Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Nephew of Mexican Cartel Kingpin Busted in Texas

Tuesday, October 25, 2011 |

By Dane Schiller,
Houston Chronicle

The up-and-coming nephew of imprisoned Gulf Cartel king Osiel Cardenas Guillen is in U.S. custody after being arrested in deep South Texas, where he had decked out a luxury home, concealed his identity and was hiding from both the law and his fellow Mexican underworld rivals.

Rafael Cardenas Vela was wearing pink shorts and loafers while being driven to South Padre Island by his bodyguards when their pickup was pulled over by police, who were working with federal agents and had been tipped to his whereabouts.

Cardenas, apparently 38 years old, admitted to traveling under another man's passport as well as an immigration permit to enter the United States, and that for years he has smuggled marijuana and cocaine, according to an affidavit made public Tuesday.

His arrest is seen as especially significant, as he is believed to not only have climbed the ranks of the family business but have been a possible protégé of his infamous uncle, convicted in Houston and locked away in the Supermax prison in Colorado.

"He was giving orders," a law-enforcement official speaking anonymously said of the younger Cardenas. "He was coming up, his name was coming up more and more."

Cardenas did not have a private lawyer listed in court records as of Tuesday afternoon, and the court-appointed attorneys for his reputed bodyguards, who also were arrested, declined comment.

No shots were fired as Cardenas and three bodyguards were pulled over by a Port Isabel police officer. Cardenas and his crew were riding in a new Ford F-150 pickup, and were not carrying weapons, drugs or large amounts of cash.

Nothing in his name
Cardenas apparently had avoided scrutiny in the Rio Grande Valley by not keeping anything in his name, including multiple vehicles, a condominium on South Padre Island, a house in Brownsville and a 3,100-square-foot house just west of Rio Hondo - all within about 30 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border.

The melon-colored home with an extravagant marble bar by a swimming pool is surrounded by walls and sits on several acres, with llamas, horses and other animals, according to authorities. Among the things being confiscated by authorities: wave runners, all-terrain vehicles, a sport-utility vehicle and a loaded Dodge Charger.

Time apparently had run out for Cardenas, also known as Pedro and Junior. Law enforcement sources told the Houston Chronicle he likely is being hunted by the rival Zetas Cartel, as well as resented by some of his own Gulf Cartel's operatives, who see him as giving orders from the safety of Texas as they took heat in Mexico.

Wants to cooperate
Declarations in the court affidavit by Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Tomas Salazar indicate the younger Cardenas is interested in cooperating with federal authorities, as did his uncle, as part of a plea agreement for leniency.

Salazar says Cardenas already has admitted to moving drugs into the U.S. as recently as October and that Cardenas described in detail how two years ago he sold a 5-ton load of pot.

He also admitted to agents that he was using a Mexican passport and a valid U.S. visa issued to a man named Pedro Garcia Gonzalez. Cardenas did not have permission to enter the United States. He is being held on charges of conspiring to distribute narcotics and being in the United States illegally.

Two reputed bodyguards, both Mexican citizens, are accused of lying to federal agents about Cardenas. The status of the third, believed to be a U.S. citizen, is not clear.

Cardenas' tenuous ties to Mexico's underworld have included one uncle locked away in a U.S. prison and another, known as "Tony Tormenta," who was killed last year in a firefight with the Mexican military. Another nephew of Osiel Cardenas was shot in the head in 2006 and his body dumped off Madden Lane, near Fort Bend County.

Peter Hanna, a retired FBI agent who investigated the Gulf Cartel for years, said it makes sense that the younger Cardenas would seek safety in Texas.

"I have heard that nieces and nephews of a lot of these people are involved (in family business)," he said. "Every once in awhile you hear of somebody making a clean break, but that is few and far between."

Hanna said that as family members have been killed or imprisoned, Cardenas may have had a tougher time in the cartel underworld.

"If you put on airs, and there is nobody that has your back, they will rat you out in a second," Hanna said.

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47 Borderland Beat Comments:

J said...

Interesting. Like to see some pictures of the residences. I guess he was keeping a low profile, but why the Zoo animals and all that? Wonder where he fit into the Gulf Cartel power structure, with his uncle (Osiel) a known cooperator, and Tormenta dead, and his circle ostracized from the rest. Probably just had contacts from the old guard and did his thing on his own.

Anonymous said...

