Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ciudad Mier residents move out, move on in nearby areas

The Monitor
By Jared Taylor

Photo: Entrance to Ciudad Mier

Alberto Gonzalez rolled up to the gravel parking lot outside the apartment and got out of his old white and yellow taxicab.

The faded red letters on the Ford Crown Victoria’s door show a phone number and where he’s from — Ciudad Mier, Tamps.

"We came here because we are scared," the Mier native said in Spanish. "There’s nobody there now. It’s a ghost town."

Gonzalez, 38, talks of the drug cartels that have taken Ciudad Mier hostage since February.

That was when the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas formally split and began an all-out fight for control of territory along the Tamaulipas-Texas border.

A wave of refugees has flooded Mier’s eastern neighbor Miguel Alemán in recent weeks — the last holdouts of terrorized citizenry from Mier who, under order from the Zetas, finally packed up and left after the Nov. 5 slaying of Ezequiel "Tony Tormenta" Cárdenas Guillen, the head of the Gulf Cartel.

Many of Gonzalez’s relatives and friends remained at the impromptu refugee camp in Miguel Alemán, he said. Earlier this year, though, his sister-in-law moved to the apartment in Roma’s Los Saenz neighborhood. Now, he was helping her to clean out the two-bedroom unit.

Officials in Roma said the exodus to their city from Mier has carried on since fighting across the border picked up in the spring. Most residents from Mier and other towns along the Frontera Chica — the "little border," as the region is known — with money or immigration papers had already fled to the U.S. before June.

"The people who went to Miguel Alemán were the ones who had nowhere else to go," said Roma City Manager Cris Salinas.

Telephone calls to the Mier city government went unanswered last week — officials there have reportedly relocated to Miguel Alemán.

Mexican military officials announced last week that about 3,000 soldiers, naval forces and federal police, were being deployed to the towns along the Frontera Chica to provide security so displaced residents could return home.

But city officials in Miguel Alemán confirmed that few Mier residents have left the refugee camp set up at the city’s Lions Club. More than 300 people have sought shelter there, leaving their community a ghost town.

"Initially it was 30 people, but then it went up to 60, 100, and now we have 300 that came here," Miguel Alemán Mayor Servando Lopez Moreno said this month. Lopez Moreno did not return several calls seeking comment last week.

Beyond the refugee camp, school officials in Roma report 295 new students were enrolled across the district at the end of October — as much as a tenfold increase from most years. Most of the new pupils are recent immigrants from Mexico, district spokesman Ricardo Perez said. So far, the district has been able to absorb the new students without problems.

"If this continues unabated, then we will begin experiencing some difficulty with regards to resources and whatnot," Perez said.

Churches and charities across the Rio Grande Valley have taken supplies over to the refugees who remain in Miguel Alemán. Their relatives in Roma take food, water and blankets across, as well.

A church employee in Escobares said fellow parishioners had been taking blankets and food to the refugee camp. But a shootout in Miguel Alemán on Wednesday and threats that the Lions Club would be targeted for a possible bomb attack prompted them to halt the relief effort.

"It’s very sad these days," the woman said in Spanish.

Feb. 22, 2010, was the day everything changed for the people of Mier.

An eight-page internal report written by a Mier city official on Nov. 7 — two days after Tony Tormenta’s death — chronicles the town’s demise, which began that late winter night.

Widespread firefights were heard about 8 p.m. that day. And before dawn the next day, suspected drug cartel members traveling in some 40 trucks overtook Mier’s City Hall, kidnapped the city’s police force and took their weapons.

More kidnappings were reported in the city and about 10 houses were burned, the report states.

Without police control, local government ceased to conduct its daily activities. A shootout between Mexican army soldiers and cartel gunmen ensued in front of a school on the city’s south side, "provoking chaos" and leaving casualties on both sides.

Since Feb. 22, the report states, school classes have been suspended in the city. Widespread and erratic shootouts pushed scared parents to keep their children home.

"Educational authorities took the decision to not have students in class until further notice," the report states.

More than 50 percent of the town’s 6,500 residents fled after the cartel violence ensued. In recent weeks, the number of people displaced has climbed. Those who have fled estimate only a few hundred people remain in Mier.

As is the case in nearby Nueva Ciudad Guerrero, public social activities — baptisms, family reunions, weddings, quinceañeras and such —have ceased in Mier. Without an adequate police presence, residents have lived under a 7 p.m. curfew.

Medical services in the town have mostly ceased, with clinics shutting their doors during firefights and no emergency services available after the nightly curfew. Anyone with an emergency in Mier must drive 25 minutes to Miguel Alemán and face the risk of getting caught in the crossfire along the way, the report states.

