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[Teaser:] Details of fighting in the city remain sketchy, but it appears that Los Zetas have conducted their biggest urban assault yet in Gulf territory

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Mexico Security Memo: Confusing Reports of a Battle in Matamoros


[Teaser:] Details of fighting in the city remain sketchy, but it appears that Los Zetas have conducted their biggest urban assault yet in Gulf territory. (With STRATFOR interactive map)

Zeta Raid or Rescue?
Around 5 a.m. on June 17, simultaneous firefights reportedly broke out between elements of the Gulf and Los Zetas cartels in several locations in Matamoros, Tamaulipas state, a Gulf stronghold. The Mexican military has confirmed that a gun battle did indeed take place in the Colonia Pedro Moreno area but has not confirmed unofficial[media?] reports of additional firefights in the Mariano Matamoros, Valle Alto, Puerto Rico and Seccion 16 neighborhoods. The military also has not confirmed a reported gun battle in the rural area of Cabras Pintas, where six Mexican soldiers are said to have been killed.

Details of the confirmed firefight remain unclear, but from all indications, a large movement of Zeta forces into a Gulf stronghold did occur, and it suggests an increasing operational tempo in the war between these two cartels. And in the coming months, this violence is likely to continue in Gulf-held Reynosa and Zeta-held Monterrey as well as Matamoros.

The Mexican military said the June 17 gun battle in Matamoros’ Colonia Pedro Moreno neighborhood resulted in three deaths and nine arrests, while an unnamed U.S. law enforcement official said four Gulf cartel gunmen died in the exchange of fire. According to a Mexican army officer, a Mexican army regiment[this is a rather large group for a street patrol; can we say ‘unit,’ or is the Mexican military calling it a ‘regiment’? If so, can we put quotes around it? Nate, your thoughts?] was patrolling in trucks in downtown Matamoros when the fighting erupted but did not participate. The presence of this unit was confirmed by a[the?] U.S. law enforcement official, who claimed that another motorized army unit supported the Los Zetas in an attempt to rescue 11 Zeta operatives, both male and female, who had been captured by the Gulf cartel on June 16.

For its part, the Mexican military said the [the first unit mentioned? or are we talking about the second unit mentioned?] motorized unit rescued 17 civilians who had been kidnapped, although it is uncertain how the unit achieved this without being a part of the operation or participating in the firefight. At some point during the gun battle, the leader of Los Zetas, Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano (“El Lazca”), was reportedly killed [LINK], although STRATFOR doubts that he was present.

While reports of the Matamoros battle are conflicting, we are convinced that a large firefight did occur in the city between the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas and that it was initiated by the latter. Due to the conflicting information, we have been unable to determine the motive behind the Zeta assault. However, we have seen several large [Zeta?] raids into Gulf territory in recent months[LINK] intended to undercut Gulf’s support network, and this [raid into Matamoros?] would have been the largest one yet (at least that we are aware of).

Zeta leader El Lazca, a former member of the army’s Grupo Aeromovil de Fuerzas Especiales (GAFES), an elite special operations unit, is an “old Zeta.” He has good tactical and operational awareness and has proved himself to be a very rational decision- maker. Moving a convoy of 130 SUV’s nearly a half mile long (if they were bumper to bumper) down a highway well into the heart of Gulf cartel territory could never have achieved any element of surprise, meaning Lazcano likely thought the force was large enough to achieve the mission even if detected well in advance. [so, are you saying that one of these motorized “army” units mentioned above was actually a Zeta convoy and not a Mexican army unit?]

It the objective of this raid was to recover the 11 Zetas reportedly captured by Gulf forces, those prisoners must have been extremely valuable to the Zetas and possibly to Lazcano personally. Low-ranking members of an organization are typically not worth potential losses incurred in such an operation.

The reports that a motorized Mexican army regiment[unit?] took part in the firefight alongside Zeta gunmen are likely untrue. While there is a corrupt element within the military, the chance of an entire regiment[?] being corrupted and acting in unison with cartel gunmen is quite remote. However, it is not uncommon for individual soldiers and smaller military units to be found in the employ of cartels, and perhaps a small element was working with Los Zetas. But it could not have been an entire regiment, which in the Mexican army would number some [how many?] troops. [If the army is using the term ‘regiment’ in this context, then let’s tell our reader how many troops we might be talking about.]

Whether the Zeta Matamoros raid was a deliberate strike against Gulf’s power base or an attempt to rescue a group of Zeta prisoners, we have been expecting to see this type of Zeta offensive action for several months now[LINK]. People and businesses should be aware of the probability of increasing violence in the coming months in Matamoros, Reynosa and Monterrey.

