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

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Drug War in Pictures

The bodies of three men and one woman were found hanging from a bridge in Cuidad de Tampico in the state of Tamaulipas. The corpses were discovered around 5:30 in the commercial and finacial zones of the city. Members of the Mexican army quickly removed them. These types of killing and beheading are increasing on the border, especially in this state which has seen a bitter war of attrition between remnants of the Gulf cartel and their former allies Los Zetas.

Two male bodies are found partially clothed in the Infonavit Angel Trians zone of Juarez. Both were severely beaten but had no obvious gunshot wounds.

A vendor is shot as he sells newspapers the dangerous streets. According to police, the murderers fired six shots from a vehicle before fleeing the scene.

Two federal police officers are executed in the central zone of Cuidad Juarez. The officers were standing at the entrance of the Hotel Verde when they were fired upon by masked gunmen. Rumors indicate both victims had been doing intelligence work and that may be a motive for the crime, although no official statements have confirmed this.

On Sunday police arrested a suspect in the Juarez car bombing in July that killed three people and a man who was killed and used as bait to lure investigators to the scene. José Iván Contreras Lumbreras, known as El Keiko, placed the vehicle laden with explosives that killed a paramedic, and two police officers. He is also suspected of a car bombing in Bolivia on September 16th. El Keiko is a member of la Linea and is also part of kidnapping ring that operates in the city of Juarez.

A man's body is found calcinado or burned to a crisp in a Nissan Pathfinder on the street Villa De las Palmas in Tijuana. Although there are no witnesses or evidence the vehicle has been there for the last 24 - 36 hours before authorities secured the crime scene.

NL Mayor was killed for $6k, two in custody

By MARK WALSH / Associated Press Writer

MONTERREY, Mexico (AP) - Two men were arrested for killing a small-town Mexican mayor over a land dispute in a $6,000 contract killing, prosecutors said Thursday.

Nuevo Leon state Attorney General Alejandro Garza y Garza ruled out the involvement of drug gangs that have been blamed for the assassination of many other mayors in Mexico.

Prisciliano Rodriguez, mayor of Doctor Gonzalez, was gunned down Sept. 23 along with an aide. He was the fourth mayor killed in northeastern Mexico in a month.

Garza y Garza said the two detained men confessed to killing the mayor over a land dispute. He said an uncle of one of the two suspects hired them a week before the assassination, asking them if they "wanted a little job." The uncle remains at large.

The men were paid an initial $3,000 and given an R-15 rifle, an Uzi and a revolver, Garza y Garza said. On the day of the assassination, the uncle called his nephew and demanded the money back if they did not carry out the killing, the prosecutor said.

The suspects told police they traveled later that day to Doctor Gonzalez, where the mayor was coordinating a program to provide metal roofing to residents, Garza y Garza said.

He said the pair waited until Rodriguez got out of his car and opened fire about 20 times. The uncle allegedly met with them later that day and paid them the remaining $3,000.

Police recovered guns buried in the backyard of one of the suspects, and are checking them to determine if they matched those used in the assassination, Garza y Garza said.

He did not give details of the land dispute.Small-town mayors are frequently assassinated in Mexico. Land disputes are sometimes the motive, but most attacks have been blamed on drug gangs that have tried to use isolated, lightly patrolled towns to hide and hold kidnap victims, weapons and drugs.

Source: El Paso Times

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Triple blow to Los Teo's kidnapping ring

The District Attorney for the state of Baja California has received confessions from members of a gang known as Los Teos, who were captured after information from a kidnapped victim led to their arrest. The men worked in cells managed by Hector Guadardo Hernandez, El Guicho and Juan Miguel Valles Beltran, El Boxer and they have been implicated in several homicides of police officers since 2009. Investigators are waiting on ballistics reports to see which executions the detainees participated in.

Authorities say a series of arrests deal a triple blow to the cells of El Guicho. One of the men was a known kidnapper, the other two were sicarios for the group. All were captured during a three day investigation which also led to the release of two kidnapping victims being held by the Los Teos gang.

The downfall of the cell began the evening of Monday September 21rst, when state police came across a young man nervous and shivering in his underwear, wandering through the streets of colonia Villas de Baja California de Tijuana. The youth informed the officers that he and his uncle had been the victims of a kidnapping by a group of five armed men who were traveling in a Honda CRV.

He related to patrolmen that the two men had been abducted at gunpoint and taken to an office in building in the same colonia. Officers then called for backup to the secure location of the suspects.

