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Security Brief: NORTHCOM Week of 4/26/2021

Week of 04/26/21 | Issue 9


Neoclis Soteriou, Alexandra Wong, NORTHCOM



Municipality of Camargo in Tamaulipas[1]


Date: Late night local time on Saturday, April 24, 2021, into morning local time on Sunday, April 25, 2021

Location: Hamlet of Santa Rosalia, township of Camargo, state of Tamaulipas, Mexico

Parties involved: The Northeast Cartel (CDN), the Gulf Cartel (CDG); Tamaulipas state police; Mexican federal soldiers


The event: An intense gun battle between the rival CDN and CDG cartels in the hamlet Santa Rosalia, in the township of Camargo along the US-Mexico border, broke out late on Saturday night. There are reports the battle continued overnight until Sunday morning and resulted in eight casualties as well as several burned-out armored trucks along the roadway.[2] The area has been the location of brutal competition between the CDN and CDG cartels, which both claim as part of their territory. The region near the border had also been the location where 19 people, including 16 Guatemalan migrants, were killed in January of 2021 by Tamaulipas state police officers.[3] Due to high levels of violence in the region from cartel rivalry, the Tamaulipas state police and Mexican federal army had a presence in the township of Camargo to deter these sorts of incidents. However, residents claim that police and soldiers only defended the area during the daytime over the weekend and that the rival cartel gunmen had re-emerged late at night to battle each other.[4]


The implications:

  • This incident is likely to be followed by an increase in violence in the area of the township of Camargo along the US-Mexico border as the rival CDN and CDG cartels continue to battle each other to gain control of the territory. The CDN and CDG cartels are likely to continue attacking one another, as well as potentially target Tamaulipas state police officers and federal army soldiers, which now appear weak compared to the cartels, to drive them out of the territory. This increase in violence is also likely to result in local civilian deaths and injuries.

  • The CDN originated as a faction of Los Zetas, a previously powerful cartel that began to disintegrate in late 2012, following the deaths and arrests of the leaders.[5] Los Zetas itself was a breakaway faction of CDG, so the cartels have historically occupied the same territory and clashed in northeastern Mexico. This incident may indicate increased violence from the CDN and a resurgence of former Los Zetas factions, making an increasingly aggressive push to control territory in Tamaulipas. Because the splinter factions do not have the geographic reach or network of Los Zetas or larger cartels, they may focus their criminal activities -- and thus violence -- on establishing their presence within local communities.

  • Violence between cartels will harm local economies and livelihoods. In the state of Michoacán, the expansionist Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) has been clashing with the United Cartels confederation, “trapping” residents within their towns and preventing trade with nearby areas, leading to starvation and death.[6] This may occur in Tamaulipas, particularly as groups such as the CDN focus their efforts on gaining power within individual towns or communities, likely gaining recruits.


Date: About 0330 local time on Saturday, April 24, 2021

Location: Colonia Mariano Matamoros, city of Ciudad Victoria, state of Tamaulipas, Mexico

Parties involved: Francisco Rocha Chávez ‘Batata’; unknown shooters

The event: Early Saturday morning, Green Ecologist Party of Mexico (PVEM) candidate for Federal District XV Francisco Rocha Chávez, also known as “Batata,” was murdered in Ciudad Victoria.[7] The perpetrators and a motive are not currently known, but local news sources used the word “hitmen” (“sicarios”) in reports.[8] Initial reports indicated that Chávez was shot; later sources from the Tamaulipas Attorney General’s office stated that he was beaten to death.[9] His body was then moved and left in the trunk of his car. Chávez had only announced his campaign the previous Monday, April 19, 2021. The Mexican government had already announced protection strategies for candidates for June 6 legislative, gubernatorial, and mayoral elections, with over 20,000 positions contested and the largest election in Mexican history.[10]

The implications:

  • This incident is likely to decrease any public confidence in the Mexican government’s strategy to protect candidates for the June 6 legislative, gubernatorial, and mayoral elections. Which itself would likely have adverse effects on the results of the elections, including decreased voter turnout or an increase in candidates dropping out for their safety.

  • This incident may inspire similar, or retaliatory attacks against other candidates running in the June 6 legislative, gubernatorial, and mayoral elections. Which would likely increase political assassinations, further destabilizing the legitimacy of the Mexican elections. This may also lead to an increase in violent political rivalries between certain political parties.

[1] Municipality of Camargo in Tamaulipas by Jrobertiko, licensed under Public Domain

[2] Cartel Gun Battle With Armored Trucks Kills 8 in Mexico, US News, April 2021, https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2021-04-26/cartel-gun-battle-with-armored-trucks-kills-8-in-mexico

[3] The Tamaulipas massacre: How the American dream dies in Mexico, El Pais, February 2021, https://english.elpais.com/usa/2021-02-22/the-tamaulipas-massacre-how-the-american-dream-dies-in-mexico.html

[4] Cartel Gun Battle With Armored Trucks Kills 8 in Mexico, US News, April 2021, https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2021-04-26/cartel-gun-battle-with-armored-trucks-kills-8-in-mexico

[5] Mexico cartels: Which are the biggest and most powerful?, BBC News, October 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-40480405

[6] ‘We are trapped here.’ A Mexican town isolated by cartel terror, Los Angeles Times, April 2021, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-04-23/we-are-trapped-here-one-mexican-town-isolated-by-mob-terror

[7] Asesinado un candidato del Partido Verde en Tamaulipas, El País, April 2021, https://elpais.com/mexico/2021-04-24/asesinado-un-candidato-del-partido-verde-en-tamaulipas.html

[8] Ibid.

[9] Matan a “Batata” Rocha, candidato a diputado del PVEM en Tamaulipas, El Universal, April 2021, https://www.eluniversal.com.mx/elecciones/tamaulipas-matan-balazos-batata-rocha-candidato-diputado-del-pvem

[10] Asesinado un candidato del Partido Verde en Tamaulipas, El País, April 2021, https://elpais.com/mexico/2021-04-24/asesinado-un-candidato-del-partido-verde-en-tamaulipas.html

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