Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

The Battle for Ciudad Mier (Chapter 9)

Saturday, April 23, 2011 |

This is the story of a village on the border with the United States swept in silence because of a war in Tamaulipas.

By: Diego Enrique Osorno
Gatopardo

Chapter 9

Look at a map of Mexico to realize that Ciudad Mier is the dividing line between two warring groups. Reynosa (next to McAllen TX), area of influence of the CDG, is in the east, and Nuevo Laredo (next to Laredo TX), controlled by the Zetas is to the northwest. Ciudad Mier is right in the middle, so it is easy to understand why Ciudad Mier is the place where the most important battles of the drug war are taking place for control of the state of Tamaulipas.

What is hard to understand is why Ciudad Mier was abandoned by the federal government to its fate, in essence the authorities allowed it to die slowly for about nine months.

At least that is what some of the residents believe happened, they suspect that one criminal group (CDG) is waging war against another criminal group (Zetas) which is something that the government should be doing instead and they ask if this is not so, then why did the military not come in to the city permanently to establish order, as they had done previously last year on November 2, after a violent confrontation by feuding cartels that led to the exodus of virtually every resident of the city.

The Eighth Military Battalion responsible for security in the region answer this question by saying that it was impossible to do this because most of the troops were concentrated in other areas ordered from the Mexico City and Ciudad Mier was not the only place at war. A lot of the people do not believe this and argue that government was negligent in their responsibility. In their view, the military found that the logical solution was to allow the drug dealers to destroy themselves, but in doing so, incidentally, they also allowed the destruction of Ciudad Mier.

During that time of absence of protection, the dead from the war of Tamaulipas were left without even a death certificate. From February to November of 2010 there were massacres, assassinations and shootouts, but there was no news of the battles or any information or any communication from a spokesman to relate what happened or what were the causes. In the midst of the warring factions, the people in the city became just random toys left to be sacrificed, and outside of Tamaulipas very few had knowledge of what was happening. The information of the atrocities in the area was trickling in small pieces over the internet and cyber blogs.



One woman dared to video record the aftermath of the area known as La Ribereña, a road from Ciudad Mier to the town of Camargo, after a confrontation that lasted all night. Days later after the images were uploaded on to social networks and covered by blogs, did the video started to make its rounds on the front pages of national newspapers and a topic of conversation for a couple of days.

Then the silence of the news in Mier returned, the war in Tamaulipas had dead bodies everywhere, bloody blankets scattered about, burned bodies in trucks, thousands of spend casing from bullets everywhere, and military troops recorded on video by citizens who are seen combing the area from apparent signs confrontations which by the way, there are no official records of the events ever occurring, but they did occur and it was only revealed because of the camera from a cellular phone belonging to a mysterious woman.

Someday someone will tell of the heroic stories of so many brave nameless people that this war has produced in Tamaulipas, like this woman.

During that time, Ciudad Mier was not only a town without police: but it was also was a town with no schools, no banks, no stores, no doctors, and no pharmacies, because most of all services and businesses were closed for the most part of the nine months.

Truckloads of people with suitcases and bags fled the town of Cd Mier. The Archdiocese was also attempting to flee Ciudad Mier leaving the city without a priest, but, despite the order of his superiors, the local priest was the only one in Frontera Chica who refused to leave his temple during the fighting. The loneliness of Ciudad Mier was so much that the mayor only visited city hall twice a week, and the rest of the days he spent in Roma, Texas, or any other distant secure place.

In 2010 Cd Mier did not only celebrates their anniversary, there was no Easter holiday, no Mother's Day, not even the celebration of Mexico's Independence (Grito de Independencia). Life in Ciudad Mier was dying in a silent and cruel way, not until November when the official census counted only 6,117 inhabitants. It was only then when the rest of the country paid attention to the tragedy of the people, not really knowing what had happened over the past months.

The Media Factor
When the war started, he was one of the few journalists who traveled from Mexico City to Tamaulipas to see what was happening. He was a very serious as a person and even more as a reporter.

He was not one of those who decided to go in to journalism because they go looking for the same adrenaline that you get when on a roller coaster, or those who believe that wars are like what you see in Hollywood movies, or that it is a poetic subject. He had already been to Lebanon, and he knows that the battlefields are full of blood, mutilated bodies, of pain and panic, that the word "war" does not have the same meaning for a politician who uses it as a means of rhetoric as for those who are suffering in the flesh.

He was working at first without much fuss in those days of March 2010 in Reynosa, along with a cameraman for Millennium television. They did a story on the hip-hop that sings about the drug culture and the other on the Twitter account of the city government. When they tried to confirm information on the disappearances of local journalists due to the war, they encountered a convoy of armed men traveling at daylight by a central location. The gunmen rode their SUVs beside them trying to intimidate them or send them a message.

A few minutes later, a few blocks ahead they ran in to them a second time. The gunmen stopped him and his colleague, the cameraman; they put the assault rifles to their heads and chambered a round with a loud noise. They took them to a safe house where they beat them and interrogated them for hours. Before they set them free, they were warned, "Leave and tell the rest of the press not to come here to heat up our town (calentarnos la plaza)." A few minutes later the reporters left and said: "The hell with journalism; what we do serve no purpose."

