Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

The Rise and Fall of Arturo Beltran

Tuesday, December 29, 2009 |


Shortly before 3 pm on Wednesday December 16 a meal was being prepared in apartment number 201, one of the five residential towers called Altitude, located in the Lomas de la Selva, in Cuernavaca, Morelos, where el capo Marcos Arturo Beltran Leyva lived.

He was in company of 5 of his most trusted men, including Edgar Valdez Villarreal, The Barbie, his leader of sicarios.

Inside the safety of his bunker of the building Elbus Beltran received constant reports of gunmen who formed part the three levels of security guarding the condominium and movements out in the streets.

According to the testimony rendered to the office of the Deputy Attorney Specialized Investigation of Organized Crime by one of the five people that had been arrested during the operation in the community Altitude and who is believed to be the cook, el capo had already been told that they had observed suspicious movements outside his apartment , but he relied on his people thinking that everything was under control as usual.


Meanwhile, El Barbas, how they call the Sinaloense drug trafficker, was having a conversation with Valdez Villarreal and other members of his entourage. They were fine tuning the details to receive a special guest who allegedly had agreed to have dinner with Beltran. It was General Leopoldo Díaz Pérez, head of the Military Zone 24, headquartered in the capital Morelos.

According to statements from other suspects, whose names were withheld by SIEDO and who were captured on December 11 while participating in a narco party (posada) in Tepoztlan, Morelos, of which according to reports received by the Navy Department would be attended by El Barbas - it is also known that they also invited to this gathering were a captain and an Army major assigned to that same military unit. Their names have also not been released.

The testimony of the one who is identified as the "El Cocineo" who might be an actual chef - a core part of information which the authorities had access to this week, it is not precisely clear what Valdez Villarreal did on this day of the operation of December 16: if he fled when he realized the invasion of the naval forces was about to take place or if he decided to leave way before the shooting started, but instead, there is a version that places the Barbie as a probable traitor who gave information on the exact location of Arturo Beltran Leyva.


MARINES ON THE ASSAULT

From noon until shortly before 5 pm on Wednesday 16, more than 100 commandos of the Navy of Mexico started to do surveillance of the facility and quietly started to evacuate the occupants of the apartments Elbus. The goal was clear: to corral Beltran Leyva, one of the most wanted drug lords in the last decade - and the five bodyguards who accompanied him.

The marines started their operation equipped with heavy artillery, tanks and armored vehicles, including helicopters hovering overhead. All this movement occurred between 1 am and 4 pm and before the actual entry into the facility of Altitude, all in order to capture Beltran.

When the security levels or "belts" of protection of Beltrán Leyva had been clearly defeated, and when the marines felt they had the situation under their control, the members of the Special Forces were greeted with gunfire. This generated a gunfight. From their armored vehicles, the Marines triggered 7.62 caliber machine guns and assault rifles AR-15, while another elite military commando from the helicopter rappelled down on top of the condominium where Arturo Beltran was located.


According to the versions that was disseminated by the Secretary of the Navy, they did not have it easy: Beltran Leyva's group of sicarios responded with dozens of fragmentation grenades and bursts of AK-47 and AR-15 fire power through the windows of department 201, located on the second level of the 15-story building that is valued to be at about 4 million pesos.

Other sicarios who were part of the security belt of protection to the capo fired against the marines who were on the ground floor, but According to official reports, the counter did not work as a burst of gunfire took them out immediately.

As the hours pass (five), since taking the building and up to the shooting that took the life of Arturo Beltran, the narcos were running out of grenades. No longer capable of an offensive, three of the five sicarios who were defending Beltran were shot dead in middle of the floor of the department. According to the official version, another sicario shot himself with one gunshot.

The same version says that one more desperate sicario decided to commit suicide by jumping out the window, but when he was freefalling a bullet penetrated his back. His body laying on his back was photographed on the garden of an apartment downstairs.

According to the press release of the marines, it was about nine o'clock at night when Arturo Beltran no longer having the protection of his gunmen, opened the door of his apartment. Apparently he intended to flee through the elevator. Once outside he engaged the marines in a gunfight who were just outside by the door, but was shot down by the firepower of a group of commando marines that were moving up the stairs.


