Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Did El Chapo and the Zetas Win Total Rein?

Saturday, December 19, 2009 |


Arturo Beltrán Leyva, a former ally of Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán Loera and Ismael El Mayo Zambada, formed his cartel right after the capture of his brother Alfred the Mochomo Beltran Leyva in Culiacán in January 2008. In the world of organized crime, he lead one of the most violent groups of sicarios, led by Edgar Valdez Villarreal, "La Barbie."

Arturo Beltran Leyva, who is best described by all his nicknames: "La Muerte," "El Barbas," "El jefe de jefes" or "El botas blancas" made the lists of the most wanted drug traffickers in the world for his power and influence stretching from Columbia to the United States.

During his criminal career he bought the same officials that were supposed to apprehend him and executed those who stood in the way of his operations.


He managed to bribe from the military to the main chiefs of the anti-drug units of the PGR and the SSP, including, reportedly, former Attorney general Noé Ramírez Mandujano.

He is also attributed in the murder of other major police chiefs of the SSP, including Edgar Millan Gomez at at his home.

After his breakup with El Chapo, last year, intelligence sources indicated that Beltran Leyva formed an alliance with the armed wing of the Gulf Cartel, Los Zetas, to take the disputed control of drug trafficking from the Federation, composed of Guzman Loera and Ismael Zambada, resulting in an escalation of violence in several states.

In the last two months the hunt of rival members was marked by extreme cruelty, where there were recorded at least a dozen cases of beheading and dismembered with narco signs attached to the bodies signed by the "Jefe de Jefes."

The death of Arturo Beltrán Leyva makes him the latest cartel leader captured or killed by authorities.

Others include:

Osiel Cárdenas: The Gulf cartel leader was captured in 2003 after a shootout with Mexican troops in Matamoros. He was extradited to the U.S. in 2007 to face drug charges.

Ramón Arellano Felix: Once Mexico's most-wanted drug lord, he was fatally shot by police in Mazatlán in 2002.

Juan García Abrego: The leader of the Gulf cartel was arrested in 1996 in northern Mexico. He is serving 11 life terms in the U.S.

Hector Palma: A partner of Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquín "Chapo" Guzmán, he was arrested in 1995 and sentenced to 33 years.

Rafael Caro Quintero: Arrested in Costa Rica in 1985 and extradited to Mexico, he was sentenced to 40 years for the 1985 torture-slaying of U.S. drug agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena Salazar.

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