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U.S.-Mexico Border Spillover Violence 2010-2020

The U.S.-Mexico Border

In 2010, it was reported that 23,000 Mexicans had been murdered since 2006.  In an article attempting to examine and define “spillover violence,” Texas Monthly magazine stated that “Yet despite fears to the contrary, the violence has not spilled over into Texas, which doesn’t mean it isn’t transforming life all along the border.”[1]  Spillover violence is a term that apparently originated in Congressional hearings was never adequately explained or defined since federal law enforcement officials refused to acknowledge its existence.  That was then and this is now 2020. Spillover violence is in the eye of the beholder.[2]

The U.S.-Mexico border is at war, and what is sad is that we do not recognize it.  We are at war with Mexican drug cartels; we are at war with the United States who have militarized our border and built an unwanted wall.  We are at war with elected officials who do not defend us or recognize the reality of spillover violence, and most importantly, we are at war with rampant corruption on both sides of the border.[3]

“There has been an elevated level of drug trafficking-related violence within and between the drug trafficking organizations in Mexico (2010-2020). This violence has generated concern among U.S. policymakers that the violence in Mexico might spill over into the United States. U.S. federal officials have denied that the increase in drug trafficking-related violence in Mexico has resulted in a spillover into the United States, but they acknowledge that the prospect is a serious concern.” [4]

The U.S.-Mexico border is comprised of many microregions throughout the entire length of the 2000-mile U.S.-Mexico border each with its own socio-political characteristics.  In Pinal County, human traffickers and drug smugglers have made the area around this small desert county a dangerous criminal hub.  Traffickers often force migrants crossing the border to work as drug mules carrying 30 pounds of narcotics each.  In the case of this desert region of the border, politicians have allowed traffickersto move freely back and forth across the border while the drug cartels take advantage of the inactivity of law enforcement to flood the United States with drugs.[5] 

Each region of the U.S.-Mexico border has its particular characteristics which aid or hamper drug traffickers.  In Pinal County Arizona, the Tohono O’odham Native American reservation sits on the border while the Natives are in constant danger of harm from drug cartels. This is spillover violence and terrorism at its most primal level.

The Federal, State, and Local law enforcement agencies generally refuse to acknowledge the fact that organized crime in Mexico is negatively impacting border life.  When an organized crime in Mexico produces violence or terror on the U.S. side of the border, it is called spillover violence.  Elected officials and law enforcement agencies refuse to publicly acknowledge that the border has a problem because they prefer to define spillover violence as violence against law enforcement agents only.  Business and economic development types prefer not to acknowledge it at all.  Failure to update a definition of spillover violence does not make it disappear.  Current definitions of spillover violence are inadequate, and statistics are self-serving. The public, for the most part, is oblivious to the spillover violence around them until it comes calling at their door.[6] 

For 57-year-old Brownsville resident, Miguel Angel Valdez spillover violence became a reality when he was killed by a rifle shot fired from the Mexican side of the river as he jogged along the levee in Brownsville, Texas.  It is not known if Valdez was targeted.  In all probability, it was a random shot that found a deadly mark.  Witnesses claim to have seen a pickup truck with several men on the Mexican side of the river about the same time that Valdez was killed.[7]   

Crime and Violence in Mexico

The decade, 2010-2020, has witnessed a noticeable increase in criminal violence in Mexico.  In a short period, Mexico has been transformed from a relatively peaceful nation with safe highways and romantic colonial cities to one of the most dangerous countries in the world.[8] Estimates had placed the number of drug trafficking-related deaths in Mexico between December 2006 (when then-Mexican President Felipe Calderón began his campaign against the drug trafficking organizations and December 2012 (when the Calderón administration ended) at somewhere between 45,000 and 55,000. While estimates of drug trafficking-related violence vary by the source, some have estimated the death toll for 2012 alone at over 9,575. The homicide rate in Mexico continues to increase from approximately 16.9 per 100,000 population in 2015 to about 27.3 per 100,000 population in 2018 based on data from Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI).[9] In 2018, Mexico reported 28,816 homicides; the actual number is much higher than state and federal statistics would lead us to believe.[10]

“Mexico’s violent crime wave has been most visibly exemplified by dramatic increases in the number of homicides. The number of intentional homicides documented by Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) had declined significantly under presidents Ernesto Zedillo (1994-2000) and Vicente Fox (2000-2006) but rose dramatically after 2007, the first year in office for President Felipe Calderón (2006-2012). While homicides declined from 2011 through 2014, the number began to rebound during the last half of the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018), with levels exceeding those of the Calderón administration. Figures for 2018 reported by Mexico’s National Public Security System (SNSP) suggest that over Peña Nieto’s six years in office, there were more than 150,000 homicides, amounting to at least 68 murders per day, or nearly three murders every hour. All told, more than 332,000 people have been murdered in Mexico since the start of the twenty-first century, a figure that excludes a substantial number of forced disappearances and undocumented (underreported)homicides.”[11]

Current Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador (2018-2024) was inaugurated in December of 2018 with promises of attacking crime and violence in Mexico however, in the first six months of his administration, there were 14,505 murders a 5.4% increase over the same period in 2017.  President Obrador has launched the newly created militarized police force with 70,000 members and plans to grow the force to 150,000 by converting the Mexican army to a police force.  The initial and primary focus of the national police force will be to patrol Mexico’s borders.[12] 

There are multiple explanations for this dramatic increase in violence, but organized crime is the primary contributor exacerbated by the recent fragmentation of drug cartels and their diversification of relating activities such as human trafficking and gasoline theft (huachicol or huachicoleros), abduction and extortion.[13]  This escalation is due to a large number of cartel leaders who have been killed and arrested in recent years.  A cartel without a leader becomes fragmented with many want-to-be “junior” leaders generating violent and deadly clashes in their struggle for control and the dream of unimaginable wealth.

