Gunfights and roadblocks rock Mexican city on U.S. border

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 17, 2015 9:32 PM

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - One of Mexico's biggest cities along the U.S. border was hit by gunfights and burning vehicles blocking roads on Friday after security forces arrested a leader of one of the main drug gangs in the area.

Parts of Reynosa, a city across the Rio Grande from McAllen, Texas, ground to a halt on Friday afternoon after vehicles were set ablaze and shooting began, authorities said.

Earlier in the day, federal police and marines captured "El Gafe," a leader of the Gulf Cartel, said a spokesman for police in Reynosa, a city of more than 600,000 people. El Gafe was subsequently taken to Mexico City, he added.

Two bystanders had apparently been killed in the fighting, but this was not yet confirmed, the spokesman said.

The identity of El Gafe is still being established due to some confusion with a separate case of a gangster reported captured in the area last year, said a government official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Reynosa has been one of the most violent cities in Mexico over the past year, wracked by turf wars among the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas, two drug gangs that have been fighting for control of border smuggling routes and crime rackets.

"The city is completely out of control," said Francisco Garcia Cabeza de Vaca, an opposition senator and ex-mayor of Reynosa.

More than 100,000 people have died in gang-related violence in Mexico over the past eight years.

President Enrique Pena Nieto pledged to restore order when he took office in December 2012, but although the homicide count has fallen, parts of the country remain mired in violence.

(Reporting by Dave Graham and Anahi Rama; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)