LAREDO—At the same time that Mexican cartels appear to be gearing up for war, Homeland Security officials are making a public plea for information on suspicious cross-border activity.
“Obviously, arms going to Mexico is a big part of that—that building up between the cartels,” said Timothy Tubbs, acting special agent in charge of Homeland Security investigations (HSI) in San Antonio. HSI is the investigative arm of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and is responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats.
“We’re hoping by stopping these weapons going to Mexico we can not only reduce the violence in Mexico, but allow the government of Mexico to do their job in combating the cartels,” Tubbs said at a press conference in Laredo on July 2.
“By reducing the violence in Mexico, we will also keep the violence from crossing over to the U.S. and keep that from rising up in the U.S.”
Skirmishes between cartels have ramped up in recent months. Jaeson Jones, former captain in the Texas Department of Public Safety, said the United States should brace for a full-scale cartel war in the coming months that will likely spill across the border.
Jones said Cartel del Noreste (formerly known as Los Zetas) is currently fracturing, while the Jalisco New Generation Cartel and the Gulf Cartel are joining forces to increase their territory. Control of any portion of the Mexican side of the U.S.–Mexico border is worth billions of dollars to cartels as they smuggle illicit goods and persons.
“The war is coming. And that’s why you saw some of this violence and skirmishes, both in Reynosa and in Miguel Alemán, this week,” Jones told The Epoch Times on July 2. “That’s nothing compared to what we’re going to be seeing.”
On June 19, gunmen in vehicles opened fire in the Mexican border city of Reynosa, killing 14 people, including taxi drivers, workers, and a nursing student. Security forces responded with operations that left four suspects dead.
Reynosa sits across the border from McAllen, Texas, the busiest illegal crossing area along the almost 2,000-mile U.S.–Mexico border.
Meanwhile, cartels are stocking up on firepower. Cartel purchases of military-grade weapons from Central and South American countries, especially Guatemala, are most concerning, Jones said.