Local officials have documented least 110 kidnappings since February, the report states. No statistics are readily available from Mexican authorities on the number of fatalities in Mier and the other Frontera Chica communities, but hundreds are believed to have been killed in the fighting there.

What remains unclear is the effect the erratic battles may have on ordinary residents caught amid the crossfire.

Gonzalez’s 12-year-old nephew, Jorge, recounted one afternoon when gunfire and grenade blasts erupted on his street in Mier.

Jorge said he hid under a bed. His brother stayed in a closet during the two-hour battle.

"I thought I was going to die," Jorge said.

Photos from Ciudad Mier show homes, downtown structures and other buildings whose façades have been pockmarked as if by a bad case of acne. Even the town’s centerpiece, a sandstone church whose construction dates to 1784, has been scarred by the gunfire. Other photos show bodies or severed limbs in the streets. In one, the bloody torso of a man hangs from a tree in the city square, his arms and legs cut off.

The town’s police station and three vehicles were reportedly burned during an Oct. 15 attack, leaving only charred remains behind.

Widespread kidnappings, auto thefts and assaults have been reported along Mexico Highway 2, which runs along the border with the U.S., and Mexico Highway 54, which leads to Monterrey.

"During more than eight months, there are days in which it is impossible to travel to Monterrey because of narcobloqueos (roadblocks set up by drug traffickers), massive robberies, and shootouts between armed groups," the report states. "These two most important arteries for our city have been greatly affected."

Much of Mier’s significance in the drug cartels’ fight for territory across northeast Mexico comes from its strategic location along Mexico’s highway system.

At the apartment building in Roma, Gonzalez, the former Mier taxi driver, scrawled a map on a sheet of paper, with lines leading to Nuevo Laredo, Monterrey and Reynosa. Mier sits at the middle, at the crossroads along the Tamaulipas border.

In Mier’s downtown, at least 70 percent of businesses have been "seriously affected" by the months of gunfire and grenade blasts on the area, the report states.

Local retail shops, restaurants, hotels, money changers, grocers, pharmacies — virtually all areas of service — have shut down. As is the case in neighboring Nueva Ciudad Guerrero, no gas stations remain open.

"This chaos has closed the majority share of businesses," the report states. "They have gone in the necessity to migrate to find work and peace."

A 24-year-old woman and Mier native, who declined to be named, said her parents are living with an uncle in Miguel Alemán. Her family’s convenience store was ransacked earlier this month.

"They took everything — the sodas, bread, the sweets, even the bars of soap," she said in Spanish. "They stole it all."

The livestock ranches that surround Mier have ceased to operate, with ranchers fearful of tending to their land.

"Rural roads are full of armed men, who have kidnapped a number of people making a living off the land," the report states. "Most of the ranches have been taken and are destroyed in the hands of the armed people."

Besides livestock, the region’s natural gas exploration industry "is of the utmost importance" to Mier’s economy, the report states, and has all but ceased.

In May, several Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) workers were kidnapped and local offices in Mier were moved to Miguel Alemán. City officials said losing Pemex’s offices in the city further damaged local support businesses that depended on gas company employees to spend money in their shops.

Local officials say there has been little cooperation from state or federal authorities to provide security in the eight months Mier has been under the control of criminals.

"Always, the authorities show up two or three times per month, but they never listen to our pleas for help," the report states.

The report closes with a cry for help and a plea not to let Mier permanently fall into the hands of criminals.

"The will of the citizens of this Tamaulipan city still standing on its feet will not leave our people to die in our town, the land of our birth, our town where we grow and raise a family," the report states. "Therefore, we stand up and hope to live, to live in a town that claims justice and peace for its habitants."

Roma and the nearby towns across the Rio Grande have maintained a close relationship since the area was settled in the 18th century.

Before the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed in 1848, Roma and the other towns were part of the municipality of Mier. The town occupies such an important place in the country’s history that Mexico’s tourism secretary declared it a Pueblo Magico, or "Magical Town," in 2007.

Despite the international divide between Roma and Mier, the communities still worked closely together until recent months.

"Before, we had a pretty good relationship with Mier," Salinas said. "But since this happened, the lines of communication have broken. You call the presidencia (administration) and there’s no one there.

"There’s no knowing what’s going to happen next."

Students from Miguel Alemán continue to cross the border to attend Roma’s schools every day, said Perez, the school district spokesman.

Such is the way of life here, where families straddle a river that divides two nations but not the communities that line it.