Drug cartels once enjoyed peace in that they operated within their respective regions, not bothering surrounding citizens; therefore, within their areas of control, violence was low.  In the last ten years (2010-2020), long and bloody struggles for control of drug corridors continue unresolved, and cartel groups remain locked in bloody turf wars which involve associates and innocent citizens on both sides of the border.[14]  These turf battles spill over to the U.S. side of the border, which is considered the drug cartel’s extended plaza, or area of control.[15] For example from Matamoros, Tamaulipas to Brownsville, Texas, is a plaza or Cuidad Juarez, Chihuahua to El Paso, Texas is another.

An array of cartel fragments continues to battle for the control of Reynosa, Tamaulipas the gateway to McAllen, Texas.[16]  McAllen is a major departure point from which to ship drugs northward.  These are generally regarded as the primary reasons for the increase of crime and violence on Mexican highways and especially around Cuidad Victoria, Reynosa, and Matamoros, Tamaulipas.  All drug cartels are attempting to move their product northward to the border at Reynosa and on to McAllen.  The phenomenal profits from organized crime in Mexico were recently estimated at one-half billion dollars annually. The promise of fantastic wealth is hard to resist.[17] 

While spillover violence may occur anywhere in the United States, nowhere is the increase in crime and violence more evident than along the U.S.-Mexico border. The dramatic increase in Mexico’s violent crime and homicide along the U.S.-Mexico border is cause for the concern that increasing violence will soon reach a tipping point forcing crime and violence to spill over to the U.S. side of the border.[18]  While denied by many, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that the border has already tipped. 

For example, criminals are crossing into the U.S. at an alarming rate.  In 2018 the U.S. Border Patrol apprehended 6,259 illegal immigrants with criminal convictions representing nearly two percent of total apprehensions of 361,993.[19]  Of these, approximately one-third were charged with a crime related to drug trafficking.  Are we so naïve as to believe that once in the U.S., immigrant drug trafficking affiliations cease?

Mexico has long been characterized by its interrelated political, social, and religious organizations and crime syndicates are the most recent addition to this paradigm.   Some drug cartels even claim pseudo-religious organization and affiliation, such as the Templarios of Michoacán.  Observers have frequently characterized Mexico as having spawned a revolution every100 years, and the drug revolution is regarded as Mexico’s revolution for the twenty-first century.[20]

In early 2000, I stood on a second-floor overlook of my building at the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College, watching a firefight right across the border, less than a half-mile away.  Military helicopters fired rockets on to Matamoros streets, and fifty caliber machine gun bullets rained across the border on to the university parking lot striking several vehicles.

Authorities with the Texas Department of Public Safety claim that “Living and conducting business in a Texas border county is tantamount to living in a war zone in which civil authorities, law enforcement agencies as well as citizens are under attack around the clock. Shootings, murders, kidnappings, beheadings, and other acts of violence coming across the border go far beyond any definition of “spillover violence.”[21]   

The conditions are so dangerous for travelers that in April of 2019, the U.S. Department of State issued a warning suggesting that visitors to Mexico exercise increased caution due to crime andkidnapping. Some areas have a higher risk than others; the 2000-mile U.S.-Mexico border is particularly dangerous.  Violent crimes, such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery, are all widespread and increasing along the border. The U.S. Department of State suggests that the Mexico traveler:

  • Use toll roads when possible, and avoid driving alone or at night. In many states, police presence and emergency services are extremely limited outside the state capital or major cities.
  • Exercise increased caution when visiting local bars, nightclubs, and casinos.
  • Do not display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive watches or jewelry.
  • Be extra vigilant when visiting banks or ATMs.

Most notable are warnings about crime and caution in Mexico City which has been placed at a level 2 warning; Exercise Increased Caution due to crime.  Both violent and non-violent crime is prevalent in Mexico City. Mexican government statistics indicate that criminal incidents in the capital occur at a significantly higher rate than much of the rest of Mexico.  Visitors and tourists are asked to pay particular caution to areas outside of the frequented tourist areas, although petty crime may occur anywhere.     

The U.S. Department of State warns that particular caution should be exercised along the entire U.S.-Mexico border and especially in the border area of Tamaulipas which has been assigned an Advisory– warning level 4: Do Not Travel.  This extreme caution is due to increased crime and kidnapping associated with drug trafficking.[22] 

The U.S. State Department claims that “Violent crime, such as murder, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, extortion, and sexual assault are, common along the border and in border towns on both sides of the border. Gang activity, including gun battles and blockades, are widespread. Armed criminal groups target public and private passenger buses as well as private automobiles traveling through Tamaulipas, often taking passengers hostage and demanding ransom payments. Federal and state security forces have limited capability to respond to violence in many parts of the state.  Unfortunately, Mexican law enforcement has limited ability to assist victims or to deter crime.”[23]

The Mexican state of Nuevo Leon is another border state assigned a state travel warning advisory– of Level 3: Reconsider Travel.  Travel should be reconsidered due to violent crime and drug cartel and associated gang activity common in parts of Nuevo Leon state and especially along the border.[24]

The cross-border twin cities of northwestern border states in Mexico, Coahuila, Chihuahua, Sonora, and Baja California Norte, are especially dangerous, with the greatest violence around the border town pairs of Cuidad Juarez-El Paso and Tijuana-San Diego.

