Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Monday, May 16, 2022

High-Ranking Union Tepito Captain Raúl ‘N’, alias "Mi Jefe" Arrested in Mexico City

"Ivan" for Borderland Beat

Journalist Antonio Nieto has reported on twitter that  Raúl ‘N’, whose alias is “Mi Jefe” or My Boss, was arrested in Mexico City. 

Nieto says “He was from the inner circle, the boss of bosses within the criminal structure and close to Betito” and “he is a high-ranking captain in the mafia and participated in the Nonoalco decapitations in 2018.”

Video Source: Antonio Nieto on Twitter

The FGE has released a statement about the arrest which reads as follows: 

As part of the operation, two other men were also arrested and doses of possible drugs were seized.

The Attorney General's Office of Mexico City (FGJCDMX) informs that the investigations carried out by agents of the Public Prosecutor's Office and the Investigation Police (PDI) resulted in the arrest of a person considered to be one of the main leaders of a criminal group that generates violence in the municipalities of Cuauhtémoc, Venustiano Carranza, Gustavo A. Madero, Iztapalapa, Miguel Hidalgo and Benito Juárez.

The arrest of this man took place during a search of a house located in the Clavería neighborhood, in the Azcapotzalco district, where agents of the Investigative Police seized doses of possible cocaine and bags with probable marijuana, as well as a long firearm and a car.

The Investigative Technique of Search and Seizure was derived from the investigations carried out by the Prosecutor's Office for the Investigation of Relevant Matters, of the General Coordination of Investigation of High Impact Crimes.

Properties located in Coyoacán, Venustiano Carranza, Iztacalco and Azcapotzalco, possibly used by a criminal group as sites for the storage and distribution of drugs, were also searched.

PDI agents went to a property located in the Prado Churubusco neighborhood, in the Coyoacan district, to execute the search warrant. According to the police report, upon noticing the presence of the authorities, a man left the place in a vehicle.

PDI detectives pursued him until they stopped him on Marina Nacional Avenue, Anáhuac Primera Sección neighborhood, in the Miguel Hidalgo district. The vehicle was secured.

In the inspected property, bags with probable marijuana inside, a long firearm and a magazine loaded with useful cartridges were seized.

In a property located in the Jardín Balbuena neighborhood, in the Venustiano Carranza district, two firearms were seized, one of them shotgun type, as well as possible marijuana and cocaine, distributed in plastic bags and doses, respectively. A third person was arrested at the site.

Regarding the other two properties inspected, in one of them, located in the Pro Hogar neighborhood, in the Azcapotzalco district, several vehicles were seized, as well as possible marijuana and a pink solid substance that could be some type of drug, while in the other, located in the Granjas Mexico neighborhood, in the Iztacalco district, bags with probable marijuana and a long firearm were seized.

The persons arrested and the evidence seized were handed over to the Public Prosecutor's Office for further investigation and analysis, in order to determine their legal status.

Sources: Antonio Nieto Post 1, Post 2, FGE Statement

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Clash in Mazamitla Leaves Two Young Men Dead

"Ivan" for Borderland Beat

MAZAMITLA, JALISCO - After the confrontations that took place early Saturday morning, May 14, on the border of Tuxcueca and Mazamitla, two young men were killed by gunshot wounds and are unidentified in the Semefo of Ciudad Guzmán.

One of the deceased appears to be approximately 20 to 25 years old, of slim build, short hair, with black round earrings, and a tattoo on his right forearm with the legend "OFELIA".

The other victim appears to be between 20 and 25 years old, of slim build, short hair, with several tattoos, one located on the left forearm with the figure of a watch and the text "Dulce Vianay".

Any information leading to his official identification would be appreciated at the Instituto Jalisciense de Ciencias Forenses, corner of Zaragoza and Humboldt streets in Ciudad Guzman, telephone (341) 41 283 00.

Source: La Voz del Sur

San Diego, California: ‘Fully Operational’ Cross-Border Drug Tunnel Found

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

Tijuana police and members of Mexico’s National Guard discovered a drug tunnel late Saturday, calling it “fully operational.”

The tunnel’s exit point on the U.S. side is located inside an industrial warehouse just east of the commercial side of the Otay Mesa Port of Entry and about 200 yards north of the border.

Members of the U.S. Border Tunnel Task Force are conducting the investigation on behalf of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

This group of investigators is made up of agents from various law enforcement agencies throughout San Diego County, including the U.S. Border Patrol, Drug Enforcement Administration, San Diego Sheriff’s Department, and San Diego Police Department.

The drug tunnel’s exit point on the U.S. side of the border is located inside this warehouse just east of the Otay Mesa Port of Entry.

According to police in Tijuana, the tunnel was being used for running drugs into the U.S., and other “illicit activities.”

Agents on the U.S. side of the border declined to comment on the tunnel or what they had found so far, though they did promise that more information about the tunnel would be made public Monday morning.

Including the tunnel found last night, almost 90 drug tunnels have been located between San Diego and Tijuana since 2009, with almost 200 throughout the southern border.

Most of the tunnels discovered have been equipped with extensive lighting and ventilation systems, rails and pulleys to move illegal merchandise across the border.

border report

CBP Involved Shooting at Bridge of the Americas Border Entry in El Paso, Texas

"Socalj" for Borderland Beat

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers fired gunshots at a vehicle that sped into Mexico on Saturday evening on the Bridge of the Americas, an agency spokesperson said.

