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MONTERREY, Nuevo León — Gunmen from Mexico’s Gulf Cartel are targeting tourists returning to Nuevo Leon from the Texas border cities of McAllen and Mission. The highway robberies are taking place in the Mexican border city of Reynosa, Tamaulipas; however, the victims are not reporting incidents until they reach Nuevo León.
Breitbart Texas documented 17 different cases where the victims were held up at gunpoint in the areas between the Anzalduas International Bridge and the first few miles of the highway that connects the Reynosa and Monterrey. For years, Mexicans from Monterrey and other nearby cities routinely traveled to Texas for shopping trips or beach vacations. The ongoing cartel violence has put a large dent in those traditions.
The highway robberies come at a time when the Gulf Cartel in Reynosa is undergoing a month-long wave of violence that killed dozens of individuals including gunmen, police officers, and bystanders. The bloodshed stems from an internal fight for control of the cartel by rival factions. The fighting led to the cartel suffering a cash shortage where the organization has resorted to carrying out brazen daytime robberies, kidnappings, and extortions to finance their ongoing war.
Travelers that have spoken with Breitbart Texas claimed that one of two vehicles began to follow them as soon as they drove beyond the international bridge. The vehicles would keep a normal distance until they reached an area with few witnesses where the gunmen pulled up next to the tourists to point pistols at them.
Once the victim’s vehicle would pull over, gunmen would demand a highway fee equivalent of $50 to $250 USD. They would allegedly offer safe passage following the transaction. According to the victims who spoke with Breitbart Texas, they paid the fee and continued on without reporting the crime to authorities until they reached Nuevo Leon. The victims claimed that they did not feel safe speaking to law enforcement in Tamaulipas.
Breitbart Texas spoke with a leading official within Nuevo Leon’s police, Fuerza Civil. The official asked that their name be withheld but revealed that in one weekend alone, officers responded to 9 different calls for help from panicked motorists who claimed to have been held up at gunpoint by Gulf Cartel members in Tamaulipas.
The law enforcement official revealed that the victims did not want to go before a state investigator to provide an official statement because of fear possible reprisals.
“They are afraid, they paid the criminals, but they know that they have their license plates and other important information,” the law enforcement official said in Spanish. “They could be copycats and not be actual cartel members but the travelers do not want to risk suffering the consequences of suffering an attack or being kidnapped if they do not pay.”
Editor’s Note: Breitbart Texas traveled to the Mexican States of Tamaulipas, Coahuila, and Nuevo León to recruit citizen journalists willing to risk their lives and expose the cartels silencing their communities. The writers would face certain death at the hands of the various cartels that operate in those areas including the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas if a pseudonym were not used. Breitbart Texas’ Cartel Chronicles are published in both English and in their original Spanish. This article was written by Tony Aranda from Monterrey, Nuevo León, “A.C. Del Angel” from Reynosa, Tamaulipas, and “J.M. Martinez” from Piedras Negras, Coahuila.