Mexican kingpin’s arrest sparks gunfights, 3 dead
A cartel attacked Mexican security forces Friday in reaction to a drug lord’s arrest in a city near the U.S. border, unleashing gunfights that killed at least three gunmen and wounded two officers.
The gang torched several vehicles, including a school bus, and used trucks and cars to block streets in Reynosa, sowing panic in the city of 610,000 people across from McAllen, Texas.
Terrified Reynosa residents posted pictures on Twitter of burning vehicles and people taking cover on the ground, while the U.S. consulate urged Americans to stay indoors.
The firefights began after a leader of the Gulf cartel was arrested in the city, two federal officials said on condition of anonymity, identifying the suspect only by his nickname, “El Gafe” (The Jinxed One).
His arrest dealt a new blow to the gang, which holds sway in northern Tamaulipas state but has seen several leaders taken down, triggering deadly internal power struggles that have surged along the border this year.
The Gulf gang’s violent reaction echoed similar operations launched by another criminal group, the Jalisco New Generation Drug Cartel, against security forces.
The New Generation launched two ambushes on federal and state police in the western state of Jalisco that left a total of 20 of- ficers dead in recent weeks in apparent revenge over the takedown of gang members.
A Tamaulipas security task force issued a statement saying that army troops and federal police had detained an unspecified number of gang members.
“Resulting from the operation, members of the same criminal group reacted by attacking federal and Tamaulipas forces, setting up blockades in the city,” the Tamaulipas Coordination Group said.
“Up to now, three armed civilians are reported dead, and two members of the Tamaulipas Force were wounded in the attacks,” it said.
The city’s mayor said the gun battles began around noon. Authorities said federal and state force retook control of the situation at 6:00 p.m.
One of the federal officials said the gang burned several vehicles to terrorize the population and distract police forces.
“There’s obviously resistance that emerges when people of this nature are arrested,” Reynosa Mayor Jose Elias Leal told Radio Formula, adding that he expected the situation to calm down overnight.
The city government issued a “red light” alert on Twitter, urging residents to avoid some areas.
The local daily El Manana reported that two U.S.-Mexico bor- der crossings were closed.
In a separate operation further west along the border, federal forces detained the suspected leader of the Juarez drug cartel, Jesus Salas Aguayo, alias “El Chuyin,” in Chihuahua state, an official said on condition of anonymity.
Authorities believe he succeeded Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, alias “El Viceroy,” who was arrested in October.