The shooting occurred at 5:11 p.m. while CBP officers were inspecting southbound traffic on the U.S. side of the international bridge at the El Paso-Juárez border. CBP regularly checks vehicles heading to Mexico looking for stolen autos, firearms, and drug-cash smuggling.

"While attempting to inspect a vehicle, a driver made an abrupt movement, at which point the officers perceived a threat to themselves and fired at the driver who fled from the inspection area at a high rate of speed and crossed into Mexico," a CBP spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Two CBP officers fired their weapons during the confrontation, which is under investigation by the agency's Office of Professional Responsibility, officials said. The movement made by the driver was not explained. The white SUV escaped over the busy international bridge into Juárez. Juárez news reports indicated that the vehicle was found by Mexican authorities. CBP said that it was unknown if the driver or any occupants of the vehicle were injured by the gunfire. 

Border travelers on social media reported hearing seven gunshots and seeing CBP officers running and speculated that shots were fired at the federal officers. No shots were fired by the driver and the matter remains under investigation, a CBP spokesman said.

Recent El Paso Border Busts

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at El Paso area ports of entry seized cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana, and fentanyl and arrested 30 fugitives over the last week.

“The enforcement efforts at our ports of entry remains high,” said CBP El Paso Director Field Operations Hector A. Mancha. “Our frontline officers remain dedicated to the CBP mission as they continue to disrupt the flow of narcotics and apprehend fugitives all while facilitating the flow of lawful trade and travel.”

On April 30, CBP officers working at the Paso Del Norte border crossing intercepted 57 pounds of methamphetamine from a 70-year-old male U.S. citizen. A total of 51 bundles were discovered hidden throughout the vehicle.

Later that day, CBP officers working at the Ysleta border crossing intercepted five pounds of methamphetamine and six pounds of heroin from a 30-year-old male U.S. citizen. Following a CBP canine alert and non-intrusive inspection of the vehicle, CBP Officers discovered a total of eight bundles hidden within the vehicle.

On May 2, CBP officers working at the Ysleta border crossing intercepted 26 pounds of cocaine from a 19-year-old male U.S. citizen. Following a CBP canine alert and non-intrusive inspection of the vehicle, CBP Officers discovered ten bundles hidden within the vehicle.

On May 3, CBP officers working at the Paso Del Norte border crossing intercepted 0.28 pounds of fentanyl from an individual via pedestrian. The fentanyl was discovered hidden in the groin area of the individual.

On May 5, CBP officers working at the Port of Presidio Texas intercepted three pounds of liquid methamphetamine. The methamphetamine was concealed inside a bottle of liquor. Later that day, CBP officers working at the Bridge of the Americas border crossing intercepted 12 pounds of cocaine from an 18-year-old male U.S. citizen. Following a CBP canine alert and non-intrusive inspection of the vehicle, CBP officers discovered four bundles hidden within the vehicle. The narcotics and vehicle were seized by CBP, and the driver was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations for prosecution.

On May 6, CBP officers working at the Paso Del Norte border crossing intercepted 95 pounds of marijuana from a 37-year-old female U.S. citizen. Following a CBP canine alert, CBP officers discovered 85 bundles hidden in the engine area.

Additionally, CBP officers arrested 30 fugitives from justice this week. The arrests made were for possession of heroin, dangerous drugs, assault, hit and run, fraud, and injury to the elderly. Subjects arrested by CBP officers were turned over to local and federal authorities to face charges.

Source El Paso Times, CBP

1.8 Tons of Cocaine Belonging to Clan del Golfo Seized by Colombian Navy

"Socalj" for Borderland Beat

It is estimated that the Clan del Golfo cartel has lost over $2 billion due to drug seizures so far in 2022, as well as the recent extradition of its leader "Otoniel".

In the last few hours, the Colombian Navy confirmed that 1,884 kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride were seized in two operations carried out in Cartagena, Bolívar against organizations dedicated to drug trafficking. According to the authorities, this shipment was valued at more than 113 million dollars.

In the first operation of the day, it was possible to intercept "a suspicious vessel" that would have departed from the Colombian coast transporting the narcotics. The Navy deployed the Rapid Reaction Unit of the Cartagena Coast Guard Station in the area. At the time of the operation, the subjects who were piloting it fled in a boat, leaving it adrift in the Tierra Bomba sector, in the capital of Bolívar.

The boat was towed by the authorities to the Cartagena Coast Guard Station, where the inspection process was carried out. In total, 18 tulas were found, which contained 567 rectangular packages. When subjected to the "Approved Preliminary Identification Tests (PIPH)", the Technical Investigation Corps (CTI) of the Prosecutor's Office verified that it was 567 kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride.

The second operation took place 35 nautical miles from the sea buoy in Cartagena and was carried out in coordination with the Colombian Air Force and the National Police. A container was detected onboard a ship traveling to the Dominican Republic and allegedly transporting drugs in that sector. The Cartagena Coast Guard and the Anti-Narcotics Police inspected the shipment, "finding inside 46 sacks with 1,317 rectangular packages apparently containing narcotic substances."

Preliminary investigations indicated that the shipment would be destined for Rotterdam, in the Netherlands. The shipment was transported to the Cartagena Coast Guard Station, and after the tests, a total of 1,317 kilograms of cocaine were weighed. Although no arrests were made in the operations, the seized material was made available to the competent authorities.

