Highways of Terror: The Risk of Traveling in Tamaulipas

Cartel Chronicles

Breitbart Texas traveled to the Mexican border cities of Reynosa and Matamoros 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 Gulf Cartel 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 Reynosa’s “AC Del Angel.”

REYNOSA, Tamaulipas — Carjackings, highway robbery, kidnappings and death — those are the dangers facing travelers who take to the highways of terror through this border state.

The large scale gun battles between drug cartels that have taken place in years past, at the start of the ongoing cartel war, brought along the first of many risks for innocent citizens—driving along the highways in Tamaulipas.

In February 2010, various U.S. law enforcement agencies and civilian intelligence companies warned about the increased dangers for travelers. Driving an SUV became one of the riskiest activities that year.

The reason, drug cartels began to need trucks in order to move about in convoys during their firefights. Four door pickups and SUVs became the most stolen or carjacked vehicles.

It was during that time that cartel run checkpoints and kidnappings began to take place in the entrances to a city. This activity resulted in many people going missing.

During many highway shootouts and through cartel run operations, many innocent civilians have been killed or injured after being caught in the crossfire. One of the cases that created the most controversy was the deaths of Bryan and Martin Almanza in 2010. They were killed after getting caught in the middle of highway shootouts between Mexican soldiers and drug hitmen along a highway that connects Reynosa and Nuevo Laredo also known as “Riberena”.

In 2015, the dangers of driving along in highways continues. During the last two years, the Mexican government has implemented “Carrousel Operations” which are convoys of tourists who are escorted by police along the way. This is done primarily during holiday seasons.

The most recent operation was implemented along the highway that connects Matamoros with Reynosa during the kicked off at the start of the summer break. This 60 mile stretch of highway between both cities has become one of the most dangerous ones in the state where authorities warn travelers to avoid driving at night.

The shootouts, robberies, and executions kicked off at the beginning of the year when two factions of the Gulf Cartel — one in Matamoros and one in Reynosa — began a fierce battle for drug trafficking routes and territories.

No one is safe from the lack of security conditions that have slammed the region. Government officials have been shot at and kidnapped. Innocent people have been left stranded after having their vehicles taken away. Passenger buses have been hijacked and shot at. These same buses along with other trucks and trailers have been used to block highways during armed confrontations.

We must remember the great massacres that took place in San Fernando, about 80 miles south of the border with the United States. During these massacres, hundreds of persons were forces off buses, butchered, and their bodies dumped in dozens of clandestine graves.

Authorities have sought to face off against criminal organizations in a frontal attack throughout the state. This has resulted in the deaths or capture of various heads within the criminal underworld and the fragmentation of those cartels.

The lack of financial resources has led to members of various criminal organizations resorting to petty crimes on their own. Groups of gunmen now roam the highways — carjacking, robbing and kidnapping — only to then disappear into dirt roads and nearby towns.



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