Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Tragic Beyond Belief

Sunday, May 24, 2009 |

Tragic Beyond Belief
Memorial at the park.

Tiffany Toribio placed her hand over her 3-year-old son's mouth as he slept on this playground bridge in the middle of the night.

She held him down until he stopped squirming.

Toribio then performed CPR on her son Tyrus who started breathing again. He was shaking, his eyes were rolled back. She then suffocated him again. She placed her hand over his face until he stopped breathing.

Only this time she didn't revive little Ty.

She dug a hole with her hands in the sand underneath a swing set, put Ty in it and buried him.

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Ismael Zambada García

Friday, May 22, 2009 |


This name uses Spanish naming customs; the first or paternal family name is Zambada and the second or maternal family name is García.


Ismael Zambada García (born January 1, 1948), also known as El Mayo Zambada, is a Mexican drug lord and one of the two Sinaloa cartel leaders. The Sinaloa cartel is responsible for trafficking cocaine, marijuana, heroin and methamphetamine across the U.S.-Mexican border.

Biography
A former farmer with extensive agricultural and botanical knowledge, Zambada began his criminal career by smuggling a few kilograms of drugs at the time, then increased his gang's production of heroin and marijuana while consolidating his position as a trafficker of Colombian cocaine. Zambada is known to head the Sinaloa cartel in partnership with Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán.


Zambada is one of Mexico's most enduring, powerful drug lords, has had plastic surgery and disguises himself to move throughout Mexico. Zambada has survived over thirty four years in the drug world in part because of his ability to forge alliances with other drug cartels and bribery of law enforcement officials.

During 2001 the President Vicente Fox administration launched an offensive against Mexico’s drug trafficking networks. The Arellano Felix Organization (Tijuana Cartel), the largest and most sophisticated of the Mexican cartels at the time, received the brunt of the blows. Taking advantage of the pressure being placed on the Tijuana Cartel, rival drug bosses, most notably Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada García from the Sinaloa Cartel, began to encroach on strongholds in northwestern Mexico. By the spring of 2001, Zambada was embroiled in a full-scale gang war with the Tijuana Cartel.

Known as an accomplished alliance builder, Zambada has historically worked closely with the Juárez Cartel and the Carillo Fuentes family, while maintaining independent ties to Colombian cocaine suppliers. Zambada has been wanted by Mexico’s attorney general’s office since 1998, when it issued bounties totaling $2.8 million USD on him and five other leaders of the Juárez Cartel. Lately, Zambada has been working in partnership with the Sinaloa Cartel's leader Joaquín Guzmán Loera a.k.a. El Chapo.

Narcotraffic
The Zambada García's organization, the Sinaloa Cartel, receives multi-ton quantities of cocaine, mostly by sea from Colombian sources. After receipt of the cocaine, the Sinaloa cartel uses a variety of methods, including airplanes, trucks, cars, boats, and tunnels to transport the cocaine to the United States. Members of the cartel smuggle the cocaine to distribution cells in Arizona, California, Chicago, and New York.


Currently, Zambada operates primarily in the States of Sinaloa and Durango, but exerts influence along a large portion of Mexico’s Pacific coast, as well as in Cancun, Quintana Roo, Sonora, Monterrey and Nuevo Leon.

On October 20, 2008, some of his relatives were arrested in Mexico City on drug trafficking charges: Ismael's brother, Jesus "The King" Zambada, along with Ismael's son and nephew. His son, Ismael "El Mayito" Zambada Jr. is currently being sought for conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance in the United States. His other son, Vicente Zambada Niebla, was arrested by the Mexican Army on March 18, 2009[5] and on February 18, 2010 he was extradited to Chicago, U.S. to face federal charges.

Ismael Zambada has been featured on America's Most Wanted, and the FBI is offering up to $5 million USD for information leading to his capture.

Financial network
His wife Rosario Niebla Cardoza, brother Jesus, sons Vicente, Serafin, and Ismael, as well as his four daughters, Maria Teresa, Midiam Patricia, Monica del Rosario and Modesta play an active role on narcotics' distribution and money laundering.

Ismael Zambada relies on currency shipments to move drug proceeds across the United States-Mexico border.

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Juárez Cartel

Friday, May 15, 2009 |

Juárez Cartel
The Juárez Cartel (Spanish: Cártel de Juárez), also known as the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes Organization, is a Mexican drug cartel based in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, across the border from El Paso, Texas. The Juárez Cartel controls one of the primary transportation routes for billions of dollars worth of illegal drug shipments annually entering the United States from Mexico.

Drug lords from contiguous Mexican states have forged alliances in recent years creating a cartel that sometimes is referred to as 'The Golden Triangle Alliance' or 'La Alianza Triángulo de Oro' because of its three-state area of influence: Chihuahua, south of the U.S. state of Texas, Durango and Sinaloa. The Juarez Cartel is a ruthless, dangerous drug trafficking organization that has been known to decapitate their rivals and mutilate their corpses and dump them in public to instill fear not only to the general public but to local law enforcement and their rivals, the Sinaloa Cartel.

History
The cartel was founded in the 1970s by Rafael Aguilar Guajardo and handed down to Amado Carrillo Fuentes in 1993 under the tutelage of his uncle.

Amado brought his brothers in and later his son into the business. After Amado died in 1997 following complications from plastic surgery, a brief turf war erupted over the control of the cartel, where Amado's brother —Vicente Carrillo Fuentes— emerged as leader after defeating the Muňoz Talavera brothers.

Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, who still remains in control of the cartel, then formed a partnership with Juan José Esparragoza Moreno, his brother Rodolfo Carrillo Fuentes, his nephew Vicente Carrillo Leyva, Ricardo Garcia Urquiza, and formed an alliance with other drug lords such as Ismael "Mayo" Zambada in Sinaloa and Baja California, the Beltrán Leyva brothers in Monterrey, and Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán in Nayarit, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas, according to sources in the FBI and the Mexican Attorney General's office. He also kept in service several lieutenants formally under his brother, such as "El Chacky" Hernandez.

When Vicente took control of the cartel, the organization was in flux. The death of Amado created a large power vacuum in the Mexican underworld. The Carrillo Fuentes brothers became the most powerful organization during the 1990s while Vicente was able to avoid direct conflict and increase the strength of the Juárez Cartel. The relationship between the Carrillo Fuentes clan and the other members of the organization grew unstable towards the end of the 1990s and into the 2000s.

In 2001 after Joaquín Guzmán Loera 'El Chapo' escaped from prison, many Juárez Cartel members defected to Guzmán Loera's Sinaloa Cartel. In 2004, Vicente's brother was killed allegedly by order of Guzmán Loera. Carrillo Fuentes responded by assassinating Guzmán Loera's brother in prison. This ignited a turf war between the two cartels, which was more or less put on hold from 2005-2006 because of the Sinaloa Cartel's war with the Gulf cartel.

As recently as November 2005, the Juárez Cartel was the dominant player in the center of the country, controlling a large percentage of the cocaine traffic from Mexico into the United States. The death of Amado Carrillo Fuentes in 1997, however, was the beginning of the decline of the Juárez cartel, as Carrillo relied on ties to Mexico's top-ranking drug interdiction officer, division general Jesús Gutiérrez Rebollo.

After the organization collapsed, some elements of it were absorbed into the Sinaloa Cartel, a relatively young and aggressive organization that has gobbled up much of the Juárez Cartel's former territory. The cartel has been able to either corrupt or intimidate high ranking officials in order to obtain information on law enforcement operatives and acquire protection from the police and judicial systems.

