EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — U.S. officials are urging Americans to stay away from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, after deadly gun battles were reported on the streets of the city.
“Please do not cross to Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas right now. We have information that there have been intensive shootings between cartel members and Tamaulipas State Police. These shootings have been going on for hours now,” Webb County Sheriff Martin Cuellar wrote on his Facebook page Wednesday night.
Shortly after, the U.S. Consulate in Nuevo Laredo tweeted a security alert, also saying it had received reports of multiple gunfights throughout the city. The consulate advised all U.S. government personnel to take shelter, notify friends and family members whether or not they were safe and monitor local news media for updates.
Cuellar said gun battles were reported on Wednesday around the Villarreal Hotel and in busy Nuevo Laredo streets including Paseo Colon and Lopez de Lara Avenue.
“Please avoid these areas and do not cross over to Nuevo Laredo. It’s been said that high-caliber machine guns and explosives are being utilized. They are highjacking vehicles and disturbing the peace,” Cuellar wrote. “Our prayers go out to the citizens of Nuevo Laredo.”
Tamaulipas state Gov. Francisco Javier Cabeza de Vaca blamed the violence on the Cartel del Noreste transnational criminal organization. “Our government will not lower its guard following the cowardly attacks on the part of the Northeast Cartel in Nuevo Laredo and will continue to act firmly against criminals,” Cabeza de Vaca said in a tweet.
Social media posts late Wednesday showed Nuevo Laredo police officers taking cover behind a wall as one of them stated hearing “.50-caliber gunfire” as well as blasts from AR-15 and AK-47 rifles nearby.
The gun battle left at least three dead, according to the Laredo Morning Times. Mexican news reports put the figure at four or higher.
The gun battles were reportedly carried out by the Northeast cartel, which is a splinter group of the old Zetas cartel.