They were met by Erick Adrian Lamas Tello, 18 years old who was in possession of an Uzi 9mm sub machine gun and was standing guard over the youths' uncle, who was laying on the floor, his hands and feet had been crudely tied with an electrical cord. At the scene officers secured another 9mm pistol and several clips of ammunition. Acting on information from Lamas, state police raided a nearby safehouse that seemed to turn up nothing until the morning of the 22nd.

This time in colonia Sanchez Taboada de Tijuana, at the intersection of Gemini and Virgo, police patrolling the area followed a vehicle that was speeding excessively without regard for officer's presence. When officers stopped the grey Volkswagen Passat they found Alejandro Moreno Tinajero, age 27 and Jose Cristobal Perez, age 35 in possession of two fully loaded handguns; a .40 caliber Glock and a Smith and Wesson 9mm.

The pair confessed that the handguns belonged to Rodolfo Gomez, 'El Pienetas' or 'El Rodolf' age 45, who had sent them to kill a man whose name they didn't know.

Jose Cristobal Perez was more detailed in his confession and revealed that he lived in Guadalajara and belonged to the Mileno Cartel, his main duties consisted of killing and kidnapping rivals at the order of Felipe Acosta, alias El Pecas who in turn received his orders from El Choco, El Pelon who in turn took orders from M or Mecho, the presumed leader of the organization.

He also said he had only been in Tijuana a few days when most of the members of his cell were detained during a military operation in Jalisco. He was lucky enough to escape that incident and had since found “work” with Rodolfo Gomez. When Perez lead them to the safehouse he had been staying at, the investigators realized this was the same domicile they had raided and rescued the young man and his uncle the previous night.

Edgar Sabino Aburto Lince and
Antonio Flores Zapata at their presentation.

The third blow was dealt to the group on Tuesday the 23rd on the boulevard of Benito Juarez de playas de Rosarito, when police saw two men acting suspiciously and trying to duck behind cars when they say the patrolmen. Upon searching the two suspects, officers found a pair of loaded handguns on Edgar Sabino Aburto Lince, age 24 and luis Antonio Flores Zapata, age 21. The latter confessed to the murder of a man in colonia Constitucion a week earlier. Both admitted to being members of an organized crime ring led by Juan Miguel Valles Beltran, El Boxer who was running a sub-set of the larger gang known as Los Teos under the guidance of El Guicho.

Lince and Zapata were operating in various cells in Tijuana for Los Teos and are believed to be responsible for the murder of several civilians and police officers in relation to the sale of drugs, including an attack on municipal officers on October 27th 2009 and the murder of Rogelio Sanchez Jimenz, functionary of the Finance Secretary for the State government, whose body was found hanging from a bridge in Tijuana on the 9th of October the same year.

A week before the incident on the 21rst, Erick Adrian Llama Tello had been detained with several small caliber weapons. On that occasion police took the weapons as evidence and submitted them for ballistic analysis to see if they had been used in previous murders. The problem was nobody processed the guns or the report, then a week later Llamas turns up along with five others as suspects in a kidnapping case using firearms that may or may not have already been taken in as evidence.

To date, the authorities of the state are still awaiting the ballistics report from the State Prosecutors office to determine which of the men arrested participated in murders El Guicho's men have been implicated in.

Sources: BDT, AFN

Sinaloa captive video reveals corruption

It is an old video, shot before the July 4th gubernatorial and mayoral elections this year in Chihuahua.

We can date it accurately because the body of the man you are listening to, Miguel Angel Acosta Peralta, was one of four execution victims hung from highway overpasses in the city of Chihuahua, the capitol of the state also named Chihuahua, on the morning of July 4th.

We learn that a cell of Sinaloa cartel gunmen has been captured in the city Chihuahua, which like Ciudad Juarez, is a battleground between Chapo Guzman’s “gente nueva” and the Juarez cartel. They are probably prisoners of “La Linea”, the Juarez cartel’s paramilitary gunmen.

It is the same monologue by a captured gangster, “soltando la sopa” or spilling the beans in narco slang, and the same weary brutality inflicted on the now powerless captive who was surely living the gangster lifestyle hours before his starring role in his own tragedy.

It is likely that he was also delivering the same pain on his own victims. It is a testament to our humanity if we feel sympathy for Miguel, for he probably would not have any for you.

The video begins with the captive introducing himself and naming his cell leader and the hierarchy up to Chapo Guzman. It is hard to tell if he has been coached on his answers, either way his recall seems very clear under duress.

He tells us that his cell is under the command of “el Flaco” Salgueiro, an important trafficker from Durango who allegedly works directly under Chapo Guzman. “El Flaco” and his band are believed to be responsible for the kidnapping and deaths in 2008 of two prominent members of the Mormon community in Chihuahua, Benjamin LeBaron and Luis Widmar.