The Juárez cartel has been found in 21 Mexican states and its principal bases are Culiacán, Monterrey, Ciudad Juárez, Ojinaga, Mexico City, Guadalajara, Cuernavaca and Cancún. Vicente Carrillo Fuentes remains the leader of the cartel.

Since 2007, the Juárez Cartel has been locked in a vicious battle with its former partner, the Sinaloa Cartel, for control of Juárez. The fighting between them has left thousands dead in Chihuahua state. The Juárez Cartel relies on two enforcement gangs to exercise control over both sides of the border: La Linea, a group of current and former Chihuahua police officers, is prevalent on the Mexican side, while the large street gang Barrio Azteca operates in Mexico and the U.S. in Texas cities such as El Paso, Dallas and Austin. as well as in New Mexico and Arizona.

On April 9, 2010, the Associated Press reported that the Sinaloa Cartel had won the Juarez turf war. Nevertheless, the Juarez Cartel has continued open confrontations with the Sinaloa Cartel and Mexican police forces. On July 15, 2010, the Juarez Cartel raised their attacks to a new level by using a car bomb to target federal police officers.

Members of the cartel were implicated in the serial murder site in Ciudad Juárez that was discovered in 2004 and has been dubbed the House of Death. The Juárez Cartel was featured battling the rival Tijuana Cartel in the 2000 motion picture Traffic. The Australian ABC documentary La Frontera (2010) described social impact of the cartel in the region.

Current alliances
Since February 2010, the major cartels have aligned in two factions, one integrated by the Juárez Cartel, Tijuana Cartel, Los Zetas and the Beltrán-Leyva Cartel; the other faction integrated by the Gulf Cartel, Sinaloa Cartel and La Familia Cartel.

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Tijuana Cartel

Thursday, May 14, 2009 |

The Tijuana Cartel (Spanish: Cártel de Tijuana or Arellano-Félix Organization) is a Mexican drug cartel based in Tijuana, Baja California. The cartel has been described as "one of the biggest and most violent criminal groups in Mexico". The Tijuana Cartel was featured battling the rival Juárez Cartel in the 2000 motion picture Traffic.

BackgroundMiguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, the founder of the Guadalajara Cartel was arrested in 1989. While incarcerated, he remained one of Mexico's major traffickers, maintaining his organization via mobile phone until he was transferred to a new maximum security prison in the 1990s. At that point, his old organization broke up into two factions: the Tijuana Cartel led by his nephews, the Arellano Félix brothers, and the Sinaloa Cartel, run by former lieutenants Héctor Luis Palma Salazar and Joaquín Guzmán Loera El Chapo.

Currently, the majority of Mexico's smuggling routes are controlled by three key cartels: Gulf, Sinaloa and Tijuana —though Tijuana is the least powerful. The Tijuana cartel was further weakened in August 2006 when its chief, Javier Arellano Félix, was arrested by the U.S. Coast Guard on a boat off the coast of Baja California. Mexican army troops also were sent to Tijuana in January 2007 in an operation to restore order to the border city and root out corrupt police officers, who mostly were cooperating with the Tijuana cartel. As a result of these efforts, the Tijuana cartel is unable to project much power outside of its base in Tijuana.

Organization
The Arellano Félix family was initially composed of seven brothers and four sisters, who inherited the organization from Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo upon his incarceration in Mexico in 1989 for his complicity in the murder of DEA Special Agent Enrique Camarena. Although the subsequent brothers' arrest in the 1990s and 2000s are blows to the Arellano Felix cartel, it did not dismantle the organization which currently is led by the Arellano's nephew, Luis Fernando Sánchez Arellano.

The Tijuana Cartel has infiltrated the Mexican law enforcement and judicial systems and is directly involved in street-level trafficking within the United States. This criminal organization is responsible for the transportation, importation, and distribution of multi-ton quantities of cocaine and marijuana, as well as large quantities of heroin and methamphetamine.

The organization has a reputation for extreme violence. Ramón Arellano Félix ordered a hit which resulted in the mass murder of 18 people in Ensenada, Baja California, on September 17, 1998. Ramón was eventually killed in a gun battle with police at Mazatlán Sinaloa, on February 10, 2002.

The Arellano Félix family has seven brothers:

Francisco Rafael Arellano Félix (born 24 October 1949) - Captured and released
Benjamín Arellano Félix (born 3 December 1952) - Captured
Carlos Arellano Félix (born 20 August 1955) - is not currently wanted.
Eduardo Arellano Félix (born 11 October 1956), - Captured on October 26, 2008.
Ramón Eduardo Arellano Félix (born 31 August 1964) - Deceased, shot by police in 2002
Luis Fernando Arellano Félix (believed to be born 26 January 1966) is not currently wanted.
Francisco Javier Arellano Félix (born 11 December 1969) - Captured

They also have four sisters, where Alicia and Enedina are most active in the cartel's affairs. The family inherited the organization from Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo upon his incarceration. Eduardo Arellano Félix was captured by the Mexican Army after a shootout in Tijuana, Baja California, on October 26, 2008; he had been the last of the Arellano Félix brothers at large. According to a Mexican official, Enedina's son, Luis Fernando Sánchez Arellano, has taken over the cartel's operations. His two top lieutenants are Armando Villareal Heredia and Edgardo Leyva Escandon.

Activities
The Tijuana cartel is present in at least 15 Mexican states with important areas of operation in Tijuana, Mexicali, Tecate, and Ensenada in Baja California, in parts of Sinaloa and Zacatecas. After the death in 1997 of the Juárez Cartel's Amado Carrillo Fuentes, the Tijuana Cartel attempted to gain a foothold in Sonora. The Oaxaca Cartel reportedly joined forces with the Tijuana Cartel in 2003.

Fourteen Mexican drug gang members were killed and eight others were injured in a gun battle in Tijuana near the U.S. border on Saturday, April 26, 2008 that was one of the bloodiest shootouts in the narco-war between the Tijuana Cartel and the Sinaloa Cartel.

Captures and trial
In October 1997, a retired U.S. Air Force C-130A that was sold to the airline Aeropostal Cargo de México was seized by Mexican federal officials, who alleged that the aircraft had been used to haul drugs for the cartel up from Central and South America, as well as around the Mexican interior. Investigators had linked the airline's owner, Jesús Villegas Covallos, to Ramón Arellano Félix.

On August 14, 2006, Francisco Javier Arellano Félix was apprehended by the United States Coast Guard off the coast of Baja California Sur.

Current alliances
Since February 2010, the major cartels have aligned in two factions, one integrated by the Juárez Cartel, Tijuana Cartel, Los Zetas and the Beltrán-Leyva Cartel; the other faction integrated by the Gulf Cartel, Sinaloa Cartel and La Familia Cartel.

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Sinaloa Cartel

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 |


The Sinaloa Cartel (Pacific Cartel, Guzmán-Loera Cartel) (Spanish: Cártel de Sinaloa) is a Mexican drug cartel primarily operating out of the states of Baja California, Sinaloa, Durango, Sonora and Chihuahua. The cartel is also known as the Guzmán-Loera Organization and the Pacific Cartel, the latter due to the coast of Mexico from which it originated, another name is the Federation. The 'Federation' was partially splintered when the Beltrán-Leyva brothers broke apart from the Sinaloa Cartel.

