18 people have been killed in a series of shootings in Reynosa, Mexico, a border town known for drug cartels and as a gathering point for migrants seeking to cross illegally into the United States (U.S.).

Tamaulipas state law enforcement officials said unidentified gunmen riding in sport-utility vehicles shot people in various neighbourhoods of Reynosa, just a stone’s throw from McAllen, Texas, on Saturday afternoon.

Victims Identities haven’t been released, and police are investigating the motive.

Police said State, National Guard and army security forces were sent to Reynosa in response to the shootings. One person was arrested, and three vehicles involved in the shootings were seized.

“We ask the security forces to clarify the unfortunate events where 12 people lost their lives and three more were injured,” Reynosa Mayor Maki Esther Ortiz Dominguez said on Twitter Saturday evening, before the full death toll was known, “and protect citizens from these violent acts”.

Mexico is plagued by cartel violence, which contributed to a record-high 34,681 murders in 2019 and more than 34,000 homicides again last year. With cartels fighting over control of smuggling routes, Reynosa ranks as one of the country’s most dangerous cities. In fact, it ranks as the 42nd-most dangerous city globally, according to

With illegal migration traffic into the U.S. surging since President Joe Biden took office in January, the Reynosa-McAllen crossing has emerged as a hotspot in America’s border crisis.

A video leaked to undercover-journalism outfit Project Veritas in March showed dozens of migrants, including small children, fenced off and laying in the dirt under the Anzalduas International Bridge, on the Texas side of the border. US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officers were reportedly using the area as a makeshift migrant-processing centre.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott last week announced that the state will build its own border wall and begin making mass arrests of illegal aliens to help secure the region. He said under Biden’s policies, unprecedented numbers of migrants are crossing into Texas resulting in increasing home invasions, drug-trafficking, human-trafficking and damage to crops and livestock.

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