McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — Violent confrontations between drug cartels and the Mexican military have been reported south of the border from Laredo, Texas.

The violence comes as U.S. officials say a key drug trafficker for the Cartel del Noreste pleaded guilty to bringing 17 tons of marijuana across the border to Laredo.

Several road blockades and vehicles set on fire Wednesday morning were reported on social media and by Mexican media.

There also have been reports of some injuries. Passersby and drivers in the area are urged to avoid this border area, which has limited access to a major highway route from Nuevo Laredo to the Mexican border town of Piedras Negras, which is across the Rio Grande from Eagle Pass, Texas.

Dangerous border states

Mexican Senator Ismael Cabeza de Vaca tweeted blockades and vehicular fires happened in Nuevo Laredo in the state of Tamaulipas. “This is how normalized insecurity is in Tamaulipas,” he wrote. “Take extreme precautions!”

However Nuevo Laredo Mayor Carmen Lilia Canturosas tweeted back that her border city was not the site of the violence and said it occurred in the neighboring western state of Nuevo León.

That coincides with reports of traffic backed up Wednesday at the Colombia Solidarity International Bridge, which leads from Laredo to Nuevo León, Mexico.

Traffic cameras of the bridge operated by the City of Laredo on Thursday showed traffic flowing across the bridge with a line of commercial trucks waiting to cross north into the U.S. and some trucks and vehicles moving south into Mexico.

A traffic camera operated by the City of Laredo shows traffic flowing on Thursday, July 27, at the Colombia Solidarity International Bridge leading from Laredo, Texas, to Nuevo León, Mexico. (City of Laredo Traffic Camera)

Drug trafficking pleas entered

The violence occurred as a person associated with the leaders of the Cartel del Noreste drug cartel was convicted Wednesday for trafficking large quantities of marijuana into Laredo, Texas, U.S. Attorney Alamdar Hamdani announced.

Joe David “JD” Moreno, 34, of Laredo, plead guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana for the Cartel del Noreste organization from February 2019 to April 2020, Hamdani said.

Moreno reportedly admitted purchasing a utility truck that he used numerous times to transport loads of marijuana throughout Laredo. His drug smuggling involved paid co-conspirators and was linked directly to cartel leaders in Mexico, Hamdani said.

Hamdani said 21 others have pleaded guilty for their roles in the drug trafficking with this trans national criminal organization, which reportedly widely operates throughout Tamaulipas and Nuevo León, Mexico.

Officials say $16 million worth of drugs including 17 tons of marijuana have been trafficked over the border into Laredo, Texas, from the cartel.

Moreno was arrested in Monterrey, Mexico, in March 2022. He faces up to life in federal prison and a $10 million fine.