Pay attention the americans are the real bad ass if u analyze ur things the dea caught zambada niebla controversially. Next thing u know allot of high raanking drug cartel leaders are droppng hhmmmmm intersting now there's. Only one thing is he gonna really snitch on chapos. And create a war in between them daum real intersting

Anonymous said...

he was one of the bosses. Everybody was trying to kill him because was just too wild. He was hiding because he knew they were coming for him, his rivals & his own people, ihated that fucker, some of his people picked up 4 of my family memebers but then let them go after paying 7 grand.

Anonymous said...

No proof on the conspiracy charge. Held for 3 months on immi vio and sent home.

Anonymous said...

Put that punk in the dungeon like his piece of dog shit uncle where he belongs and let him rot, I am pleased when they capture them young as that means many years spent in supermax...

Anonymous said...

There are and have been many OBVIOUS drug dealers living in the Valley,is it hard to spot a Mexican drug dealer-- new cars,pink,lime green,a home purple, lions in cages,race horses, a big Mexican flag flying, and ever titled piece of property in different names. So Where did the money come from, CONFISCATE IT ALL.

Anonymous said...

I bet his "friends" from Houston are shitting bricks. I wonder how many will go down with him...

Anonymous said...

Once in custody, All the big wigs Plea and Rat out their Superiors and Associates, The Big Net called RICO Scoops up All the Human Refuse aka Narcos. With Vincete spilling the beans and upsetting the Apple Cart in Chicago,

CDS is imploding from Within.

Everyone is Getting Ratted Out.


No wonder the safest place for Chapo to be is in the USA, where at the least he will get is a Life sentence at SuperMax and bunk up with his old buddies...... Arellano brothers, How smug that will be!

Pobre Chapito....He is on Borrowed Time...He Can Run...But He Cannot Hide......

Anonymous said...

What a disappointment of a drug dealer.this proves that drug dealers ain't sh!t,when surrounded by armed guards & weapons they act all tough.but when the sh!t hits the fan theses cowards can't wait to talk & spill the beans about everything.sounds like this dumb@ss will be spending his incarceration in protective custody.

@ 7:36 Don't forget to mention the lowliest cartel that ever existed, primero caen las muertazzz de hambre antes de que le truene a los de Sinaloa.nunca se le olvidara a la gente todos los inocentes que perdieron la vida a manos de estas lacrazzz. ARRIBA LA SEMAR Y QUE SIGAN LOS CHINGAZOZ EN CONTRA DE LAS CULONAZZZ

Anonymous said...