The Sinaloa Cartel is associated with the label "Golden Triangle" as the regions of Sinaloa, Durango, and Chihuahua in which they operate the most form a 'triangle' when their capital cities are looked at on a map. The region is a major producer of Mexican poppy and marijuana. This area is similar in the United States to the Emerald Triangle consisting of the three largest marijuana-producing counties in the US: Mendocino, Humboldt, and Trinity in Northern California, United States.

According to the U.S. Attorney General, the Sinaloa Cartel is responsible for importing into the United States and distributing nearly 200 tons of cocaine and large amounts of heroin between 1990 and 2008.

Background
Pedro Avilés Pérez was a pioneer drug lord in the Mexican state of Sinaloa in the late 1960s. He is considered to be the first generation of major Mexican drug smugglers of marijuana who marked the birth of large-scale Mexican drug trafficking. He also pioneered the use of aircraft to smuggle drugs to the United States.

Second generation Sinaloan traffickers such as Rafael Caro Quintero, Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo and Avilés Pérez' nephew Joaquín 'El Chapo' Guzmán, would claim they learned all they knew about narcotrafficking while serving in the Avilés organization. Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, who eventually founded the Guadalajara Cartel was arrested in 1989. While incarcerated, he remained one of Mexico's major traffickers, maintaining his organization via mobile phone until he was transferred to a new maximum security prison in the 1990s. At that point, his old organization broke up into two factions: the Tijuana Cartel led by his nephews, the Arellano Félix brothers, and the Sinaloa Cartel, run by former lieutenants Héctor Luis Palma Salazar, Adrián Gómez González and Joaquín Guzmán Loera (El Chapo).

Leadership
Sinaloa Cartel hierarchy in early 2008The Sinaloa Cartel used to be known as La Alianza de Sangre (Blood Alliance). When Héctor Luis Palma Salazar (a.k.a: El Güero) was arrested on June 23, 1995, by elements of the Mexican Army, his partner Joaquín Guzmán Loera took leadership of the cartel. Guzmán was captured in Guatemala on June 9, 1993, and extradited to Mexico, where he was jailed in a maximum security prison, but on Jan. 19, 2001, Guzmán escaped and resumed his command of the Sinaloa Cartel. Guzmán has two close associates, Ismael Zambada García and Ignacio Coronel Villareal. Guzman and Zambada became Mexico's top drug kingpins in 2003, after the arrest of their rival Osiel Cardenas of the Gulf Cartel. Another close associate, Javier Torres Felix, was arrested and extradited to the U.S. in December 2006; so far, Guzmán and Zambada have evaded operations to capture them.

On July 29, 2010 Ignacio Coronel was killed in a shootout with the Mexican military in Zapopan, Jalisco.

Operations
The Sinaloa Cartel has a presence in 17 states, with important centers in Mexico City, Tepic, Toluca, Guadalajara, and most of the state of Sinaloa. The cartel is primarily involved in the smuggling and distribution of Colombian cocaine, Mexican marijuana, methamphetamine and Mexican and Southeast Asian heroin into the United States. It is believed that a group known as the Herrera Organization would transport multi-ton quantities of cocaine from South America to Guatemala on behalf of the Sinaloa Cartel. From there it is smuggled north to Mexico and later into the U.S. Other shipments of cocaine are believed to originate in Colombia from Cali and Medellín drug-trafficking groups from which the Sinaloa Cartel handle transportation across the U.S. border to distribution cells in Arizona, California, Texas, Chicago and New York.

Prior to his arrest, Vicente Zambada Niebla ("El Vicentillo"), son of Ismael Zambada García ("El Mayo"), played a key role in the Sinaloa Cartel. Vicente Zambada was responsible for coordinating multi-ton cocaine shipments from Central and South American countries, through Mexico, and into the United States for the Sinaloa Cartel. To accomplish this task he used every means available: Boeing 747 cargo aircraft, narco submarines, container ships, go-fast boats, fishing vessels, buses, rail cars, tractor trailers and automobiles. He was arrested by the Mexican Army on March 18, 2009 and extradited on February 18, 2010 to Chicago to face federal charges.

In the late 1980s, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration believed the Sinaloa Cartel was the largest drug trafficking organization operating in Mexico. By the mid-1990s, according to one court opinion, it was believed to be the size of the Medellín Cartel during its prime. The Sinaloa Cartel was believed to be linked to the Juárez Cartel in a strategic alliance following the partnership of their rivals, the Gulf Cartel and Tijuana Cartel. Following the discovery of a tunnel system used to smuggle drugs across the Mexican/US border, the group has been associated with such means of trafficking.

By 2005, the Beltrán-Leyva brothers, who were formerly aligned with the Sinaloa Cartel, had come to dominate drug trafficking across the border with Arizona. By 2006, the Sinaloa Cartel had eliminated all competition across the 528 km of Arizona border, and it was suspected they had accomplished this by bribing state government officials. The Colima Cartel, Sonora Cartel, Milenio Cartel, Guadalajara Cartel and Sonora Cartel are now branches of the Sinaloa Cartel.

In January 2008 the cartel allegedly split into a number of warring factions, which is a major cause of the epidemic of drug violence Mexico has seen in the last year. Murders by the cartel often involve beheadings or bodies dissolved in vats of acid.

Atlanta has been used as a major U.S. distribution center and accounting hub, and the presence of the Sinaloa Cartel there has brought ruthless violence to that area.

Arrest and seizures
May 11, 2008, Alfonso Gutiérrez Loera cousin of Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera and 5 other drug traffickers were arrested after a shootout with Federal Police officers in Culiacan, Sinaloa. Along with the captured suspects, 16 assault rifles, 3 grenades, 102 magazines and 3,543 ammunition rounds were seized.

On Feb. 25, 2009, the U.S. government announced the arrest of 750 members of the Sinaloa Cartel across the U.S. in Operation Xcellerator. They also announced the seizure of more than $59 million in cash and numerous vehicles, planes, and boats.

In March 2009, the Mexican Government announced the deployment of 1,000 Federal Police officers and 5,000 Mexican Army soldiers to restore order in Ciudad Juárez, which has suffered the highest number of casualties in the country.

On August 20, 2009 The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) disarticulated a large Mexican drug operation in Chicago, and knocking out a major distribution network operated by the Flores crew led by twin brothers Margarito and Pedro Flores that operated out of that city. The drug operation allegedly brought 1.5 to 2 tons of cocaine every month to Chicago from Mexico and shipped millions of dollars south of the border. The shipments were mostly bought from the Sinaloa Cartel and at times from the Beltrán-Leyva Cartel, it is assumed that both cartels threatened the Flores crew with violence if they bought from other rival drug organization.

The Sinaloa cartel’s loss of partners in Mexico does not appear to have affect its ability to smuggle drugs from South America to the U.S. On the contrary, based on seizure reports, the Sinaloa cartel appears to be the most active smuggler of cocaine. It has also demonstrated the ability to establish operations in previously unknown areas, such as Central America and South America, even as far south as Perú, Paraguay and Argentina. It also appears to be most active in diversifying its export markets; rather than relying solely on U.S. consumers, it has made an effort to supply distributors of drugs in Latin American and European countries.

Current alliances
Since February 2010, the major cartels have aligned in two factions, one integrated by the Juárez Cartel, Tijuana Cartel, Los Zetas and the Beltrán-Leyva Cartel; the other faction integrated by the Gulf Cartel, Sinaloa Cartel and La Familia Cartel.