Thenty eight seconds into the video Miguel Acosta names a General Felipe de Jesus Espitia as being under the control of Chapo Guzman. It is hard to imagine someone at the organizational level of Acosta having this knowledge of corruption at the highest levels. Maybe it was common knowledge or maybe he was coached by his captors to repeat this accusation.

In April of this year La Linea accused General Espitia, who at that time was the commander of the military’s Fifth Military Zone which includes Chihuahua, of reneging on an agreement to co-operate with La Linea and aligning himself with the Sinaloa cartel instead. The accusation was publicized on narco banners in April that stated the General was Chapo’s right hand in Chihuahua.

General Felipe de Jesus Espitia

On July 1st of this year General Espitia was relieved of command of The Fifth Military Zone and the Joint Coordinated Operation Chihuahua, the operation responsible for command of Federal Police and the Army in the fight against drug trafficking. He had been in command for 2 years and 3 months.

General Espitia was given command of a Mexican Air Force base in Santa Gertrudis, Chihuahua. The military high command would only state that the transfer of duties was due to normal rotation of commanders. It is not known if General Espidia was investigated for links to organized crime.

Since 2008, human rights lawyers in Chihuahua have documented 170 cases of soldiers under the command of General Espitia being involved in kidnapping, torturing and extorting civilians.

At 45 seconds into the video Miguel Acosta states that his cell leader, Rolando Valdez Villaseñor, works in collusion with two Federal Police officials, “agente Lemos” and “agente Ricardo”. Acosta accuses the federal policemen of committing extortion, kidnapping, armed robbery, car theft and dealing in drugs and arms, and homicide.

Acosta then names the locations of several safe houses with arms and vehicles used by corrupt Federal Police forces and Sinaloa cartel cells.

These were exactly the same crimes that Federal Police mutineers in Juarez accused their superiors of committing during the one day uprising in Ciudad Juarez last month.

At 2 minutes 30 seconds Acosta begins to describe the operations of the Sinaloa cartel in the CERESO prison located in Aquiles Serdan , a municipality neighboring Chihuahua city.

He states that members of the Mexicles prison gang under the command of the Sinaloa cartel and incarcerated in the Serdan CERESO are sent out from the prison to commit homicides and kidnappings. This video actually predates the video of the policeman captured by Zetas who describes in detail the mass murders perpetrated by inmates of the CERESO prison in Gomez Palacio, Durango.

One of the bodies hung from the highway bridges on the morning of July 4th was that of a prison official, Juan Scott, who worked at the Serdan CERESO.

Acosta then describes where cocaine is sold to local drug consumers . He continues naming other members of the Sinaloa Cartel who traffic drugs and commit kidnappings and contract murders in Chihuahua.

At 4 minutes and 55 seconds the camera pans to Acosta’s right into another room where eight bound and blindfolded men are laying on the floor. Acosta describes them as Sinaloa Cartel sicarios, or contract killers. He also describes how stolen vehicles were used and rotated among the captured sicarios.

On the morning of July 4th, in addition to Acosta and Juan Scott, the bodies of eight other men were found executed in Chihuahua city. Police officials said at that time that all 10 men had been murdered by the same group of gunmen, due to the fact that all 10 men were bound with the same brand of yellow plastic tie handcuffs.

In the video Acosta is seen bound behind his back with steel handcuffs but in the photo where his body is hung from the bridge he is bound with the same yellow handcuffs with his hands in front.

At the end of his monologue Acosta describes how his cell leader, Rolando Villaseñor, betrayed him and sent a group of soldiers to kill him but he managed to buy his life from the soldiers for 120,000 pesos and his vehicles.

At 6 minutes 36 seconds, the inevitable begins horribly for Miguel Acosta.

Miguel Angel Acosta in death

In addition to this video a second video was also released. This video shows gunmen belonging to the Sinaloa cartel in their safehouse and in the streets of Chihuahua in broad daylight displaying their power to the local citizens.

This video was probably captured along with one of the bound sicarios shown in the video and executed soon after.

And so ends the story of 10 more deaths in this conflict. Can we believe the claims of collusion by government officials documented here, were they just propaganda or the truth? And if they are true how can the claims of progress by the government against corruption be believed?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

García Luna denies meeting Arturo Beltran Leyva

Sept 28th Mexico City – At an appearance today with the San Lazaro commission, the Secretary of Public Security (SSP) said that the investigation into the massacre of 72 migrantes at a farm in San Fernando, Tamaulipas has resulted in the arrest of individuals believed to be responsible for the murders.

