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Drug Cartel Threat Causes School to Cancel Football Game

Texas' Gregory-Portland Independent School District canceled its high school football game against a team from Mexico this week in fear of potential violence.

The district, located near Corpus Christi in the eastern tip of Texas, originally had a football game scheduled against the Mexico-based Monterrey Tech tonight. But the Monterrey Tech team hasn't exactly experienced smooth sailing this year.

Earlier this month, a game between Monterrey Tech and Stony Point (Texas) High School was canceled because Monterrey Tech received an anonymous phone call demanding $30,000 in exchange for allowing the team to cross the U.S. border.

Ricardo Garcia, communications director for Monterrey Tech, told the Austin American-Statesman that although there was no way to confirm the identity of the caller, the school had to be abundantly cautious due to nearby violence from the Zetas drug cartel.

The Gregory-Portland district wasn't willing to wait and see if more anonymous demands were made of the Monterrey Tech football team. Instead, on Tuesday, the school announced in a press release Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader that the game would be canceled "in the interest of safety for all parties."

"When we saw the story again [Monday] night on TV we sat down again as a team and talked through the issue and came to the conclusion from a safety perspective, canceling the game was the safest thing that we could do, because we could never pin down issues," Gregory-Portland superintendent Paul Clore said to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.

"We began to see that Monterrey Tech was flying to games instead of busing to games as they did before. That began to suggest to us that maybe they knew more than we did about the threat level," Clore said. "So we just decided to err on the side of safety."

The only problem: Monterrey Tech had already bought plane tickets for the Gregory-Portland game to the tune of $20,000-$25,000, said Alex Botella, a Mexican promoter who's in charge of arranging Monterrey Tech's stateside football games, to the paper.

"We called last week and said we were coming and then they called us and said no. It was surprising it happened three days before the game," Botella said. "It's kind of surprising because they called us last week making sure we were coming. We said, 'Yes, we bought 50 airline tickets.' It was kind of upsetting."

Botella told the paper that the Texas district expressed more concern about the safety of the team from Monterrey Tech than they did for their own team.

"We're flying internationally to San Antonio," Botella said. "I don't really know why he was so concerned about us."

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