Shooting from a helicopter, security forces confused visitors’ vehicle with that of drug cartel boss
Two US citizens were injured when Mexican marines reportedly opened fire on their vehicle in Reynosa on Tuesday (4 April 2017) after they had visited relatives in the border town, which sits across from MacAllen, in Texas.
Alfredo Alemán, aged 39, and his wife Alejandra were injured after a marine helicopter reportedly opened fire on their car. Both were hit by glass when their windshield and other windows shattered. Both were transferred to MacAllen. An investigation has been launched by the Mexican Attorney General’s office.
There have been a number of incidents in recent days in the area, the northern Mexican state of Tamaulipas: on Tuesday, up to four suspected criminals were shot by security forces. Leading Mexican daily Excélsior, citing security forces, reported that the marines had received information that Comandante Toro, a leading figure in the Gulf Cartel, based in Matamoros, the second-largest city in Tamaulipas, was traveling in a late model grey Ford Tahoe.
In an official statement, the Mexican navy denies having opened fire on the vehicle, saying that security forces were engaged in clashes in different areas of Reynosa, but not in the area where the couple were injured.
The incident was reported on social networks by local people who had warned of shootouts in different areas of the city, as well as reporting road blocks to help cartel members escape, as reported in local daily Hoy de Tamaulipas.
Tamaulipas has been hit by violence since 2010, when the Gulf and Zetas cartels fell out. Authorities say the Gulf cartel retained control of Reynosa, Matamoros, Ciudad Victoria and the port of Altamira in the south of the state, where it received shipments of drugs from Central and South America.
Meanwhile, the Zetas control the central part of the coast. It also held onto Nuevo Laredo, across the border from Texas, used as a shipping point for drugs into the United States. The arrival of army and marine forces has unleashed further conflict, with both sides trying to gain new territory, in the process carrying out kidnappings, roadblocks and murders.
Tamaulipas is one of the most violent states in Mexico. In 2016, more than 600 people left the area to escape violence, according to a report by the Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights (CMDPDH).
Eduardo Alemán, brother of the injured man, spoke to local daily Milenio, saying: “They had just done some shopping, there was no warning given, he was with his wife and they opened fire just because the vehicle was the same. Nobody has given me any explanation so far.”
Guadalupe Trevino fought back tears as she described what she called a miracle: Her daughter and son-in-law survived an assault in Mexico in broad daylight. The family claims that it came at the hands of Mexican Marines on Tuesday afternoon.
|screen capture KHOU video|
Trevino says that a helicopter opened fire on a silver Chevy Tahoe while Alfredo Aleman and his wife, Alejandra, were sitting inside.
Alfredo, who lives in McAllen, Texas, was shot in his right hand and heel, while bullets grazed Alejandra’s head and back.
“They were screaming they were family,” Trevino said.
Alfredo’s brother, Eduardo, rushed to the scene. He said that the people behind the trigger were clearly shooting to kill.
Eduardo says that his brother and sister-in-law were driving back to Texas after visiting Trevino and grocery shopping. That’s when the family says that the couple drove upon a military blockade. Moments later, a barrage of bullets came down from above, according to Trevino.
But in a written response, the Mexican Marines denied those claims, saying that they were not at the location where the shooting happened, but were responding to three other shootings across town.
U.S. Consulate officials would only release a brief statement saying, in part:
“The safety and security of U.S. Citizens abroad is one of the state department’s highest priorities.”
For the Aleman family, they fear that the lack of answers today may lead to a lack of justice in the future.
The only thing comforting Trevino is knowing that her daughter and son-in-law are safe in the U.S.
It’s not clear if the U.S. Government or the Aleman family may take any further action or who exactly opened fire on the couple. Federal police in Mexico are still investigating the case.
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