Cartel Gunmen Rampage, Graffiti Mark Turf in Mexican Border Town

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Cartel gunmen stepped up their attacks against rivals in the ongoing turf war for control of key border cities in Tamaulipas. This increase in violence led to an increase in shootouts, targeted murders, murders of innocent bystanders, and the use of graffiti to show off their incursions.

The violence follows the arrest of a top leader with the Escorpiones faction of the Gulf Cartel. That faction had control of the city of Rio Bravo and would use it to launch attacks on the city of Reynosa, which is controlled by Los Metros.

Since the start of the week, the Gulf Cartel faction known as Los Metros began setting up roadblocks along the key entrances to Reynosa, Tamaulipas, as a way to keep law enforcement from interfering with their attacks on the border town of Rio Bravo. Additionally, days before, they began knocking down police cameras as a way to hide their troop movements as they prepared to move armored vehicles to the eastern part of Reynosa in preparation for the attacks. In total, the group destroyed 16 police cameras by either shooting at them or knocking them down with trucks.

Since Monday early morning, February 5, Los Metros began their attack on Rio Bravo, setting off widespread violence throughout the city. During one of their attacks, the gunmen shot and killed 30-year-old Jesus Sevillaja Marmolejo, an innocent farmer who was coming out of a local bar the gunmen were attacking.

After their attacks, Los Metros spray-painted houses and walls with the call signs of some key leaders to taunt their rivals and show they had entered the city.

The attacks in Rio Bravo also led to violence in Reynosa, where gunmen clashed with police forces who spotted them moving their convoys of gunmen. In response to the violence, school officials stopped their classes for several days as a precaution since, in recent days, one high school student had to be rushed to a hospital after being struck by a stray bullet.

The violence in Reynosa comes as the Tamaulipas government refuses to acknowledge the violence in the region and falsely claims that the region is safe.