It is estimated that with these two operations, which exceed 1.8 tons of drugs, more than 4.7 million doses stopped circulating on the illegal international market. So far this year, the Caribbean Naval Force has confiscated more than 59 tons of cocaine hydrochloride in this region of the country, which is reflected in losses of more than 2,000 million dollars for the financial muscle of the Gulf clan.

"The Colombian Navy ratifies its commitment to the development of offensive operations against the scourge of drug trafficking and its related crimes, counteracting the actions of the Organized Armed Groups that seek to end the stability and tranquility of the inhabitants of the Colombian Caribbean," he concluded. the institution in an official statement.

Source Infobae

Failed Attempt To Capture Gulf Cartel's Octavio Leal Causes Road Blockades in Tamaulipas

"HEARST", "Ivan" and "Itzli" for Borderland Beat 

Octavio Leal Moncada, one of the leaders of Gulf Catel’s Hidalgo faction according to leaked National Guard intelligence, was almost arrested on Friday but he managed to escape after members of the autodefensa group he leads created blockades on Highway 85.

The Attempted Arrest in Victoria 

On Friday, May 13, 2022, state Attorney General’s Office agents tried to arrest the allegedly-cartel-associated leader of the group Columna Armada, Octavio Leal Moncada. 

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Centerville, Texas: This Isn't The First Time Escaped Convict Gonzalo Lopez Has Successfully Gotten Away From Law Enforcement

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

Gonzalo Lopez, 46, has hidden from law enforcement before. His history includes shooting at a deputy in 2004 and killing a man with a pickax on cartel orders.

The escaped convict who was able to stab a prison guard in the hand and run from a crashed prison bus in Leon County has a violent criminal history, records show.

Gonzalo Lopez, 46, is serving back-to-back life sentences for shooting a Webb County, Texas sheriff's deputy in 2004 and killing a man with a pickax in Hidalgo County after holding him ransom on a drug debt, KGNS-TV reported.

Lopez was being transported Thursday from the Alfred Hughes Unit outside of Gatesville in central Texas to a prison medical facility in Huntsville when he was able to get loose and stab the bus driver in the hand and chest. He drove off in the bus but didn't get far thanks to another guard who shot out its back tires with a shotgun. Lopez lost control and crashed on Highway 7, outside of Centerville.

Lopez's prison history in Texas dates back to 1994 when he was convicted of multiple felonies including aggravated assault and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle in Hidalgo County. He was sentenced in 1996 and served time inside a Texas Department of Criminal Justice facility, records show.

2006 Capital murder conviction

In 2005, Lopez was arrested in connection with the kidnapping and shooting death of Lupe Ramirez in Weslaco. 

Ramirez was taken by two men at gunpoint who later demanded a $40,000 ransom for his release. Lopez was one of the two men involved, authorities said. Investigators said Ramirez was wanted dead due to owing money to the cartel for a drug shipment.

A month after the abduction, Lopez was arrested in Starr County on unrelated drug possession charges and told a Texas Ranger that he had kidnapped and killed Ramirez, according to court records.

Lopez led investigators to the place where he said he killed Ramirez with a pickax and buried his body. 

Investigators found Ramirez's body buried about four feet deep. His hands were tied together with rope that also covered his mouth and neck.

Lopez told investigators the kidnapping and killing were ordered by associates who belonged to the La Mana drug cartel from Tamaulipas, Mexico.

He was sentenced to life in prison in 2006.

2004 deputy shooting

Lopez told investigators in 2004 that he and another man he identified as Luis Carlos Mares, were on their way to kill someone in Laredo when a Webb County deputy sheriff attempted to pull them over.

In a written statement, Lopez said Mares opened fire on the deputy while he held the steering wheel during the chase. Eventually, their car ran out of gas and Lopez was able to escape into the brush and run for several hours.

He was able to hide from law enforcement while on foot until the next day when he called a cartel associate to pick him up.

Lopez was able to hide in Laredo, Rio Grande City, and Mexico with the help of the cartel.

Both Lopez and Mares were eventually taken into custody after a confidential informant pointed investigators to the two men.

Prior to his Thursday escape in Leon County, Lopez wasn't eligible for parole until April 2045, according to TDCJ records.

Read Lopez's court documents below:


Friday, May 13, 2022

Los Angeles, California: 2 Maintenance Workers Die After Fentanyl Exposure At Downtown LA Apartment Complex

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

Two men are dead after police believe they may have been exposed to fentanyl. 

Two maintenance workers are dead after police believe they may have been exposed to fentanyl at a downtown Los Angeles apartment complex.

The Los Angeles Police Department responded to a hazmat call in the 800 block of South Olive Street a little before 11 a.m. Thursday. When officers arrived at the apartment complex, they found two unconscious men.

Both men, who were maintenance workers at the building, were pronounced dead at the scene.

Officials have not released their identities. It is unknown how the two workers got exposed to fentanyl.

As of Thursday night, no arrests have been announced in connection to the deadly fentanyl exposure.

fox la

DEA Investigates Potential Hack of Law Enforcement Inquiry System

"Socalj" for Borderland Beat

Unidentified hackers shared this screenshot of alleged access to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s intelligence-sharing portal.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) says it is investigating reports that hackers gained unauthorized access to an agency portal that taps into 16 different federal law enforcement databases. KrebsOnSecurity has learned the alleged compromise is tied to a cybercrime and online harassment community that routinely impersonates police and government officials to harvest personal information on their targets.