"We’re right on the river and some of our campuses are walking distance from the bridge," Perez said. "Families are looking for a safe environment for their children and their families. It’s very difficult to blame them for wanting to come over and establish residency."

That seems the case for many natives of Mier, where fighting to reclaim their town appears all but lost, for now.

Back at the apartment building in Roma, Gonzalez examined a small, empty bedroom as his sister-in-law scrubbed cabinets in the kitchen last week.

The modest dwelling rents for $380 a month, Gonzalez said. He does not have enough money to cover the rent by himself, so two other families from Mier plan on moving in with him and sharing the cost.

Salinas said virtually all the city’s rental properties are occupied. And while it has added only about 10 new water accounts per month, most of the city’s new full-time residents already owned second homes in Roma.

"It's going to take some time for things to settle down and get back to normal," Salinas said. "I don't see it anytime soon."

Even with upwards of 18 people sharing the tight quarters, Gonzalez said, living here is better than his hometown.

"With three families, we will pay for it," he said. "But we confide in God that everything will get better, with a little bit of faith."


  1. You Mexicans need to grow balls and go and retake your towns from these sorry piece of shits.
    Arm yourselves and go take back what is yours. Do not be afraid, you are right and they are wrong.
    Take Large groups of people and go hunting for them. Burn thier homes and destroy these thugs. Its up to you all. This would never be allowed to occur in the United States.
    Cut off the head of an American investagator and the wrath of god and America will come down on you.
    Defeat them or be thier slaves....

  2. Its really not that easy John Wayne 9:35

    There are PLENTY of guns in Mex, more guns isn't the solution. large scale social reform is.

  3. I guess the U.S.A.could handle one more state.We would have to change the flags.Pretty soon there will be more mexicans here than south of the border.It will stretch our welfare system a little at first but with American knowhow i suggest the 52nd. state will be the richest region in the world.I lived in the valley in the 70s.and at that time there was less than a 1000 people in my town[Rio Hondo]but we had over 2000 children in our school.Guess where they came from?.So i guess the time is finally here to annex Mexico and be done with it.There is a lot of Mexicans that think we do things better over here as i'm sure the Border Patrol will confirm this.Adios Mexico,it had to happen.

  4. does anyone know how to go about donating either money or supplies for these people?

  5. Smurf,
    While your statement is partially true...the guns are not with the good people of Mx. I know no one who has a gun other than a few with hunting rifles which are no match against the weapons of the cartels. Mx cry out "if you will not protect us , give us the weapons so we can protect ourselves!" If they were armed no way could the cartels be so prolific at destruction and murder or terrorism.

    from one of my fav presidents:

    False is the idea of utility that sacrifices a thousand real advantages for one imaginary or trifling inconvenience; that would take fire from men because it burns, and water because one may drown in it; that has no remedy for evils except destruction. The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. --Thomas Jefferson

    and GHANDI...

    Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest." -- Mahatma Gandhi

    Just my dos centavos ....

  6. are so correct!!!!
    however social, educational, economic reform is a must in any plan to recover as a society a must in any so call "win" In a society that has 50+ % in poverty and 15% starving THIS restruction is paramount. Employment possibilities will narow the field of choice for recruiting into cartels, as it is the resource is seemingly unlimited...

  7. BB got a mess saying field was empty..if this is duplicate pls discard..

    PS...Smurf you are so correct on the social reform...socio, educational, economic reform is imperative to any so call "win" of this war. employment stability and possibilty for all will narrow the field of recruit into the cartels elminating the huge pool of Nis Nis. Presently the cartels have an unlimited supply ready to be recruited without choices for much else. 50%+ in poverty 15% starving cannot be tolerated in a sucessful society.

  8. Large scale social and culture reform is needed in mexico. But it's almost impossible to achieve. The mexican culture of corruption and thievery has allowed this situation to occur. The mexican people are now paying the consequences for this corruption. Just read the story before this one, anyone who has traveled to mexico know about the "mordida" culture that is mexico. Let's just hope we can keep this problem in mexico by very strict immigration enforcement.

  9. What are you going to do today????
    Go after them and thier friends and families one at at time. Identify them tru whatever means possible and go and destroy them. Teach them a lesson that evil will always be defeated.
    Pablo Escobar in Colombia learned that lessson very well. IT DOES WORK!!!!

  10. Who will pay for the Social Reform? Stability is the first step and must be TAKEN,once there is stability Maby some poor fool will invest $ = jobs in Mexico. The military is the only hope so quit bitching and support the clean up.

  11. The Mexican government and US government are beginning to create in Mexico what are called 'internal refugees' of war, which was the exact US counter insurgency strategy followed in Colombia where about 3,000,00 internal refugees were created, being the largest number of war refugees in the Americas. The US has done the same with the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, too.

