Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Analysis: Sinaloa cartel losing power in Juárez

Friday, April 18, 2014 |

Borderland Beat

The Carrillo Fuentes drug-trafficking organization, with its enforcement arm La Línea, is moving to regain the El Paso-Juárez corridor from the Sinaloa cartel, whose power in Juarez is eroding quickly, according to a terrorism and security analyst from the Texas-based private intelligence firm Stratfor

We began seeing the weakening of the Sinaloa cartel and the strengthening of the VCF (Vicente Carrillo Fuentes) cartel and La Línea in Juárez because of the help of Los Zetas cartel since the end of last year," Stratfor's vice president of Tactical Intelligence, Scott Stewart, said.

Stewart was one of the speakers at the second day of the U.S.-México Border Security Summit. Wednesday's conference was at the Doubletree Hotel in Downtown El Paso.

The Juárez Chapter of ASIS International, an organization that provides private security services to businesses all over the world, organized the two-day summit to promote the El Paso-Juárez region to chief security officers and representatives of U.S. manufacturing companies.
During his presentation of "The Border Potential Treats: Intelligence," Stewart gave an update on the trends and dynamics of the major drug cartels in México, including the Sinaloa cartel, the Zetas, Jalisco Nueva Generación, the Gulf cartel, the Knights Templar and the Beltrán Leyva organization.

The Sinaloa cartel, which battles for turf with the Carrillo-Fuentes drug-trafficking organization, leaving more than 10,000 dead in Juárez since 2007, still controls almost all Chihuahua state.

However, Los Zetas, which are the second largest drug-trafficking organization in México and the Sinaloa cartel's biggest rival, has begun to help the Carrillo Fuentes cartel in moving illegal drugs around the El Paso-Juárez border in an attempt to regain control of this plaza, Stewart said.

He said that it is unknown how long the Sinaloa cartel is going to resist, but so far this year there has not been a considerable increase of violence in Juárez like in the past years. 

"We think it is because the Sinaloa cartel's control over Juárez is eroding quickly," he said.

Stewart explained the Sinaloa cartel was hit hard with the killing in December of Gonzalo "El Macho Prieto" Inzuza, who was believed to be one of the chief cartel leaders. It was also impacted by the arrests in January of enforcer José Rodrigo Aréchiga Gamboa "El Chino Antrax" and ultimately the capture in February of the cartel's leader Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán.

"Once those guys are out of the picture it makes it more difficult for the Sinaloa cartel to project military power, so we think that is what is helping to keep down the violence," he said.

He predicts that the murder rate in México will continue decreasing and the overall violence will not increase significantly in the next months. However, there could be spikes of increased levels of violence in the states of Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Sonora and Baja California as the Sinaloa cartel tries to maintain control.

Thank you to the reader for the heads up.

By Lorena Figueroa / El Paso Times

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2 dead bodies and a banner left at Tijuana police station.



TIJUANA, B.C.- Two bodies were abandoned in the parking lot of a Tijuana Municipal delegation, the bodies were left inside a Chevy Suburban and a banner was left along threatening Victor Murillo, Police head of the La Presa sector.

Written on a card , the message read "Por pasarse de Vergas. esto es para ti Murillo" (Roughly translated to: "This is for you Murillo, for being an asshole").

The bodies and the message were discovered at about 2:30 pm when a pair of agents noticed the suspect vehicle and approached it to conduct a search on it, upon approach, they discovered the vehicle had its doors unlocked and found inside two bags containing the dead bodies of two men, the bodies had signs of violence and gun wounds on their heads, the agents also found the message against their commander.

Cells from the Sinaloa cartel operate in the eastern part of Tijuana were this delegation is located, the cells are believed to be led by the Arzate brothers , identified as "La Rana" and "El Akiles".

A series of seizures of drug shipments have been reported on that area in the past weeks, including the arrest of a complete cell of kidnappers who used to target Tijuana´s businessmen.

The state Attorney General ( PGJ ) claims that 80 % of violent homicides in Tijuana are linked to drug dealing and the fight for control of this border plaza


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4 die in Tamaulipas state

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 |

By Chris Covert

Four unidentified individuals were killed or were found dead in a series of intergang firefights in the southern municipality of Tampico Tuesday and Wednesday.  Also, a total of 179 migrants were released  from captivity by Mexican Army units over several days in four different cities in the state, according to official state and Mexican press accounts.

According to a news account in Proceso news weekly, two gunfights took place which left one dead.  The first took place at  La Puntilla market, while the second took place near the intersection of calles Aduana and Perimetral at a shopping center called Macalito.