On May 8, KrebsOnSecurity received a tip that hackers obtained a username and password for an authorized user of, which is the Law Enforcement Inquiry and Alerts (LEIA) system managed by the DEA. KrebsOnSecurity shared information about the allegedly hijacked account with the DEA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Department of Justice, which houses both agencies. The DEA declined to comment on the validity of the claims, issuing only a brief statement in response.

“DEA takes cyber security and information of intrusions seriously and investigates all such reports to the fullest extent,” the agency said in a statement shared via email. According to this page at the Justice Department website, LEIA “provides federated search capabilities for both EPIC and external database repositories,” including data classified as “law enforcement sensitive” and “mission sensitive” to the DEA.

A document published by the Obama administration in May 2016 (PDF) says the DEA’s El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) systems in Texas are available for use by federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement, as well as the Department of Defense and intelligence community. EPIC and LEIA also have access to the DEA’s National Seizure System (NSS), which the DEA uses to identify property thought to have been purchased with the proceeds of criminal activity (think fancy cars, boats, and homes seized from drug kingpins).

“The EPIC System Portal (ESP) enables vetted users to remotely and securely share intelligence, access the National Seizure System, conduct data analytics, and obtain information in support of criminal investigations or law enforcement operations,” the 2016 White House document reads. “Law Enforcement Inquiry and Alerts (LEIA) allows for a federated search of 16 Federal law enforcement databases.”

The screenshots shared with this author indicate the hackers could use EPIC to look up a variety of records, including those for motor vehicles, boats, firearms, aircraft, and even drones. Claims about the purloined DEA access were shared with this author by “KT,” the current administrator of the Doxbin — a highly toxic online community that provides a forum for digging up personal information on people and posting it publicly.

As KrebsOnSecurity reported earlier this year, the previous owner of the Doxbin has been identified as the leader of LAPSUS$, a data extortion group that hacked into some of the world’s largest tech companies this year — including Microsoft, NVIDIA, Okta, Samsung, and T-Mobile.

That reporting also showed how the core members of LAPSUS$ were involved in selling a service offering fraudulent Emergency Data Requests (EDRs), wherein the hackers use compromised police and government email accounts to file warrantless data requests with social media firms, mobile telephony providers, and other technology firms, attesting that the information being requested can’t wait for a warrant because it relates to an urgent matter of life and death.

From the standpoint of individuals involved in filing these phony EDRs, access to databases and user accounts within the Department of Justice would be a major coup. But the data in EPIC would probably be far more valuable to organized crime rings or drug cartels, said Nicholas Weaver, a researcher for the International Computer Science Institute at the University of California, Berkeley.

Weaver said it’s clear from the screenshots shared by the hackers that they could use their access not only to view sensitive information but also to submit false records to law enforcement and intelligence agency databases. “I don’t think these [people] realize what they got, how much money the cartels would pay for access to this,” Weaver said. “Especially because as a cartel you don’t search for yourself you search for your enemies so that even if it’s discovered there is no loss to you of putting things ONTO the DEA’s radar.”


The login page for (above) suggests that authorized users can access the site using a “Personal Identity Verification” or PIV card, which is a fairly strong form of authentication used government-wide to control access to federal facilities and information systems at each user’s appropriate security level.

However, the EPIC portal also appears to accept just a username and password, which would seem to radically diminish the security value of requiring users to present (or prove possession of) an authorized PIV card. Indeed, KT said the hacker who obtained this illicit access was able to log in using the stolen credentials alone, and that at no time did the portal prompt for a second authentication factor.

It’s not clear why there are still sensitive government databases being protected by nothing more than a username and password, but I’m willing to bet big money that this DEA portal is not only offender here. The DEA portal is listed on Page 87 of a Justice Department “data inventory,” which catalogs all of the data repositories that correspond to DOJ agencies.

There are 3,330 results. Granted, only some of those results are login portals, but that’s just within the Department of Justice. If we assume for the moment that state-sponsored foreign hacking groups can gain access to sensitive government intelligence in the same way as teenage hacker groups like LAPSUS$, then it is long past time for the U.S. federal government to perform a top-to-bottom review of authentication requirements tied to any government portals that traffic in sensitive or privileged information.

I’ll say it because it needs to be said: The United States government is in urgent need of leadership on cybersecurity at the executive branch level — preferably someone who has the authority and political will to eventually disconnect any federal government agency data portals that fail to enforce strong, multi-factor authentication.

I realize this may be far more complex than it sounds, particularly when it comes to authenticating law enforcement personnel who access these systems without the benefit of a PIV card or government-issued device (state and local authorities, for example). It’s not going to be as simple as just turning on multi-factor authentication for every user, thanks in part to a broad diversity of technologies being used across the law enforcement landscape.

But when hackers can plunder 16 law enforcement databases, arbitrarily send out law enforcement alerts for specific people or vehicles, or potentially disrupt ongoing law enforcement operations — all because someone stole, found, or bought a username and password — it’s time for drastic measures.

Sources Krebon Security

More Than $18M In Meth Found In Single Tractor Trailer

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

More than $18 million worth of methamphetamines were discovered inside of a semi truck at the border over the weekend. 