Allegations of collusion with Mexican federal government forcesIn May 2009, the U.S. National Public Radio (NPR) aired multiple reports alleging that the Mexican federal police and military were working in collusion with the Sinaloa Cartel. In particular, the report claimed the government was helping Sinaloa cartel to take control of the Juarez Valley area and destroy other cartels, especially the Juarez Cartel. NPR's reporters interviewed dozens of officials and ordinary people for the series. One report quotes a former Juarez police commander who claimed the entire department was working for the Sinaloa cartel and helping it to fight other groups. He also claimed that Sinaloa cartel had bribed the military. Also quoted was a Mexican reporter who claimed hearing numerous times from the public that the military had been involved in murders.

Another source in the story was the U.S. trial of Manuel Fierro-Mendez, an ex-Juarez police captain who admitted to working for Sinaloa cartel. He claimed that Sinaloa cartel influenced the Mexican government and military in order to gain control of the region. A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent in the same trial alleged that Fierro-Mendez had contacts with a Mexican military officer.

The report also alleged, with support from an anthropologist who studies drug trafficking, that data on the low arrest rate of Sinaloa cartel members (compared to other groups) was evidence of favoritism on the part of the authorities. A Mexican official denied the allegation of favoritism, and a DEA agent and a political scientist also had alternate explanations for the arrest data. Another report detailed numerous indications of corruption and influence that the cartel has within the Mexican government.

Battling the Tijuana Cartel
The Sinaloa Cartel has been waging a war against the Tijuana Cartel (Arellano-Félix Organization) over the Tijuana smuggling route to the border city of San Diego, California. The rivalry between the two cartels dates back to the Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo setup of Palma's family. Félix Gallardo, following his imprisonment, bestowed the Guadalajara Cartel to his nephews in the Tijuana Cartel. On November 8, 1992 Palma struck out against the Tijuana Cartel at a disco in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, where eight Tijuana Cartel members were killed in the shootout, the Arellano-Félix brothers having successfully escaped from the location with the assistance of Logan Heights gangster David "D" Barron.

In retaliation, the Tijuana Cartel attempted to set up Guzmán at Guadalajara airport on May 24, 1993. In the shootout that followed, six civilians were killed by the hired gunmen from the Logan Heights, San Diego-based 30th Street gang. The deaths included that of Roman Catholic Cardinal Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo. The church hierarchy originally believed Ocampo was targeted as revenge for his strong stance against the drug trade.

However, Mexican officials believe Ocampo just happened to be caught in cross fire. The Cardinal arrived at the airport in a white Mercury Grand Marquis town car, known to be popular amongst drug barons, making it a target. Intelligence received by Logan Heights gang leader David "D" Barron was that Guzmán would be arriving in a white Mercury Grand Marquis town car. This explanation, however, is often countered due to Ocampo having been wearing a long black cassock and large pectoral cross, as well as him sharing no similarity in appearance with Guzmán and having been gunned down from only two feet away.

Edgar Valdéz Villarreal
Edgar "La Barbie" Valdez Villarreal was a Sinaloa cartel lieutenant and the operator of its armed group known as Los Negros, formed by the Sinaloa Cartel to counter the operations of the rival Gulf Cartel's Los Zetas. Los Negros have been known to employ gangs such as the Mara Salvatrucha to carry out murders and other illegal activities. The group is involved in fighting in the Nuevo Laredo region for control of the drug trafficking corridor. Following the 2003 arrest of Gulf Cartel leader Osiel Cárdenas, it is believed the Sinaloa Cartel moved 200 men into the region to battle the Gulf Cartel for control. The Nuevo Laredo region is an important drug trafficking corridor into Laredo, Texas, where as much as 40% of all Mexican exports pass through into the U.S.

Following the 2002 assassination of journalist Roberto Javier Mora García from El Mañana newspaper, much of the local media has been cautious reporting the fighting. The cartels have pressured reporters to send messages and wage a media war. The drug war has spread to various regions of Mexico such as Guerrero, Mexico City, Michoacán, and Tamaulipas.

On 30 August 2010, Villarreal was captured by Mexican Federal Police.

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Los Zetas Cartel

Monday, May 11, 2009 |

Los Zetas Cartel is a criminal organization in Mexico dedicated mostly to international illegal drug trade, assassinations, and other organized crime activities. This drug cartel was founded by a small group of Mexican Army Special Forces deserters and now includes corrupt former federal, state, and local police officers, as well as ex-Kaibiles from Guatemala.

This group of highly trained gunmen was first hired as a private mercenary army for Mexico's Gulf Cartel. After the arrest of the Gulf Cartel's leader, Osiel Cárdenas Guillen, as well as other events, the two entities became a combined trafficking force, with the Zetas taking a more active leadership role in drug trafficking. Since February 2010 Los Zetas have gone independent and became enemies of its former employer/partner, the Gulf Cartel.

Los Zetas are led by Heriberto "El Lazca" Lazcano and are considered by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as probably being the most violent paramilitary enforcement group in Mexico. Los Zetas have expanded their operations to Italy with the 'Ndrangheta.

Etymology
The group's name Los Zetas is given after its first leader, Lieutenant Arturo Guzmán Decena, whose Federal Judicial Police radio code was "Z1", a code given to high-ranking officers. The radio code for Commanding Federal Judicial Police Officers in México was "Y" and are nicknamed Yankees, for Federal Judicial Police in charge of a city the radio code was "Z," and thus they were nicknamed as the letter in Spanish, "Zetas."

Los Zetas posting a recruiting poster for military or former military

History
In the late 1990s, the Gulf Cartel leader, Osiel Cárdenas Guillen, wanted to track down and kill rival cartel members as a form of protection. He began to recruit former Mexican Army’s elite Grupo Aeromóvil de Fuerzas Especiales (GAFE) soldiers. It is argued that they received some of their specialized military training in counter-insurgency and locating and apprehending drug cartel members at the military School of the Americas in the United States, in Fort Benning,Georgia and by other foreign specialists of the United States, France and Israel.

They were trained in rapid deployment, aerial assaults, marksmanship, ambushes, small-group tactics, intelligence collection, counter-surveillance techniques, prisoner rescues and sophisticated communications. Military forces from around the world train at Fort Bragg, so there is nothing unique about Mexican operatives learning counter-insurgency tactics at the facility.

Cardenas Guillen's top recruit, lieutenant Arturo Guzmán Decena, brought with him approximately 30 other GAFE deserters enticed by salaries substantially higher than those paid by the Mexican government. The role of Los Zetas was soon expanded, collecting debts, securing cocaine supply and trafficking routes known as plazas (zones) and executing its foes, often with grotesque savagery.

Guzmán Decena (Z1) was killed by a rival cartel member on November 2002 in a restaurant, while he was dining, so Heriberto Lazcano (Z3) ascended to the leadership of the paramilitaries.

In response to such aggressive efforts on the part of the Zetas to defend and control its smuggling corridors to the United States, the rival Sinaloa Cartel established its own heavily armed enforcer gang, Los Negros. The group operated in a similar fashion to the Zetas, but with less complexity.

Upon the arrest of Gulf Cartel boss Osiel Cardenas Guillen in 2003, Los Zetas negotiated a collaboration pact with the Gulf Cartel and the Beltrán-Leyva Cartel to engage in their own drug shipments.

In February 2010, Los Zetas (and its ally, the Beltran Leyva Cartel) engaged in a violent turf war against its former employer/partner, the Gulf Cartel, in the border city of Reynosa, Tamaulipas, turning some border towns to "ghost towns". It was reported that a Gulf Cartel member killed a top Zeta lieutenant named Victor Mendoza. The Zetas demanded that the Gulf cartel turn over the killer. However the Gulf Cartel refused and an all-out war has broken out between the two criminal organizations.

