Hundreds of families have fled this Pueblo Magico amid reported death threats from drug cartel thugs.
About 300 people are seeking shelter in nearby Miguel Alemán, the nearest city to this town across the border from western Starr County.
Sources said after Cárdenas’ slaying Friday, members of Los Zetas, the drug cartel controlling Mier, were yelling in the streets that they were going to kill everybody who remained in the town, sparking the exodus from town.
“Initially it was 30 people, but then went up to 60, 100 and now we have 300 that came here,” Miguel Alemán Mayor Servando Lopez Moreno said in Spanish.
The exodus from Ciudad Mier began Friday afternoon — the same day Antonio Ezequiel “Tony Tormenta” Cárdenas Guillén, head of the Gulf Cartel, was killed in Matamoros.
Mexican Army officials in Reynosa and Nuevo Laredo denied knowing of any recent violence in Ciudad Mier.
Authorities acknowledged the shelter in Miguel Alemán, but denied the Mier was under control of the Zetas or any other drug cartel.
“We haven’t heard any complaints,” a military official said.
Officials said army units are in the area, but have not reported anything to their superiors in Nuevo Laredo and Reynosa.
The military sources denied any knowledge about the threats. And today, authorities said they will need to open another shelter.
“We are operating the shelter the same way the army trained us to operate the shelter during Hurricane Alex,” said Lopez Moreno. “We are supporting the people here and helping. They are running away from things we cannot fix.”
Jose Ivan Mancias Hinojosa, the mayor of Mier, told Mexico’s El Universal newspaper that officials were doing everything they could to help evacuees .
“We are here at the Lions Club to assist in everything we can to assist our families who fled their homes,” he said.
Tamaulipas state Governor Eugenio Hernandez Flores has learned of the situation and sent supplies to the families on Monday, but they still need more help, Lopez Moreno said.
“We do not know how long this shelter will have to be opened,” he said.
Authorities in Miguel Alemán plan to let the children from Mier attend school classes there, Lopez Moreno said. Miguel Alemán officials will open schools in the afternoon so teachers and students from Mier can continue with their education.
Also they plan to implement a temporary employment program. “The people here are active people, they need to work,” Lopez Moreno said.
Authorities in Miguel Aleman are helping the people, but nothing is being done to solve the situation in Ciudad Mier.
This town was named a Pueblo Magico, or magical town, in 2007. Mexico’s Pueblos Magicos are part of a federal program of the Secretariat of Tourism, which selects towns with unique historical attractions.
Mier’s history dates back to 1753, including a church completed more than 200 years ago that features a façade of carved sandstone.
And despite its current state as a drug cartel battleground, the city has seen violence at times in Mexican history.
In 1842, a botched raid on Mier led to the infamous Black Bean Episode — where Mexican President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna forced 176 Texan prisoners to draw beans from a jar containing 159 white beans and 17 black beans. Texans who drew the black beans were killed as punishment for an escape attempt.
The city has been a local attraction for history buffs, though any tourism has ceased with the current battle between Mexico’s drug smuggling groups and the military.
Hundreds have reportedly been killed this year in the Mier area, though no official count is available. More than 29,000 people have been killed since Mexican President Felipe Calderón declared war on his nation’s drug cartels in late 2006.
“There is not a house that doesn’t have broken windows,” said a native of Ciudad Mier living in Reynosa.
“The authorities do not go there. There are no soldiers there. There is nobody,” the former Mier resident said. “The mayor is not there anymore, there is no police, no traffic authority — nobody. It’s a ghost town. All the businesses are closed. If you want an aspirin, you have to travel to Miguel Alemán, and by bus, because if you drive they take away your car.”
“They have strangulated my town.”