‘Long live peace:’ Mexican drug cartel factions announce truce

Three of the main factions in a decade-old turf war – the Metros, the Scorpions and the Reds – sign a truce agreement.

National Guard patrol the Zacatecas-Fresnillo highway after a series of recent attacks and clashes between drug cartels in Zacatecas state, Mexico [Marco Ugarte/AP Photo]

Three of the warring factions of Mexico’s Gulf cartel announced they have reached agreement on a truce.

Police in the state of Tamaulipas confirmed the professionally printed banners appeared in the border city of Reynosa and other cities on Monday. Cartel gunmen randomly killed 15 bystanders last month in Reynosa, which is across the Rio Grande from McAllen, Texas.

Photos of the banners showed they were printed with red, white and green letters — the colours of the Mexican flag — and slogans like “Long live Peace!”

State police said four people had been arrested on suspicion of hanging the banners from buildings or overpasses in more than six cities across Tamaulipas.

Relatives crying outside a house where two young men were shot in Fresnillo, Zacatecas state, Mexico [Marco Ugarte/AP Photo]

The banners were signed by three of the main factions in the decade-old turf war — the Metros, the Scorpions and the Reds. It was unclear if a fourth faction, the Cyclones, was part of the agreement.

In contrast to usual cartel messages, which are often misspelt and accompanied by heaps of bodies or body parts, Monday’s message used polite, almost erudite language and bore a picture of a dove with an olive branch.

“We have agreed to a truce of tranquillity and we declare our solidarity with the people, and with ideological principles consistent with keeping the peace,” read the text of one banner, which included the plea, “We have families, too.”

“The primordial thing is for the communities in which we have a presence to feel secure with it, without any worry,” the banner read. “The Gulf Cartel has principles and its greatest priority is peace in the state and the wellbeing of its residents.”

The Metros are one of the larger factions of the now-splintered Gulf cartel, and they have long dominated Reynosa.

Family and friends attending the funeral procession for one of the victims of a shooting at a video-game arcade in Uruapan, Mexico [File: Marco Ugarte/AP Photo]

The Tamaulipas state prosecutor’s office has said the June 19 killings in Reynosa were carried out by members of the Scorpions and another Gulf cartel faction known as the “Cyclones”, both of which are based to the east of Reynosa, around Matamoros. The fact that similar banners appeared in Matamoros suggested the Cyclones are on board with the pact.

Prosecutors said the two groups sought to terrorise the population of Reynosa as part of their campaign to challenge the Metros’ control of the city.

Turf battles have become common in Tamaulipas, where remnants of the Gulf cartel and the old Zetas gang have been fighting for more than 10 years. The border cities are lucrative routes for smuggling drugs and migrants.

Source: AP