Current alliances
Since February 2010, the major cartels have aligned in two factions, one integrated by the Juárez Cartel, Tijuana Cartel, Los Zetas and the Beltrán-Leyva Cartel; the other faction integrated by the Gulf Cartel, Sinaloa Cartel and La Familia Cartel.

Organization structure
Los Zetas have set up camps to train recruits as well as corrupt ex-federal, state, and local police officers. In September 2005 testimony to the Mexican Congress, then-Defense Secretary Clemente Vega indicated that the Zetas had also hired at least 30 former Kaibiles from Guatemala to train new recruits because the number of former Mexican special forces men in their ranks had shrunk. Los Zetas' training locations have been identified as containing the same items and setup as GAFE training facilities.

Los Zetas are primarily based in the border region of Nuevo Laredo, with hundreds more throughout the country. In Nuevo Laredo it is believed they have carved the city into territories, placing lookouts at arrival destinations such as airports, bus stations and main roads. In addition to conducting activities along the border, they are visible throughout the Gulf Coast region, in the Southern states of Tabasco, Yucatan, Quintana Roo, and Chiapas, and in the Pacific Coast states of Guerrero, Oaxaca, and Michoacán, as well as in Mexico City. Evidence also indicates that they may be active in Texas, other U.S. states and in Italy with the 'Ndrangheta.

Some of the original members are: Arturo Guzmán Decena (Z-1), Jesús Enrique Rejón Aguilar (Z-2), Heriberto Lazcano (Z-3), Carlos Vera Calva (Z-7), Galdindo Mellado Cruz (Z-9), Flavio Méndez Santiago (Z-10), Jaime González Durán, Rogelio González Pizaña, Efraín Teodoro Torres, Raúl Hernandez Barrón, Óscar Guerrero Silva, Luís Alberto Guerrero Reyes, Mateo Díaz López, Jorge López, Daniel Peréz Rojas, Sergio Enrique Ruiz Tlapanco, Nabor Vargas García, Ernesto Zatarín Beliz, Eduardo Estrada González, Prisciliano Ibarra Yepis, Rogelio Guerra Ramírez, Miguel Ángel Soto Parra, Gonzalo Ceresano Escribano, Daniel Enrique Márquez Aguilar and Germán Torres Jiménez.

Over time, many of the original 31 have been killed or arrested, and a number of younger men have filled the vacuum, forming something that resembles what Los Zetas used to be, but still far from the efficiency of the original Zetas.

Law enforcement raids
Following a joint investigation, titled Operation Black Jack, by the ATF, DEA, ICE and the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through the FBI, two Zeta safe houses were identified and raided, recovering more than 40 kidnapped individuals.

On October 26, 2008, the Washington Times reported of an FBI warning that Los Zetas' cell in Texas were to engage law enforcement with a full tactical response should law enforcement attempt to intervene in their operations; their cell leader was identified as Jaime González Durán (The Hummer), who was later arrested on November 7, 2008, in the border city Reynosa, Tamaulipas. In this operation, three safehouses in Reynosa were raided by elements of the Mexican Federal Police and Mexican Army, yielding the largest weapon seizure in the history of Mexico; it included 540 rifles including 288 assault rifles and several .50-caliber rifles, 287 hand grenades, 2 M72 LAW anti-tank weapons, 500,000 rounds of ammunition, 67 ballistic vests and 14 sticks of dynamite.

In February 2009, Texas Governor Rick Perry announced a program called "Operation Border Star Contingency Plan" to safeguard the border if Zetas carry out their threats to attack U.S. safety officers. This project includes the use of tanks, airplanes and the National Guard "as a preventive measure upon the possible collapse of the Mexican State" to protect the border from the attack of the Zetas and receive an eventual exodus of Mexicans fleeing from the violence.

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Gulf Cartel

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The Gulf Cartel (Spanish: Cartel del Golfo) is a Mexican drug cartel based in Matamoros, Tamaulipas. The cartel is present in 13 states with important areas of operation in the cities of Nuevo Laredo, Miguel Alemán, Reynosa and Matamoros in the northern state of Tamaulipas; it also has important operations in the states of Nuevo León and in Michoacán. The Gulf Cartel traffics cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine and heroin across the U.S.-Mexico border to major cities in the United States. The group is known for its violent methods and intimidation.

Aside from earning money from the sales of narcotics, the cartel also imposes "taxes" on anyone passing narcotics or aliens through Gulf Cartel territory. The cartel is also known to operate protection rackets, extorting money from local businesses and to kidnap for ransom money.

History
Foundation, 1970s - 1996The Gulf Cartel was founded by Juan Nepomuceno Guerra in the 1970s. Nepomuceno Guerra was a notorious Mexican bootlegger who smuggled whiskey into the United States in the 1930s along the Gulf of Mexico. In the 1970s, he became politically active and began smuggling more contraband into the United States, including marijuana and heroin produced in Mexico. His nephew, Juan García Abrego, was born in a ranch called "La Puerta" in Matamoros, Tamaulipas.

He began slowly taking over day-to-day operations of what was now being called the Gulf Cartel. García Abrego expanded the business to include the more lucrative cocaine trade throughout the 1980s and 1990s, all with the assistance of the political connections that his uncle had fostered. Juan García Abrego became so powerful that he was placed on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives in 1995. He was the first drug trafficker to ever be placed on that list. García Abrego was captured in 1996 and extradited to the United States. He is currently serving eleven life terms in a maximum security federal prison in Colorado, U.S.

Arrest of Abrego
Following Abrego's 1996 arrest by Mexican authorities and subsequent deportation to the United States, he was replaced by Oscar Malherbe De León, until his arrest a short time later, causing several cartel lieutenants to fight for the leadership. The next in line was Sergio "El Checko" Gomez, however, his leadership was short lived when he was assassinated in April 1996 by Salvador "Chava" Gómez. After this, Osiel Cárdenas Guillén took control of the Gulf Cartel in July 1999 after assasinating Salvador Gómez.

In 1999, Cárdenas learned that a Gulf Cartel informant was being transported through Matamoros, Tamaulipas, by the FBI and DEA. Cárdenas and his men intercepted and surrounded the vehicle on a public street and demanded the informant be released to him. The FBI and DEA agents refused to turn over their informant, and after a tense standoff they were released. As for Cárdenas, the damage had been done by taking on the U.S. government, which placed pressure on the Mexican government to apprehend Cárdenas. Cárdenas was arrested during a gun battle in Matamoros in March 2003 and sent to the Penal del Altiplano (formerly known as "La Palma"), a federal high security prison.

Since the arrest of Cárdenas Guillen, his two partners -Antonio Ezequiel Cardenas Guillen and Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sánchez- took control of the cartel, with the militant wing —Los Zetas— taking a leadership role; the two groups worked together for a few years, but Los Zetas no longer taking orders from Gulf Cartel.

Since the extradition of Cárdenas Guillen to the U.S., Los Zetas gradually took more control from the Gulf cartel and eventually broke away, formed their own cartel and made an alliance with the Beltrán-Leyva Cartel.

On September 17, 2008, United States Attorney General Michael Mukasey announced that 175 alleged Gulf cartel members were arrested in a crackdown on the cartel in the U.S. and in Italy.

