MCALLEN, Texas — The sheriff in this Texas border county has called out the inaccurate reporting done by the Daily Mail for a story about life on the Texas border.
“We are disappointed in the inaccuracies of this report by the Daily Mail and the misleading perception that it created by describing McAllen and Hidalgo County as areas where “Texas residents can hear gunshots at all hours of the day and even spot heavily armed drug smugglers in their streets after dark,” Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra said in a prepared statement obtained by Breitbart Texas.
The sheriff’s office claims public information officer JP Rodriguez was wrongfully quoted for statements that he did not make and that the staff never discussed “events on the border.”
“A spokesperson did convey a message that the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office values the positive partnership with the community, and works hard to maintain it,” Guerra’s written comment revealed. “ This partnership continues to be our greatest resource in the mission of public safety.”
The story was published this week by the Daily Mail with the headline “Revealed, America’s most Fearful City Where Texans Live Next To A War Zone”.
Sadly, the inaccurate and exaggerated story by Daily Mail ended up getting picked up by the well-respected Independent Journal Review in an aggregate piece as well as by other news outlets.
The article by Alasdair Baverstock tried to convey a sense of fear that residents in McAllen. According to him, they endure this fear because they live next door to the war zone known as Reynosa.
While the effort displayed by Baverstock in reporting the complex and tense border violence situation was noteworthy, his delivery left much to be desired. The article was filled with inaccuracies, exaggerations and factual errors.
One of the main factual errors deals with Baverstock’s assertion that in Reynosa “the local police force was disbanded in 2013 because half of their police officers were killed in the tit-for-tat slaughter.”
In reality municipal police forces in Reynosa never clashed with drug cartels. From between late 2009–when most of the violence began to take place along the Tamaulipas-Texas border–and 2012 this reporter was told multiple times by local and state officials in Tamaulipas that cartel violence was only handled by federal authorities. The officials claimed local police only handled cases of “fuero comun” or state charges.
Police forces in the entire state of Tamaulipas were disbanded in recent years when the government sought to create a unified command with police officers that had been properly vetted and trained. The effort was made as to reduce the chance of the police officers moonlighting for a drug cartel.
The story also attributes most of the violence in Reynosa to the fighting between the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas and does not mention the current internal war between the rival factions of the Gulf Cartel which, as reported by Breitbart Texas, are in fact the ones responsible for large scale gun-battles seen regularly.
The article by the Daily Mail had some original photography with a series of portraits, however, the actual crime scene photographs and violent photos were taken from social media.
In one of those portraits, the Daily Mail wrongly identified Hidalgo County Chief Deputy Mario Lopez as Sheriff Eddie Guerra.
In another photograph in the story, the Daily Mail adds insult to injury by showing a photograph of the late Alfredo Moreno Ricart, the founder of the Reynosa Zoo and calls him a cartel member. Moreno Ricart and his zoo became worldwide news in recent years when they had the first Zonkey (a donkey-zebra mix) on display. However, the Daily Mail calls the late animal lover a cartel member. The cutline in the photograph reads “Cartel members display their wealth with photos such as this. Big cats, fast cars and wads of cash are usually shown off on social media.”