Drug War Creeps Up on Texas Town

May 4, 2010 05:00

Two decades ago, dusty little McAllen started to morph into a palm-fringed boomtown. Now, drug-gang violence, until recently confined to Ciudad Juarez and other cities far to the west, has spread startlingly close.


MCALLEN, Texas—For most of its history, McAllen was a dusty little farm town at the southern tip of Texas, long on cactus and short on jobs.

That started to change two decades ago, when factories began opening across the Rio Grande. McAllen morphed into a palm-fringed boomtown, sending workers across the border to Reynosa and luring shoppers and vacationers from Mexico’s northern industrial center, Monterrey, a few hours away by car.

Now, drug-gang violence, until recently confined to Ciudad Juárez and other cities far to the west, is startlingly close by. Last month, some 30 gunmen stormed two hotels in Monterrey and kidnapped six people, in a shock for the city. The 130-mile highway from Monterrey to the border has seen a number of incidents, including a recent shoot-out between armed men and the Mexican military.

The gunplay hasn’t erupted in McAllen itself, but people here fear their hard-won economic gains, already dimmed by the recession, are under threat.

“So far, the violence has acted as a disruption,” said Keith Patridge, whose job as president of the local development agency is to attract companies to the area. “If it were to get worse, it would have a big impact.”


Help Make A Difference By Sharing These Articles On Facebook, Twitter And Elsewhere: