Cartel violence has driven most of the people living in Sasabe, Sonora across the border and into Arizona.

Nicholas Matthews has been volunteering with Salvavision, a group that provides aid in the small, remote border town.

This fall, he and the group were building a library for local kids in the towns main plaza, until the violence broke out.

Early October, just out of nowhere, gun battles all night, said Matthews. Ive seen pictures of cars shot out, right in front of where just a month ago I had been carrying books and everything in for the kids to use Its a really sad situation.

Caught in the crossfire, residents then scrambled into the U.S.

Theres only about 20 to 30 people left in the town of 2,000 people, said Matthews, who says the vast majority of the residents are now in the Tucson area, some staying with family.

Ive talked with a few of them, he added. Theyre very afraid. They had to leave very quickly, the gun battles were so bad in town. A lot of them just had to take what they could and leave.

Theyre our neighbors, at the end of the day. The region has always been a region where weve supported our neighbors, where weve collaborated on things. And I think its really important to just be friends, help each other.

Last week, Matthews briefly crossed the border back into Sasabe, Sonora to drop off dog food to Mexican government officials.

All of the towns dogs have had to be left behind, he explained. So theres like one big dog pack. And theyre not getting fed.

Matthews says two factions of the Sinaloa Cartel are fighting over control of the town, in an area of Sonora known for migrant and drug smuggling.

Gail Kocourek of humanitarian group Tucson Samaritans say those who crossed the border were processed by CBP and are in the U.S. under “humanitarian parole.”

Customs and Border Protection tells us it is aware of the cartel violence in Sasabe, Sonora.