Cartel Chronicles: Mapping the Changing Territories of Mexican Cartels

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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 guest writer @MrCruzStar from Reynosa.

REYNOSA, Tamaulipas — As the border state of Tamaulipas continues to undergo developing conflicts, the organized crime map in the area continues to change.

In 2010 when the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas went to war, the conflict basically divided Tamaulipas into two regions which were controlled by each cartel respectively.

Nowadays, mapping the operational regions of criminal organizations has become a more complex task since the map not only has rival cartel factions but it is now divided into multiple factions within a criminal organization that have turned on each other.

As the federal government kills or captures another commander of boss within the Gulf Cartel they have been diminishing that criminal syndicate’s command structure and operational organization. This has resulted in the Gulf Cartel breaking up into smaller regional factions with two of them being engaged in a violent conflict. As Breitbart Texas previously reported, the Los Metros faction and Los Ciclones went to war in February setting off a series of fierce firefights and cruel executions that have further sunken the border region into terror.

Map of the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas areas of influence in the border state of Tamaulipas

Map of the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas areas of influence in the border state of Tamaulipas

International and national news outlets in México continue to blame the ongoing violence in the border state of Tamaulipas on the war between the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas, however that particular conflict lost steam as the former armed wing of the Gulf Cartel commonly known as Los Zetas ended up settling in the two areas shown in the map.

The fighting taking place in the border area is primarily carried out by the Los Ciclones group that control the border city of Matamoros and the Los Metros group that controls the border city of Reynosa; both groups are part of the Gulf Cartel.

The regions where the operational areas of a particular group meet with the other one are generally the areas prone to firefights and violent attacks whether they be between the warring factions of the Gulf cartel or between the Gulf cartel factions and los Zetas as seen in the following map.

Regions of constant gun battles in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas

Regions of constant gun battles in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas

In the rural areas of San Fernando, Hidalgo, Gonzalez and Aldama no particular criminal organization has risen to the top to establish full operational control of said area. Constant military operations targeting criminal organizations have made it difficult for a particular group to establish a permanent foot hold in the area even though cartel incursions are commonplace.

In the populated areas and in the rest of the Tamaulipas area the brunt of the fighting takes place between criminal organizations and Mexican authorities who have launched a head on attack on cartels that continues to intensify in what appears to be an effort to calm down the violence in Tamaulipas.