The discovery was made on the World Trade Bridge connecting Laredo, Texas to Nuevo Laredo in Mexico on Saturday, May 7th. 

According to KSAT News, a 2013 International semi truck was hauling stainless steel scrap metal into the US when it was inspected by Border Patrol agents. A K9 officer and imaging system were used to reveal 912.82 pounds of alleged methamphetamine hidden inside of the trailer. 

The 33-year-old Mexican truck driver was promptly arrested, but his identity and the charges against him have not been released. 

The estimated street value of the drugs in question amount to approximately  $18,253,206.

cdl life

El Gary from Los Talibanes, Ally of Operativo MZ, Killed in Guadalupe, Zacatecas

"HEARST" and "Itzli" for Borderland Beat 

A cartel lieutenant named Gary ‘N’, alias “El Gary”, was killed by FGJ agents in the municipality of Guadalupe, in the state of Zacatecas. 

El Gary worked as a lieutenant and plaza boss under Martín Del Río, the leader of one of the two rival Los Talibanes groups. Their Talibanes group is allied to the Sinaloa Cartel subgroup Operativo MZ/Los Flechas, who work under Ismael Zambada García, alias “El Mayo” . 

The Shooting that Killed El Gary

On Tuesday, May 10, 2022, investigative agents working for the state Attorney General’s Office (FGE) were working within the town of Guadalupe when they spotted El Gary driving inside a BMW sedan, accompanied by a female passenger. The agents tried to pull him over for a stop but El Gary refused to stop his vehicle. Instead he sped up and the agents gave chase in their own vehicle.

Cartels In Oregon Are Morphing Their Pot-Growing Ops, Police Say

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

FILE - Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel stands amid the debris of plastic hoop houses destroyed by law enforcement, used to grow cannabis illegally, near Selma, Ore., on June 16, 2021. Jackson County Commissioners are discussing potential legislation that could tackle the issue of illegal grows.

Foreign drug cartels that established illegal outdoor marijuana farms in Oregon last year are adapting as pressure on them begins to mount, law enforcement officials said Thursday.

New challenges are emerging as a task force created by the Legislature met for the first time to figure out how to combat cannabis-related problems, some of which threaten Oregon's legal, regulated recreational marijuana industry.

The Task Force on Cannabis-Derived Intoxicants and Illegal Cannabis Production is also responsible for recommending funding and command structure to enable law enforcement to combat illegal cannabis production, changes to state laws to address labor trafficking and water theft by the cartel-financed pot farms and regulations on genetic engineering of cannabis, among other issues.

“It started with a simple ask of help and it’s turned into, ‘Oh, my goodness, there’s so much to deal with.’ And so I think we just have to kind of take one at a time,” said state Rep. Lily Morgan, a Republican from the southern town of Grants Pass, as the task force met via video link.

One of the biggest problems is the recent proliferation of illegal, industrial-sized marijuana farms.

In early 2021, hundreds of greenhouses began cropping up in southern Oregon's Josephine and Jackson counties — some within city limits, others brazenly established along highways or tucked into remote valleys.

They were not licensed by the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission and are financed by foreign criminal cartels, from Latin America, Europe and Asia, authorities have said. There were more pot farms than overwhelmed law enforcement officials could take down. Indoor illegal growing operations have long existed indoors, but now criminal gangs are pushing more in that direction, enabling them to grow year-round, a task force member said.

“We’re starting to hear about Josephine County, a lot of operations moving indoors,” said Oregon State Police Sgt. Tyler Bechtel. "It makes it all that much harder to see it from the street, see it from the air, just smell it. And it’s not a seasonal problem when you move indoors. It’s a year-round problem.”

Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel, though, said he hasn't heard of cartels operating in his county moving to indoor grows and are instead lowering their profile by establishing more numerous smaller grow operations.

“They seem to be diversifying and spreading out operations to many small grows to avoid the attention,” Daniel said in an email to The Associated Press. “We anticipated this change as we have primarily been focusing on the large grows and now smaller ones. It is a good business move for them and will slow us down.”

The state police have identified dozens of ethnic-based drug trafficking organizations, each operating between five and 30 marijuana grow sites, Bechtel said.

Giving an idea of the scope of the problem, the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission says 551,000 marijuana plants were seized in Jackson County, Josephine County and central Oregon's Deschutes County from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021. And that was a tiny fraction of the illegal crop. Authorities also seized almost $3.4 million in cash in the raids.

“Despite legal avenues for purchases and sales of marijuana within Oregon, an illegal marijuana market continues to cause public safety concerns, including diversion of marijuana to other states, sales of marijuana to underage buyers, illegal cultivation of marijuana on private, state, and federal property, and enrichment of organized criminal operations,” the commission said in a report.

The report examined results after an outlay of millions of dollars in grants to the three counties to address increasing unlawful marijuana cultivation and distribution operations in Oregon. The commission said it could not judge the effectiveness of the grant program “because the illegal marijuana market is an especially nebulous sector to evaluate.”