Meanwhile in Tolteca colony, near the intersection of calles Nicolas Bravo and Rosalio Bustamante, armed suspects drove customers and employees from a children's playground, Castillo de Sueños, then torched the building, which was destroyed.

That afternoon, two men were executed in two separate incidents in Tampico. The first was near Hospital Militar, while the second was in Primavera colony, near a Coca Cola plant.

The next morning, Wednesday, two armed encounters took place in Tampico, the first at a nightclub on Avenida Universidad, which took place at around midnight and then at first light at the Seduccion disco, where Molotov cocktails were thrown.  No one was reported wounded at either incident.

Mexico is in the middle of Semana Santa, or Holy Week, which is a major event especially in Tampico, as residents and tourists as well take advantage of warm weather and Tampico's beaches to spend Easter Sunday.  During Semana Santa, Mexican security is usually beefed up, and it has been announced so since last month that army and naval infantry forces would in the streets to provide security.

Ciudad Madero, a sort of twin city of Tampico is also the headquarters for the Mexican Navy Zona Naval 1, which is a large naval detachment.  The Mexican Army maintains a large base near Ciudad Mante, about 60 kilometers away.

Busts in southern Tamaulipas

Units of the Mexican Army detained nine individuals and seized contraband in southern Tamaulipas municipalities in two separate operations Tuesday, according to official government news releases.

Just after noon, a Mexican Army road patrol encountered four suspects near Rancho Nuevo in Llera municipality, and detained all four.  Inside the ranch house, soldiers found one unidentified man who had been kidnapped and was being held for ransom. 

Soldiers also seized two rifles, two pistols, 124 rounds of ammunition, six weapons magazines, one stolen vehicle, and MEX $3,868.00 (USD $296.58) and USD $48.00 (MEX($626.03) in cash.

Meanwhile in Altamira, five unidentified male suspects were detained by a Mexican Army road patrol.  In that incident, soldiers seized one rifle, 50 rounds of ammunition, two weapons magazines, four vehicles, 1,950 packages of marijuana, presumably wrapped for individual sale of marijuana, two cell phones and MEX $188,000.00 (USD $14,414.71) in cash.


Since April 9th, Mexican security forces have rescued a total of 179 migrants in several separate operations, according to a news account posted on the website of Tamaulipas state government.
  • April 9th: In Ciudad Madero a Mexican Naval Infantry unit located an freed 35 migrants, all from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.  Among the migrants was a four year old child.  A total of three suspects were detained at the scene, identified as Hugo Cesar Rodriguez Niges, Servio Tulio Avalos Gonzalez and Ernesto Alvarado Machado.  Sailors also seized three rifles, 132 rounds of ammunition, six weapons magazines and four vehicles.
  • April 10th:  In Reynosa municipality in  Pedro J. Mendez colony, a Policia Federal unit rescued  76 migrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, totaling 65 and 11 women, who were kidnapped for ransom.  No one was reported detained at the scene. 
  • April 11th:  In the city of Tampico, 20 migrants were rescued by a Policia Estatal Acreditable unit as they were being loaded onto a bus for the United State.  One suspects, identified as Eladio Lopez Cardona was detained at the scene.  A total of 12 from Guatemala, four from  Honduras and four from El Salvador were rescued.
  • April 12th:  In Matamoros municipality in Estancia Residencial colony, Mexican Army and Policia Estatal Acreditable units were dispatched to a residence based on an anonymous complaint to find 48 migrants from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua detained by criminals. One suspect identified as Daniela Gomez Garcia was detained at the scene.  The count of the kidnapping victims were 38 men, six women and four children.
Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for and He can be reached at

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“If there’s anything democratic in Morelos, it’s kidnapping”; Even The 99 Percent Get Kidnapped In Mexico


Once the plutocrats' plague, kidnapping for ransom in Mexico has gone decidedly mass market.

Shopkeepers and family physicians, carpenters and taxi drivers: All have been targeted in recent years as minions of young criminals enter a trade long run by guerrillas and gangland bosses.

That puts Mexico, along with Colombia and Venezuela, among the world's most kidnap-prone countries.

President Enrique Peña Nieto, 16 months into a six-year term, has struggled to meet his promises to dramatically lessen the crime. Both abductions and extortion continue to soar even as his government’s campaign against crime syndicates impacts drug profits and gang discipline weakens as kingpins are killed or captured.

Many wealthy Mexicans have long hired bodyguards and taken other security precautions, making them harder to get. The typical profile of kidnappers, meanwhile, is becoming younger and less sophisticated — more willing to favor quick paydays over substantial ones.
Edgar Jimenez Lugo, alias "El Ponchis" or "El Niño Sicario" started his criminal career  in Morelos with his first murder at age 11.
That’s making Mexico’s middle class, and even the working poor, the criminals’ targets of choice.

