A spate of violence has swept through the neighbouring Mexican states of Veracruz and Tamaulipas over the weekend (25 – 26 July), leaving at least twenty two people dead. Beginning on Saturday afternoon, law enforcement officers from Tamaulipas’ state police encountered a group of armed men while on patrol in the territory between Rio Bravo and Valle Hermoso. According to Mexican authorities, the armed men fired on the police officers in order to avoid being taken into custody. The police officers returned fire, killing nine men who have as yet to be identified. After the gunfight ended, nine long guns, a quantity of ammunition and two vehicles were recovered from the scene.
South of Tamaulipas, in the state of Veracruz, thirteen deaths were reported within a 36 hour period. The killings began on Saturday night, with an official from the Institute of Security and Social Services for State Workers (ISSSTE) gunned in his own home down by two men. The official’s wife, who was present at the time of the attack, is also reported to have sustained serious injuries. Later that night, on a highway in Veracruz’s Yanga municipality, the bodies of three suspected human traffickers were found in the boot of a taxi parked by the roadside. Eyewitnesses have reported that a group of unknown assailants opened fire on the three men, having first allowed the driver to go free.
On Sunday, six bodies, all male and all showing signs of torture, were found in Xalapa, Veraruz’s capital. Another corpse was found on a road in Tlacolulan, a municipality 17 kilometres to the north of Xalapa. While rival criminal syndicates, Los Zetas and the Gulf Cartel, are known to operate in Tamaulipas and Veracruz, it has not yet been established whether either of these groups played any part in the killings.