This article explains the significance of the arrest of "El Tomate" in Tijuana on January 4th of this year, and it also shows that the CDS has changed its tactics to fix past operational mistakes.
Jesús Israel de la Cruz López “El Tomate” was not a formal member of the Sinaloa cartel.
He never actually interviewed with the leaders of that cartel. However, he did work for one of their representatives in Los Mochis.
In November of 2010, he was promoted to a higher rank by his boss in that town, a man identified only as “El Fantasma," who answered directly to Alfredo Arteaga “El Aquiles”.
According to “El Tomate”, three men were summoned from Los Mochis, René Arteaga “La Rana”, “El Chore” and “El Fantasma." All three of them along with Cruz López, had worked for a cell led by Teodoro García Simental, (a) "El Teo" in Rosarito and Tijuana. They had been looking for a place withing the national structure of organized crime.
"El Tomate," a man who stands accused of collaborating and planning the murder of several police officers during the wave of violence that struck tijuana in 2008, says that the leader of the Sinaloa cartel sent a plane to Baja California so they could have a meeting with “La Rana”, “El Chore” and “El Fantasma." Cruz López on the other hand, was to travel by car in a clandestine fashion: by hiding in the back of a furnished trailer.
The first three met with Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada in a city in the state of Sinaloa. The powerful capo made an arrangement that gave each one of them their own cells to operate independent of each other. They would dedicate themselves to the transit of illegal drugs for the cartel of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.
“El Tomate” never made it to the meeting with Zambada, in fact he never made it out of Los Mochis. His trailer was detained by other members of the Sinaloa cartel and they told him they knew everything about his criminal history -his credentials- the executions, the fact that he used to be a cop, that he was a trafficker for "El Teo," but despite all these impressive accomplishments, to them he was still a fledgling recruit who has yet to pass the test of loyalty. They gave him a few packages of marijuana and told him to take the drugs to the border and make sure the packages made their way to the appropriate contacts On the U.S. side.
“El Tomate” could consider himself a prospect but not a full member of the Sinaloa cartel.
On January 4th of 2011, he was arrested by elements of the Mexican army, under the direction of General Gilberto Landeros Briseño.
They were called to help investigate after Tijuana police arrested Isaac de la Cruz López, the brother of “El Tomate”.
Isaac was arrested after surveillance led local police to him, they knew he was coming from Guadalajara, and that his brother was working as an operative for his criminal employers in that area.
Isaac's car was located after he illegally parked his car in San Antonio de los Buenos, the police quickly identified him as the brother of“El Tomate”.
The was no struggle, in fact in order to protect himself from further "police interrogation" he gave investigators the names and addressed of places they would most likely find his brother. The authorities then contacted the army after securing an arrest warrant for the former homicide detective. they found "El Tomate " in a house located on Lázaro Cárdenas ave, located in the Francisco Villa district.
How the Cells of the Sinaloa Cartel Work.
If he was successful with the relatively small packages of marijuana, “El Tomate” would have demonstrated the competence to become part of the organization, the side that was led by “El Mayo” Zambada. There would also have been a probation period and once he had passed that as well, he would have become a boss of a cell in Tijuana.
Cruz López told his the authorities that his previous boss “El Fantasma” told him about his encounter with Ismael Zambada. According to him, the strategy of the CDS in Tijuana, Baja California was to recruit leaders of independent cells who would perform most of the duties required of them in regards to smuggling drugs and maintaining order for “El Chapo” and “El Mayo." Although their representatives in the area are Alfredo Arteaga “El Aquiles” and René Arteaga “La Rana”, they are not technically considered leaders of the Sinaloa cartel in Tijuana.
Guzmán and Zambada prefer to have many cells leaders instead of allowing one person to have a majority of the power in a single territory, explained “El Tomate.” The intelligence service thus have a hard tiime building a case against the power structure of the CDS, this is the result of lessons learned after the split with the Beltrán Leyva family, the one that occurred with Ignacio Coronel, and the final splinter that became shards of the BLO, Édgar Valdez Villarreal “La Barbie." Those who ascending in the ranks of the CDS soon became their enemies with mafias of their own.
According to Zeta Tijuana, this is the new business plan of the CDS. the creation of independent cells that operate in the same territories occupied by the Tijuana cartel, also known as the CAF/AFO (after the current leader of the Arellano Félix organization, Fernando Sánchez Arellano “El Ingeniero.")
Jesús Israel de la Cruz López also led authorities to safehouses that belonged to the CDS, this led to the arrest of several people. Authorities found several weapons and drugs at the residences.
Among those arrested and drugs confiscated: 356 kilos of marijuana and a small airplane that belonged to the CDS.
In Rosarito, “El Tomate” led authorities to a house with three people living in it; Eduardo Aguirre Villegas, Fernando López and Miguel Ángel Leyva Laureano, who were found to be in possession of two and a half kilos of crystal meth.