    Internal refugees have to flee their homes and communities, and often cannot ever return to their original home regions and towns in some conflicts. I hope that it doesn't ever get that bad in Tamaulipas, but more of the same US militaristic mindset is not good for ever stopping such a horrible disaster from occurring.


  12. wE HAVE OVER TWELVE MILLION OF YOUR REFUGES OVER HERE NOW.How many were granted amnesty before?SOMEONE has got to clean the house.Your army can't because there are spread out so far.It's going to take a lot of units like the one that tracked down Sadaam.Mexico is going to have to ask for help.No time to be proud.Be proud when your people start coming home.

  13. Buela,

    I agree that the guns available to the citizens of Mex aren't up to par with what the narcos carry. I'm for gun rights in the U.S.

    However, I don't think that more guns available to the public would help in Mexico. I've tried to work it out logically, and it doesn't seem to be the right move to me.

    1. The stores themselves would get ripped off. There would be a lot of shipments of inventory that would never see the shelves. Corrupt employees would sell them to organized crime.

    2. It would make an already tense situation even more unstable. There are plenty of gun stores in the U.S. but if you look at the statistics, our gun crime rates are among the highest; more guns haven' translated into public safety, at least nothing you could point out definitively and document.

    3. It does nothing to address the socio-economic problem that has plagued Mexico since its inception: the huge divide between rich and poor. It's really about desperate people who do desperate things for money. And greedy people who do greedy things for money.

    Mexico must create a stable, middle class. Who pays for this? I don't know, maybe its about time we have our own Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, something to really turn this into a service economy and lift people out of poverty, I don't think the maquilladora jobs are coming back the way they existed in the past. I know very little about Carlos Slim and what he does to help the people of Mex. But I hope its a lot because anything short of the next Ghandi may not be enough.

  14. Smurf...I appreciate your view I just think differently, citizens should had arms I trust the Mexican people, the honest decent hard working folks to be responsible, the bad guys will always get weapons...even in Communist China the bad guys have guns, and their org crime makes Mx pale by comparison...I know our business has been ther for 15 years and in Pacific Rim 30. Gun control only disarms those who would use them responsibly...

    Mx citizens can have a 38 or 357 and are restricted to purchase from one gun stores the army..

    and you are in error about the decline of the socio-educational structure I have studies it hard and furious, there was a grwoing middle class that is disolving back into poverty because the structure has been impacted, education very hard hit, i cannot get into it without having several ages to write, but it is no same old shit at all and it is because of the cost of taming the cartels.

  15. Do we really have to tolerate comment after comment with these people and their 'take Mexico back' routine? It's tiresome, and does nothing but spin and rewind the same arguments over and over again. The people posting it obviously are doing it for the attention, just take it away from them.

  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. I tend to agree J

    The same argument get hashed out again and again in different posts ad naseum. BB is 1/2 news and 1/2 message board at times, this makes it a little difficult for us to moderate the content because we tend to take a very liberal approach about the way people leave comments, the anon option is a necessary evil unfortunately.

    But what can we do? If people don't use a consistent name its hard to figure out who is bringing up the gun topic because they are new to the site, and who is simply a troll.

    Perhaps we should put a gun discussion in the Forum/Message Board section of BB and simply direct all those comments to post in that topic.

    Here is what I got.

    This topic is for anyone who wants to discuss the gun issue. Do you think Mexico should have its own 2nd amendment? or do you think that is the LAST thing we need right now?

    Are you in the U.S. and support gun rights? Or do you think we would simply be better off without them altogether?

    Is the U.S. at fault for allowing its weapons to flow so easily into Mexico via gun shows and legal dealers? Or is it all just a bunch of liberal BS?

    Well this is the ultimate thread where this topic can be discussed, there is no right or wrong opinions. Just keep an open mind when posting and responding.

    - Smurf

    Just post this link and direct them there, hopefully it might cut down on this topic being over-discussed in the comments sections

  18. This argument should not be about gun control vs rights under the 2nd ammendment. That argument is completely skirting the issue.

    The issue is, How do Mexican citizens, with the help of the military, take back their towns and their property and prevent becoming pawns at the mercy of gangs of killers.

    IF Mexico can sent the best of its military into the border towns, to start, with enough ammunition to distribute to citizens willing and able to protect themselves and their families, arm them, give them a little basic training where necessary, they will empower citizens to become active participants to help rid their town of this frontal assault.

    Soldiers would have to go house to house, street by street, to meet these families and help arm them (something like US military did in Irag, but I don't think we gave them guns).