“The Southwest Border Region is the most significant national-level storage, transportation, and transshipment area for illicit drug shipments that are destined for drug markets throughout the United States. The region is the principal arrival zone for most drugs smuggled into the United States; more illicit drugs are seized along the Southwest Border than in any other arrival zone. The trends in drug trafficking-related crime across the United States are unknown because federal law enforcement agencies do not systematically track and report drug trafficking-related crimes.”[25]

Spillover Violence

It may be seen that crime and violence have increased dramatically in Mexico in the last decade. Additionally, the increase is primarily linked to drug trafficking crime and violence, which are concentrated throughout the country but profoundly located on the U.S.-Mexico border as a point of narcotics export to the United States. [26]

The term Spillover Violence began to be discussed around 2000.  Six of the ten most violent cities in the world are located in Mexico, and of those, four are within the boundaries of Mexican border states.  Most share a cross-border sister city such as Reynosa, Tamaulipas with McAllen-Hidalgo County Texas, Cuidad Juarez across from El Paso, Texas, and Tijuana across from San Diego and southern California.  Matamoros, Tamaulipas across from Brownsville, Texas, is not in the top six but not far behind.[27]

It is reasonable to expect that the high incidence of violence and drug trafficking activity in Mexican border towns would lead to criminal violence spilling over to cross-border American cities.  As mentioned earlier, in recent years with the death and apprehension of drug cartel leaders, street gangs have fragmented into many smaller groups all struggling for control of their “plaza” and their extended activities reach across the border making Mexican border towns exceptionally dangerous.[28] 

Simultaneously, Mexican law enforcement is in short supply and woefully underpaid, corruption has caused political killing to spiral out of control, and finally, the weak Mexican government has little hope of enforcement. Combined, these factors make it difficult to control crime on the border.

In spite of these facts, the Texas Department of Public Safety along with border county sheriffs and police chiefs continue to claim that crime and violence in their jurisdictions are down and do not acknowledge the existence of spillover violence as a public safety threat in their cities and counties.[29]

For example, the Texas Department of Public Safety outlines Mexican cartel activity in Texas Criminal Alien statistics since 2009.   There have been 94 incidents where shots were fired at 124 law enforcement officers in Texas.  There have been at least 101, cartel-related-splashdowns where loads of drugs were interdicted leading the smugglers to ditch vehicles in the river.  The increasing recruitment of Texas juvenile gang members, as well as Mexican street gangs known as la maña in both border regions as well as in the large urban areas of the state, is significant. [30]

Drug cartel recruitment of border juveniles accounts for approximately 20 percent of drug arrests involving underage minors in Texas.  Most troubling about spillover violence is the fact that hundreds of Mexican cartel members and their associates have been arrested operating in Texas, resulting in at least 43 homicides.[31]  It should be noted that much of spillover violence is never reported because of its violence by drug cartels against drug cartel associates in the United States.

Therefore, the FBI reports that “The U.S. border with Mexico extends nearly 2,000 miles.  Moreover, it’s along this expansive stretch of territory that drug cartels and their street gang enforcers ply a dangerous and costly trade.” [32] 

Conversely, the FBI reports that cities in the Rio Grande Valley are “pretty safe,” Of the 24 metro places in Texas, Brownsville has the lowest crime rate, with 240 incidents per 100,000 population.  McAllen ranks 18 with 286 incidents per 100,000.[33] Examination of crime statistics for Brownsville, Texas reveals that spillover violence has not been documented as such.[34]

There have been many attempts to define border spillover violence. This is the currently accepted federal interagency definition used by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice components since at least 2009:

“As agreed, to by the interagency community, spillover violence entails deliberate, planned attacks by the cartels on U.S. assets, including civilian, military, or law enforcement officials, innocent U.S. citizens, or physical institutions such as government buildings, consulates, or businesses. This definition does not include trafficker on trafficker violence, whether perpetrated in Mexico or the U.S.”[35]  Therefore, this is a completely myopic definition.

Former U.S. Attorney General Janet Napolitano stated that understanding spillover violence is confusing.  The U.S. side of the border does not appear to be overrun by violence, but the incidents of violence are increasing yearly.  

In 2011 Napolitano remarked that “While no universally accepted definition for border spillover violence exists, logic dictates that it would entail the same kind of related violence happening in Mexico is also happening on U.S. soil.”

The greatest misrepresentation made by law enforcement is that spillover must include clashes between drug cartels and American law enforcement on the U.S. side of the border.This interpretation is inherently shortsighted in that the majority of spillover violence is between cartels and their associates with innocent victims suffering collateral damage. 

“Such a definition would succinctly encapsulate the fundamental nature of related violence, and therefore what spillover violence of that exact kind of violence would look like if and when it happened on U.S. soil.”[36]

Conclusions:

 Mexico is confronting dangerous criminality and is fighting for survival against narco-terrorism. Cartels are battling with the government and one another for control of drug corridors into the United States, significantly destabilizing internal order in Mexico and spilling violence on to the American side of the border.

