- The city of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, becomes a hotspot for cartel violence as rival Gulf Cartel factions clash in a brutal turf war.
- Authorities focus their efforts on capturing Gulf Cartel leader “La Kena,” suspected of enjoying state protection and leading the notorious “Los Escorpiones” faction.
- Amidst rising tensions, a recent military operation resulted in the arrest of three individuals, believed to be associated with the powerful Grupo Escorpión faction.
The border city of Matamoros, situated in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, has become a battleground for rival factions of the Gulf Cartel in recent weeks. Amidst large-scale shootouts, smaller skirmishes, and a series of military raids, authorities are intensifying their search for a key figure in the ongoing conflict: Jose Alberto “La Kena” Garcia Vilano, leader of a Gulf Cartel faction known as “Los Escorpiones” (The Scorpions).
In recent weeks, infantry troops of the Secretariat of the Mexican Navy (SEMAR) have conducted a series of raids in and around the city of Matamoros, targeting Garcia Vilano, who is reportedly protected by state and local officials. According to a Breitbart Texas report, Garcia Vilano has been able to operate with a high degree of impunity in Matamoros, largely due to his connections with these officials.
The ongoing conflict is part of a larger turf war between “Los Escorpiones” and a rival faction based in the neighboring city of Reynosa called “Los Metros”. Since the beginning of the year, these groups have been engaging in large-scale gun battles, primarily at night. In many of these clashes, cartel forces have deployed dozens of armored and so-called “Monster” vehicles to launch attacks on their rivals.
According to Breitbart, the Gulf Cartel has recently organized demonstrations outside the SEMAR base in Matamoros, alleging that the troops are attacking innocent civilians. However, the Army and the National Guard have largely refrained from pursuing Garcia Vilano’s gunmen, focusing instead on targeting “Los Metros”. In fact, the Navy has been the only institution that has confronted “Los Escorpiones”.
In a recent confrontation in Matamoros, elements of the Secretariat of the Navy (Semar) and armed individuals clashed, culminating in the arrest of three people. The Tamaulipas Security Ministry reported that the arrests occurred after a chase in the border city.
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Images and recordings shared on social media last Thursday afternoon, August 17, showed the strong operation that the Semar elements deployed on Pedro Cardenas Avenue, next to a furniture store known as “Foly.” In some of the recordings, gunshots can be heard fired in the streets of Fraccionamiento Victoria, Fiesta section, although it is not shown if the shots were fired directly at the suspects’ vehicle or in the air.
Unofficial information suggests that the arrested individuals are part of the Grupo Escorpión faction of the Gulf Cartel, a city that is considered the stronghold of this criminal cell, regarded as the strongest of the criminal structure. However, this version has not been confirmed by the authorities.
Alberto García Vilano, known as “La Kena,” is identified as the alleged regional head of the Gulf Cartel. He is one of the individuals most wanted by authorities and is noted for the level of violence he employs against his rivals. According to Breitbart, La Kena has managed to evade detection in part by operating under another name: Gilberto de la Rosa.
He has also been identified as the person responsible for the March kidnapping of four U.S. citizens, two of whom died, in Matamoros, Tamaulipas.