Three Advocate staffers spent three days in Laredo and Nuevo Laredo last week, canvassing both cities to better understand this trade corridor following the fallout of a bloody drug war there.
From 2005 to 2007, the Gulf and Sinaloa drug cartels fought in the streets to gain hold of this important turf -- the biggest U.S. inland entry port. More than 13,000 tractor trailers pass through the port each day, and countless tons of drugs flow one way, while weapons and cash flow the other.
Hundreds were murdered, kidnapped, tortured, extorted and threatened during the height of the drug war.
For 18 months, though, the fighting in the streets has slowed. Some say the cartels signed a truce because killing each other hurt their bottom lines. Some say the Gulf cartel and its enforcer group, the Zetas, simply won the war. Others say U.S. law enforcement cracked down in Laredo, forcing the groups to remain less visible.
Regardless, the Gulf Cartel has a dominant presence in Nuevo Laredo today -- and the brutal group's reach stretches well north of the Rio Grande.
As I begin to piece the outline of this story, part of our long-term Fatal Funnel project, I want to hear from you.
What do you want to learn regarding Laredo and Nuevo Laredo? How can I make this story interesting to you?
We interviewed the Laredo mayor and Webb County sheriff, as well as a Laredo father whose daughter was kidnapped by Nuevo Laredo police, who are thought to have then give the woman to a crime boss.
We interviewed a Laredo wife whose husband went missing almost six years ago.
We toured Nuevo Laredo, and interviewed a fearful journalist and business owner there. The journalist would not say the word "Zetas," who everyone says own Nuevo Laredo by enforcing their rule by intimidation, kidnapping, extortion and murder still today.
We toured both sides of the river with Dallas-area filmmaker Rusty Fleming, who spent three years on the border and deep in Mexico to produce a documentary about the Zetas, Gulf Cartel and increasing violence and corruption.
With that said, I have other interviews still to do.
Your input is appreciated. Thanks,
Gabe Semenza/Advocate public service editor
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