The body of the one who was named El jefe de jefes , who had managed to live for two decades in the shadows of first of Amado Carrillo and then of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, had collapsed against the door with several expanding bullets shattering his chest, abdomen and head. It was there that the body of Beltran Leyva was captured by various digital photographs and video and it was also there where he was manipulated and humiliated in display to the press.

PROMOTION IN THE HIERARCHY

After the death of Arturo Beltran Leyva, the power of his criminal organization, one of the most powerful in the past 20 years, could be in the hands of Hector Beltran Leyva, one of the brothers who is free and, according to official data, is responsible for the laundering of money for the organization.

However, in the midst of internal realignment of forces, two other names have been mentioned as possible replacements: Sergio Villarreal Barragan, El Grande, and Edgar Valdez Villarreal, El Barbie, the leader of Arturo Beltran's sicarios who has been named in statements conducted by the federal ministerial as "the traitor".

According to his criminal record, Valdez Villarreal was born on August 11, 1973 in Laredo, Texas, and from very young age he joined the ranks of the drug trafficking under world. Son of Abel and Ofelina Valdez Villarreal, The Barbie is 39 years old and has managed to escape from both prison and death.

for example, in 1994 according to the prison record by the now defunct Specialized Organized Crime Unit (UEDO), he was arrested in Springfield, Missouri, United States, after New Orleans Court issued an arrest warrant for him. However, not long after his inprisonment he managed to gain his freedom.

In his initial stages Valdez Villarreal was a member of the Gulf cartel, responsible for coordinating all logistics of espionage in a large group of informants, known as Los Halcones.

He then left that criminal organization and became a key part of the Sinaloa cartel, when the brothers Marcos Arturo, Hector and Alfredo - known as "Three Caballeros" were part of what is now known as The Federation of Drug dealers and, that according to the PGR, were headed by Ismael Zambada García El Mayo, and Joaquín Guzmán Loera, El Chapo.

Soon Barbie became leader of the froup of Beltran's sicarios and was placed there especifically because he showed the ability to orchestrate the executions of rival members without blinking an eye. But, according to the report of the UEDO, he is also distinguished himself by his ability to corrupt public officials.

One of the most notorious cases of co-option was that of Domingo González Díaz, who in 2003 served as head of the Federal Investigation Agency (AFI) and was close to Genaro Garcia Luna. In the preliminary investigation PGR/SIEDO/UEIDCS/013/2003 it is said that Barbie paid Gonzalez Diaz a million dollars to provide protection to the Beltran Leyva brothers.

FAMILY AND POLICE NETWORKS

The cell of narco trafficking which consisted of the brothers Marcos Arturo, Héctor, Mario, Carlos and Alfredo Beltrán Leyva is one of the oldest in the drug business in Mexico: it emerged in to the public eye between the mid-eighties and early nineties, when Amado Carrillo Fuentes became the boss of the Juarez cartel, after the murder of Rafael Aguilar Guajardo, a crime that was attributed to Carrillo Fuentes, known as "El Señor de los Cielos."

The Beltran Leyva clan deployed its considerable economic and depoyed their armament to impose their power throughout the country. They have for a long time relied in a strong support from all segments of police agencies, it was so strong that in 2007, José Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, deputy attorney general who served as Legal and International Affairs of the PGR, publicly acknowledged in fear that a group of sicarios under the command of the Beltran had planned to execute him.

Originally from Sinaloa, where the majority of the school in drug trafficking would formed in the history of Mexico's organized crime. The Beltran Leyva clan remained for several years as a major wing of the Juarez cartel, but after the death of Amado Carrillo decided to operate on their own, although in those years they had already maintained ties to Joaquin El Chapo Guzman, who eventually became their boss.

Following an escape in January 19 2001 by of El Chapo from the prison de Puente Grande, the Beltran Leyva allied with him. There was more than one reason for the Sinaloa cartel chief to take them in: it was they who had protected him after a fight with Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, the boldest capo in recent history of Mexico and one who Guzman himself served as one of his lieutenants.