he didnt just spill the beans was prolly a combination of water boarding and threats of being sent back to Mexico but in a zeta strong hold city

~~~el spaceio~~~

Anonymous said...

Vicentillo descides to talk and hes a rat snitch, El Chapo and hes Cartel use there influence with the goverments on both sides of the border to get at his enemies and they are rat snitches. Only the weak complain about it instead of turning the tables. This punk ass wannabe trafficker gets caught and him and hes uncle are " Cooperaters" this shit is too funny if anything the only Cartel imploadind from within is the Gulf Cartel and the mugrosozzz will suffer the same fait. Cartel de Sinaloa will never die!! No se olviden que aqui es la cuna de este negosio I de los meros hombres compas Ajuaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Vicentillo ain't ratting out nobody back home fellas, don't get your hopes up hes just kickin some dirt over to the DEA and friends for being puñeteros

Capo said...

I find it hard to believe that he was a big player in the Gulf Cartel. Especially after his uncle was extradited from Mexico to the US back in 2006. Struck a deal for giving up his compadres and still got 25 years. All the nice things he aquired are probably due to his uncles moneylaundering operations. In Mexico he was pretty much a dead man walking. He was lucky he got caught.

Anonymous said...

I WANT TO SEE THOSE PINK SPANDEX SHORTS, BET HE HAS A FINE LOOKING ASS!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Maybe not a big player anymore but he still had paper. If Osiel was once a multi-millionaire he could have easily had his family well kept and spread his funds. But moving a 5 ton load will make you some change if he moved it into a well paid market. Mexico weeed or not that could have turned a million dollars in itself at wholesale level even if he went slim. So he wasn't some chump dealer, sounds like he still had his CDG connects with deep deep price buying and wholesaled heavily.

What gets me is how he fucken sung like a bird. These guys are spilling the beans for days. Although as everyone mentioned in Mexico his days were numbered unless he aligned himself with protection from CDG. Cause the Z's would have liked to taken him out just for giggles.
Saludos,
JJ

Anonymous said...

I wanna know who are the rest of the relatives who might be working with this piece of shit. Names and address plz

Anonymous said...

Let me get it straight he had bodyguards but they handed him over like a box of popcorn. These fools lied on the application.

Anonymous said...

@1:25 is that you JJ Gunz from Cartel Wars?

J said...

They weren't carrying guns, and had it been a routine traffic stop may have never known about this, but it was a 'hot stop', he was being detained in a Federal investigation. They knew who he was and what he was doing. I'd assume that's how these mid level family members and important people move in the US.

To what JJ said, yeah, that's the same impression I got, he was using his Gulf contacts and working 'independently, not in the CDG power structure.

Anonymous said...

Can I ask a really dumb question? Where does all the Cash, the American Dollars they have shown in 55 gal drums and whole walls filled with cash some stacked 8 feet high, that has been confiscated in the drug arrests and raids. It seems like that money could go a long way to help the Mexican people who are living in such poverty.?????Just wondering where it all goes.

Anonymous said...

@2:45 That question is so dumb that I've asked the same one at least 12 different ways to Sunday and no one answers me. It always seems like the excess recovered cash might solve the debt crisis but no one seems to respond.

Anonymous said...

i probbaly u guess el AZUL FROM CDS will fix everything within CDG becuz as we know he is da peace maker. and anyway he is da reason y CDS n CDG r together

LuciferKilla said...

@3:22 true el Azul and Coss made an alliance and brought in LFM when Azul gave them Guanajuato as a peace offering

Capo said...

Okay, I just read that this guy's alias was "El Junior," and supposibly he was leader of Los Rojos which are fighting against Los Metros last I heard. Apparently there is a firefight going on in Matamoros as we speak. Any other new updates?

Anonymous said...

I highly doubt el " Nino " spilled the beans. Wether he maybe gave up some bogus info to the feds, possibly. But he has really not gaven anyone up, he is not of that caliber. El Mayo is old school and although he is to blame of his sons becoming he wouldn't have raised a snitch. If el Nino wanted out he would off himself, like his cousin. Who was busted along with his dad Mayos brother, he couldn't take the pressure and he broke. Sadly, I still believe that within the high structure of CD, and el nino was high ranking they wouldn't give each other up. The bullshit rumors that swirled years ago that el nino had Chapos son killed and then Chapo retaliated by telling Mayo to have his son's head or feed him to the feds. I just don't buy, that would have been a war in itself. El Nino was legitamately caught because he most likely got sloppy and was in a high risk area in el DF. Once you get that big, you constantly need to keep moving, shifting from place to place. Was he given the green light buy some DEA agents and were they in his pockets, possibly. Everyone has their price. In the states o en Mexico. Con el dinero baile el perro.
Att.

Anonymous said...

I live in Brownsville, Texas and go to South Padre Island to work every weekday. If you guys can find the addresses to the residences, I will go, take, and submit the pictures.

Anonymous said...

