REYNOSA, Tamaulipas — Convoys of cartel gunmen roam the streets of this border city in a fierce war for control. While official government figures do not reflect the magnitude of the clashes; the ongoing violence has led to the streets being empty before nightfall as residents fear crossfire.
The fighting began on Tuesday night and continued into Wednesday evening when rival factions of the Gulf Cartel rolled through the streets of Reynosa hunting rivals. Wherever the convoys met, the sound of gunfire and grenades exploding soon followed. State and military forces also patrolled the streets in an effort to suppress the illegal activities.
The battles indicate a fight for control of Reynosa by one faction made up of the remains of the forces once led by Juan Manuel “Comandante Toro or Metro 42, M-42” Loiza Salinas versus the rest of the cartel. As Breitbart Texas reported late last month, Loiza Salinas died in a hail of gunfire apparently trying to escape from Mexican Marines. The fall of the feared cartel boss has led to a power vacuum within the Gulf Cartel.
One faction is made up of Toro’s nephew and once chief bodyguard, Alberto “Betillo” Salinas, who has rallied the help of fellow cartel commanders Luis Alberto “Pelochas or M-28” Blanco Flores, Petronilo “Comandante Panilo or M-70” Moreno Flores, and gunmen known as Metro 19, Metro 105, and Manuelito. During the fighting, the gunmen from this faction painted M-42 on the various vehicles they used. The white M-42 letters helped identify the gunmen from one faction but also referenced the late Comandante Toro.
The other faction is made up of cartel commanders Jesus “Guero Jessi” Garcia who was once a close associate of Toro; Armando “Choco or M90” Leon Garcia; Eduardo Ismael “El Negro” or “Gama 3” Flores Borrego; Miguel Angel “Miguelito” Alvarez Campos; as well as gunmen Visco, Surdo, and Beto Bavas.
The fighting took place throughout the night and moved into the early morning where gunmen from both factions clashed with military and police forces as well. By Wednesday afternoon, sporadic shoot-outs took place throughout the city, resulting in at least one gunman dying outside of a local shopping center and a taxi driver being caught in the crossfire. Authorities were able to seal the area and document those fatalities. Citizen journalists told Breitbart Texas that they noted other clashes where several gunmen were killed. According to residents, teams of gunmen drove around the city picking up the bodies of fallen cartel men.
Cartel operatives collecting bodies is not a new practice in Reynosa. In 2013, the McAllen Monitor reported on cartel gunmen collecting bodies after a fierce battle where dozens were killed.
On Wednesday, the Tamaulipas Government issued a prepared statement confirming 10 blockades, one carjacking, and one attack against military forces by a convoy of cartel gunmen. Authorities seized nine cartel vehicles, various assault rifles and large caches of ammunition rounds. Government officials claimed that the situation was delicate, but not out of control. State officials claimed the fighting was due to a fight between organized crime groups and authorities had helped reduce the violence. They also claimed that information had been leaked with the intent to spread fear and asked the public to remain calm.
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 “A.C. Del Angel” from Reynosa, Tamaulipas and Breitbart Texas’ Ildefonso Ortiz.