“The United States has not experienced the same level of high-intensity violent crime occurring in Mexico. However, the violent actions of the Mexican Cartels are affecting the United States, nonetheless. The pernicious nature of the highly competitive illegal drug market and the violent actions of the cartels present several challenges for the United States. The close geographic proximity of the two countries makes it almost impossible to avoid.”[37]

Border communities in both Mexico and the U.S. are feeling the effects of weakening stability and security in Mexico, brought about by the cartels and their propensity to commit high-intensity violent crimes. These effects can be broken down into two general categories.

  • First, there are those effects, which occur inside the U.S., which can be directly related to crimes committed by the cartels, their affiliated gangs, and drug users.
  • Second, there are those effects that adversely affect U.S. interests in Mexico.[38]

In 2010, Texas Senator Cornyn stated that “The threat of spillover violence in Texas is real and escalating.”[39]  At the same time, the DEA continues to abide by an old and narrow definition of spillover violence as violence targeted primarily at civilians and government entities, excluding trafficker-on-trafficker violence.  Nothing could be further from the truth. 

The Texas Department of Public Safety defines spillover violence as Mexican cartel-related violence that occurs in Texas, including aggravated assault, extortion, kidnapping, torture, rape, and murder.”  Texas Department of Public Safety Director McCraw understands that spillover violence is growing in Texas and the Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition states that concerns about spillover are widespread and that it does affect border communities. [40] 

For the past decade, this researcher has randomly collected examples of spillover violence as they appear in the print media and on television news in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.  The following items represent a clear pattern of spillover violence as they have been documented along the Lower U.S.-Mexico border in Texas.

Random Examples of Spillover Violence and Related Activities [41]

1- Herald Nov. 4, 2010 attorney general sends a letter to Obama concerning spillover violence  

2- Tejano Narco-corrido singer killed in Mission Texas after a concert

3- Home Bombed in Brownsville neighborhood

4- Mission man kidnapped and killed

5- Drug cartels recruiting former U.S. Army soldiers to be hitmen

6- Cartels recruit Valley gang members

7- Panama anti-narcotics unit in Hidalgo County busted for drug trafficking

8- North Texas violence, hits, and kidnapping, Mexican Lawyer gunned down in narco hit

9- Refugees seeking asylum in the U.S. must pay cartel fees and serve as drug mules

10- Man in Brownsville restaurant abducted and killed.

11-Extorted Mexican businesspeople moving their businesses to RGV

12- Narco dollars laundered and invested in RGV infrastructure 

13- Narco kidnapping U.S. citizens in U.S. virtual kidnapping plot

14- Valley people forced to participate in drug smuggling

15- U.S. gangs hired as hitmen for cartels

16- Mexican cartels train U.S. gang members in military operations

17- Law enforcement corruption

18- Drug cartel leaders live in Valley towns

19- U.S. investigator’s home burned down by Gulf Cartel in RGC.

20- International bridge closed

21- Bullets fired across border on to UTB/TSC parking lot

22- Gulf Cartel attempts kidnapping in Valley

23- Drug cartel operatives fleeing Mexico

24- Narco dollars spilling over to the US

25- Cartel kills the wrong man in Brownsville

26- Shots fired by valley police during a chase of fleeing suspect during an immigration stop

27- Fourteen-year-old professionally kidnapped from home in Starr County

28- Cartel money laundering scheme in Brownsville

29- Drug Cartel/Valley gang hit attempt at wrong home

30- Former Tamaulipas Governor possessions in the U.S. confiscated

31- Expensive Harlingen home raided by Feds

32- Attempted bribe of a federal judge (Austin, racehorse case)

33- U.S. CPB agents guilty of falsifying cases on drugs and immigrants

34- Man kidnapped in Matamoros crossed into Brownsville rescued in a routine traffic stop.

35- Rock throwing at BP along the river

36- Drug cartels increasing association with U.S. gangs.

37- Hidalgo County anti-drug task force sentenced to prison

38- Hidalgo County Sheriff convicted April 2014

39- Murder in Brownsville linked to recent violence in Tamaulipas

40- Conviction of Panama unit affects dozens of related cases and convictions

41-Increased illegal immigrant crossings and contraband in Southmost make life dangerous

42- Organized kidnapping team in the valley

43- Drug cartel killing in Hidalgo County 5/28/2014

44- Gulf Cartel ordered to capture or kill US citizens who allegedly stole drugs 5/14

45- Mexican drug cartels control illegal immigration Valley 6/14

46- Cartel shaking down the family of unaccompanied children on the border.

47- Border patrolman fishing with a family shot and killed by an illegal alien with a criminal record

48- Hidalgo County sheriff guilty of accepting money from drug lords

49- La Joya police buy tactical weapons to fight an infestation of drug cartels in La Joya. 

50- Mexican syndicate in shoot out with Edinburg police 

51-Armed militia comes to the border at a man near the river with gun

52- DPS assigned to border 31 units between Escobares and Penitas.

53- Texas Guard assigned to the border, heightened security presence has rattled residents

54- Citizens at San Juan /La Union del Pueblo Entero are worried about safety.