The Task Force must provide its findings to an interim committee of the Legislature by Dec. 31, 2022


Drug Cartel Ties: Feds Say Local Suspects Linked To Sinaloa Cartel

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

Federal authorities have said that a group of people in Indiana who were indicted on drug trafficking and money laundering charges late last month had ties to a Mexican drug cartel that was once run by notorious leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman — including four people in Bartholomew and Jackson counties.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Indianapolis announced April 29 that 18 people from Indiana are facing charges for allegedly conspiring to distribute methamphetamine and other drugs in Bartholomew County and elsewhere in central and southern Indiana. Nine are accused of laundering proceeds of the conspiracy.

Photo provided Federal agents confiscated this cocaine in Chicago in acase involving a Columbus resident, who was also arrested

The announcement was made a day after raids were conducted in Columbus, Seymour, Terre Haute, Indianapolis and Detroit. Suspects include two people from Columbus, two from Seymour, 11 from Indianapolis, one from Terre Haute, one from Phoenix and one from Mexico.

The announcement was made a day after raids were conducted in Columbus, Seymour, Terre Haute, Indianapolis and Detroit. Suspects include two people from Columbus, two from Seymour, 11 from Indianapolis, one from Terre Haute, one from Phoenix and one from Mexico.

An additional six people face state drug charges in Bartholomew and Jackson counties, federal authorities said.

Drug Enforcement Administration officials told The Republic that the individuals facing federal charges have ties to the Sinaloa Cartel, which experts say controls a wholesale distribution network in the U.S. and elsewhere to get drugs into the hands of local street dealers.

Some local officials, including Bartholomew County Sheriff Matt Myers, said people with ties to the cartel may still be operating locally.

“This is a big hit,” Myers said. “But I want people to know, locally, that the cartel is in Columbus, Indiana.”

“There are cartels presently here,” Myers added. “They’ve been here. They’re organized, and there’s probably cartel (members) here right now that we don’t even know (about).”

The suppliers

Officials declined to discuss the specifics of the case as it makes it way through federal court, but said the investigation resulted in the seizure of about 82 pounds of methamphetamine, 1,750 fentanyl pills, 35 grams of fentanyl, 1 kilogram of cocaine, 4 pounds of marijuana, “a large quantity” of suspected THC gummies, $9,000 in cash and nine guns.

As of Wednesday, no further details on the case had emerged in federal court filings.

Mike Gannon, assistant special agent in charge at the DEA’s Indianapolis Field Office, said the suspects were “some of the biggest suppliers” of drugs in Bartholomew and Jackson counties — including methamphetamine and fentanyl, a opioid that is more potent than heroin which officials say is one of the main culprits of a record surge in local overdose deaths in recent years — including at least 101 deaths since 2019.

“The outer counties were being supplied with significant quantities of methamphetamine from high-level sources in Indianapolis and then, of course, the ties back to Mexico,” Gannon said.

Gannon said the arrests and indictments were the culmination of a “long-term” investigation in collaboration with local law enforcement agencies, including the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department, Columbus Police 

Department, Seymour Police Department, among others.

“The partners were able to work with care and try to make a difference in our community, just like DEA. It was extraordinary work.” Gannon said. “…We’re going to continue to work hand in hand with Seymour police, Columbus police, Bartholomew County (Sheriff’s Department) and all our state and local partners to do what we need to do to combat this problem.”

Latest arrests

The announcement of the arrests came just over a year after federal, state and local law enforcement said they had dismantled a drug trafficking network in the Columbus area with ties to a Mexican drug cartel, leading to about 60 arrests — including at least 36 federal indictments and 23 local prosecutions — and 25 federal convictions.

Named “Operation Columbus Day,” the investigation is believed to be the largest multi-agency drug investigation in Bartholomew County history.

It is unclear whether the 18 people recently indicted in federal court had any connection to Operation Columbus Day.

At least one of the people who was indicted — Allison Perdue — had been around one man who pleaded guilty to federal drug trafficking charges as a result of Operation Columbus Day.

Perdue, 24, was identified in a probable cause affidavit in 2018 as yelling “(expletive) the police” while a Columbus police officer wrestled Bryan Miranda-Alvidrez to the ground as a loaded 40-caliber Smith &Wesson pistol slid down the suspect’s pants.

Miranda-Alvidrez was later indicted and pleaded guilty to two counts of distributing 50 grams or more of methamphetamine and sentenced to 10 years in prison. He is serving time at a federal prison in Terre Haute, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Besides Perdue, who was living in Seymour, other local residents facing federal charges stemming from the arrests last month include Abel Ayala-Garcia, 31, of Columbus; Claudio Garcia-Morales, 35, of Columbus; and Victor Vazquez-Hernandez, 41, of Seymour.

All four were arrested within minutes of each other on the morning of April 28 and booked into the Bartholomew County Jail before being turned over to federal authorities.

Ayala-Garcia was arrested at 112 N. Hughes St., a few blocks from Columbus East High School, while Garcia-Morales was taken into custody at 2313 Maple St., just south of Columbus North High School. Perdue and Vazquez-Hernandez were arrested at undisclosed locations in Seymour.

Arrests ensue

The first local arrests of suspects named in the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s announcement took place a few months ago, court records show.

In February, Zachariah Farris, 36, of Seymour and Samantha Farris, 34, of Seymour were arrested after allegedly selling methamphetamine to a police informant twice, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Also in February, Daniel Parrish, 35, and Mariah Crowe, 39, both of Semyour, were arrested after a Jackson County Sheriff’s deputy found methamphetamine and paraphernalia during a traffic stop.