June 13

  • Two adult men were killed and a minor was injured in a shooting by unidentified men in Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl, [what state?].

  • Almost 940 kilograms of marijuana [hidden?] in a tractor were seized by the Mexican army in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas.

  • Sonora journalist Pablo Ruelas Barraza was shot six times and killed as he resisted a kidnapping attempt.

  • Four unidentified bodies were found inside a truck in Yurecuaro, Michoacan state.

June 14

  • Francisco Sanchez Gonzalez, a former [Puebla?] police chief, was assassinated a block from the Government’s Secretary General Headquarters [is this a federal government office? Municipal? State?] in Puebla, [what state?].

  • A man was hung from a bridge in Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon state, early in the morning June 14. Witnesses first reported that the victim was hanging from the bridge, but police found his body below the bridge after the rope apparently snapped.

  • The first day the National Anti-Crime Force was implemented[This isn’t quite enough to make a bullet. It does sound interesting. Please tell me more, e.g., what does “implemented” entail? what is this “force” supposed to do? under whose auspices? by when?]

  • A firefight between armed men and state police in San Cristobal de la Barranca, Jalisco state, left six people dead, all of whom belonged to the same organized- crime group [do we know its name?]. After the firefight, police supported by the Mexican army detained six individuals and confiscated four trucks.

June 15

  • Gunmen killed two body guards of the state governor Rodrigo Medina. Police found the bodies near a market in Monterrey with a written warning to the governor. At least 33 people with links to organized crime were murdered on 15 June 2011, marking the day as the bloodiest in recent history in Monterrey.

  • The chief of police in Guantajuato, Guantajuato was arrested for the murder of three individuals at an inn. Four unidentified gunmen killed the three individuals the morning of the 15th, three hours later Martín Rodríguez Olvera was arrested for a link to the killings.

  • The Attorney General’s office in Colima announced La Familia Michoacan had ordered the murder of the former governor Jesús Silverio Cavazos in November 2010.

  • Marco Antonio “El Brad Pitt” or “El Dos” Guzman Zuniga, the second in command of La Linea, was arrested, along with two other La Linea members in Chihuahua City, Chihuahua on 15th June 2011 by Mexican police. The Juarez Cartel created La Linea as an enforcer group, led by Jose Antonio Acosta Hernandez. Guzman Zuniga operated as a right-hand man for Acosta Hernandez and is responsible for coordinating drug trafficking and executing individuals who do not cooperate with the Juarez Cartel. Another La Linea boss, Jose Guadalupe “El Zucaritas” Rivas Gonzalez, was detained in Chihuahua on 17 June 2011. Losing two La Linea bosses will impede on the Juarez Cartel’s ability to wage war against the Sinaloa Cartel. With the arrest of two individuals close to Acosta Hernandez along with the evidence found at the arrests, Mexican authorities now have an opportunity to move closer to Acosta Hernandez.

June 16

  • The State Investigation Agency of Nuevo Leon, with the Mexican Army arrested 26 police in Zuazua, Nuevo Leon.

  • The Director of Tourism in Cosalá, Sinaloa state, was shot and killed at his home in Cosala.

June 17

  • The Knights Templar posted narcomantas in cities throughout Michoacan state reinforcing its message of service to the community and proclaiming La Familia Michoacana and Los Zetas as traitors Mexico.

  • Gun battles reportedly erupted between elements of the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas in several areas of Matamoros, Tamaulipas state, leaving at least 10 civilians dead[this isn’t what we’re saying in part 1 above. We need to be consistent with out analysis]. Some reports indicate that Los Zetas leader Heribert[Heriberto?] “El Lazca” Lazcano Lazcano was killed in the fighting.

  • Jose Guadalupe Rivas Gonzalez, also known as “El Zucaritas,” was arrested by Mexican authorities in Chihuahua City, Chihuahua. Gonzales is a close associate of Jose Antonio Acosta Hernandez, a La Linea leader.

  • Edgar Huerta Montiel, a member of Los Zetas, was arrested in Zacatecas state. He allegedly participated in a killing of at least 72 migrants in Tamaulipas.

June 18

  • Eight bodies were found in Lazaro Cardenas, Michoacan state, believed to have been individuals kidnapped by the Knights Templar. A message was attached to one of the bodies saying anyone associated with Chango Mendez[who’s he?] will meet a similar fate.

  • Seven police officers were arrested for the murder of a Mexican marine in Tuxpan, Veracruz. The marine was killed on June 10, one of three sailors[sailors? marines? both? they’re not one and the same.] found dead whose bodies showed signs of torture.

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