Gun battles on streets trigger ‘shelter in place’ in border city of Matamoros

Border Crime

A sign reads “Good Trip” to those leaving Matamoros, Mexico, over the Gateway International Bridge that connects to Brownsville, Texas. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report File Photo)

McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — The northern Mexican border city of Matamoros is attempting to get things back to normal after ferocious gun battles linked to drug cartel members this weekend caused a citywide shelter-in-place order.

On Friday night, there were numerous reports of “clashes” between “criminal armed groups,” the U.S. Consulate General wrote on social media. That caused warnings to be issued throughout the weekend for consulate officials to “restrict their movements” on Saturday.

Several gruesome and bloody photos circulated on social media attributed to shootouts between Matamoros police and members of the Gulf Cartel.

There also were images of burned vehicles and vehicles riddled with bullets.

The (McAllen) Monitor newspaper reported events began around 9 p.m. Friday when military and state police tried to stop a couple of suspicious vehicles that opened fire on law enforcement.

Tamaulipas Gov. Francisco Cabeza de Vaca boosted law enforcement as media reported that tire spikes were put on streets in a 15-block area, including highway access as several high-speed chases ensued.

The Mexican army said in a statement issued Sunday that a 32-year-old cartel leader known as “El Tigre” was killed in the confrontation.

A civilian also was killed by a stray bullet, according to media reports.

The border city of Matamoros is across the Rio Grande from Brownsville, Texas, and is where thousands of migrants sent back by the Trump administration to remain in Mexico lived in an encampment along the riverbanks.

Migrant advocates have openly worried about the safety of migrants in Matamoros where there were reports of kidnappings, rapes and other violence committed against them prior to the camp being disbanded in March.

The Biden administration is preparing to reimplement the policy, formally called the Migrant Protection Protocols program, and migrant advocates have been working with nonprofits and non-governmental organizations on both sides of the border to ensure there is adequate shelter space for migrants should they be turned back.

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, vice chairman of the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee last week told Border Report that soft-sided judicial immigration court facilities are being built — at a cost of several million dollars — in Laredo and Brownsville for migrants returned under the MPP program. And he said his No. 1 concern is for the safety of the migrants.

 “I will talk to the Biden administration to make sure that they work with the Mexican government to provide security so nobody is in danger,” Cuellar said last Monday overlooking the Laredo facility that is being built.

An official with the Department of Homeland Security said in a court document that the program should restart in mid-November.

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The mission of BorderReport.com is to provide real-time delivery of the untold local stories about people living, working and migrating along the U.S. border with Mexico. The information is gathered by experienced and trusted Nexstar Media Group journalists hired specifically to cover the border.