All four face felony state charges for dealing methamphetamine.

Another arrest came shortly before midnight on April 14, when a Bartholomew County Sheriff’s deputy parked in the median of Interstate 65 near Indiana Premium Outlets in Edinburgh was notified that a blue Honda traveling northbound had switched lanes without properly signaling.

Not long after, the deputy spotted the vehicle heading north on Interstate 65 and performed a traffic stop. As the deputy began questioning the driver, later identified as Antonio Cuautle-Cuenca, 37, of Indianapolis, he noticed an open can of Modelo beer in the center console.

Cuautle-Cuenca told the officer that he had been drinking and did not have a driver’s license. He later assured the officer that there was nothing illegal in the vehicle. However, the deputy found a glass pipe with residue under the driver’s seat cover.

A can of Red Bull also caught the officers’ attention, as it was heavy but didn’t appear to have any liquid inside. The can had a top that could be unscrewed. Inside, there were “several bags containing a crystal substance” that later tested positive for methamphetamine. Other bags containing what appeared to be methamphetamine were found in the vehicle, including inside a pack of cigarettes.

As of Monday, Cuautle-Cuenca, who is facing state felony charge of dealing methamphetamine, was still being held in the Bartholomew County Jail on $1.23 million bond.

It is unclear the extent to which the individuals facing charges were involved with the suspects who have been charged in federal court. Officials declined to comment because the investigation is ongoing.

From Mexico

Local and federal officials viewed the indictments as a further indication cartels have broadened drug distribution beyond major urban areas and are increasingly setting up shop in smaller cities.

Mexican cartels took over the U.S. methamphetamine trade in recent years, replacing the patchwork of “mom and pop” meth labs across the U.S. with clandestine, industrial-scale labs in Mexico, according to the DEA.

“They have dispatched people all over the United States,” Gannon said. “…They’re mass producing methamphetamine at the highest levels of purity. They’re mass producing fentanyl, and counterfeit fentanyl pills and then they have flooded the United States with it.”

“Certain people will be responsible for supplying certain areas,” Gannon added. “…You will see individuals who try to take over certain areas or supply certain areas, because you know, if you’re in Indianapolis, and you’re looking to supply drugs or other counties, you may be making more money (in other counties) than you would get on a price out of Indianapolis or a price from Chicago.”

Now, drug traffickers are increasingly mixing fentanyl into other drugs and counterfeit pills that are made to have the appearance of prescription medications like Xanax and pain medications, Gannon said, adding that a fatal dose of fentanyl “can fit on the tip of a pencil.”

“You don’t want to be in a situation where you’re taking any type of prescription medication unless you went to a doctor and you were examined by a physician,” Gannon said.

If people are getting the pills from a drug dealer on the street, “you just have to assume it’s being laced with fentanyl because we’re here to tell you that they’re being mass produced by these same cartels,” Gannon said.

By mail, highway or plane

Federal, state and local authorities have intercepted drugs in sent through the mail to numerous addresses throughout Bartholomew County. Law enforcement in Indiana and elsewhere have found drugs concealed in the nooks and crannies of vehicles heading east through Illinois on Interstate 70, as well as south from Indianapolis and north from Louisville on I- 65.

“Fentanyl is being shipped here through the mail,” Myers said. “It’s being brought up from the southwest border with Mexico. It’s coming up (Interstate) 65. Every night, our street guys are making arrests from people that have fentanyl or meth or stuff on them.”

Drugs also have also arrived in Indiana on private jets, including one that flew from Mexico to Gary multiple times as part of a drug pipeline that authorities say involved a Columbus resident.

This past November, DEA agents were staking out an undisclosed hotel in downtown Chicago about a block from the city’s famed Magnificent Mile shopping district when a 2015 Toyota Highlander with an Indiana plate pulled up near the hotel.

The driver of the vehicle, later identified as Columbus resident Rodrigo Alexis Jimenez-Perez, 26, got out and helped a suspect the agents had under surveillance load a suitcase that “appeared to be significantly weighted down” into the trunk.

The agents had been following the suspect since he arrived at Gary/Chicago International Airport in a private jet a couple hours before on a flight from Mexico that stopped over in Houston that officials suspected had millions of dollars of cocaine on board.

Jimenez-Perez had been booked into Bartholomew County Jail in January 2018 on charges of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated and released two days later. But nearly five years later, DEA agents were following him as drove through one of Chicago’s upscale neighborhoods.

The agents performed a traffic stop and found about approximately 176 pounds of cocaine in the trunk. A search of the other suspect’s hotel room netted an additional 44 pounds of cocaine. Currently, a criminal case against Jimenez-Perez is pending in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

the republic

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Former DEA Agent Sentenced to 11 Years for Accepting Bribes from Drug Trafficker

"Socalj" for Borderland Beat

DEA Agent Nathan Koen became group supervisor of the Little Rock, Arkansas office in 2016.

The Office of the United States Attorney announced Wednesday that a former Drug Enforcement Administration agent was sentenced for accepting bribes from a drug trafficker. Nathan Koen, 45, now of Auburn, Illinois, was sentenced to 135 months in federal prison by United States District Judge Brian S. Miller.

According to a press release, Koen was charged by a federal grand jury in November 2019 with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine, and one count of bribery of a public official. In August 2021, officials said he pleaded guilty to bribery in exchange for dismissal of the drug-related charge.