Ransom demands here in Morelos, a small state just south of the capital Mexico City that by some counts tops the nation in kidnappings, have ranged from $13,000 to as low as $250, according to the state police. 

At such prices just about anyone can afford to be snatched.

“If there’s anything democratic in Morelos, it’s kidnapping,” says Gerardo Becerra, 56, a businessman who is leading a citizens’ anti-crime protest movement in Cuernavaca, the state capital once revered for its eternal spring-like weather and now known for insecurity. “It hits everyone equally.”

Becerra’s group is demanding the resignation of Gov. Graco Ramirez, who took office 18 months ago after campaigning on a vow to attack crime, particularly kidnapping. The group hopes to force a recall election in the fall, which if successful, would be Mexico’s first such removal of a governor by popular vote.

Some 1,700 kidnappings were reported across Mexico in 2013, nearly 10 percent of them in Morelos. Another 278 abductions were reported nationwide and 34 in Morelos in the first two months of this year, according to the government.

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Chayo's Nephew: Apatzingán Mayor Uriel Mendoza Arrested for Extortion


Chivís Martínez for Borderland Beat

Father Goyo must be smiling today as last night, the Attorney General of the State (PGJE) detained Uriel Mendoza Chavez, (above with Michoacán governor Fausto) mayor of Apatzingán for the  alleged  the crime of extortion.
In the statement issued by the state agency, the warrant issued by a judge of criminal cause charges that Mendoza had probable responsibility   in the commission of the crime of extortion perpetrated against  Ramón Santoyo Gallegos, José Martín Gómez Ramirez and Ricardo Reyna Martinez.
The victims were “regidores” instilled as political puppets in the Mendoza administration. 

Regidores, are similar to a board of directors, who vote on all   municipality issues.

Since January 2012, the men were forced to forward 20,000 MXN, of their pay, to “support the activities of the Templarios”.

Father Goyo, autodefensas leader of Apatzingán, has long accused Mendoza of extortion and led a group of self-defensemembers into city hall on March 4th demanding Mendoza resign, charging him, among other crimes, with extortion.

The mayor is a nephew of the now deceased premier leader of Caballeros Templarios, Nazario Moreno, El Chayo, and autodefensas charge he won the election because the other candidates were threatened or ran out of the municipality.

The victims reported that in January of 2012, Mendoza led them and council members to a location near the community of Las Punts in Apatzingán, where they were met by heavily armed men who identified themselves as members of the Templarios and said the 20,000 pesos a month (apx 1550USD) was needed to assist in the purchase of weapons, "leaving no choice to the offended to deliver the required amount," said the PGJE in the statement.

(above) In the March protest outside the Municipal Building, where his followers unfurled a banner that read:
"Uriel, Give us the 300 missing people seized by your municipal police, or tell us where they are so we can give them a Christian burial.''
Another Mayor arrested:
Noé Octavio Aburto Inclán of Tacámbaro was arrested for links to organized crime, with the help of federal forces, autodefensas liberated the community this week but have been a presence in the community since March 27th. 

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Santa Ana Calif. Michoacanos Vs. the Templarios

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 |

DD.  As reported yesterday in a story posted by Pepe on the Forum, the Attorney General's Office (PGR) imposed charges of 'organized crime in the form of terrorism' against AUC members of Yurécuaro, who were arrested for the murder of PAN mayor Tanhuato, Gustavo Garibay García, which occurred on 22 of March.

For the first time the PGR has filed charges that make it implicit that a community group of self-defense is a criminal organization that commits illegal such as terrorism.   On February 11, the Mexican Senate approved reform of the laws concerning terrorism.

The reform law provides jail terms of 15 to 40 years and fines from 27,000 to 80,000 pesos (roughly US$2,045 to $6056) for those who use chemical, biological or radioactive weapons or arms of any other kind to carry out acts that seek to generate fear among the population. The bill states that this punishment will be applied to those who “intentionally commit actions affecting public or private goods or services against the physical or emotional integrity of people, or their lives, that cause alarm, fear or terror in the population or in a group or sector of the population, that threaten national security or pressure the authorities or individuals to make a determination.” If the so-called terrorist attack affects publicly accessible property or the national economy or if hostages are taken, the penalty will be increased by half.

Critics of the new law fear that with such a vague definition in the Mexican security reform, the new law could be used to advance political agendas, suppress social manifestations, persecute opposition parties or individuals and silence critics.

How this relates to the Santa Ana Michoacanos was raised by Pepe in the Forum article when he asked : “Will paisanos sending assistance to AD's who don't disarm be open to U.S. charges of funding terrorism?”