In February 2010, Los Zetas engaged in a violent turf war against his former employer/partner, the Gulf Cartel, in the border city of Reynosa, Tamaulipas, rendering some border towns into "ghost towns".

Alliances
Alliances or agreements between drug cartels have been shown to be fragile, tense and temporary. In 2003, the Gulf Cartel joined in a temporary alliance with the remnants of the Arellano Félix Organization, also known as the Tijuana Cartel, based out of the state of Baja California. This was based primarily on prison negotiations between top leaders such as Benjamín Arellano Félix and Osiel Cárdenas. After a personal dispute between leaders, however, Osiel Cárdenas ordered Benjamín Arellano Félix beaten, and all alliances ceased at that point. It is reported that after the fallout, Cárdenas ordered the Zetas to Baja California to wipe out the Tijuana Cartel.

Since February 2010, the major cartels have aligned in two factions, one integrated by the Juárez Cartel, Tijuana Cartel, Los Zetas and the Beltrán-Leyva Cartel; the other faction integrated by the Gulf Cartel, Sinaloa Cartel and La Familia Cartel.

On November 5, 2010 Antonio Ezequiel Cardenas Guillen was gunned down by the Mexican Army in the earlier hours of the day leaving Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sánchez in charge of the Gulf Cartel.

Structure
On January 20, 2007 and after the extradition of Osiel Cárdenas Guillen to the U.S., the Gulf Cartel's leadership evolved into one with a decentralized structure, with two drug lords sharing control of the cartel: Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sánchez (a.k.a: El Coss) who maintains close contacts with Colombian narcotics suppliers, and Antonio Ezequiel Cárdenas Guillen, who was killed by the Mexican military on November 5, 2010 in the city of Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville in Texas.

The decentralized structure of the cartel differentiates it from other cartels, in that power is shared equally among a set of gatekeepers (plaza heads), each of whom is responsible for running different trafficking routes. Each gatekeeper is also responsible for security and the collection of 'taxes' for each plaza they are responsible for.

Transportation
According to the book "Drug Wars: Narco Warfare in the 21st Century" by Gary Fleming, there are many ways in which drugs enter the United States. Due to the Gulf Cartel's large amount of territory, the cartels utilize every way possible to get drugs into the United States. One avenue that they have implemented is to construct tunnels to get their product across the border.

By constructing a tunnel, the cartel is able to get their product across the border with minimal to no detection. The advantages of having a tunnel are tremendous, not only can they charge for smuggling illegal aliens but they can also use this for human trafficking as carriers of cartels. Each human can carry up to half a million dollars worth of drugs.

Another venture the cartels utilize are the many bus routes across the United States. With each instance of human trafficking, they can have people carry the product with them on a bus and deliver it to its destination. Main hubs for these bus routes include but are not limited to Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, and Dallas. The buses are a vital asset to the cartels because they often go without detection from devices or X-ray machines. The major highways accessed are I35 and I25 which are central highways for the drug trade. The cartel also implements the use of the train system to ship large quantities of illegal drugs.


A narco submarine seized in Ecuador on July 2010Apart from using these common ways, once the product is across the border, common cars and trucks are utilized for faster distribution in different cities. In an effort to use the seas, the cartel also implemented the use of narco submarines.

Indictments
On July 21, 2009, the United States DEA announced coordinated actions against the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas drug trafficking organizations. Antonio Ezequiel Cárdenas Guillen, Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sánchez, Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano and 15 of their top lieutenants, have been charged in U.S. federal courts with drug trafficking-related crimes, while the U.S. State Department announced rewards totaling $50 million USD for information leading to their capture.

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La Familia Michoacana

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La Familia Michoacana (English: The Michoacan Family) or La Familia (English: The Family) is a Mexican drug cartel and an organized crime syndicate based in the Mexican state of Michoacán. Formerly allied to the Gulf Cartel—as part of Los Zetas—it has split off as its own organization since 2006.

The cartel's recently deceased leader, Nazario Moreno González, known as El Más Loco (English: The Craziest One), preached his organization's divine right to eliminate enemies. He carried a "bible" of his own sayings and insisted that his army of traffickers and hitmen avoid using the narcotics they sell. Nazario Moreno's partners are José de Jesús Méndez Vargas, Servando Gómez Martínez and Dionicio Loya Plancarte, each of whom has a bounty of $2 million for his capture.

On July 2009 and on November 2010, La Familia Michoacana offered to retreat and even disband their cartel, "With the condition that both the Federal Government, and State and Federal Police commit to safeguarding the security of the state of Michoacán." However, President Felipe Calderón's government refuses to strike a deal with the cartel and rejected their calls for dialogue.

BackgroundMexican analysts believe that La Familia formed in the 1980s with the stated purpose of bringing order to Michoacán, emphasizing help and protection for the poor. In its initial incarnation, La Familia formed as a group of vigilantes, spurred to power to counter interloping kidnappers and drug dealers, who were their stated enemies. Since then, La Familia has capitalized on its reputation, building its myth, power and reach to transition into a criminal gang itself.

La Familia emerged to the foreground in the 1990s as the Gulf Cartel's paramilitary group designed to seize control of the illegal drug trade in Michoacán state from rival drug cartels. Trained with Los Zetas, in 2006 the group splintered off into an independent drug trafficking operation. La Familia has a strong rivalry with both Los Zetas and the Beltrán-Leyva Cartel, but strong ties with the Sinaloa Cartel of Joaquin Guzman. La Familia Michoacana is one of the strongest and fastest growing cartel in Mexico.

References to religion
La Familia cartel is sometimes described as quasi-religious since its leaders, Moreno González and Méndez Vargas, refer to their assassinations and beheadings as "divine justice" and that they may have direct or indirect ties with devotees of the New Jerusalem religious movement, which is noted for its concern for justice issues.

La Familia’s boss and spiritual leader Nazario Moreno González, (a.k.a.: El Más Loco or The Craziest One) has published his own 'bible', and a copy seized by Mexican federal agents reveals an ideology that mixes evangelical-style self help with insurgent peasant slogans. Moreno González, who was killed on 9 December 2010, seems to have based most of his doctrine on a work by Christian writer John Eldredge, using their own understanding of the idea in Eldredge's message that every man must have "a battle to fight, a beauty to rescue and an adventure to live."

The Mexican justice department stated in a report that Gonzalez Moreno has made Eldredge's book Salvaje de Corazón (Wild at Heart) required reading for La Familia gang members and has paid rural teachers and National Development Education (CONAFE) to circulate Eldredge's writings throughout the Michoacán countryside.

La Familia cartel emphasize religion and family values during recruitment and has placed banners in areas of operations claiming that it does not tolerate substance abuse or exploitation of women and children. According to Mexico Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna, it recruits members from drug rehabilitation clinics by helping addicts recover and then forcing them into service for the drug cartel or be killed. Advancement within the organisation depends as much on regular attendance at prayer meetings as on target practice. The cartel gives loans to farmers, businesses, schools and churches, and it advertises its benevolence in local newspapers in order to gain social support.

On July 16, 2009, a man by the name of Servando Gómez Martínez (La Tuta) identified himself as the 'chief of operations' of the cartel when he contacted a local radio station. In his radio message, Gómez stated: "La Familia was created to look after the interests of our people and our family. We are a necessary evil," and when asked what La Familia really wanted, Gómez replied, "The only thing we want is peace and tranquility." President Felipe Calderón's government refuses to strike a deal with the cartel and rejected their calls for dialogue.

