Los Negros is a criminal paramilitary unit of the Sinaloa drug cartel in Mexico. Los Negros was formed to counter the operations of the Gulf Cartel's Los Zetas. Los Negros, also known as the Beltrán Leyva Cartel, is led by Édgar Valdéz Villarreal and overseen by the Beltrán Leyva brothers.
Other names: La Barbie
Occupation: Drug trafficking, hitman
Employer: Sinaloa Cartel
Los Negros have been known to employ gangs such as Mexican Mafia and MS-13 to carry out murders and other illegal activities. Los Negros have been reported to sometimes recruit from their rival group Los Zetas. The group was involved in fighting the Zetas in the Nuevo Laredo region for control of the drug trafficking corridor.
Its operational area was originally Tamaulipas, and later extended its influence to Nuevo León and Coahuila states. Movements have also been reported in San Luis Potosí, Veracruz, Michoacán, Guerrero, Zacatecas and Sonora.
The Nuevo Laredo region is an important drug trafficking corridor as 40% of all Mexican exports, a total of 9,000 trucks, pass through the region into the United States.
Following the 2002 assassination of journalist Roberto Javier Mora Garcia from El Mañana newspaper, much of the local media has been silenced over the fighting. The cartels have begun to intimidate the media and use it to send messages and wage a media war.
In 2008, Édgar Valdéz placed an ad in the local paper accusing Los Zetas of being "narco-kidnappers" and purchasing protection from state officials and the attorney general's office.
The drug war between the Sinaloa and Gulf Cartels had spread to Acapulco when a dozen or so members of Los Zetas attempted to kidnap Sinaloa Cartel members. Five of the Zetas were instead captured and taken to a safe house to be beaten, videotaped and murdered.