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IMMINENT WARNING: VEHICLES AMBUSHED BY GUNMEN AT THE NORTH MEXICO BORDER CROSSING

September 9, 2023

Lydia Baccino, NORTHCOM Team

Brantley Williams, Elena Alice Rossetti, Editor; Jennifer Loy Chief Editor


Roma–Ciudad Miguel Alemán International Bridge Highlighted in the Red Circle[1]


Event: On September 9, gunmen ambushed a series of vehicles crossing the Roma-Ciudad Miguel Alemán International Bridge leaving at least three people injured. Mexico's National Migration Institute stated there were 20 people traveling together in a van and a pickup truck, including 16 Mexican citizens and four US citizens. When crossing the border from Roma, Texas, into Miguel Alemán, Mexico, the gunmen ambushed the vehicles using an artisanal armored truck, commonly used by cartels, then fired upon them.[2] Conditions of the victims remain unclear: three individuals were shot and six others experienced panic attacks. Conflicting statements from Tamaulipas state security department and the National Migration Institute have made it unclear whether US citizens were among those injured. This is the latest case of the rising violence at the US-Mexican border, which resulted in federal authorities stationing soldiers at the border to reinforce security patrols, from San Fernando, to Reynosa, to Matamoros.[3] Previous instances in Matamoros include gunmen kidnapping four US citizens who had crossed from Texas into Mexico, which left two dead and two rescued[4], and four suspected gunmen killed in a fire exchange with Mexican marines.[5] The current travel advisory for Mexico is “Level 2: Exercise Increase Caution.”[6]


Significance: While the identity and motive of the gunmen is currently unknown, it is very likely they belong to one of the drug cartels operating in the area. It is likely that they were using this attack to gain more notoriety for their organization. With various cartels working in the area, including the splintered Gulf cartel and the Jalisco, the attack is very likely aimed at demonstrating power and authority towards other cartels. This drive for power will likely further the rivalry between cartels, very likely prompting opposing cartels to respond in an offensive way to re-secure dominance. This latest development in the Mexican drug war will almost certainly affect innocent individuals crossing the border, resulting in more deaths, kidnappings, and injuries. It is likely that the cartels will take advantage of vulnerable individuals attempting to cross the border. Cartels will very likely bribe the individuals with financial incentives and a safe, undetectable passageway across the border. A likely effect is that cartel members will blackmail family members of the individuals to prevent law enforcement's involvement.


The convoy traveling from the US to Mexico made it almost certain that travelers would include US citizens, making it likely a targeted attack by the gunmen. A possible motive behind this attack is likely to injure and possibly kidnap US citizens in order to ask for ransom and negotiate with the US government to demand the release of cartel members. It is likely this attack could be a distraction tool to gather law enforcement’s attention on this specific area of the US-Mexican border, while illicit drug smuggling activities happen elsewhere. As cartels and their associates likely control the border, it is almost certain that authorities will continue to see drugs and weapons smuggling, and human trafficking.


Recommendations

  • The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) recommends that individuals remain vigilant when traveling across the US-Mexican border. US and Mexican governments should update their travel warnings outlining the current situation and the likelihood of further attacks. The warning should identify the Roma-Ciudad Miguel Alemán International Bridge as an area to avoid due to cartel activity.

  • CTG recommends that local law enforcement and military troops on both sides of the border remain vigilant and increase their presence near crossings to prevent cartels’ attacks. CTG recommends cooperation between US and Mexican authorities to ensure safety of all individuals traveling across the border and to maintain strong bilateral diplomatic relations.

  • If there is any additional and or critical information please contact us at The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) by Telephone 202-643-2848 or email info@counterterrorismgroup.com

 

[2] Gunmen attack vehicles at border crossing into north Mexico, wounding 3, including some Americans, AP News, September 2023, https://apnews.com/article/mexico-texas-border-crossing-attack-4534b5586cecd6637c21ff3a05db1981

[3] Several wounded when gunmen open fire on convoy in Mexican border town, CBS News, September 2023, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/shooting-convoy-mexico-border-town-miguel-aleman-several-hurt-tamaulipas-roma-texas/

[4] FLASH ALERT: FOUR U.S. CITIZENS KIDNAPPED IN MEXICO, CONSTANT THREAT OF GANG VIOLENCE, by Lydia Baccino, Giulia Provenza, Jehanne Pocquet, Oscar Mackay, Gabriel Helupka, Emma McCusker, and Michael Grimaldi

[5] 4 alleged gunmen have been killed in a clash with security forces in Mexican border city, The Times of India, September 2023, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/4-alleged-gunmen-have-been-killed-in-a-clash-with-security-forces-in-mexican-border-city/articleshow/103376413.cms?from=mdr

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