In response to a question during a press conference, Garcia Luna denied rumors that he had met with Arturo Beltran Leyva only hours before the drug lord died after an armed confrontation with elements of the Mexican Army in the city of Morelos. He rejected “with full contention” that he had a friendship of any kind the man known as El Jefe de Jefes.

These are lies, like so many that have been created in order to generate media speculation; its a lie, that's it. Period. All the work that the intelligence community does on behalf of the federal government, including the operation that brought down Arturo Beltran Leyva was acted upon with the full participation of the SSP.

He who accuses bears the burden of proofand he assured that the dates and times of his supposed meetings were “misinterpreted, the accounts do not correspond to the truth and are part of a media scheme contrived against him.
Update 9/29/10
The Deputy for the Labor Party, Gerardo Fernandez Norona has demanded Secretary of Public Security, Genaro Garcia Luna give an accurate statement of his financial accounts and his properties, in addition to asking that the SSP take responsibility for the injustices that have occurred in the country during his watch.

Calling the Garcia Luna names like “Murderer” and “Wealthy Man” the deputy said in his accusations, “Since the year you got started your criminal career has advanced dramatically.” Fernandez Norona also asked the SSP to explain how he could afford a 20 mil peso (1.6 USD) home, camping grounds estimated value 15 mil pesos which were converted into a restaurant now with an estimated value of 7.5 mil pesos, all on the salary of a public official, a yearly 250,000 pesos.

Accusing Garcia Luna of murder, Fernandez Norona proceeded with his comments on the floor of the Chamber of Deputies, “You are the worst the Calderon Government has to offer, we will not rest until you pay for your crimes.” as he rattled off cases of kidnappings and murders of politicians that have occurred in the past few months on Mexico.

“I ask you where is Diego Fernandez de Cevallos? Since you're such a spectacular investigator I find myself wondering how is you haven't the slightest clue where is such an important political and national figure?”

The Deputy also referred to the innocent victims that have died, including the students from Tec de Monterrey, in that case the deceased had firearms planted on them to make them look like sicarios, a statement that was later retracted by the SSP. He also accused Garcia Luna of cronyism

“You have your sister Esperanza Garcia Luna on the payroll to the tune of 180,000 pesos working as a secretary in the agency which you direct. She makes about as much as the head of the central back of Mexico.”

In response Garcia Luna produced various documents and receipts to show how he paid for these properties and vehemently denied the charges leveled against him. He maintained that he has been a servant of the state for 15 years and had 15 years worth of documentation to back up his property purchases. Furthermore, the SSP stated that he was a champion of human rights, which to his admission there have been mistakes but his office has cooperated fully with the office of the Attorney General (PGR), to facilitate the arrest of violent narcotraffickers.

To give this story context, this is not the first time Garcia Luna has had to deny ties to organized crime. I didn't translate it and although the article is two years old, I felt it would be a good piece to go along with the events of today's appearance by the Secretary of Public Security.
- Smurf

Links Between Mexican Security Secretary Garcia Luna and Drug Kingpin “El Mayo”

Tuesday, November 25th 2008
by Ricardo Ravelo, Proceso
translated by Kristin Bricker

Federal police say Garcia Luna's bodyguards witnessed the head of Mexico's Public Security Ministry discuss an "agreement" with a drug cartel gangster
The Secretary of Public Security, Genaro Garcia Luna, who is considered untouchable and Felipe Calderon's "spoiled official," has maintained numerous public officials accused of having links to drug traffickers--El Mayo Zamabada in particular--in his inner circle. An investigation carried out by agents who are opposed to the proposed police integration assure in a letter sent to Congress, which Proceso has a copy of, that this past October numerous armed men intercepted Garcia Luna on a highway and disarmed members of his escort while a gangster warned him, "This is the first and last warning so that you know that, yes, we can get to you if you don't follow through on the pact..." The document adds that then Garcia Luna withdrew from the spot for four hours in order to negotiate with the gangster...
Federal police protest Garcia LunaWith his powerful tentacles and his ability to corrupt police and infiltrate the institutions responsible for combatting drug trafficking--including the National Defense Department--, Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada Garcia has extensive control within the Public Security Ministry (SSP in its Spanish initials), which is led by Genaro Garcia Luna, whose main collaborators--some of them currently held under administrative detention--are accused of being at the service of the man who today is considered to be the top boss of the Sinaloa cartel.