On April 20, 2009, about 400 Federal Police agents raided a christening party for a baby born to a cartel member. Among the 44 detained was Rafael Cedeño Hernández (El Cede), the gang’s second in command and in charge of indoctrinating the new recruits in the cartel's religious values, morals and ethics.

Current alliances
Since February 2010, the major cartels have aligned in two factions, one made up of the Juárez Cartel, Tijuana Cartel, Los Zetas and the Beltrán-Leyva Cartel; the other faction made up of the Gulf Cartel, Sinaloa Cartel and La Familia Michoacana, these last three now known as Carteles Unidos.

Operations
La Familia has been known to be unusually violent. Its members use murder and torture to quash rivals, while building a social base in the Mexican state of Michoacán. It is the fastest-growing cartel in the country’s drug war and is a religious cult-like group that celebrates family values. In one incident in Uruapan in 2006, the cartel members tossed five decapitated heads onto the dance floor of the Sol y Sombra night club along with a message that read: "The Family doesn’t kill for money. It doesn’t kill women. It doesn’t kill innocent people, only those who deserve to die. Know that this is divine justice."

The cartel has moved from smuggling and selling drugs and turned itself into a much more ambitious criminal organization which acts as a parallel state in much of Michoacán. It extorts "taxes" from businesses, pays for community projects, controls petty crime, and settles some local disputes. Despite its short history, it has emerged as Mexico’s largest supplier of methamphetamines to the United States, with supply channels running deep into the Midwestern United States, and has increasingly become involved in the distribution of cocaine, marijuana, and other narcotics.

Michael Braun, former DEA chief of operations, states that it operates "superlabs" in Mexico capable of producing up to 100 pounds of meth in eight hours. However, according to DEA officials, it claims to oppose the sale of drugs to Mexicans. It also sells pirated DVDs, smuggles people to the United States, and runs a debt-collecting service by kidnapping defaulters. Because often times they use fake and sometimes original uniforms of several police agencies, most of their kidnap victims are stopped under false pretenses of routine inspections or report of stolen vehicles, and then taken hostage.

La Familia has also bought some local politicians. 20 municipal officials have been murdered in Michoacán, including two mayors. Having established its authority, it then names local police chiefs. On May 2009, the Mexican Federal Police detained 10 mayors of Michoacán and 20 other local officials suspected of being associated with the cartel.

On July 11, 2009, a cartel lieutenant— Arnoldo Rueda Medina —was arrested; La Familia members attacked the Federal Police station in Morelia to try to gain freedom for Rueda shortly after his arrest. During the attacks, two soldiers and three federal policemen were killed. When that failed, cartel members attacked Federal Police installations in at least a half-dozen Michoacán cities in retribution.

Three days later, on July 14, 2009, the cartel tortured and murdered twelve Mexican Federal Police agents and dumped their bodies along the side of a mountain highway along with a written message: "So that you come for another. We will be waiting for you here." The federal agents were investigating crime in Michoacán state; President Calderón, responded to the violence by dispatching additional 1,000 Federal Police officers to the area. The infusion, which more than tripled the number of Federal Police officers patrolling Michoacán, angered Michoacán Governor Leonel Godoy Rangel, who called it 'an occupation' and said he had not been consulted. Days later, 10 municipal police officers were arrested in connection with the slayings of the 12 federal agents.

The governor's half-brother Julio César Godoy Toscano, who was just elected July 5, 2009, to the lower house of Congress, was accused to be a top-ranking member of La Familia Michoacana drug cartel and of providing political protection for the cartel. Based on these charges, on 14 December 2010, Godoy Toscano was impeached from the lower house of Congress and therefore no longer enjoys immunity (Spanish: fuero).

President Calderón stated that the country's drug cartels had grown so powerful that they now posed a threat to the future of Mexican democracy. His strategy of direct confrontation and law enforcement is not popular with some segments of Mexican society, where battling violent drug gangs has brought out several human rights charges against the Mexican military.

Project Coronado
Kilograms of cocaine seized
Small part of US currency seizedOn October 22, 2009, U.S. federal authorities announced the results of a four-year investigation into the operations of La Familia Michoacana in the United States dubbed Project Coronado. It was the largest U.S. raid ever against Mexican drug cartels operating in the U.S. In 19 different states, 303 individuals were taken into custody in a coordinated effort by local, state, and federal law enforcement over a two-day period. Seized during the arresting phase was over 62 kilograms (140 lb) of cocaine, 330 kilograms (730 lb) of methamphetamine, 440 kilograms (970 lb) of marijuana, 144 weapons, 109 vehicles, and two clandestine drug laboratories.

Since the start of "Project Coronado", the investigation has led to the arrest of more than 1,186 people and the seizure of approximately $33 million. Overall, almost 2 metric tons (2.2 short tons) of cocaine, 1,240 kilograms (2,700 lb) of methamphetamine, 13 kilograms (29 lb) of heroin, 7,430 kilograms (16,400 lb) of marijuana, 389 weapons, 269 vehicles, and the two drug labs were seized.

"Multi-agency investigations such as Project Coronado are the key to disrupting the operations of complex criminal organizations like La Familia. Together—with the strong collaboration of our international, federal, state, and local partners—we have dealt a substantial blow to a group that has polluted our neighborhoods with illicit drugs and has terrorized Mexico with unimaginable violence", said FBI Director Mueller.

The investigative efforts in Project Coronado were coordinated by the multi-agency Special Operations Division, comprising agents and analysts from the DEA, FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Marshals Service and ATF, as well as attorneys from the Criminal Division's Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section. More than 300 federal, state, local and foreign law enforcement agencies contributed investigative and prosecutorial resources to Project Coronado through OCDETF.

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Beltrán-Leyva Cartel

Sunday, May 10, 2009 |

The Beltrán-Leyva Cartel (Spanish: Cártel de los Beltrán Leyva) is a Mexican drug cartel and organized crime syndicate founded by the four Beltrán Leyva brothers: Marcos Arturo, Carlos, Alfredo and Héctor.

The cartel is responsible for cocaine transportation and wholesaling, marijuana production and wholesaling, and heroin production and wholesaling, controls numerous drug trafficking corridors, and engages in human smuggling, money laundering, extortion, kidnapping, murder and gun-running. The Beltrán Leyva brothers, who were formerly aligned with the Sinaloa Cartel, are now allies of Los Zetas.

History
Born in the Sinaloan countryside in the 1960s, the Beltrán Leyva brothers – Marcos Arturo, Carlos, Alfredo and Héctor – worked closely with Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, during decades of smuggling. Sensing a void in the rival Gulf Cartel after Osiel Cárdenas' arrest on March 14, 2003, the Sinaloa Cartel began to move into Gulf Cartel territory. Both gangs have been battling each other in northern Mexican cities since then, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of people including civilians, police and journalists. About 90% of the deaths are of drug traffickers.

In 2004 and 2005, Arturo Beltrán Leyva led powerful groups of assassins to fight for trade routes in northeastern Mexico for the Sinaloa Cartel. Through the use of corruption or intimidation, the Beltrán Leyva Cartel has been able to infiltrate Mexico's political, judicial and police institutions to feed classified information about anti-drug operations, and has even infiltrated the Interpol office in Mexico.