That possibility remains a ticking time bomb.

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Attemps to reconcile "Americano" and "Hipolito" La Ruana groups fails

Monday, April 14, 2014 |

Borderland Beat
The Ruana version of the Hatfield vs Mc Coys, is a selfish, personal war destructive to the autodefensa movement.  In my opinion they should have been kicked out the federation as soon as their conflict became an issue that impacted the movement.....Take what either side says whith a massive barrel of salt.....But this will give you a peek at day to day life in La Ruana, population 10,000.....  Chivís

                                                       (Hipolito's brother in photo at left, Americano on right)
La Ruana, Michoacán -
The gathering takes place with 20 insults and 5 death threats each minute. On  one side of the plaza, adjacent to the bandstand, stand  Hipólito Mora’s people. On the other side, the followers of Luis Manuel Torres, aka "El Americano". In between both groups, no one, because the Federal Police "took a hike", as they say around here, as soon as the conflict began.

It’s after six in the afternoon. At 1p.m. there was another meeting that ended up with a small march to on of Torres' community roadblocks. Mora’s followers hoped to run them out of town. There was yelling, pushing and hitting. Mora’s followers, now headed by his brother Guadalupe, say that H3, the letter and number that identify the patrol cars used by Torres’s army, fired into the air and "the ground, near our feet", according to one the most daring ladies.

The problem is well known: mid-March, the self-defense groups of El Americano besieged those of Hipólito Mora, which were greatly outnumbered in people and arms, to arrest the founder of the self-defense groups and two of his men, who were accused of shooting and then burning Rafael Sanchez Moreno, El Pollo, and Jose Luis Torres Castaneda, the first one a reformed (ex-Templar converted into self-defense group member).

The siege lasted three days. On the second day, Mora was taken out by the government and later jailed, accused of being the intellectual author of the crimes. As the days went on, more accusations were added.

The local priest, Jose Luis Segura, says that since then things are worse than when the Templars were around, but the description is not exact: it’s hard to imagine during that time people would’ve had the courage to go out, as they do today, to demand that El Americano’s people leave town.

We have to say, it’s not everyone. The town is clearly divided. "Murderers!", Mora’s followers shout.

"Thieves!", answer El Americano’s people.

And who gave them permission?

La Jornada arrives around three thirty, when the initial commotion ends. A couple of men sitting under the shade dare to talk. All of a sudden, one of Torres’s men interrupts: "What are you writing there?", he asks, and snatches the notebook. He tries to read the scrawling writing. He makes out something one of the men just said about the government: "Hipolito was set up." It’s proof enough to take the reporter to El Americano.

The reporters are surrounded by about thirty armed men. Torres reviews the notebook. He stumbles on the writing. "What does it say here?", he asks several times. He says he doesn’t remember an interview done in January. Around him, several men complain and threaten. "Don't say anything more that’s good for Hipolito. They lie!"

After an exchange that seems to last forever, and with one simple look, he authorizes the journalists to be present. He even authorizes photographs of the assembly. Since he’s a man of few words, prior to the explanations El Americano had said: "And who gave you permission? Leave."

Four young men on motor scooters follow the reporters everywhere they go while they wait for the assembly to begin.

The point of the meeting is to decide if El Americano and his men should continue watching over the town and name a council that would theoretically have control over the self-defense groups. An important fact: there are no guns in sight.

The first one to speak, Guadalupe Mora asks that his people be placed on one side and his opponent’s on the other. And the shouting starts. They accuse him of dividing.

The deputy mayor, Ramon Contreras, adds his voice to Mora’s petition. He says this way the votes will be counted. "The one that wins, wins," he says.

The next one to speak is a courageous woman, whom some identify as El Pollo’s sister: "Who has the moral quality to decide who can live in this town and who can’t?" She also asks that no one on the council should have a heart full of rancor. She gets an ovation, but only naturally from the side of El Americano, who only shows up after the assembly has been going on for a while.

A follower of Torres speaks next and says: "If we are not wanted, we’ll leave. We won’t fight. We only need the town’s decision."

"Shut up, asshole!", someone shouts.

The speakers at the microphone are accompanied by shouts for sanity, insults, dead threats and even some punches between the biggest hotheads.

"The one that did harm needs to show his face," says an old man.

A pregnant woman in a miniskirt challenges those that went to her home and tried to throw her out to show their faces.

A chubby guy shouts his accusations against a "repentant" Knights Templar: "You killed him!" His father, on the bandstand with the accused, pleads: "Don’t kill him for that, please don’t kill him!"

