The 1 million residents of Tampico, Mexico, 300 miles south of the Rio Grande at Brownsville, have been slammed time and again by Mexico’s criminal tempest, says the Houston Chronicle. Scores of people from the city’s tightly-knit business community – including two former mayors – have been kidnapped. Extortion has reached even the most threadbare shops. Gun battles have erupted on the city’s main drag, raged in crowded neighborhoods and nearby ranchlands alike.
Many families who can afford to do so have moved to Texas for safety. Some 30 percent of small businesses have closed. Streets, restaurants and stores empty quickly just past nightfall. In an untold number of villages, towns and cities across Mexico, there are communities like Tampico where the threat is just as tangible, the terror as real. They present this fatal reminder: No matter how prosperous or poor, no one can expect to be spared. “Everyone is so scared,” said one prominent rancher “Every day there is shooting and every day there is killing. I’ve never been a coward, but these guys are vicious.” “The guys” are thugs from the Gulf Cartel, the narcotics smuggling organization based along the south Texas border. Or the Zetas, that cartel’s former assassins and enforcers, now its worst enemies.