State police: Mexican gulf cartel leader among those killed in deadly Matamoros shooting

3 months 2 days 11 hours ago Saturday, October 23 2021 Oct 23, 2021 October 23, 2021 8:20 AM October 23, 2021 in News - Local

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated throughout

The head of the Gulf Cartel Scorpions faction, which covers Matamoros and Nuevo Progreso, was killed along with two other cartel members on Friday evening, according to a news release from Tamaulipas state police.

Forensic evidence indicates Ariel “El Tigre” Treviño Peña, was one of the suspected gunmen who died after a shooting on Pedro Cárdenas Ave. near the Plaza Fiesta Mall. The mall was full of evening shoppers and movie goers.

Shoppers at the Plaza Fiesta Mall were seen running for cover and lying face down as a shooting erupted between law enforcement and a gray SUV on Pedro Cárdenas Ave. on the mall's west side.

"We're not even safe at a mall," one user posted on TikTok. "I don't think its fair that we live in a country in which these incidents happen so frequently." 

During the shootings, one civilian bystander died from a bullet and two others were injured, but were later released, according to officials.

Four additional suspects were detained, officials say 

Treviño, who also goes by the names Javier Enrique Hernández Gutiérrez and Francisco Hernández Martínez, was identified as the leader for hit-men working for the Gulf Cartel's Scorpions faction, according to police investigators.

The Tamaulipas Attorney General's Office had a warrant out for 'El Tigre,' according to a news release issued on July 2018. He was also one of 10 most wanted in a joint security campaign between the US Department of Homeland Security and Tamaulipas law enforcement.

'El Tigre's' reward was just under $100,000 or $2 million Mexican pesos.

Tamaulipas governor Francisco García Cabeza de Vaca ordered more state police presence to Matamoros in order to control the violence and protect the public, according to a post on his Twitter account.

On Friday evening, Mexican military personnel and state police were ambushed after trying to conduct a traffic stop in Maramoros, according to a news release. Law enforcement returned fire and a chase began through several city streets.

In order to block access to law enforcement, officials say the suspected shooters threw spikes on the road and blocked 15 different parts of the city, including roads leading to highways that connect Matamoros to Nuevo Progreso and Valle Hermoso.

Officials say roadblocks included 18-wheelers and cars. Three vehicles were set on fire. Authorities said they worked quickly to move the vehicles from the roadway. Several of the suspected shooters ran away and escaped into public areas in downtown Matamoros.

Three detained suspects, one-armed vehicle and weapons were handed over to federal investigators.

US Consulate officials in Matamoros announced on Saturday they will only allow personnel to go from home, work and US Ports of Entry during daylight hours and to shelter in place between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m.

In a statement, the joint task force between state and Mexican federal law enforcement in Tamaulipas said they are committed to maintaining safety and peace in Tamaulipas and combating organized criminal organizations that put people at danger.

The incident occurs as the US Department of Homeland Security begins to reinstate Migrant Protection Protocols, in which people asking for asylum in the U.S. are asked to remain in Mexico until their day in immigration court. Several humanitarian organizations have protested the measure, saying it only puts migrants in danger.

Meanwhile, the Texas National Guard announced this week it will be sending thousands of troops to the border with Mexico in order to control the entry of migrants and drugs into the state as part of the ongoing Operation Lone Star.

RELATED: DPS: Texas Rangers looking into shootings from Mexico  

US Consulate officials in Matamoros recommend people be aware of their surroundings throughout the city. They recommend monitoring local news for updates, following instructions from local officials, avoiding crowds, and keeping a low profile.

The US State Department has the Mexican state of Tamaulipas under a Level 4 Do Not Travel warning, stating "heavily armed members of criminal groups often patrol areas of the state and operate with impunity particularly along the border region from Reynosa to Nuevo Laredo," adding that, "law enforcement capacity is greater in the tri-city area of Tampico, Ciudad Madero and Altamira, which has a lower rate of violent criminal activity compared to the rest of the state." 

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