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Apr 5, 2011 | 08:49 GMT

8 mins read

Mexico Security Memo: April 5, 2011

Mexico Security Memo

Reynosa Gunbattle

A significant firefight took place in central Reynosa, Tamaulipas state, the afternoon of April 1, according to blogs and videos posted online by Reynosa residents. The reports, confirmed by STRATFOR sources, indicated that the battle occurred near the attorney general's office, but that the office itself did not appear to be the target. Based on the videos posted online, the exchange of gunfire between cartel gunmen and federal forces appeared protracted, with at least one side using automatic weapons. The confrontation likely involved members of the Gulf cartel, as that organization has held the Reynosa plaza for some time. Although Los Zetas have been expected to attempt to reassert themselves in the area, the April 1 gunbattle did not appear to be the opening act of a Zeta offensive — though a perceived weakening of the Gulf cartel in Reynosa by federal forces could prompt Los Zetas to swift action. As STRATFOR searched for more details about what — by all accounts — was a notable confrontation in the center of an important border city, there appeared to be an almost total lack of news reports on the incident. It seems that intimidation of the media has effectively muzzled reporting on cartel violence in the border area and other parts of Mexico. During the last year, individual reporters and news organizations have engaged in a fair amount of self-censorship in a clear attempt at self-preservation after the assassinations of nine journalists and the kidnappings of five journalists who have not been found.

Matamoros Weapons Cache

In Matamoros the night of April 1, a Mexican army patrol saw several individuals run inside a house, reportedly to avoid capture by the patrol. The soldiers did not find the subjects, but they did seize a large cache of weapons, military grade ordnance and explosives. According to a Mexican government press release, the inventory included:
  • One machine gun, 7.62 mm caliber
  • 59 rifles (types unreported)
  • 21 handguns (types unreported)
  • Seven Uzi 9 mm submachine guns
  • One rocket launcher (type unreported)
  • One rocket (type unreported)
  • One grenade launcher (type unreported)
  • One crossbow
  • 412 chubs of hydrogel explosives (for industrial mining, size of charges not reported)
  • 36 electric detonators
  • 39.4 feet of detonation cord
  • Six mortar rounds, 60 mm
  • Three rifle grenades
  • Five inert grenades (possibly missing the fuses)
  • One rocket-propelled grenade launcher
  • 50 fragmentation hand grenades
  • Two grenade bodies
  • Four practice grenades, 40 mm
  • Two tripods
  • $59,700 in U.S. currency
The house likely was a long-term storage location rather than a staging point for a particular attack, given the miscellaneous nature of the inventory. The quantity of explosives is fairly large and could have been used in an attack with a large improvised explosive device (IED). But it is important to remember that while some of the cartels in the region have used IEDs in attacks, to date all these devices have been quite small, and we have seen no indication so far that the cartels are trending toward larger devices. Even the explosives placed in cars in Ciudad Juarez in 2010 appeared to involve under three or four pounds of similar explosives. Therefore, it is unlikely that the large quantity seized in the Matamoros cache was intended for use in a single attack. Given its location in Matamoros, which has long been controlled by the Gulf cartel, the munitions cache likely belonged to that cartel — though who it belonged to has not been reported. STRATFOR will continue to monitor the situation, as the facts are not yet clear and the tempo of clashes between Los Zetas and the combined Gulf and Sinaloa forces for dominance in the region is increasing. (click here to view interactive map)

March 28

  • The bodies of six people were discovered in an abandoned car in Las Brisas neighborhood in Texmico, Morelos state. The victims had been shot to death.
  • Unidentified gunmen opened fire on the vehicle of a PRI mayoral candidate in Huejutla de Reyes, Hidalgo state. The victim was shot twice but survived the attack.
  • Soldiers in the Santa Cecilia neighborhood of Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon state arrested seven members of an unidentified criminal group after a firefight and chase.

March 29

  • Unidentified gunmen shot and killed the chief of prison guards for the Barrientos Prison as he drove in Tultitlan, Mexico state.
  • Unidentified masked gunmen shot and killed four members of the same family in their home in San Marcos, Guerrero state.
  • Unidentified gunmen kidnapped and subsequently released an engineer for Mexican state-owned energy firm Pemex in San Agustin Tlaxiaca, Hidalgo state. Hidalgo state Public Security Secretary Damian Canales subsequently denied that members of an organized criminal group were involved in the kidnapping.
  • A group of gunmen opened fire on a car carrying the bodyguards of Garcia, Nuevo Leon state mayor Jaime Rodriguez. Four people were injured in the attack.

March 30

  • At least two unidentified gunmen shot and killed a municipal judge as he drove his car in Tlaquepaque, Jalisco state.
  • Authorities discovered the bodies of three men and a woman in the municipality of Venustiano Carranza, Michoacan state. The victims bore signs of torture and had their extremities bound.
  • Federal police officers in Durango, Durango state arrested Bernabe Monje Silva, who is believed to be one of the leaders of the Cartel Pacifico Sur in Durango state. Two other suspects were arrested along with Monje Silva.
  • State police officers discovered the dismembered body of an unidentified man in Tepatitlan de Morelos, Jalisco state. A message on a sign was left on the victim's torso, but authorities did not reveal the contents of the message.

March 31

  • Soldiers in Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon state shot and killed four suspected cartel gunmen in a vehicle after the gunmen reportedly opened fire on a military patrol.
  • Approximately 15 gunmen kidnapped the coordinator of the female section of the Michoacan state police in Morelia, Michoacan state.
  • Unidentified people abandoned the body of a kidnapped municipal police officer near a highway tunnel in Coyuca de Benitez, Guerrero state. The victim had been kidnapped on March 29.
  • State investigative agents announced the arrests of 11 members of a kidnapping gang from La Familia Michoacana in Mexicaltzingo, Mexico state and other unidentified locations. Among the suspects arrested were the deputy director of Capulhuac and the former director of municipal police for Ocoyoacac.
  • Unidentified attackers threw an explosive device at the headquarters of a publishing firm in the Torremolinos neighborhood of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state. No injuries were reported in the attack.
  • Unidentified gunmen shot and killed 10 people in a bar in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state.

April 1

  • Soldiers in the municipality of Yahualica, Jalisco state dismantled a suspected methamphetamine lab and seized approximately 700 grams of methamphetamines. One person was arrested during the raid.
  • Military authorities announced the arrest of Jesus Raul Ochoa Zazueta, a suspected leader of the Sinaloa cartel in Mexicali, Baja California state. Soldiers arrested nine other suspected cartel members along with Ochoa Zazueta, and seized approximately 228 kgs of cocaine and 166 kgs of marijuana during the raid.
  • Unidentified gunmen in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state killed five people and injured eight others during an attack on a bar. The attackers reportedly threw Molotov cocktails into the building.

April 2

  • Authorities discovered the body of the ministerial investigative police chief for Arcelia, Guerrero state in an abandoned police vehicle in Acapulco. The victim had been shot once in the head.
  • Police in Garcia, Nuevo Leon state arrested three suspected cartel lookouts. Police seized cell phones and Nextel radios from the suspects.
  • Several gunmen opened fire on a bar in Zapotlanejo, Jalisco state, injuring one person who later died en route to a hospital.

April 3

  • The mutilated bodies of two men were found inside an abandoned car in Acapulco, Guerrero state. One of the men had been decapitated and his head was placed on the vehicle's roof.
  • Unidentified gunmen shot and killed two municipal police officers in the Guadalupe neighborhood in Durango, Durango state.

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