Feds get tough; Officers, army set up checkpoints throughout city

NUEVO LAREDO — In a much-needed show of force, agents with the Agencia Federal de Investigaciones (AFI, similar to the FBI) and federal highway police set up a checkpoint Friday on the Bulevar Ribereño for vehicles headed to the Juárez-Lincoln International Bridge.Every vehicle was stopped and searched.
It was a welcome sight for many Nuevo Laredoans as well as city and state leaders, a day after there was a report of a gun battle Thursday that left one man dead in Los Torres subdivision. The body was removed before police could arrive.

Tamaulipas Gov. Eugenio Hernández Flores, in Monterrey to inaugurate Casa Tamaulipas, said Friday the efforts of federal police and the Mexican Army are welcome and should bring peace to Mexico.

“The federal agents and the Army are fighting organized crime and are giving no quarter,” the governor said. “There are orders from the President of México, Felipe Calderón, not to yield a single centimeter.”

Hernández Flores said he stands in solidarity with Calderón’s action because he is fulfilling his commitment to the people.

Officials said the checkpoints will be seen throughout the city, as agents and soldiers verify whether drivers have legal possession of their vehicles, whether they are carrying illegal arms or drugs, and checking IDs to look for outstanding federal warrants.

The latest group of agents arrived from Mexico City on Wednesday and promptly set up a checkpoint on Bulevar Luis Donaldo Colosio, at the entrance of the Fundadores-Infonavit neighborhood in the south part of the city.

One of the officers said they weren’t authorized to talk to the media about their operation, saying that the federal attorney general’s office or someone from federal police headquarters in Mexico City would be releasing a statement. None, however, was forthcoming Friday.

For his part, Infonavit resident Fabian García, who was one of the drivers stopped at that checkpoint, said he was pleased that the federal authorities are finally taking on its responsibility to protect people along the border.

Many drivers were surprised when they came up on the checkpoint and found themselves directed to wait in line as agents conducted the generally routine inspections. As officers searched the vehicles, others stood with arms at the ready, stern and alert.

The high level of precautions match the level of aggression exhibited by organized crime lords as they seek to frighten law enforcement.

The most recent attack occurred in Hermosillo, in the state of Sonora, where armed commandos attacked police officers in a brutal five-hour exchange of gunfire, ending with the deaths of 15 attackers and five officers.

In the state of Nuevo León, police officers, commanders and high-ranking law enforcement officials have been assassinated. In Nuevo Laredo, law officers also have been the victims of brutal attacks.

The show of force around Nuevo Laredo is promoting confidence among the residents, who have seen at least eight executions, including the one Thursday, in recent days.

Another woman who passed inspection at one of the checkpoints said that at least the federal officers are seen in public, patrolling and staffing checkpoints, which helps dissuade those who would commit a crime.

Meanwhile, in the Monterrey metropolitan area, the bodies of three more men were found at about 7 a.m. Friday. That brings the total number of homicides attributed to organized crime to 64 so far this year.