Switch of alliances
The arrest of Alfredo Beltrán Leyva (a.k.a.: El Mochomo) on January 20, 2008, was a huge blow to the Sinaloa Cartel, as he allegedly oversaw large-scale drug-smuggling operations and was a key money launderer for the cartel. In apparent revenge for the arrest of his brother Alfredo, Arturo ordered the assassination of the commissioner of the Federal Police, Édgar Eusebio Millán Gómez, and other top federal officials in the Mexican capital.[ One group of these hit men was captured in a Mexico City house with dozens of assault rifles, pistols, grenade launchers, 30 hand grenades, and bullet-proof jackets bearing the legend FEDA — the Spanish acronym for 'Special Forces of Arturo'. Apparently, the Beltrán Leyva brothers blamed their boss Joaquin "Chapo" Guzmán for their brother's arrest, and ordered the assassination of Guzmán's son, 22 year-old Édgar Guzmán López, which was carried out in a shopping center parking lot by at least 15 gunmen using assault rifles and grenade launchers.

The residual impact of Alfredo’s arrest not only undermined long-term Sinaloa alliances, but resurrected animosities between rival cartel leaders Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán and Arturo’s new allies, the Juárez Cartel, and provided the catalyst behind the bloodshed in Mexico’s most-violent city: Ciudad Juárez. The Beltrán Leyva brothers, and those loyalists who departed the Sinaloa Cartel with them, have allied with Los Zetas, causing an escalation of conflict in strongholds shared uneasily by "old" Sinaloa leaders.

In February 2010, the Beltrán-Leyva Cartel and los Zetas engaged in a violent turf war against the new alliance integrated by the Gulf Cartel, Sinaloa Cartel and La Familia Cartel in the border city of Reynosa, Tamaulipas, rendering some border towns "ghost towns".

Official reports from early 2010 mention a current infighting for the control of the cartel and its territory. One faction is led by liuetenants Édgar Valdez Villarreal and Gerardo Alvarez-Vazquez, while the other is led by Héctor Beltrán Leyva and his lieutenant Sergio Villarreal Barragán. On April 2010 Héctor Beltrán Leyva created a cartel cell or branch in Morelos state named Cartel del Pacífico Sur (English: South Pacific Cartel) best known for having employed a 12-year-old gunman and executioner.

Since February 2010, the major cartels have aligned in two factions, one integrated by the Juárez Cartel, Tijuana Cartel, Los Zetas and the Beltrán-Leyva Cartel; the other faction integrated by the Gulf Cartel, Sinaloa Cartel and La Familia Cartel.

Assets
The cartel's assets include:

Dominance over drug and other illegal activities at airports in Mexico, Monterrey, Toluca, Cancún, and Acapulco;

Hotels and restaurants, constructed to launder money, in Cancún, Acapulco, Cozumel, and other resorts;

A working agreement with Los Zetas.

Supply corridors for moving marijuana, heroin, and methamphetamine from the Andes to the Arctic;

Capability to extort, launder money, run guns, smuggle humans, promote prostitution, and carry out kidnappings;

Operations in Mexico City, Chiapas, Guerrero Mexico State, Morelos, Nuevo León, Querétaro, Quintana Roo, Sinaloa, Sonora, and Tamaulipas, as well as in the United States and Canada;

Access to some high-ranking public figures and Army personnel whom they have bribed or intimidated.

Suppliers
The Beltrán Leyva brothers’ Colombian cocaine supplier, Ever Villafane Martínez, was arrested in Morelos in August 2008. Since then, the organization has pursued a relationship with Víctor and Darío Espinoza Valencia of Colombia’s Norte del Valle cartel.

Bounty
The United States is offering a US$5 million reward for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of Héctor Beltrán Leyva, who now leads the drug cartel.

Alfredo Beltran Leyva

Captures
Alfredo Beltrán Leyva was captured on January 20, 2008, Arturo was killed by Mexican Marines in a shoot-out on December 16, 2009. Carlos Beltrán Leyva was captured by the Mexican Federal Police on December 30, 2009, in Culiacán, Sinaloa after showing authorities a fake driver's license. On April 22, 2010, a cartel lieutenant Gerardo Alvarez-Vazquez was captured on the outskirts of Mexico city; the U.S. had been offering a $2 million U.S. bounty for his arrest. Hector's rival, Edgar Valdez Villarreal, was arrested on August 30, 2010 outside Mexico City. On September 12, 2010 Sergio Villarreal Barragán was arrested in the city of Puebla, east of Mexico City. Héctor Beltrán Leyva, is still at large and considered to be the leader of what remains of the cartel.

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Guadalajara Cartel

Saturday, May 9, 2009 |

The Guadalajara Cartel was a Mexican drug cartel which was formed in the 1980s by Rafael Caro Quintero, Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo and Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo in order to ship heroin and marijuana to the United States. Among the first of the Mexican drug trafficking groups to work with the Colombian cocaine mafias, the Guadalajara cartel prospered from the cocaine trade.

After the arrest of Rafael Caro Quintero and Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, Félix Gallardo kept a low profile and in 1987 he moved with his family Guadalajara city. "The Godfather" then decided to divide up the trade he controlled as it would be more efficient and less likely to be brought down in one law enforcement swoop. In a way, he was privatizing the Mexican drug business while sending it back underground, to be run by bosses who were less well known or not yet known by the DEA.

Félix Gallardo "The Godfather" convened the nation's top drug narcos at a house in the resort of Acapulco where he designated the plazas or territories. The Tijuana route would go to the Arellano Felix brothers. The Ciudad Juárez route would go to the Carrillo Fuentes family. Miguel Caro Quintero would run the Sonora corridor.

The control of the Matamoros, Tamaulipas corridor - then becoming the Gulf Cartel- would be left undisturbed to Juan García Abrego. Meanwhile, Joaquín Guzmán Loera and Ismael Zambada García would take over Pacific coast operations, becoming the Sinaloa Cartel. Guzmán and Zambada brought veteran Héctor Luis Palma Salazar back into the fold. Félix Gallardo still planned to oversee national operations, he had the contacts so he was still the top man, but he would no longer control all details of the business; he was arrested on April 8, 1989.

According to Peter Dale Scott, the Guadalajara Cartel, Mexico's most powerful drug-trafficking network in the early 1980s, prospered largely because it enjoyed the protection of the Dirección Federal de Seguridad, under its chief Miguel Nassar Haro, a CIA asset."

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Gunmen Kill Chief of Mexico’s Police

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On 8 May, Mexico's top policeman, Edgar Millan, was shot dead outside his home in Mexico City.

It is the equivalent of killing the head of the Metropolitan Police in London, or the director of the FBI in the US.

Two other senior officers were then killed in the space of two days, the murders blamed on Mexico's powerful drug gangs.


Edgar Millan Gomez, the acting chief of Mexico's federal police, in January.

Mexico City — Gunmen assassinated the acting chief of Mexico’s federal police early on Thursday morning in the most brazen attack so far in the year-and-a-half-old struggle between the government and organized crime gangs.

The Mexican police have been under constant attack since President Felipe Calderón took office in December 2007 and started an offensive against drug cartels that had corrupted the municipal police forces and local officials in several towns along the border with the United States and on both coasts.

Since then, Mr. Calderón has sent thousands of federal agents and troops into those areas to establish law and order, provoking retaliation from drug cartels that have killed about 200 officers, among them at least 30 federal agents.

The acting chief, Edgar Millán Gómez, was ambushed by several men wearing rubber gloves and carrying weapons as he entered his apartment building in the Guerrero neighborhood of Mexico City with two bodyguards at 2:30 a.m. He was hit eight times in the chest and once in a hand. He died a few hours later at Metropolitan Hospital.

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