Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Their Dreams Ended in The San Fernando Massacre

Friday, August 24, 2012 |

Translated by Un Vato for Borderland Beat

An abandoned San Fernando Ranch was the site of the execution of 72 migrants
Two years ago there was a massacre that shook the nation and the world. In an abandoned ranch in the Tamaulipas municipality of San Fernando,  Zetas murdered 72 migrants. Men and women (one of these a young girl) who refused to cooperate with the mafia were machine gunned to death, a few miles from the border they were trying to reach to escape poverty

El Diario/Proceso
San Fernando, Tamaulipas. 8-18-2012. In Pasaquina, El Salvador, there were two parallel lives that did not come together until the end: Yedmi Victoria Castro and Francisco Antonio Blanco, born 15 years apart. She, a 15-year old who wanted to study medicine. He, 30 years old, looking for work to provide for his wife and children. They both began a trip that ended in this municipality, where they were murdered along with 70 other Central Americans in August, 2010.

This was the mass murder that uncovered the "sewer of migrant abuse, although those massacres had been happening for several months previous (to this)," states psychologist Alberto Xicotencatl, director of the Saltillo shelter Belen, Posada del Migrante.

Yedmi and Tonito (as he was called) lived in the Department of Pasaquina, near the border with Honduras. She, in Penitas, and he in El Tablon, housing areas where misery and neglect predominate. 

She lived with her grandparents, was in her junior year in high school and was going to New York to join her mother, Mariluz Castro. Yedmi had just celebrated her 15th birthday feast. A 20-year old who had come from Nicaragua was courting her and wanted to take her to live with him. When her mother heard about this, she decided that her daughter would join her.

Tonito wanted to play soccer with his children and teach them his love for the Barcelona (team), but poverty was asphyxiating him, so he decided to emigrate. He and Yedmi's mother sought out a coyote (migrant smuggler) and agreed to pay him $7,000.00, half of it in advance and the rest of it when they got to the United States, two or three weeks later, with a guarantee that they could make three attempts.

"In El Salvador there are three ways to emigrate. The safest way costs around $20,000.00; the traveler arrives by airplane at a private airport in the United States," explains Edu Ponces, an expert in the Central American migration phenomenon.


San Fernando, Tamaulipas-- The majority of the 500,000 Central Americans that cross through Mexico every year choose the cheapest (way): La Bestia (The Beast), the freight train where organized crime robs, rapes, kidnaps and kills. Mexico's National Commission on Human Rights documented 9,758 kidnappings in six months, from September, 2008,  to February, 2009, but it is estimated that adding up the "black number" (the kidnappings not reported), the number could reach 18,000 per year, about 50 per day.

There's another option. It costs $6,000.00 to $8,000.00 per person, and it involves traveling by highway from Tapachula or Tenosique along the gulf coast up to the northern border. It's a little over 2,000 kilometers, plagued with police and criminals who often work together to extort travelers, from each of whom they get from $500.00 to $5,000.00 dollars.

This is the way Yedmi and Tonito traveled, on freight trucks, hidden among cargo, or in buses, passing themselves off as common travelers wearing Mexican soccer team jerseys. When they were told they were entering Tamaulipas, the young girl called Penitas.

"She called me here at school one morning. She said, 'We're almost there, we're doing very well, we're traveling with a bunch of people,' and I told her that was great, that, God willing, they would get there OK," recalls Aracely Flores, the principal of the Penitas school.

On the Tampico-Reynosa stretch, Yedmi and Tonito were traveling with 70 other Central and South American (travelers) distributed between two freight trucks. Some of them had paid up to $10,000.00 dollars to get to the border. They thought they were safer this way. The shortest route was on Federal Highway 101, which goes through the San Fernando municipality. That's where the two freight trucks were headed.

Click to enlarge
'Highway node'  

During most of 2010, the San Fernando municipality had suffered from constant confrontations between Zetas and members of the Gulf Cartel. General Miguel Angel Gonzalez, Commander of the Eighth Military Zone based in Tamaulipas, tells this journal that this isolated town is very important  because "it is a node where several highways-- strategic for drug smuggling-- come together."

