Crime and Violence

Police chief in Tamaulipas found dead in Vallecillo

Police Chief Ricardo César Niño Villarreal. Photo: La Jornada.
Police Chief Ricardo César Niño Villarreal. Photo: La Jornada.

11/12/14 (written by ashoffner) — Violence continues in Tamaulipas with the murder of the chief of police in the northern region of the state. On November 2, General Ricardo César Niño Villarreal and his wife were found dead in an abandoned vehicle in the Vallecillo municipality in Tamaulipas on the highway connecting Monterrey and Nuevo Laredo, the latter of which was where the police chief’s headquarters were located. Tamaulipas Attorney General Adrián de la Garza publicly confirmed the victims’ identities following DNA tests.

The bodies were found with over 100 bullet holes—a clear sign of a targeted attack—even though the couple was traveling in an alleged armored vehicle. According to investigations, that it is because the assailants, writes La Jornada, took the police chief and his wife to the area where their vehicle was found, and opened fire on them inside the car. It is largely presumed that the police chief’s murder was tied to his role as key official in the state’s public security strategy. That strategy, which was launched in May 2014 by the federal government to restore peace and security to the violence-plagued state, divided Tamaulipas into four sections, one of which was then overseen by Police Chief Niño Villarreal. He assumed that position following two years spent as the Secretary of Public Security in Cadereyta, Tamaulipas, during which he was criticized for his role in allowing several young junior high school students to pose with officials’ high-powered firearms—a photo of which went public.

Nevertheless, the State Investigation Agency (Agencia Estatal de Investigaciones) is continuing the investigation into the homicides with support from the Federal Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR). Part of the investigation includes determining why Police Chief Niño Villarreal and his wife were traveling on November 2 without bodyguards and standard protection mechanisms. This is also not the first attempt on Niño Villarreal’s life. He survived an attack just one month before on October 10 in Linares, Nuevo León, which neighbors Tamaulipas.


“Federal government implements new strategy in Tamaulipas.” Justice in Mexico. May 31, 2014.

Carrizales, David, and Julio Loyola Corresponsales. “Asesinan a Jefe Policiaco De Tamaulipas.” El Universal. November 3, 2014.

Muñiz, Erick. “Asesinan a Un General, Jefe De Seguridad En El Norte De Tamaulipas.” La Jornada. November 3, 2014.

“Asesinan a Jefe Policiaco De Tamaulipas.” Univisión. November 3, 2014.

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