The police chief in the border city across the Rio Grande from Laredo was killed late Wednesday, less than five weeks after taking office.
Retired Brigadier General Manuel Farfán Carreola, the public safety director in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, was gunned down alongside his bodyguards. He took office Jan. 1 and was part of group of 11 former Mexican military officials dispatched to the northern state to combat the increase in cartel-related crime.
The assassination was first reported by Mexican media outlet Exceslior. Farfán took office the same day the Mexican city swore in its new mayor, Benjamín Galván Gómez.
Investigator Jose Baeza, a Laredo Police Department spokesman, confirmed the report to the Tribune. He said details from Nuevo Laredo officials were scant but the slaying is part of an increase in violence the border city has witnessed in recent weeks.
“It was about three or four weeks ago when we started hearing about all these grenade attacks. Those are kind of sizzling again,” he said. “It’s rearing its ugly head the way is always does. We’ll see how it pans out but this is definitely a blow for [the new administration.]”
The surge in violence on that part of the border is attributed to the split last year between the Gulf Cartel and its former enforcement arm, Los Zetas, Baeza said. After a few years of relative calm, the city of Nuevo Laredo has witnessed an increase in murders and shootouts this year. The groups had a secure grip on the smuggling route that extends from there into Texas and beyond after battling their rivals in the Sinaloa cartel last decade.
Laredo Mayor Raul Salinas, who has always touted the positive relationship his city has with its Mexican counterpart, said he phoned Gálvan Gómez this morning to convey his condolences. Salinas said the slaying will not affect the city's positive relationship with Nuevo Laredo.
"I am also concerned for the safety of those citizens, innocent people that are in peril. We will continue to work with them," he said. "We have a special bond with [Mayor Galván Gómez], we have a good relationship with the government of Mexico and we will help wherever we can. We have a good line of communication. That's why I reached out to him."
Salinas also reiterated that his city remains one of the safest of its size despite the bloodshed across the Rio Grande.
"Our law enforcement communities are really working together. The city, the county, the state and the feds. We are being proactive to ensure that we don’t have a spillover of violence on this side."
Farfán’s assassination came a day after about two dozen children were found abandoned and roaming the streets in the border city. The Laredo Morning Times reported that the children were found in three separate spots around the city after their parents were believed to be kidnapped by criminal gangs. The news outlet also reported this morning that the Nuevo Laredo city council called an emergency meeting to discuss the investigation into the assassination.
In December at least 151 inmates escaped from a prison in Nuevo Laredo. Authorities in Texas said the jailbreak was orchestrated by Los Zetas in an attempt to swell their depleting ranks. The group has taken a blow as it battles law enforcement and rival cartels, but remains a powerful force in that area of Mexcio. Baeza said there has been no evidence the violence in Mexico has hit Texas.