55- Illegal aliens afraid of heightened law enforcement will catch them

56- Valley women are married to cartel members

57- Dallas attorney with cartel ties murdered suspects arrested in McAllen

58-Men with illegals crash at fourth and Jefferson injuring property and the immigrants

59-Mexican teen found shot in the head north of Alton. 9/17/14

60-Body of burned man found in Hidalgo county 9/17/14

61-Hidalgo man sentenced for exporting grenade launchers and other weapons to México

62- Texas Sheriff Painter warns that ISIS terrorist cell here already!

63- Border not secure

64-Border Patrolman attacked in Falfurrias

65-Brownsville man beaten to death in Progresso 

66-Drug cartels steal billions of dollars’ worth of gasoline

67-Carlos Rendon kidnapped and killed in Matamoros.

68- High ranking Gulf cartel member being sought in Hidalgo County

69-McAllen Businessman robbed on a Mexican bus between Monterrey and McAllen Oct 2014

70-Three siblings go to Control to see their father and are abducted, found dead in Matamoros

71-Woman kidnapped in Donna found dead, witness to kidnapping also found dead.

72-Pregnant Valley teenager shot in Reynosa by police.

73-Increased kidnapping in Valley

74-Valley teens recruited to alien and drug smuggling Herald 11/17/14

75-Sixteen-year-old driver killed in a chase with 39 illegal aliens in the van.

76-Hidalgo politiqueras exchange cocaine for votes

77-Cameron County DA ready to take on the Cartels

78-Three men kidnapped and murdered North Mission man. 12/10/14

79-Increases in Valley violence lead to increased gun sales and training, Herald12/16/14

80-Mexican cartel kidnaps BP agent. Breitbart 12/27/14th alleged no proof terroristic threat

81-Mexican murderer caught crossing the border into Valley illegally.

82-Express ATM kidnapping increasing in Matamoros Brownsville fears express spillover.

83-Feds ask border residents to be on the lookout for terrorists. Terrorists safe houses known to exist on the Mexican side of the border.

84-In 2014 immigrants with false documents increased by 25 percent. 39,000 crossers inadmissible 

85-Border Patrol agent shot and killed a smuggler after a struggle, near Chapeño.

86- Human smugglers recruit youth to participate.

87-TV5 1/24/15 reports the murder of Palmview man linked to drug cartel

88-Ongoing running gun battle between Matamoros and Reynosa.  Border population terrified.

89-Two Brownsville boys missing in Matamoros 2/8/15

90-Brownsville citizens along the river live in fear, multiple rolling gun battles across the river

91-Edinburg man and nephew kidnapped in Reynosa feared dead. Channel 5 News 2/9/15

92-Mexican Cartels flood border with Meth. Border kids getting addicted

93-Cartel member armed and dangerous on the run bear Rio Grande City, ch5 news 2/26/15

94-DPS report to Legislature, border not safe 2/27/15

95-Body found along Highway 511

96-Half of all women who cross the border are forced into the sex trade

97-Valley officers leaving to join state or federal agencies

98-Nude headless body found on SPI

99-High ranking zetas arrested on Falcon lake 3/20/15

100- Drugs and violence on the rise in eastern Hidalgo County.

101- Man with murder warrant in California caught crossing the river in Brownsville

102- Man attacks PB with rocks after boat crash 4/19/15

103- Carjacking by illegals on the rise

104- U.S. helicopter shot down in Laredo in drug interdiction case 5/15

105- Six of seven drug cartels have established command and control in Texas and are recruiting valley students 6/22/15  

106- Pittsburg newspaper publishes series in Mexican American participation in smuggling

107- Two men killed in La Grulla shooting near the river

108- Man crashes his vehicle with drugs into the river in Brownsville 9/10/15

109- Narco tries to break into McAllen house.

110- Drug shootout in Donna north side

111- Drug dealers try to hide in house scare residents Organized kidnapping team in the valley

112 Breitbart reporters attacked in Brownsville Colonia Galaxia Dec 7/15

113-Border patrol agent charged in Mexican drug cartel beheading murder on SPI

114-Sullivan City police chief indicted for gathering marijuana off evidence floor

115- Edgar Hinojosa Brownsville resident is a Gulf Cartel member/leader.

116- Two RGC women killed in homebound and shot in the head.

117- Gulf Cartel chief killed in Dallas by assassins

118-Gulf cartel tracks and kills member in Texas.

119- Zetas kill 14-year-old girl cocaine mule.

120- Son of Gulf Cartel boss Osiel Cardenas Guillen arrested for driving without a license in Brownsville, on probation for ammunition smuggling July 31, 2016,

121- Cartel suspect killed buried in Olmito backyard. BH 8/19/16

122-Cartel boss killed in Nuevo Leon came through La Joya regularly posed great danger for Valley citizens. Aug 25, 2016

123- Security service formed to protect Valley citizens; intelligence says a high level of cartel presence in Valley. 8/29/16

124-Border Patrol man’s brother linked to Gulf Cartel BH 8/31/16

125- Father and 3-year-old son gunned down on the rural road with an assault rifle in Río Grande City, 11/6/16 

126- Shooting on Falcon Lake one man killed 12/6/16

127- Texas Tribune says guns are pouring into Mexico from the US 12/8/16 Brownsville Herald

128- Brooks County Sherriff death threat.