“El Tomate” has told authorites that most of the people who once worked for Teodoro García Simental “El Teo” now work (in one form or another) directly for the CDS. Because he was considered the potential head of a cell in Baja California, he had knowledge of these safe houses and the way the cartel of “El Chapo” Guzmán operated in Tijuana.
According to Cruz López the only two people who maintain direct contact with “El Chapo” or “El Mayo”, in Baja California (on behalf of the faction formally known as “Los Teos”) are “El Aquiles” and “La Rana”.
According to "El Tomate," the rest of the cells are led by the people whose names are as follow:
* Juan Valencia Cruz “El Pelo”.
* José Luis Mendoza Uriarte “El Güero”.
* Paúl Salomón Sauceda “EL Paúl”.
* José Juan Trejo Gutiérrez “El Chapito”.
* Jesús Rangel Peña “El Enano”.
* Francisco Javier Íñiguez Farías “El Perro”.
* Víctor Dariel García Ontiveros “El Abuelo”.
* Noé Benjamín Domínguez Martínez “El Choco”.
* “El Chore”.
* “El Fantasma”.
This version reveals that the CDS uses the cell method rather that the organized crime method and they implemented this strategy in Tijuana by integrating the scattered cells of “Los Teos.” They maintained unity and cohesion among the various groups by keeping the war against their enemies going. Enemies such as Juan Francisco Sillas Rocha “El Sillas”, José Soto “El Tigre” and Eduardo Guajardo Hernández “El Güicho. These foes tried to steal a large shipment of drugs from “El Aquiles”, but the operation ending in failure, with the Tijuana police making the largest marijuan bust in the nations history: over 136 tons.
Story of the Tijuana sicario war that led to the historic marijuana bust was covered here on Borderland Beat: http://www.borderlandbeat.com/2010/10/sicario-war-and-drugs-of-el-mayo.html
Homicide: the charge against “El Tomate”
Despite being involved with over a dozen homicides and being the suspected leader of a narcotics distribution ring, at the moment of his arrest, there was only one arrest warrant that had been issued for "El Tomate." Warrant number 709/09 was issued issued for 1rst degree murder.
On March 13th, 2009 Filiberto David León Ceja was found murdered at 6630 Las Plazas avenue, located in a neighborhood with the same name.
Paperwork was not filed until November 11th and the warrant was not actually issued until December 15th, 2009.
At his declaration Isaac Cruz admitted to being his brother's accomplice in murder and drug dealing. He gave details that indicated that when the former police officer "El Tomate," had returned from Guadalajara around mid December, a rival group had threatened to kill him if he came back. It was this reason that “El Tomate” began recruiting to form a cell and take on his aggressors.
Among the details given by Isaac Cruz, this particular rival group was murdered during a home invasion on December 30th 2009 that happened on Gardenias avenue in the neighborhood of Conjunto Habitacional Bugambilias, several youths were taken to a nearby baseball field and executed.
One of the victims was a sworn enemy of Cruz, who was killed inside the home. The authorities found a large caliber rifle that belonged to the victim, although it hadn't been used in any previous homicides. However according to Isaac Cruz, the firearms that were used by the assailants (presumed operators working for "El Tomate") in a variety of other crimes. So far, investigators have been able to trace the confiscated weapons to the following cases:
418/08/201, Murder that occurred 11/13/09 in Plaza Patria.
7630/09/206, used to fire rounds into a house in Cañón de Sáinz
250/09/201, homicide in Infonavit latinos on 6/21/09.
349/10/206, rounds fired into a house in colonia Medina
565/10/201, homicide that occurred on 11/24/10 Ruta Matamoros.
The state attorney general has confirmed those facts and the following allegations.
The Police Are Intimidated
According to information and statements from several police departments, Israel de la Cruz had for several years threatened and intimidated police officers (specifically those that worked on SWAT teams and other elite anti-drug units), to prevent them from doing their work .
In light of the recent capture of “El Tomate,” which occurred late in the evening of this past January 4th, there was a rumor that began to circulate around the department of a threat that promised the murder of several municipal police officers, due to occur later in the week had been heard over the police radio.
ZETA spoke with captain Gustavo Huerta, SSP of Tijuana, who assured us that there had been no threats over the police frequency, but he was aware of the suspect's tendency to intimidate his officers. Although at this time, Huerta said the department would implement security measures normally used during times of crisis.
huerta went further to explain that the reason for the tight security was more due to the recent arrests of corrupt officers Israel López and Pedro Rosales (who formed part of the security detail for Julián Leyzaola, former SSP of Tijuana. Rosales was arraigned for corruption in January of 2010, but the charges were inexplicably dropped soon after) and a former undercover officer, Efraín Rosales Valenzuela, all of whom were captured during a military operation.