Violence rang out once again Saturday in the border cities of Matamoros and Reynosa.
In Matamoros, 20 inmates were killed and 12 injured during what authorities are calling a prison riot, while in Reynosa, armed civilians were engaged in chases and road blockades.
According to Tamaulipas state officials, the riot occurred at the Matamoros State Prison, known as CEDES, which is in the rural area of Santa Adelaida. Authorities were called to the prison early Saturday morning when the riot broke out. Officials said the riot was an escalation of an altercation between two inmates and built up into an all-out brawl that resulted in the heavy casualties.
State and federal authorities were called to restore order and at approximately 8 a.m., control of the jail was re-stored. Later in the morning, family members were seen lined up waiting for information about their loved ones as the prison remained under lockdown by federal and military forces.
“They are not telling us anything,” said an elderly woman who was waiting to hear if her son was safe. Soon af-ter, authorities set up a booth to take care of family members and their inquiries.
The injured were transported to the Alfredo Pumarejo General Hospital in Matamoros, while the dead were taken to the city morgue. Tamaulipas authorities set up a temporary Attorney General’s Office to investigate the case.
While authorities continued to say the riot was the cause of the 20 deaths, sources outside law enforcement claim the encounter was a planned execution.
Unconfirmed information points to an ongoing struggle within the Gulf Cartel as they try to contain Juan Reyes (R1) Mejia Gonzalez and his group, the R’s, who have been warring with the Metros, another CDG group. Mejia remains at large.
Authorities wouldn’t confirm if the inmates involved had ties to organized crime. Unconfirmed reports from sources outside of law enforcement point to the victims as being members of the R’s who were arrested last week in Miguel Aleman after a large firefight with the Mexican military.
According to official reports, in Miguel Aleman, authorities arrested 36 individuals. Authorities wouldn’t com-ment how many of those 36 were taken to the Matamoros prison.
A Tamaulipas law enforcement official also confirmed that questions remain in the apparent suicide of Hum-berto Ozuna Cardenas, 24, who was found hanging in a prison bathroom two weeks ago. Ozuna Cardenas was jailed after a recent arrest on weapons charges, the official said.
Riots being used for executions is not new to Matamoros.
On Dec. 5, three Zetitas — young Zeta foot soldiers — were stabbed and beaten to death at the Matamoros CEDES after a riot. The Zetitas had been arrested shortly after they had been creating a problem in the plaza in Matamoros by throwing grenades in public places and killing two police officers.
>> In August 2010, 14 members of a cell of former Gulf Cartel members who joined with the Zetas were killed in an alleged riot shortly after being taken into the Matamoros CEDES. The Zetas they joined were part of the group belonging to Oscar “El Apache” Castillo Flores. Castillo Flores was arrested in the United States for immigration violations. His older brother, Albert “Beto Fabe” Castillo, was the plaza boss in Matamoros and was killed after an internal struggle. The youngest brother, Omar Castillo, and his bodyguard were gunned down along FM 511 in Brownsville.
In Reynosa, rolling shootouts between armed civilians were reported about 10 a.m. Saturday along El Maestro and Colosio boulevards. The shootouts continued sporadically for about two hours with blockades in various part of the city; however official information was not readily available.