A young man looks Hipóolito’s brother in the eye and says: "Lupe Mora is responsible for whatever happens to me or my family!"

A rotund woman accuses Hipólito of jailing her husband, accusing him of "stealing  " and using drugs: and "if he uses drugs, so what, if he buys drugs with his own money."

"Hipólito put me in jail because I refused to kill a guy, but I’m not a murderer," says an old, toothless, man.

The deputy mayor, who on February 24 still worked for Hipólito, wants to stop the discussion: "Are we going to do it or not? Hey, separate your people on this side," he tells Guadalupe Mora.

A space that looks more like an abyss starts opening up. It looks like Mora’s people are the majority, but the voting doesn’t take place because some demand there be ballot boxes.

Also, aside from the deputy mayor, the only authority present is Mayor Luis Torres, recently reinstated in his post thanks to an agreement with El Americano.

He takes the microphone and wants to be a mediator, but he can’t stand the shouts of "get out, get out!" He ends his small speech with: "11 thousand people voted for me, a group of 100 can’t tell me to leave," he says, stops talking and goes to the back row.

The government declared war on him

A speaker, older and short in stature, goes straight to the point: “We don’t want any Americanos here!”

"Cabron you live in McAllen [Texas], you don’t even know what’s going on in La Ruana," they yell back.

That’s when Luis Manuel Torres [El Americano] shows up, wearing a Lacoste 1927 cap and white sandals: "I’m from La Ruana and no one will make me leave."

He speaks little, but goes straight to the point: he says he knows they are going to do to him "the same thing that they did to Hipólito". And he says: "the law is useless."

El Americano and Lupe Mora try to reach an agreement. A repentant with Bvlgari glasses seems to be Torres’s consultant and proposes the creation of a council made up of people from both sides. They try to negotiate, but can’t reach an agreement, while the shouting continues below.

Let’s go, there is nothing to do here, says Lupe.

“Americano, Americano, Americano!”, shouts a group of women.

 Torres speaks again: "I’m going to keep watching, and if they sick the government on me, do it, let it come to try to disarm me and I will declare war against it."

When the assembly ends, Guadalupe Mora laments: "I called Commissioner Alfredo Castillo yesterday to ask him to send the Federal Police, and look, they left us alone."   

La Jornada: Arturo Cano-Translated by Ruby Izar-Shea

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Melissa with Kike Plancarte


Chivis Martínez for Borderland Beat


This video is the full length footage of a video posted on blogs and the mainstream news last week.  It features slain Templarios leader Enrique “Kike” Plancarte and his singer daughter Melissa.  This version is posted on Reforma.
Melissa was previously adamant in interviews, that she was not in touch with her father and had not seen him since she was 15. Few believed that to be true, or that she and her father were estranged; she only confirmed her parentage in 2012.
This video takes place somewhere in the Michoacán Sierras, where the singer is filming a video for a song released in 2013.  
Although there isn’t footage in the video of the two together, they appear being at the same setting, her “inside” and him out.
The video poster makes a case of them being together by pointing out the ambient noises being alike, namely a running motor, voices and a bird chirping.  Additionally a conversation is taped from two cameras between the two and the footage shows each perspective.

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10 die in Durango state

Sunday, April 13, 2014 |

A total of 10 individuals, eight of whom were from the same family were found dead or were killed in armed confrontations in Durango  state since Saturday, according to Mexican news accounts.

In a news report which appeared in El Diario de Coahuila news daily, eight siblings were found shot to death in Pueblo Nuevo municipality Saturday.

According to the report the dead were from the Duran Chamorro family and were found in the village of Balontita, which is near the border with Santa Rosario municipality in Sinaloa state.  A few of the dead were identified unofficially as Eusiquia, Bernardo, Erika, "Chuya", Cruz, Cecilia, Hermelinda and Samuel.

Also in Pueblo Nuevo, although the news report failed to state when, an individual identified as  Fidel Ortega, 44, was shot to death in the village of Los Naranjos.

A Mexican Army road patrol engaged and killed one armed suspect near the village of La Puerta in Pueblo Nuevo.  Another man, identified as  Lamberto Sarabia Cabrera, 20, was wounded in the encounter.

The 10 dead in Pueblo Nuevo municipality is the worse death toll since 2012, when a total of six armed suspects were killed in an intergang shootout in 2012.  A total of nine individuals were killed in that municipality in 2012.

Pueblo Nuevo sits astride Mexico Federal Highway 40, which links the Pacific seaport of Mazatlan to Durango city and points east.

This region of Durango is also part of the Golden Triangle in the western Mexican sierras, where drugs are grown and processed by most of Mexico's drug cartels.

Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for and He can be reached at

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