Mexico’s government began dispatching federal police and troops on Tuesday to take over the northern border state of Tamaulipas from local forces after a wave of violence between rival drug gangs flared in recent weeks.
The initiative came after dozens of people have been killed across the energy-rich state as rivals from the local Gulf Cartel and Zetas gang fight one another for control of drug-trafficking routes as well as extortion, kidnapping and human-smuggling rackets, officials say. Federal troops in recent weeks have clashed with gang gunmen in the border cities of Reynosa, Matamoros and Tampico.
With both its long coastline and border with Texas that allows access to U.S. markets, Tamaulipas has been a prime drug-trafficking region for decades. It was ground zero to the wave of extreme drug-related violence that engulfed the country over the past seven years, leaving about 100,000 people dead or missing.
“We are going to re-establish the conditions that permit the state’s people to recover the tranquillity they deserve,” Mexican Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio-Chong told state and federal officials in Reynosa, in announcing the surge.
Mr. Osorio-Chong said federal forces would set up command in four regions in the state to close off smuggling routes and go after crime bosses. He didn’t specify how many forces were involved, but similar previous operations involved thousands.