Sunday, April 24, 2011
Easter in Tampico: Resurrection of Narcoviolence
The “narco” violence that has swept the states of Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon this “Semana Santa”, or Holy Week, continues unabated with the neighboring municipalities of Tampico, Ciudad Madero and Altamira in southern Tamaulipas suffering heavy fighting as rival bands of gunmen fought each other and the authorities in the pre-dawn hours of this Easter Sunday.
The cycle of attacks and reprisals began the morning of Holy Thursday with a violent Zeta incursion into the Gulf cartel stronghold of Ciudad Aleman.
According to military sources quoted by the El Norte daily newspaper in a story published Saturday, the outbreak of violence in the Nuevo Leon municipalities of Monterrey, Cadereyta, Guadalupe, Santiago and Montemorelos were the result of Gulf cartel reprisals against areas with heavy Zeta influence.
What is alarming in this latest wave of attacks is the violence aimed at random economic targets such as auto dealerships, supermarkets, convenience stores, gas stations, fast food outlets and other business establishments.
In Tampico, shootouts began at 3:00am Sunday morning in different areas of the city.
Four auto dealerships located on Tampico’s main business artery, Avenida Hidalgo, were damaged. These included GMC-Buick, Chrysler, Mitsubishi and Dodge brands.
Heavy gunfire was also reported in the Del Valle, Del Bosque and Solidaridad neighbourhoods.
In the adjoining municipality of Ciudad Madero a grenade attack at a Soriana shopping center in the Colonia Ampliación resulted in a fire that heavily damaged the establishment.
The Tamaulipas State Attorney General has not confirmed any casaualties or arrests. However, unofficial reports vary wildly, from that of only four youths shot and wounded outside of a convenience store to a tally of ten deaths.
Various sources report the attacks as another “calentada de plaza” (disrupting the plaza), this time with Zetas from the neighboring state of Vera Cruz invading the Gulf cartel strongholds of Tampico/Ciudad Madero.
The Tamaulipas Ministry of Tourism counted 117,000 visitors to the Playas Miramar and Caracol gulf coast beaches located in the Tampico area during the Holy Week vacation period. Apparantly, federal authorities were occupied in protecting the tourist areas, holy week festivities and the Tampico "feria".
One blogsite linked below, Mexicoahoraonunca, described nightlong street battles between the Zeta invaders and a Gulf cartel “citizen’s youth militia” whose security ring protecting the tri-city area was breached Saturday night.
Although the Tampico area has been the site of ongoing narcoviolence for more than a year, the writer speaks of the current state of affairs as a “state of seige” with roving gangs of gunmen that no longer obey any limits to their behavior.
“There is no reason to present a Catholic “passion play”, we are living it daily in all it’s bloody reality.”
According to a joint report released by the National Defense and Naval ministries and quoted in the La Cronica de Hoy’s Sunday edition, drug cartels control 40% of the land area in Tamaulipas.
Although Federal authorities have a presence and mount operations in Tampico, Ciudad Madero and Altamira, the Gulf cartel controls the tri-city area.
Atacan Negocios en Tampico
Una noche mas en Tampico de terror
Controlan los narcos 40% de Tamaulipas
Images of the aftermath of Sunday morning's violence.