129- Border Patrolman and brother tried for murder in drug case 1/18/17

130- Brownsville 2/6/2017, violence in Mexico rising 

131- Mexican arrested for attempting to purchase grenade launcher for AK47 in Brownsville

132-Brownsville man guilty of human smuggling using homes as stash houses 2/19/17

133- Supreme Court split on border patrol man’s accidental shooting of youth on the Mexican side of the river in case of reverse spillover violence. 2010 shooting of Sergio Hernandez Guereca by Jesus Mesa Jr. 

134-MS-13 gang members kill 3 NY teens, herald 3/3/17

135- Gulf Cartel brothers Gonzalez, sentenced for shooting on exp 83 two years ago. 17/15 years.  Shooting in San Juan. Herald May 25, 2017

135- Border Patrolman kidnapped and severely beaten fingers cut off in New Mexico. Reported in Breitbart, 6/11/17.

136- Border Patrol agent kidnapped and assaulted, 6/27/17 Herald.

137- Zeta hitman convicted of dozens of murders channel 5 news. 6/28/17 sentenced to 7 life sentences

138- Ten immigrants die in a tractor-trailer in SA, human smuggling Zeta involved. Herald 7/25/17 

139- Starr County Tax Assessor corruption case transport of drug vehicles to the US. Ch 5 News, Aug 9, 2017. Operation falling Starr

140- Former La Joya Police Chief arrested on drug charges, August 13, 2017.

141- Valley Law Man Geovani Hernandez arrested for drug trafficking and association with drug cartels.

142- Seven men convicted of operating a smuggling and kidnapping ring sentenced in McAllen. Herald Sept. 7, 2017

143- Jalisco drug cartel operating in Dallas 9/2017

144- Breitbart article about rape and illegal immigration in Texas 4/25/2017

145- MS-13 recruits US youth, 9/29/17

146-Expressway shooting in San Juan 2015 drug-related.

147- Drug cartels operating in Fort Worth, 10/19/17

148- Rio Grande Guardian 10/2017 more youth in Cartels than in Boy Scouts in Valley.

149- La Grulla man forced to drive drugs to Chicago area. Sentenced, 11/16/17.

150- Border Patrol agents ambushed and one killed, others in critical condition east of El Paso on the desert, 11/20/17.

151- Coahuila Zeta Prison report on national news, 11/23/17.

152- Arizona Man kidnapped with the intention of handing him over to drug cartel in Mexico.

153- Sinaloa Drug cartel in New Jersey, 11/26/17

154- Human smuggler sentenced in McAllen.

155-Truck driver pleas deal in death of immigrant smuggling in his 18-wheeler. Jan 2018.

156- Cincinnati judge agrees to hear woman’s case threatened by Knights Templar Cartel.

157- Gulf Cartel Sicario captured crossing into the US near Del Río.

158- Los Indio’s police chief is trying to keep children from serving as drug mules in rural Cameron county. More and more children are being recruited.

159- 60 Valley kids arrested in 2017 for buying guns for cartels.

160- McAllen school teacher Jorge Cavazos moonlighted with Reynosa cartel. Herald 2/2/18

161-Weapons found hidden a bunker near the river in Reynosa, 2/7/2018

162- Channel 5 at 6 pm reports major increase in BP injury’s 3/7/18 PB Omar Zamora

163- Osiel Cardenas Jr, son of the leader of the Gulf Cartel, arrested in Brownsville bar, drunk and brandishing a gun. Herald 3/16/18

164-Donna teen convicted of immigrant smuggling Herald April 10

165- Four smugglers throw rocks at BP recover marijuana, June 5, 2018, Herald 

166- Sinaloa cartel in Alabama, July 24, 2018

167- MS 13 on the East coast

168- Mexican and CA gang members in the Valley

169- BP arrests armed drug traffickers at River Bend.

170-Nuevo Laredo x mayor murdered by a drug cartel. Breitbart 10/12/19

171-Zeta Sicario wanted for murder in Colorado Springs arrested in Monterrey, 11/318 Herald

172- Drug cartels recruit San Diego kids, San Diego TV 11/4/18 TV7

173- Chapó Guzmán in the Valley, ch 5, 11/16/18, Reynosa/McAllen a favorite spot 

174- Drugs brought to Alamo neighborhood for distribution ch5, 11/16/18.

175- Home invasion and abduction in Phoenix, 1/day, Nat Geo

176- Cartel boss Rodolfo Hernandez Villarreal El Gatos wanted for ordering hit on Dallas man, Breitbart 12/21/18.

177- Cartel hit a caught crossing the border, Breitbart. 12/21/18.

178- California murder of an immigrant cop by known Mexican Cartel Member.

179- Two men show with high caliber weapons in McAllen hotel. 1/26/2019

180- 80-year-old murdered by illegal alien gang members. Trump speech. 2/5/19

181- Sometime in January 2019 major firefight with automatic weapons near the Pharr bridge on the Mexican side.

182- Mission man Cartel Associate murder in Indiana. Tri-City Bombers.

183- Shooting on the Los Indio’s bridge killed one and injured 3, channel five report, March 7, 2019.

184- Arrest if Hidalgo cartel kidnapped gang, Herald May 23, 2019

185- Assault numbers increase in 2018, KRGV 5, May 22, 2019

186- Human smuggling shooting, rip-off in Hidalgo County.  KRGV ch 5 June 6, 2019 

187- Man jogging on Levee killed by bullet probably from Mexico, Herald June 21, 2019

188-Heavily armed men raid La Feria home wrong address

189-Cascos announces be aware of crossover corruption 10/24/15

190-Two gulf cartel members caught in an expressway Chase and shooting herald 10/26/15


[1] Blakeslee, Nate, August 2010, Near/Far, Texas Monthly Magazine, http://www.texasmonthly.com/politics/nearfar/

[2] ibid, August 2010, Near/Far, Texas Monthly.

