who move drugs through the Gulf of Mexico," the government report said.
Nowadays the cartels' business reaches well beyond drugs, and that explains last week's migrant massacre and many attacks on bars, butchers' shops, bakeries, funeral homes and media outlets.
Among the most recent victims of organized crime violence, the Sinaloa daily Noroeste stands out. Its facade was shot at on Wednesday, and it has received bomb threats that its facilities will be blown up if the daily fails to pay 200,000 pesos (around 15,300 dollars).