During the sentencing hearing, Judge Miller found that Koen accepted bribes from a known, large-scale drug trafficker for the purpose of helping facilitate a drug conspiracy and that the conspiracy involved at least 15 to 45 kilograms of methamphetamine.

The official document stated the drug trafficker testified during the hearing and explained that he believed Koen provided was providing sensitive, law-enforcement information, which helped the trafficker avoid detection by law enforcement and run his drug organization. The drug trafficker, who is in federal custody, also stated that his organization was responsible for distributing kilogram quantities of methamphetamine cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, and marijuana.

"This defendant's actions are a disgrace to the thousands of dedicated law enforcement officers who work with integrity every day to protect and serve our communities," United States Attorney Jonathan D. Ross said. "His greed and deception have no place in law enforcement, and we are pleased to see this case come to its rightful conclusion."

As reported by Borderland Beat, the FBI began investigating Koen, who had been working for DEA since 2002 and had transferred in 2016 to work as a group supervisor in the Little Rock DEA office from Jacksonville, Florida. FBI agents interviewed the drug trafficker who told law enforcement he had paid Koen cash for information and protection related to his drug-trafficking activities.

The complaint is largely based on alleged interactions between Koen and dealer turned informant, Francisco Benitez, between late 2016 and October 2017. Benitez was arrested in Duval County in 2012, where a jail inmate put him in touch with Koen, according to the complaint. Benítez told investigators he would pay Koen for “top cover protection,” which included running the names of Benitez’s drug associates thought DEA databases to determine whether they were “safe” for him to do business with.

Court documents said the drug trafficker told FBI agents he had been in custody on federal drug charges in 2013-2014 when another inmate told him he should contact Koen and offer to work as an informant, which he did. After his case was resolved, the informant resumed distributing large amounts of heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana, and cocaine in Florida, California, Arkansas, and elsewhere, while making payments to Koen for protection.

According to authorities, the informant paid approximately $31,500 to Koen before he began cooperating with the FBI. The informant began working with the FBI, and he agreed to set up a controlled delivery of a bribe payment to Koen. Koen and the informant agreed to meet in Las Vegas on December 3, 2018.

FBI agents said they equipped the informant with $9,000 cash and multiple audio recording devices. Koen and the informant met on the sidewalk across from the Bellagio hotel and walked together to the Paris Las Vegas hotel, where they went inside a bathroom away from casino cameras. Once inside, officials said the informant placed the cash in Koen's backpack, and they left the hotel, each going in different directions.

Recordings of the encounter revealed that Koen asked the informant, "Did you make this worth it?" "The informant responded, "Come on, man, you know I always make it worth it for you." Koen responded, 'I know." Officials said Koen also advised the informant that he should get rid of all his phones and change his address because he expected a search warrant to be executed at his home soon. Koen was arrested when he returned to Arkansas later that day, and he admitted to accepting bribes from the informant.

"By protecting a drug trafficking organization and accepting bribes from a drug kingpin, former Group Supervisor Nathan Koen deceived and betrayed his brothers and sisters in the DEA," FBI Little Rock Special Agent in Charge James A. Dawson said. "His disgraceful and corrupt conduct only strengthens our resolve to continue attacking corruption at all levels. We're grateful for the strong, ongoing partnerships we share with both the Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Attorney's Office."

"Today's sentencing reflects DEA’s commitment to hold accountable any DEA employee who abuses the trust of the American people by violating their oath as a federal law enforcement officer," DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said. "Nathan Koen put himself ahead of the principles he swore to protect. I commend our federal law enforcement partners who investigated this case and the U.S. Attorneys who prosecuted it."

"Koen turned his back on his duty to protect the public. As a DEA Agent, Koen was tasked with investigating drug traffickers. Instead, he accepted a cash bribe and provided a known drug trafficker with sensitive law enforcement information. The Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General will continue to investigate those who engage in this kind of conduct," Cloey C. Pierce, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General Dallas Field Office said.

In addition to the term of imprisonment, Koen was sentenced to two years of supervised release following his term of imprisonment. The investigation was conducted by the FBI, and the case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Benecia Moore and Chris Givens.

Chiapa de Corzo, Chiapas: The Templarios Video Communique To Their Adversaries

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

An armed criminal cell who have dubbed themselves Los Templarios has just released a video communique for their adversaries in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas. At this time it is unknown if they’re affiliated with the Knights Templar, a splinter group of the once-mighty Familia Michoacana.

On Monday, four mutilated bodies were abandoned in Chiapa de Corzo, two are from Soconusco and the other two from Jalisco.

Video translation is as follows:

Sicario #1: Go ahead. 

Sicario #2: Hey there. Good evening you dumb ass sons of fucking bitches. This goes out to everyone out there that's watching us transmitting live here. Take a look at this, I'm standing next to the grand dick himself here in Chiapa de Corzo. You sons of fucking bitches. This is the division commander, the state diplomat, the commander of commanders, and the boss of all the groups in Chiapa de Corzo. I've got something to say to all you bitches. As long as I'm standing here with the godfather you sons of bitches are all going to suck my dick. Let this be your good evening so that you all can sleep well tonight you fucking gang of greedy bitches.

Sicario #3: We are the absolute Templarios you sons of bitches!

Warning: Graphic Pictures

Codigo Negro Mx