[3] Scott Stewart, 2019, Tracking Mexico’s Cartels 2019, Stratfor, Austin, Texas.

[4] Finklea, Kristin,2013, Southwestern Border Violence Issues in Identifying and Measuring Spillover Violence, CRS Report to Congress.

[5] Vincent, Isabel, 2019, Meet the real-life action hero taking on a Mexican cartel, New York Post.

[6] Pelley, Scott, 2018, Human Smuggling across the southern border, CBS News.

[7] Reagan, Mark, July 1, 2019, Officials confirm bullet that killed jogger came from Mexico, The Brownsville Herald. 

[8] David A. Shirk and Alejandra Ríos Cazares. “Reforming the Administration of Justice in Mexico.” In Reforming the Administration of Justice in Mexico, edited by Wayne

A. Cornelius and David A. Shirk. Notre Dame; La Jolla: University of Notre Dame Press; Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, 2007; Fernando Escalante Gonfalon. “Homicidios 1990-2007.” Nexos, 2009.

[9] Calderon, Laura Y. Et. Al., 2019, Organized Crime and Violence in Mexico, Justice in Mexico Department of Political Science and International Relations, University of San Diego. 

[10] Homicide levels in Mexico— “largely attributable to drug trafficking and organized crime”—began an escalated climb after 2007. There is debate as to whether this violence leveled off or slightly decreased in 2012; nonetheless, researchers have noted that the violence remains “elevated.” See the University of San Diego, Trans-Border Institute, Drug Violence in Mexico: Data and Analysis Through 2012, February 2013, pp. 1, 11. For more information on the drug trafficking organizations in Mexico, see CRS Report R41576, Mexico’s Drug Trafficking Organizations: Source and Scope of the Rising Violence, by June S. Beittel.

[11] During that same period, the total number of homicides in Mexico was also slightly higher than the total for the United States (254,983), which has nearly three times Mexico’s population.

[12] Graham, Dave, 2019, Mexican Leader admits shortcomings on security at the launch of the new police force, Reuters.

[13] Seth Harp, The Rolling Stone, Blood and Oil, Mexico’s drug cartels and the gasoline industry, September 6, 2018

[14] Business Insider, 2019, After a year of record homicides, here’s what to expect from Mexico’s cartels in 2019.

[15] Price, Bob, Mexican Cartel Assassin Caught after Sneaking Across U.S. Border, Breitbart.

[16] Darby, Brandon and Ildefonso Ortiz, Terrorist who targeted Americans take over Mexican cartel on Texas border, Breitbart.

[17] The Washington Post, June 2019, Do Mexican drug cartels make $500 billion a year?

[18] Gladwell, Malcolm, 2000, The Tipping Point, Little Brown, New York.

[19] Robertson, Lori, 2019; Misleading Border Crime Statistics, FactCheck.org. 

[20] Rozamberg, Herman, 2011, Spillover Violence from Mexico’s Drug Cartels: How Real is It, KPBS.

[21] McCaffery, Barry, and Robert Scales, 2011, Texas Border Security: A Strategic Military Assessment, COLGEN, 

[22] Thornton, Richard, 2013, Tamaulipas, Portal Between two Worlds.

[23] U.S. Department of State, Mexico Travel Warning, 2019.

[24] https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories/mexico-travel-advisory.html.

[26] Schoeberl, Richard, 2013, U.S.-Mexico Border Security: The Spillover Effect, Preparedness (http://Domesticpreparedness.com 

[27] Security, 2019, Citizen’s Council Report Reveals 50 of the World’s Most Dangerous Cities.

[28] Nugent, Clara, 2018, Mexico is suffering it bloodies year I modern history, Time.

[29] https://www.dps.texas.gov/crimereports/17/executiveSummary.pdf.

[30] Texas Public Safety Threat Overview 2017 and Texas Border Security, 2018.

[31] Mexican Cartel Related Activity https://www.dps.texas.gov/PublicInformation/cartelCrimeStats.htm

[32] Crime on the Southwest Border, https://www.fbi.gov.

[33] The FBI’s list of the most dangerous cities in Texas, The Daily Post, 2015.

[34] Brownsville Crime Report, The McHale Report June 2019

[35] Kevin L. Perkins and Anthony P. Placido, U.S. Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, Washington, DC, May 5, 2010, accessed December 21, 2012, http://www.fbi.gov/news/testimony/drug-trafficking-violence-in-mexico-implications-for-the-united-states.

[36] Sylvia Longmire, 2011, Border Violence Spillover: A Growing but Undefined Problem, Small Wars Journal.

[37] Rodriguez, Nicole, Under Trump, Violence Skyrockets against U.S. agents at Mexico Border, Newsweek.

[38] Mexican Cartels: The Threat of Spillover Violence and the Rule of Law, Borderland Beat.

[39] http://polifact.com/texas/statements/2010/mar/27/john-cornyn.

[40] Assaults on CPB and ICE Law Enforcement Officers, Office of Inspector General, Homeland Security, September 2018, OIG-18-76

[41] All of the following examples of spillover violence were collected by Dr. Tony Zavaleta as part of his research project.

