Yesterday Steve left our home in Saltillo and went to Texas to take care of some Mission business. It was his intention to get things done quickly and return home. He needed to get his visa renewed and a permit for our vehicle to be in Mexico. It's a long story, but suffice it to say, it took a LOT longer than it should have and he ended up having to stay overnight in Texas. But, this is what was on the front page of today's newspaper, and we are thanking God that He orchestrated events so Steve was not traveling through Reynosa as he had planned!
— Mexican authorities came under attack Friday as they arrested the purported head of Gulf Cartel operations in Reynosa and tried to fly him out of the city, U.S. law enforcement officials said.
Federal police found Jaime "El Hummer" González Durán just after 1:30 p.m. during raids on three buildings in and around the city.
But as they drove him to the airport outside Reynosa, their convoy encountered several gunmen who opened fire on the federal officers.
A brief shootout erupted between the two groups, but Mexican officials managed to put González on a plane to Mexico City, according to U.S. authorities who work for both federal and local agencies engaged in combating border crime.
High-profile drug suspects are typically sent to the Mexican capital for security reasons after their arrest.
During the conflict, people hit the floor and hid behind furniture, an airport employee said. She was driving out of the small parking lot during her lunch break before the shootout began.
The woman said cartel members blocked roadways with tractor-trailer rigs and crashed into vehicles near the airport to obstruct passageways for authorities.
"I told my friend to reverse into the parking lot and leave the truck," she said. "We just ran inside and then they started getting each other in the parking lot."
It remains unclear whether anyone was injured in Friday's melee.
González, an original member of the cartel's enforcement wing Los Zetas, recently came to the attention of U.S. law enforcement for reportedly commanding smugglers within his organization to protect their turf at all costs.
According to an FBI intelligence memo dated Oct. 17, he recently ordered dozens of reinforcements to Reynosa and authorized them to attack U.S. authorities if necessary.
"These replacements are believed to be armed with assault rifles, bulletproof vests and grenades and are occupying safe houses throughout the McAllen area," says the document, which was distributed to local law enforcement officials.
González has also been linked to several kidnappings and shootouts across the Hidalgo County area over the past several months, including the abduction of two Mission men who reportedly owed a debt to the cartel.
During the raids that led to González's arrest Friday, Mexican soldiers uncovered 288 assault rifles, 500,000 rounds of ammunition, numerous grenades and several .50-caliber rifles at a Reynosa stash house - in what is now described as the largest seizure of illegal weapons in the country's history.
Mexican federal authorities could not be reached for comment Friday. It remains unclear whether González will be extradited to face charges in the United States or be processed in the Mexican legal system.
González's arrest Friday is only the latest high-profile capture in Mexican President Felipe Calderón's two-year war against his nation's entrenched drug smuggling organizations.
The Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas have come under particular pressure from federal authorities on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.
Mexican federal authorities arrested Antonio "El Amarillo" Coronado Galarza - another top cartel leader in Reynosa - on Oct. 31 on a highway between Reynosa and Monterrey. He faces weapons violations charges and allegations of money laundering.
In September, U.S. federal agents captured Juan Carlos Hinojosa - a man accused of running a massive smuggling ring between Ciudad Miguel Alemán and Roma.
Starr County Sheriff Reymundo "Rey" Guerra has also been caught up in the federal case against Hinojosa for allegedly leaking information about ongoing investigations. Both men are set to face multiple federal counts of conspiracy and aiding and abetting drug smuggling at a trial set for later this year.
These recent arrests - including González's on Friday - have left U.S. law enforcement officials concerned that a power vacuum could develop in the Reynosa plaza, federal and local officials said.
U.S. agencies have warned local law enforcement that Miguel Treviño Morales - Hinojosa's purported boss and a notoriously violent member of Los Zetas who is known as "Zeta Cuarenta" - could seek to take over the cartel's Reynosa operations.
Most of our mission business on the US side is done in the McAllen area (Hidalgo County), where, according to the above story, many of the drug dealers and ammunition are holed up. We drive the road from Monterrey to Reynosa very frequently and often encounter military checkpoints, as it is apparently a main artery for drug traffic. Please continue to pray for safety for missionaries all over the world. Americans are frequently targeted in robberies and kidnappings.