[credit provider=”Courtesy of Borderland Beat” url=”http://www.borderlandbeat.com/2011/04/heating-up-in-northeastern-mexican.html”]
Cartel gunmen have been attacking Mexican border towns once thought to be safe from the country’s rampant drug violence, according to the Houston Chronicle.The cities of Miguel Alemán, across the border from Roma, Texas, and Ciudad Mier came under siege last Thursday. Authorities believe the attacks are part of a turf battle between the powerful Gulf and Los Zetas cartels, which are at war over lucrative smuggling routes in the northern state of Tamaulipas.
Miguel Alemán, a city of 27,000, has been a refuge for Mexican citizens fleeing drug violence in other border cities. It’s one of the only towns in Tamaulipas where business continued to thrive during President Felipe Calderon’s war against the drug cartels.
Residents of Ciudad Mier, on the other hand, say their town has been a brewing cartel battleground for the past year, although the violence has not been reported by Mexican officials. The town, which has no municipal police, was overtaken by the Zetas when they split from the Gulf Cartel, their former bosses, in early 2010. Residents believe the Mexican military is leaving Ciudad Mier alone in order to let the Gulf Cartel destroy Los Zetas, an assessment that echoes comments made by U.S. officials in secret diplomatic cables obtained by Wikileaks.
The weekend violence came as Mexican authorities continue to dig up bodies from mass graves in Tamaulipas and Durango states and as a series of gangland incidents ravaged the northern border state of Nuevo León.
In light of the spreading violence, the U.S. State Department has expanded its travel warning for Mexico. The new warning includes several areas previously considered to be relatively safe, such as Baja California, Nogales, a border city near Tucson, Ariz., and Rocky Point, a popular resort town on the Gulf of California. It also warns business people and travellers of violence in Acapulco and Monterrey.
Officials in Mexico’s Baja California state have protested the warning, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports, saying that they have made inroads against the cartels and parts of the peninsula remain relatively untouched by drug violence.
The AP reports, however, that a man was found shot to death Saturday in the lobby of a luxury hotel in Cabo San Lucas, a popular tourist destination where violence has been extremely rare. Also on Saturday, residents found the dismembered body of a woman scattered in an upscale Mexico City neighbourhood. The two incidents are further indication that no part of Mexico is immune to the drug violence.