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

[1] Blakeslee, Nate, August 2010, Near/Far, Texas Monthly Magazine, http://www.texasmonthly.com/politics/nearfar/

[1] ibid, August 2010, Near/Far, Texas Monthly.

[1] Scott Stewart, 2019, Tracking Mexico’s Cartels 2019, Stratfor, Austin, Texas.

[1] Finklea, Kristin,2013, Southwestern Border Violence Issues in Identifying and Measuring Spillover Violence, CRS Report to Congress.

[1] Vincent, Isabel, 2019, Meet the real-life action hero taking on a Mexican cartel, New York Post.

[1] Pelley, Scott, 2018, Human Smuggling across the southern border, CBS News.

[1] Reagan, Mark, July 1, 2019, Officials confirm bullet that killed jogger came from Mexico, The Brownsville Herald. 

[1] David A. Shirk and Alejandra Ríos Cazares. “Reforming the Administration of Justice in Mexico.” In Reforming the Administration of Justice in Mexico, edited by Wayne

A. Cornelius and David A. Shirk. Notre Dame; La Jolla: University of Notre Dame Press; Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, 2007; Fernando Escalante Gonfalon. “Homicidios 1990-2007.” Nexos, 2009.

[1] Calderon, Laura Y. Et. Al., 2019, Organized Crime and Violence in Mexico, Justice in Mexico Department of Political Science and International Relations, University of San Diego. 

[1] Homicide levels in Mexico— “largely attributable to drug trafficking and organized crime”—began an escalated climb after 2007. There is debate as to whether this violence leveled off or slightly decreased in 2012; nonetheless, researchers have noted that the violence remains “elevated.” See the University of San Diego, Trans-Border Institute, Drug Violence in Mexico: Data and Analysis Through 2012, February 2013, pp. 1, 11. For more information on the drug trafficking organizations in Mexico, see CRS Report R41576, Mexico’s Drug Trafficking Organizations: Source and Scope of the Rising Violence, by June S. Beittel.

[1] During that same period, the total number of homicides in Mexico was also slightly higher than the total for the United States (254,983), which has nearly three times Mexico’s population.

[1] Graham, Dave, 2019, Mexican Leader admits shortcomings on security at the launch of the new police force, Reuters.

[1] Seth Harp, The Rolling Stone, Blood and Oil, Mexico’s drug cartels and the gasoline industry, September 6, 2018

[1] Business Insider, 2019, After a year of record homicides, here’s what to expect from Mexico’s cartels in 2019.

[1] Price, Bob, Mexican Cartel Assassin Caught after Sneaking Across U.S. Border, Breitbart.

[1] Darby, Brandon and Ildefonso Ortiz, Terrorist who targeted Americans take over Mexican cartel on Texas border, Breitbart.

[1] The Washington Post, June 2019, Do Mexican drug cartels make $500 billion a year?

[1] Gladwell, Malcolm, 2000, The Tipping Point, Little Brown, New York.

[1] Robertson, Lori, 2019; Misleading Border Crime Statistics, FactCheck.org. 

[1] Rozamberg, Herman, 2011, Spillover Violence from Mexico’s Drug Cartels: How Real is It, KPBS.

[1] McCaffery, Barry, and Robert Scales, 2011, Texas Border Security: A Strategic Military Assessment, COLGEN, 

[1] Thornton, Richard, 2013, Tamaulipas, Portal Between two Worlds.

[1] U.S. Department of State, Mexico Travel Warning, 2019.

[1] https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories/mexico-travel-advisory.html.

[1] Schoeberl, Richard, 2013, U.S.-Mexico Border Security: The Spillover Effect, Preparedness (http://Domesticpreparedness.com 

[1] Security, 2019, Citizen’s Council Report Reveals 50 of the World’s Most Dangerous Cities.

[1] Nugent, Clara, 2018, Mexico is suffering it bloodies year I modern history, Time.

[1] https://www.dps.texas.gov/crimereports/17/executiveSummary.pdf.

[1] Texas Public Safety Threat Overview 2017 and Texas Border Security, 2018.

[1] Mexican Cartel Related Activity https://www.dps.texas.gov/PublicInformation/cartelCrimeStats.htm

[1] Crime on the Southwest Border, https://www.fbi.gov.

[1] The FBI’s list of the most dangerous cities in Texas, The Daily Post, 2015.

[1] Brownsville Crime Report, The McHale Report June 2019

[1] Kevin L. Perkins and Anthony P. Placido, U.S. Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, Washington, DC, May 5, 2010, accessed December 21, 2012, http://www.fbi.gov/news/testimony/drug-trafficking-violence-in-mexico-implications-for-the-united-states.

[1] Sylvia Longmire, 2011, Border Violence Spillover: A Growing but Undefined Problem, Small Wars Journal.

[1] Rodriguez, Nicole, Under Trump, Violence Skyrockets against U.S. agents at Mexico Border, Newsweek.

[1] Mexican Cartels: The Threat of Spillover Violence and the Rule of Law, Borderland Beat.

[1] http://polifact.com/texas/statements/2010/mar/27/john-cornyn.

[1] Assaults on CPB and ICE Law Enforcement Officers, Office of Inspector General, Homeland Security, September 2018, OIG-18-76

[1] All of the following examples of spillover violence were collected by Dr. Tony Zavaleta as part of his research project.

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

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