wow, id love to hae a cndo at south padre! the girls on springbreak are off the hook!

Anonymous said...

Yea hahaha I hope his cellmates in prison dont read that he was caught in pink shorts and loafers hahahah, they will toss the shit outta his salad in the shower!! Have fun in prison!!!!

Jesus the Moose said...

No cellies in Supermax. Just four concrete walls to keep you company. A fitting end for those guys considering that they're not worth a bullet.

Texcoco said...

I read on a Mexican blog that the arrest of this guy was by mistake and not because the police here on the U.S was after him.

Texcoco said...

He was stopped for not having plates on the car.

Anonymous said...

If it was by mistake why would they have arrested the guy? The feds were tracking him no doubt. How did they get all the intel on him and get him to spill the sopa? They had things on him.

minor600 said...

WHEN YOU DEALIN DRUGS,YOU ALLWAYS TRY YOUR BEST TO STAY LOW KEY OR AWAY FROM THE DRUG DEALIN LIMELIGHT... NO FANCY CARS,JEWELRY,BIG HOUSE ETC.... SHI!!! NEVER WORKS... NOSY AZZ COPS

Anonymous said...

@7:31 You "highly doubt" this pos is talking. Oh yeah, he's talking like a motherfucker. He will do ANYTHING just for a chance of getting out. The Feds are going to play him like a fucking banjo and he's going to think he has a deal(s) but he ain't getting out.

Anonymous said...

alot of people are happy hes out of mexico just another spoiled brat with a famous last name thats it with struggles happening and him fishing in spi what a fu@C$%g puss

Anonymous said...

To the guy wanting the address of his condo at the island we all know u want loot his pad and c if u find anything like a vulture.

Anonymous said...

@ 12:58 thats the same thing them valluco's in the cameron county jail are saying

Texcoco said...

October 27, 2011 8:44 AM According to what I read he was stopped for not having license plates on the vehicle, after that the officer on inspecting the peoples Id's he noticed they didn't look real so he arrested the people, once inside they were able to find the identity of these people.

Pablo Smith said...

@oct 26 2:45

If the money is confiscated in America it goes into the U.S. Treasury and if its taken in Mexico it gets split by whoever got the cash.
Thats a reality in the Drug war.

Anonymous said...

ICE HSI was on to this guy before he crossed the bridge

Anonymous said...

Hey... That guy wasmy neighbor here in rio hondo!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Peep this, it's sad to see these so called tough guys in THE GAME, roll over so quick. Everyone is telling from El Chapo to Zambada and El Mayito. How do u think they last for so long, they give intel to the DEA for them to look good on bust and seizures. Osiel, paid the US Courts $27 Million in 10 payments for a lesser sentence, Visa's for his family members and to do his time 2 Camp Snoopy. But the DUMMY, got on the phones and continued his business, which all calls are recorded and they instantly shipped him to where all my Cartel Leader are in ADMAX. My boys are on the same row as El Tigre Arellano Felix.. Thats how he was over here in the USA low Key. The deal his uncle struct in his plea deal. He's gonna just get extradited becuz there's no indictment pending.

The game IS NOT TO BE TOLD, but SOLD. I'm looking for serious Mexican Businessmen that's getting money, let's connect.

Anonymous said...

the money confiscated prob goes to help pay all the damnd wellfare recipiants here and from OTHER COUNTRIES

Anonymous said...

ESTE PERSONAGE ES MUY FAMOSO AKI EN LA FRONTERA CHIKITA EL JR,900,COMANDANTE 900,JR CARDENAS,SUS APODOS POR ASI DESIRLE,EL ERA EL ENCARGADO DE LA PLAZA DE SAN FER EN ANOS PASADOS DONDE SUS TIOS LO PUSIERON AL MANDO CUANDO SE DIO EL ROMPIMIENTO DE LOS ZETAS I EL CDG POR DIFERENCIAS ESTOS MISMOS DECIDIERON TOMAR LA PLAZA DE SANFERNANDO DEL JR I ASERLA SU CENTRO DE OPERACIONES.EL JR DESDE ENTONCES ENCARGADO DE LA PLAZA DE RIOBRAVO I ANTES DE SU ARRESTO TAMBIEN ENCARGADO DE LA PLAZA DE MATAMOROS PELEA CONSTATE MENTE ESA PLAZA contra los zetas al mando de la ardilla MANDANDO LAS DENOMINADAS ESTAKAS EN GRUPOS DE 20 A 30 CAMIONESTAS ASIA LA YANKEE O LA IGRIEGA RUMBO A SANFER.SU GRUPO DE SICARIOS I COMANDANTES SON AUN CONOSIDOS COMO LOS CICLONES KIENES DESPUES DE SU ARESTO KEDARON AL MANDO DE SU TIO I SUSESOR AL MANDO DEL CDG.SI TIENEN RASON LOS KE DICEN KEE ERA UN HOMBRE MUERTO CAMINANDO YA KE POR SUS DECICIONES TAN RADICALES PERDIO EL APOYO DE GENTE MUY IMPORTANTE EN LA ESTRUCTURA CRIMINAL.EL RUMMOR MAS FUERTE SOBRE EL JR ERA DE KE MANDO A EJECUTAR EL METRO 3 I AL COMANDANTE GAMMA YA KE NO LO APOYARON CUANDO EL DECIDIO TOMAR EL PODER DEL CARTEL COSSTILLA AL VEER ESTAS ACCIONES MOLESTO LE DECLARO LA GUERRA A CARDENAS ASI DIVIDIENDO I DEBILITANDO AUN MAS LA ESTRUCTURA DEL CDG.POR TALES MOTIVOS EL COSS COMO SE LE CONOSE MOVIO SUS OPERACIONES FUERA DEL ALCANCE DEL JR ASIA TAMPICO IGUAL EL JR POR ESO DECIDIO MOVERSE ASIA LOS ESTADOS UNIDOS PORA ASI CONTROLAR I MANDAR LOS ESTAKAS POR DELANTE PARA KE PELEARAN POR ELLOS.aun aki no se save ni kien es kien salamente espero ke todo termine pronto i ke la sangre de gente inocente se deje de deramar

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many dudes are multimillionaires who are smart enough to be low key. Everyone will rat you out if they figure you got mega bucks...

El Diablo said...

Thats the best Theory I've heard on the matter..

El Diablo said...

I'm sure half the drugs if not all the drugs make it back to the streets for a profit in most cities and counties in the united states. The money divided evenly among the corrupt police force & corrupt politicians for that City or County.

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