DE RUEHNL #0056 0581822
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O R 271821Z FEB 10
FM AMCONSUL NUEVO LAREDO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0038
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO IMMEDIATE
INFO ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS NUEVO LAREDO 000056
SENSITIVE SIPDIS DEPT FOR WHA/MEX, DS, CA/OCS EMBASSY FOR DCM, RSO, MCCA
2. SUMMARY: Gulf Cartel DTO attacked two police stations in Nuevo Laredo evening of February 26. Zetas DTO, apparently searching for the Gulf perpetrators, appeared armed outside a barbecue attended by post personnel. Corroborated reports anticipate a Gulf versus Zetas clash afternoon/evening of February
27. On February 27, PO convened an Emergency Action Committee (EAC) meeting to review above developments. EAC concurred that advice should be issued to post personnel via phone cascade, along with a Warden Message to local Amcits. END SUMMARY.
3. At approximately 2130 hours on February 26, Gulf DTO attacked two police stations in Nuevo Laredo. Original reports were that grenades were used, and thumps were audible from at least two of our residences. Authorities now say that satchel charge-type IEDs were employed, with no casualties. The attack has made the Laredo media, and will likely be picked up by wire services in the U.S. The likely motive is a "calling card" by Gulf DTO, sending message that they can strike in the Zetas' heartland.
4. At approximately 2230 hours, Zetas DTO personnel wearing balaclavas deployed in the street outside a barbecue attended by post personnel at a housing compound. They displayed AK47s weapons, and ordered everyone away from the street and indoors. They clearly were looking for something on the street, and left quickly. Post concludes that they were looking for the Gulf perpetrators of the bombing of the police stations, and wanted third parties out of their way. RSO contacted local authorities, who immediately offered assistance. Post personnel stayed at compound until it was judged safe to travel. (COMMENT: A GOM report that PO was present at the time and that gunmen entered the premises were a garble. PO had left shortly before the incident, and the gunmen did not enter the property. END COMMENT.)
5. Several reports indicate an impending gun battle between the two DTOs in Nuevo Laredo within 48 hours, likely the afternoon/evening of February 27. EAC decided to initiate post's phone cascade system to advise post personnel to stay off the streets, and will also send warden message to same effect to Amcits.
6. EAC discussed advisability of continuing with a visa outreach event scheduled for afternoon of February 27 at a local university. PO concluded that turnout would be light, and that the downside of being seen to cancel a public event for the first time during recent violence was outweighed by the downside risk to post personnel and attendees of being on the streets at that time. We are stressing to the local media that we are not cancelling due to security situation, but rather rescheduling because we anticipated a light turnout resulting from that situation.
7. EAC reviewed tripwires and agreed to continue developing tripwires for intermediate actions short of authorized departure (see Reftel A).
8. PO will call post personnel who witnessed the Zetas outside the housing compound to discuss, and will follow up with a town hall meeting on March 1. HEFLIN