A fact came to the surfaced after the PGR arrested Marcelo Peña and brought him in to the protection witness progtam with a secret key name as "Julio." Marcelo Peña was Guzmán Loera's brother in law and brought in its program of protected witnesses Marcelo Peña Guzman Loera and brother of key witness as is"Julio." This character told in testimony that he began working with El Chapo and the Beltran brothers in the drug business.

Moreover, during the imprisonment of Joaquin Guzman in Almoloya de Juarez  in Puente Grande, the Beltrans made sure to supplying him with money and everything the Sinaloa capo needed to live comfortably at the maximum security, ironically known as "la Purerta de Frente" the front door.

After the flight of Chapo, Beltran brothers took positions in the drug trafficking business. During the presidency of Vicente Fox they built their power base to dominate a total of 11 states of the Republic, although their main strongholds were Sinaloa and Guerrero but later settled in Morelos.

According to documents from the PGR, the Beltran directed drug transport operations, money laundering, they sold protection and recruitment of hired assassins or sicarios.

From the official documents of the PGR/UEIDCS/021/2005 inquiry and criminal cases 82/2001 and 125/2001, revealed that Marco Arturo Beltran Leyva, El Barbas, Hector Alfredo, El H, Mario Alberto, El General, and Carlos, went unchecked for a long time thanks to the protection of police, military and high level officials of the government of Vicente Fox

These agreements allowed his drug business to rise quickly and his partner, El Chapo, to become the most powerful crime boss of the last nine years.

Reports from the Ministry of Public Security cited records that indicate this clan of operations included the District of Mexico for at least a decade. Other territories under their control were the States of Sonora, Guerrero, Chiapas, Querétaro, Sinaloa, Jalisco, Quintana Roo, Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon.

The same reports indicate that in addition to their drug trafficking activities, the Beltrans owned many businesses including a soccer team in Culiacan, Sinaloa, and owned various luxury homes and vacation homes in Acapulco, Guerrero and Sinaloa.

According to a report prepared by the PGR, the leader of the band was El Barbas, Marcos Arturo Beltran Leyva. None of the five brothers had been arrested but that changed when in January 21 2008 the military stopped Alfredo Beltran in a residential area in the capital of Sinaloa.

The arrest of Alfredo Beltran was considered a big blow against the Sinaloa cartel. The Beltran brothers broke ranks with El Chapo becuase of disagreements about how to run the business and the the effects of the break up reached the high level of the SSP, which was mismanaged by Genaro Garcia Luna, who has been mentioned publicly in the investigation as the alleged protector of the Beltran brothers.

The various members of the Sinaloa cartel, the most organized of all drug cartels, at least before the arrest of Alfredo Beltran were not only partners in the drug business but there are lines of kinship. Arturo Beltran Leyva is a distant cousin of El Chapo who really perfected the cocaine trade in Mexico.

Another partner of Beltran, Juan Jose Esparragoza Moreno, "El Azul" is married to a niece of Arturo Beltran.

The powers of Arturo Beltran in the drug trade allowed him to murder, corrupt and buy senior members of various federal agencies without any interruption form anyone. He is credited for example in the murder of Edgar Millan, the Federal Police chief assassinated in 2008. He is also responsible for corrupting Igor Labastida, another officer linked with the head of the SSP Genaro Garcia Luna.

According to a letter signed by several disgruntled federal police officers over the disappearance of the AEF, sent on 19 October 2008 at the Public Safety Committee of the Chamber of Deputies, the Secretary Genaro García Luna and his entourage were stopped at the road Cuernavaca Tepoztlan by a high-drug lord who was accompanied by an undetermined number of sicarios in 10 armored suburban vehicles.

According to the letter, the escorts of García Luna were stripped of their guns and kept blindfolded for about four hours. The letter also states that a voice, allegedly the leader of the criminal group told Garcia Luna, "This is the first and last warning for you to know that we can reach you if you fail in the agreement" (Proceso 1672).

That boss was allegedly the now dead Arturo Beltran Leyva.

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