Cartel gunmen operating near the Texas border kidnapped 44 individuals from two passenger buses in two weeks. Rather than sound the alarm, top Mexican authorities made efforts to avoid disclosing facts and then minimized them once they leaked.
Despite the public relations strategy, Mexico’s federal government triggered a large-scale search operation with military forces and helicopters aimed at finding the victims.
The first case began on February 21 near Ciudad Mier, an area just southeast of Falcon Lake, Texas. Cartel gunmen forced 25 from a passenger bus. The victims are still unaccounted for. The second case took place on March 7, along the highway that connects the border cities of Reynosa and Matamoros, directly south of the Rio Grande Valley. Four SUVs with cartel gunmen forced a bus from Transpais to stop and then took 19 passengers at gunpoint.
Mexican authorities managed to keep both cases under wraps until this week when President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was asked about the kidnappings during a press conference. While confirming one of the mass disappearances, Lopez Obrador tried to minimize the case by claiming the victims were migrants creating a cover for their trip to the Texas border, Breitbart News reported.
The areas where the kidnappings took place are considered Gulf Cartel territory. Two factions of the cartel are fighting for turf, leading to an increasing spiral of violence featuring convoys of armored SUVs, grenades, RPGs, and machine guns directed at each other and intervening military forces. Despite various law enforcement operations, the cartel continues to operate with near impunity to carry out their smuggling operations, kidnappings, and fierce clashes.
Ildefonso Ortiz is an award-winning journalist with Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Brandon Darby and Stephen K. Bannon. You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook. He can be contacted at Iortiz@breitbart.com.
Brandon Darby is the managing director and editor-in-chief of Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Ildefonso Ortiz and Stephen K. Bannon. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.