The owner of estates and ranches, untouchable in Sinaloa--his stronghold--, Zambada Garcia has broad networks of complicity at his disposal in the most important departments in the PGR [Federal Attorney General's Office], such as the SIEDO [the Assistant Attorney General’s Office for Specialized Investigation of Organized Crime], and in the SSP, where various top-level officials are being investigated for serving the gangster who, following the example of Amado Carrillo--who for many years was his business partner--, transformed his appearance with plastic surgery.

Also untouchable and considered to be President Felipe Calderon's "spoiled official," Garcia Luna doesn't appear to escape the networks that Zambada Garcia and the Beltran Leyva brothers created in the SSP. The Beltran Leyva brothers left the Sinaloa cartel following a division sparked by the aprehension of Alfredo "El Mochomo" Beltran this past January.

Police who are opposed to the federal police unification project carried out an investigation regarding the alleged ties between Garcia Luna and Zambada Garcia's and Arturo "El Barbas" Beltran Leyva's cells.

In a field investigation, backed up by records and revelations that were supposedly made by Garcia Luna's own body guards, the police agents reconstructed an episode that occurred this past October 19 in Morelos state, which they recount in a letter sent to the Chamber of Deputies [Mexico's lower house of Congress] and the Senate with the goal of demonstrating, according to the agents, the danger that granting more power to the SSP would entail. They assert that a significant number of SSP police commanders are working for drug traffickers.

The document details:
...This past October 19 (...) the current Federal Secretary of Public Security, Genaro Garcia Luna and his escort, comprised of approximately 27 agents, (...) was intercepted or summoned on the Cuernavaca-Tepoztlan highway by a high-ranking gangster who was accompanied by an undetermined number of shooters or hitmen in approximately 10 armored Suburbans. Said official's escort did nothing to protect him, apparently due to a verbal order from him (Garcia Luna).
The letter that is now in the hands of legislators--a copy was delivered to Proceso--adds that members of Garcia Luna's escort, under orders "from the high ranking drug gangster," were disarmed and blindfolded for "approximately four hours."

The agents who are familiar with the incident, and whose names are omitted for fear of reprisals, state in the document that the "gangster's" voice said to Garcia Luna: "This is the first and last warning so that you know that, yes, we can get to you if you don't follow through on the pact."

The document asserts that, after the gangster's statement, Garcia Luna retreated, "leaving his escorts to their own luck, without knowing the route he took or what he did during those four long hours, time in which he could talk in a more comfortable place away from the spot where the alleged incident occurred."

And, in another point, the letter says:
It shouldn't go unnoticed that the Secretary in question is an expert actor in deceit. It should be remembered that in the past he created a circus around a kidnapping in Ajusco in Mexico City in which a French woman was supposedly involved, where he summoned the televised media and (...) manipulated all of his bodyguards, making them believe that what happened was a drug gangster's attempt to intimidate (a levanton or drug-related kidnapping), though the truth is that it was a meeting arranged by this alleged gangster.
According to investigations carried out by the Assistant Attorney General’s Office for Specialized Investigation of Organized Crime (SIEDO), a good number of the officials closest to Garcia Luna appear to be contaminated by drug trafficking. Evidence that the SSP is one of the institutions most infiltrated by the Sinaloa cartel and other illicit organizations has arisen since the Vicente Fox adminstration, and even more under the current administration.

For example, Édgar Enrique Bayardo del Villar, ex-inspector assigned to the Federal Preventive Police's Operations Section, was taken into custody by the SIEDO for allegedly serving Zambada Garcia. Close to Garcia Luna, with a salary no higher than MX$26,000 monthly [at the time approximately USD$2,600], Enrique Bayardo rose out of poverty to achieve a magnificent wealth.

According to the investigation of the facts, in which PFP agents Jorge Cruz Méndez and Fidel Hernández are also implicated, Bayardo del Villar today owns two residences with a combined value of close to 9 million pesos.

Overnight, Bayardo del Villar broke out of his financial difficulties and bought himself BMW, aMercedes Benz, and an armored Cherokee. He spent 12 million pesos on these acquisitions and, just like his residences, he paid for them in cash.

Another piece of this network that is presumably at the service of the brothers Jesús and Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada--within Garcia Luna's inner circle of trust--is Gerardo Garay Cadena, ex-commissioner of the PFP, who this past November 1 resigned from his position to voluntarily put himself "at the disposal of the authorities," although the SIEDO immediately put him under administrative detention. During the inquiries the spotlight also fell on other officials linked to Garay Cadena. One of them is Francisco Navarro, chief of the SSP's Special Operations, with broad control over the Mexico City International Airport, known as one of the major operations centers where drugs come in and drug trafficking money goes out.