Share it:

19 Borderland Beat Comments:

Anonymous said...

The true leaders of the many cartels are elected Mexican officials. High level Mexican officials. The Mexican government has the cancer that is eating the country alive.

Anonymous said...

I give 50 dollars for someone to drive down this highway and back. Any guys got the grapefruits here?

Anonymous said...

Thats like saying the true leaders of Terrorism are U.S. Elected officials.

Ardent said...

This is absolutely accurate and insightful reporting.

'What is hard to understand is why Ciudad Mier was abandoned by the federal government to its fate, in essence the authorities allowed it to die slowly for about nine months. .... In their view (the people of this area), the military found that the logical solution was to allow the drug dealers to destroy themselves, but in doing so, incidentally, they also allowed the destruction of Ciudad Mier.'

And it was not just Ciudad Mier that was abandoned to cartel infighting by the Mexican government and military authorities.

'One woman dared to video record the aftermath of the area known as La Ribereña, a road from Ciudad Mier to the town of Camargo...'

It was not just Ciudad Mier, but Camargo, Comales, and a whole other group of small towns and pubelitos around in this area of Tamaulipas, too, that were handed to the drug dealers as 'play pens'.

And then it was other areas of Tamaulipas, too! It was the area around San Fernando for just one example, where hundreds of innocent civilians Mexicans were allowed to be murdered by the Mexican state. while they stood back, ignored the cartel gangs, collaborated with their leaders, and no doubt got paid by them, too.

Buela said...

Thanks for posting this Buggs. I have been translating it from the first chapter and have completing 2/3. for those who speak spanish access the entire piece from chapter 1..worthy of your time. I have a video from our project for the Mier refugees, and there are two children speaking that still haunt me. One seeing his dad kidnapped, another walking out her front door and before her was a gutted dead body of a stranger in the street two others.

It was their expressions,seeingly void of emotion, and monotone voices as they recounted such horrific terror. It was as though they checked out from reality and went into another place as to not to feel the pain. VERY-VERY sad.

Anonymous said...

Wow so the gulf is making itself look so good everybodys on their nuts now.

Anonymous said...

Buela,
I hope they forget. No wait, I hope they don't forget, but turn it into something good. That's going to take years of work. Sooo not fair to the little kids. Are they all out now?
Imjustagirl

Anonymous said...

50 bucks to drive down the hwy, haa Haa that's funny, I wonder what would happen if your just a lost gringo tourist ? Do they charge a fee or just off you on the spot? Humm maybe it's just what person you run into doesn't a smile work down there anymore?

Buela said...

No, that is the thing some returned as having no choice, others leave during the day and return to sleep. But Mier is now so out of the news and yet nothing has changed. a good portion of the city has relocated, moving away from what was deemed a Magical City.

The kids will never forget. Because no one talks about it in the homes, and there is no professional help, the government should help these children or they will pay later for the damaged adults they may become. They look as though they have PTSD, which I have seen at the Vets hospital. Same look. Yes not fair at all. They would have moments when they were typical kids again, smiling happy at the toys and things we brought them. But always on alert. many worries, one that we heard a lot when asked what they missed most, "my dog" something I had not even thought of, the heartbreak of leaving a beloved pet behind with the bad guys.

The last I heard there still is no police department in Mier.

Anonymous said...

@April 23, 2011 3:27 PM or Buggs

Do you have the link to the original articles so I can read them in Spanish? Thank you!

Anonymous said...

does anyone have a clue whos winning in mier,cdg zetas?u can never tell.
el geeky

andony01 said...

I’m not a racist, but I believe the Mexican Gov. should be responsible for what happens in Mexico. If they are having trouble with guns crossing the border, they should tighten their security! Racist or not, some of these people have a point about illegals and drugs.

Ardent said...

It is worth mentioning, that this Mexican government/ military strategy of 'abandoning' certain regions of a country temporarily is standard operating procedure for Right Wing Latin American governments allied with the US government. In fact, both Guatemala and Colombia come readily to mind where a similar counterinsurgency strategy was carried out by the governments and their militaries there.

In Colombia whole regions like the Medio (Rio) Magdalena area especially were often left for the para death squads and the FARC to battle it out relatively alone as the Colombian military pulled up overt operations while funding covert ops through the para military groups like AUC.

In Guatemala, whole regions in the remoter highlands were turned over to death squad groupings to rampage through as they killed semi destitute peasants, most of them innocent civilians. El Salvador ditto...

It Mexico, the Mexican military already has followed in the recent past this strategy of letting private armies (Right Wing death squads holding the balance of power) battle it out unmolested in relatively isolated areas of Chiapas, Guerrero, and Oaxaca, and now has copied this strategy for the states farther North where differing gangs of drug traffickers now battle it out for power and control, too. Remarkable how the Mexican government really is to its supposed mission of providing law, order, and security to the general population. Their real mission is keeping the country governance in control of the kleptocrats, both international and national. Amazing to see how cynical Caldron and his international cronies can be. Meanwhile, new areas of Mexico learn a lesson the hard way about what their government is really all about.... CORRPUPTION to deliver the society's wealth to the top dogs alone... and Never mind how many shall fall.

