Armed men attacked three buses in northern Veracruz Thursday, killing at least eleven passengers. According to the state government, five assailants were killed when the military arrived at the scene of an attack. Some early reports cited a regional mayor estimating a death toll as high as forty victims.
The US Consulate in Matamoros has issued a warning to US citizens to use caution when travelling in Veracruz and recommends only traveling during the day. The same bulletin reiterated long-standing advice that U.S. citizens “defer non-essential travel to the state of Tamaulipas”.
Highways in the states of Tamaulipas, Veracruz, and San Luis Potosi have become notoriously dangerous, with criminals taking advantage of the cover of night to hold up passenger buses and private vehicles.
The main highways in northern Veracruz are connected to the port city of Tampico, just across the state line in Tamaulipas. The most dangerous roads in Tamaulipas lead to the border bridges with South Texas.
The bodies of ten murder victims were dumped in the Veracruz town of Tampico Alto this morning. Like the multi-homicide targeting the buses, the specific motive for the violence is unclear, but the perpetrators are assumed to be associated with organized crime operating in the region.
As has been the case with Tamaulipas, much of the violence in Veracruz is occurring under a mantle of fear-induced silence. The press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders this week named Veracruz one of the ten deadliest regions in the world for journalists.
Also this week, 900 police officers in the port city of Veracruz and its nearby suburb of Boca del Rio were dismissed and replaced by soldiers in what authorities describe as an anti-corruption measure.