WASHINGTON (AFP) – The southwestern state of Texas is warning Americans to avoid the Mexican border town of Nuevo Laredo over the July 4 independence day weekend, fearing that US citizens will be targeted.
State and local police have "received credible intelligence from multiple sources that indicates the Zetas Cartel is planning to target US citizens who travel to Nuevo Laredo this weekend," the Texas Department of Public Safety said in a statement.
Nuevo Laredo is located in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas on the Rio Grande river, which serves as the international border, across from the Texas border city of Laredo.
"According to the information we have received, the Zetas are planning a possible surge in criminal activity, such as robberies, extortions, carjackings and vehicle theft, specifically against US citizens," DPS Director Steven McCraw said in the statement.
"We urge US citizens to avoid travel to Nuevo Laredo this weekend."
Mexico's Zetas drug cartel is also accused of two mass killings in Mexico's northeastern state of Tamaulipas.
The Zetas was founded by Mexican army Special Forces deserters in the 1990s who were hired as hitmen for the powerful Gulf cartel.
The group later split from their employers, sparking bloody Mexican turf wars. They are strongest in eastern Mexico and the northern border states of Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon.
The Zetas were among the first Mexican crime syndicates to use heavy weaponry and full-scale military tactics, reportedly amassing an arsenal that has included grenade launchers and even ground-to-air missiles.
"There is no indication that these cartel-related criminal activities will occur in Texas," the Texas statement read, "but the DPS and Webb County Sheriff?s Office cannot discount the information received that supports possible crimes against US citizens in Nuevo Laredo and perhaps the surrounding Mexican suburbs."
The statement adds that state and local police "are fully prepared to respond to any criminal activity that occurs within Texas."