    Soldiers would have to stay awhile to be sure but together they could turn the tide and put the bandits on the run instead of the other way around. And Mexico would keep its own citizens in control of this war instead of an outside military force.

    This of course presupposes the military sent to these towns are mem and women of integrity who truly want to take back their country. All the ammunition confiscated from drug raids should be collected and given to the military for distribution amongst the people of these towns.

    This strategy involves trust, but once trust is built it will spread like wildfire. This method could also help towns rid themselves of corrupt police because every town knows who these people are. Now they may be willing to stand up to them and say "No more."

  19. This is what I'm talking about, it's preposterous and insulting to suggest this to people. Please take it elsewhere, because this is all you guys seem to want to discuss.

  20. 8:54

    The whole john Wayne thing is cliche for the U.S. readers to suggest.

    Post all your crazy gun and armed revolution theories n the aforementioned thread and leave it out of the comments

  21. JAJA Smurf

    You say JW I say Rambosos...whatever
    I am not saying guns blazing...but I firmly believe disarming citizens is disaming only one side of a war.

    SInce my team came back from Miguel Aleman to take supplies to Mier Refugees they are unilateral in their belief that Mx should have arms! and the citizens of Mier say the same. I say no matter what you thiunk, no matter what I think, the people should be able to have the freedom to decide.

    It is easy to sit in a home office or whereever in the US or abroad safely pounding out op on computer keys, but I have not doubt is you walked the day in the shoes of the good people of Mier, NO ONE would be against arming the people. I repeat they are responsible, most good people are. I am not in favor of te US going in but am 100% in favor of an even playing field...and the people are as well....

  22. I disagree I hate censorship and respect the right of anyone even those whose op I do not like. Freedom of expression is the only way to feel the pulse of everyone. I say if you do not like what a person says...stop reading. No narco blog censors and this blog actually is well mannered in comparison.

    JAJA Smurf

    You say JW I say Rambosos...whatever
    I am not saying guns blazing...but I firmly believe disarming citizens is disaming only one side of a war.

    SInce my team came back from Miguel Aleman to take supplies to Mier Refugees they are unilateral in their belief that Mx should have arms! and the citizens of Mier say the same. I say no matter what you thiunk, no matter what I think, the people should be able to have the freedom to decide.

    It is easy to sit in a home office or whereever in the US or abroad safely pounding op on a computer but until you are there not visiting but living you cannot know what exists, no you personally anyone

  23. Buela,

    I agree, citizens should have the right to bear arms, especially those of you who are bringing relief to troubled areas of the country, I wouldn't want to do what y'all do without a large caliber rifle at my side! In any case, your thought on the matter are always reasonable and articulate, the JW thing is really more aimed at the anons who want to see every last person armed to the teeth and fighting to death in the streets for some set of unrealistic ideals; its just not living in reality to suggest THAT particular method. I think those folks have watched the movie MACHETE one too many times... Funny enough, a Dead Kennedys song "Rambozo the Clown" seems pretty appropriate right about now.

    And as far as censorship... Well, I don't mean it like that! Just would be nice if we could keep the discussion about the article at hand rather than gun rights or arming citizens and leading a charge against narcos. As J pointed out we have this discussion time and time again, The topic itself needs a home where everyone can express their opinion, not just blurt it out no matter what the subject matter is.

    And again, I don't want to beat a dead horse, but social reform is the way to go, lift people out of poverty with jobs and they will be more likely to pick up a textbook instead of a gun.

  24. funny thing most of the people who oppose gun ownership for the common Mexican person is sitting safe and sound in the USA...their safety guaranteed by a well armed civilian population....seems like the mexicans most affected , want to be able to defend themselves...but what do they know, compared to American gun control nutz

  25. hey buela ...what did you think of that big high school over in Roma....wonder where all that money comes from...certainly not from Roma

  26. That's my main issue, besides the fact it's ridiculous, (on the level usually described here), it's also brought up no matter what the topic. Zeta boss captured? Mexico ARM YOURSELF

    Barbie is going to be extradiated...ARM YOURSELF

    Body hung from bridge in Tijuana.....ARM YOURSELF

    Like this is the 'Magnificent Seven', or something, please, we don't believe you.

  27. Smurf is correct John Wayne ignorance is only going to prolong the violence I think the Mexican citizens should defend themselves but if they ever want to live happy and end this disaster it is with a full fledge judicial system.There is no reason there is not a judicial system put in place other then the corrupt and two face one that is already in place and is destined at the hand of high officials who can give a crap about Mexico


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