Thursday, November 18, 2010
Mexican violence threatens Texas's Rio Grande Valley
Two international border crossings in Starr county are on high alert after heavy fighting erupts in Ciudad Mier and Nuevo Guerrero, Tamaulipas.
Heavy fighting between drug cartel gunmen and the Mexican military has broken out in the Tamaulipas towns of Nuevo Guerrero and Miguel Aleman this week, prompting the two international bridges linking both towns to Starr County,Texas to go on high alert to guard against spillover violence crossing into Texas.
Two international crossings in Starr County, the Falcon Dam crossing and the Starr County bridge, were put on alert Wednesday afternoon.
Starr County Sheriff Rene Fuentes reported that his office received reports about a battle south of the border in Miguel Aleman on Wednesday. Miguel Aleman is the main town housing refugees from Ciudad Mier that have been displaced by the fighting between Los Zetas, the Gulf cartel and the military.
Fuentes said the shootout forced authorities to temporarily close the Roma International Bridge for one hour late Wednesday afternoon.
Another shootout was reported in Nueva Ciudad Guerrero, which is located on the Mexican side of the Falcon Dam border crossing.
Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo “Sigi” Gonzalez reported that there was of heavy gunfire coming from the Mexican side of the dam. According to the AP news service and Mexico’s Defense Ministry, 11 Zeta gunmen were killed in heavy fighting on the Mexican side of Falcon Lake Dam, also on Wednesday afternoon.
Sheriff “Sigi” Gonzalez also reported that his office has received threats from people identifying themselves as drug cartel members. The threats say that “if you don’t back off you will be sorry.” Other law enforcement departments in the Rio Grande Valley also report the same threats.
Sheriff Gonzalez said, despite the threats, his department will continue to do their job and that is protecting the citizens of Zapata County. Sheriff Gonzalez also said his deputies are on high alert and are told to be extra careful when out patrolling.
"We've received information that there could be mass exodus of cartel members coming here," said Gonzalez. "We're on the lookout and not putting our hands down we're on high alert."
Border Patrol confiscates more than 11 tons of pot
U.S. Border Patrol agents of the Rio Grande Valley Sector seized nearly 23,000 pounds of marijuana during a four-day period from stretching from Friday, November 12to Monday, November 15.
The Falfurrias checkpoint had the most significant seizures with close to 12,000 pounds of marijuana seized during several incidents.
In other seizures, agents assigned to the McAllen Station confiscated more than 7,000pounds of marijuana during multiple but unrelated incidents.
Several arrests were made during the seizures which totaled more than 11 tons and spanned across the Rio Grande Valley from Brownsville to Rio Grande City and north to the Falfurrias and Sarita Checkpoints.
In one incident Federal agents arrested seven men who authorities said were part of a three-vehicle convoy attempting to transport marijuana from to San Benito, located within the valley. One of the trucks reportedly carried an armed escort for the shipment.
The agents, who had intelligence on the operation, set up surveillance and spotted a convoy with a Ford F-150 and two Ford Expeditions. They stopped one of the Expeditions, but the pickup and the other Expedition sped away, causing a small chase. Sheriff’s deputies were able to stop the fleeing Expedition but not the pickup truck.
The authorities found more than 500 pounds of marijuana in one of the SUVS and three loaded semiautomatic handguns in the other. According to the court documents, one of the men told authorities that he had been paid $400 to act as a security escort.