Anonymous said...

Buela,
Do you have contact with anyone who can get necessaries and little bits of happiness to them? If you know any person or organization that could be contacted, I would be much obliged. I know that sometimes donations don't make it to the intended recipients.
Imjustagirl

Anonymous said...

Texcoco Mex said.

That is an old video.

Buela said...

@5:54
Here is the spanish version part 1
http://www.gatopardo.com/ReportajesGP.php?R=75

for all other parts in spanish or english (translated)

just google:
diego enrique osorno gatopardo battle of ciudad mier

Anonymous said...

How much of these stories are true? I just spent one week in Cd. Mier and one week in Miguel Aleman. I saw nothing going down in Cd. Mier it is desolate. I was warned by my relatives not to go out and about. I went on to my business and got no heat nor did i see any action in Cd. Mier. I also went to a gentlemans night bar (Cd. Miers Bunny ranch) by k22. Me and my cousins did see a few men spending money out of their whazzoo, but no one boasted being a cartel member, nor did i see dudes heavily armed. We went there two nights in a row and saw nothing. My cousins tell me that the bad guys are not out and harrassing people on a daily basis. The stuff in the news where people are killed is due to the fact they are involved in some sort of way or they refused to pay grounds rights or didnt want to turn over a property. My cousins said that the biggest problem is just that, they are confiscating properties from the rich. Cd. Mier was calm no big deal. I even drove my 2010 escalade with no problems and of course it was during the day when i drove it, night time could have been a different story who knows.

Now the Miguel Aleman that crap there was something else we were lucky to have been in Reynosa that early morning when the chaos broke. But despite of all that went down when we returned (scared and crapped out) we returned to Miguel Aleman and it was as peaceful as it always has been. We hadclaaed my in-laws to see if we could return and they warned us that according to news the streets were hot with convoys etc., etc. I think the media is hyping things more to another level IMO. The crime is there we all know but some of it seems like more as scare tactics. The border at Roma was shut down from 10pm-8am after the scorching of buildings and shoot out in Miguel Aleman.
(not attacking you guys I know you translate).






"El Jilguero"

Ardent said...

Yes, it is bad and not just hyped by the media. Just because it might have been quiet for you in your one week in Mier is no reason to doubt the dangers of wandering around as you did. It is no reason to doubt that Mier is a dangerous place, because it is.

'I was warned by my relatives not to go out and about. I went on to my business and got no heat nor did i see any action in Cd. Mier.'

You are being a first class dummy by not listening to your relatives' warnings. One of my sister in laws just traveled out of this war zone nearby to Mier to visit folk in McAllen and she called us and was real sad about the prospects for yet more violence ahead in her 'plaza' despite the current lull in fighting.

'I also went to a gentlemans night bar (Cd. Miers Bunny ranch) by k22. Me and my cousins did see a few men spending money out of their whazzoo, but no one boasted being a cartel member, nor did i see dudes heavily armed. We went there two nights in a row and saw nothing.'

You're just asking for trouble. I can't believe that anybody is as stupid as you seem to be???? Do you have some sort of death wish to get yourself into deep shit?

Anonymous said...

@ ARDENT......

First of all I really dont need to go into detail or explain why i was down there but I will elaborate just so you know not to over dissect and attack someone over their post.


I first of all didnt go down there to visit with family and relatives. My co-worker a journalist and myself a camera man went down there for a story in which several narco blogs have picked up on already. Just so you know we went down there after I showed my co-worker a story in the TEXAS magazine covering the first outbreak in Cd. Mier. I told him I was from there and still had relatives. He for a long time wanted to go down there but our company would not send us down there on assignment, even if we went on our own terms they would not publish our story for many legal reasons. One month ago we recieved the green light to go for it. We went down there risking our lives becasue we wanted to, plus to report the happenings down there. Yeah my partner and I risked our lives so someone like you could have a 15 minute read. It is our passion and job dont hate us for it I understand you didnt know why I was down ther but surely makes you look like a fool.


Now the relatives telling me not to go out and about, yeah it was my 94 year old aunt she's scared to death as are the children of Cd. Mier.

Anyone from age 20-60 will tell you yeah its scarey but you must go on about your normal life. Dont look, dont talk/rumor about the cartels and you should be fine. The biggest fear is being at the wrong place and wrong time. The towns people know who's walking crooked. When I was there they knew i was not from town and that I was not just on vacation. I stayed in a hotel and I didnt visit my relatives at their homes. We always visited at my uncles ranch in the outskirts of town. Me and my friend stayed in rental rooms in Cd. Mier and made our runs in the evenings and visited my family at night.

We have been cleared by our company to hit the frontera chica for a video report up to 3 months. So we are currently looking at keeping it less than 3 months. We are more or less going to be reporting on actual occurences related to organized crime but no investigational type reporting.








































"El Jilguero"

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated, refer to policy for more information.
Envía fotos, vídeos, notas, enlaces o información
Todo 100% Anónimo;

borderlandbeat@gmail.com