MEXICO CITY – Mexico will send more troops and federal police to try to control drug violence that has spiraled into warfare in parts of the northeast along the U.S. border, the government said Wednesday.
The goal of “Coordinated Operation Northeast” is to reinforce government authority in the two states most heavily affected by a surge in violence following a split between the Gulf and Zetas drug gangs, federal police spokesman Alejandro Poire said.
The new effort also aims to keep the two cartels from regrouping after the takedown of key leaders, he said. But in a media briefing with all federal security officials and governors of Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas, the affected states, Poire provided no details or numbers of reinforcements and answered no questions.
Intense cartel violence has plagued the industrial city of Monterrey in Nuevo Leon and all of Tamaulipas, where cartel firefights and violence this month sent residents fleeing the once-picturesque tourist town of Ciudad Mier and where 72 migrants were found slaughtered earlier this year.
Tamaulipas shares 560 miles of Texas border, with some of the busiest border crossings in the world – Nuevo Laredo across from Laredo, Reynosa across from McAllen and Matamoros across from Brownsville.
Gov. Eugenio Hernandez said his state has been a major transit corridor for organized crime since Prohibition, when the U.S. outlawed alcohol in the 1920s into the early ’30s.
“But the situation has recently become much more complicated,” Hernandez said. “It’s greatly affected the dynamic of our state.”
The government already has similar operations in other parts of Mexico, including Chihuahua state, where the border city of Ciudad Juarez across from El Paso, Texas, is considered one of the most violent cities in the world. Such efforts so far have failed to quell drug violence, which has killed 28,000 people since President Felipe Calderon launched his offensive on organized crime in late 2006.
Also on Wednesday, federal police said they captured the new leader of a drug gang formerly led by jailed U.S.-born suspect Edgar “La Barbie” Valdez Villarreal, in a blow to a cartel fighting to control the region south of Mexico City to the Pacific resort of Acapulco.
Carlos Montemayor was arrested in Mexico City on Tuesday with the help of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and with information obtained after Valdez’s arrest on Aug. 30, said Ramon Pequeno, the federal police anti-narcotics chief.