REYNOSA, Tamaulipas – The cartel that controls this border city ran a high-tech network of surveillance cameras, allowing them to stay ahead of law enforcement operations. In the past, authorities dismantled radio towers used by the Gulf Cartel.
Tamaulipas state authorities spent several days removing approximately 60 surveillance cameras owned by the Gulf Cartel that were disguised as street lamps and telecommunications hardware. The cameras were set up along most of the main avenues in and around the city, including spots near the international ports of entry into Texas. The cameras varied in model and some had wireless transmission capabilities.
The operation targeting the network was the result of an ongoing investigation by Tamaulipas authorities and anonymous tips from locals. In 2015, Breitbart News reported on a similar countersurveillance operation where authorities took down 52 cameras installed by the Gulf Cartel in Reynosa.
For surveillance purposes, the Gulf Cartel divided Reynosa into various sectors. Each has its group of human lookouts who relay information to a hub called “central.” The surveillance footage also flow into those hubs, thus provided the criminal organization with real-time information about law enforcement or a rival cartel’s maneuvers.
The use of surveillance cameras by the Gulf Cartel comes at a time when one faction in Reynosa is at war with another in Matamoros for control of lucrative drug and human smuggling routes into Texas. The infighting has led to numerous large-scale gun battles and executions.