In addition, the highways and roadways in the area are connected by dozens of local roads and trails known only to the locals; these roads form a great grid that takes you to the cities on the Tamaulipas border. Despite its privileged location, San Fernando is a neglected area, affected by ongoing droughts that weaken agriculture, without businesses to create jobs and with commerce affected by the violence. The large businesses have left the town that years ago was a bustling place, attracting tourism due to its proximity to the Laguna Madre. Today, it is a town where one breathes fear.

"The lack of opportunities forced the young men in the area to become involved with organized crime," says an older man who asks us not to reveal his name. In contrast, the prosperous organized crime activity needs an "army:" in addition to the drug trafficking, this "army" is in charge of extortion, kidnapping, large scale theft of gasoline, control of pirate (videos), illegal businesses and car theft.  
After the break up of old alliances, , the area was disputed for several months. "That's what caused the confrontations to get bloodier in the area and that's what affected the population...the cartels charged piso (extortion), this would affect production and force businesses to close. San Fernando has a fishing industry, but they would charge fishermen extortion payments. The production of sorghum was also affected," emphasized General Gonzalez.
The narco war divided the city. Neighbors, friends, even relatives, would accuse each other, not with the police but with rival cartels. Mafias marked their territories and would impose controls. They placed roadblocks and "even cloned military uniforms,"  so that (people) could not even trust the traditional Army checkpoints.
In the end the Zetas took control and imposed their rules. The group's high command, Heriberto Lazcano, El Lazca, and Miguel Trevino Morales, El Z-40, appointed Salvador Alfonso Martinez Escobedo, La Ardilla, as chief of the area. He in turn placed a former soldier, Edgar Huerta Montiel, El Wache, as lieutenant for San Fernando, along with Martin Omar Estrada Luna, El Kilo, who, in practice, acted as the the area chief. 
El Kilo is one of the best examples of the barbarism that today characterizes Mexican narcos. He was born in Mexico but lived in the United States. His first "schools" were the gangs in northern California, among them "Los Nortenos." He also lived in the small town of Tieton, Washington State.
Toward the latter part of the 90's, he was imprisoned for breaking and entering and illegal carrying of weapons. The police classified him as "narcissist and extremely violent." He was deported for the first time in 1998. He came back (into the U.S.), was recaptured and he was placed in a prison where he helped four inmates escape, although, due to his size and his weight of more than 220 lbs, he couldn't use the hole they opened on the jailhouse roof to escape.
They deported him again. He went to Tamaulipas, where he had relatives. There, the Zetas recruited him to be a "burro" (donkey or mule) (transporting drugs that came in through the Laguna Madre and were taken to the border). He was quickly promoted after a year due to the arrest of several Zeta leaders and the deaths of others. He quickly became the head of a drug distribution network in the streets of Reynosa.  
From the day he got to San Fernando, Estrada went all over the town openly carrying weapons. He'd get out of his vehicle with his weapon to make purchases in the stores on the main square, where the mayor's office is located. He had 20 of the 34 San Fernando police officers on his payroll. Among other measures he took was establishing a curfew that forced people to stay indoors after 9:00 p.m. He also created an army of young girls that worked as "guards."
The strict surveillance and controls they imposed were so the "golfos" would not come in to retake the town. The Zetas were aware that early in 2010, the Gulf Cartel had formed an alliance with Sinaloa to eliminate them.  
The strict measures included El Kilo inspecting every bus that arrived at the municipality. "A bus would arrive every day, and every day they would make the passengers get off the bus to investigate them, to find out where they were coming from. They would inspect the messages on their cell phones. They would allow any people who were not involved to leave. The rest we would kill," said the Wache when he was interrogated by the Federal Police. From his paranoid point of view, all the young men who were going to the border could be recruited by the rival cartel. El Wache confessed that they had killed the 72 Central American migrants on Lazcano's orders, because they thought "they were going to Metro 3," the Gulf Cartel boss in Reynosa.

End of the road    

That afternoon in August 22, 2010, the two freight trucks were traveling on Highway 101. About nine miles north of  San Fernando, the hopes of the migrants ended and their nightmare began; they encountered three vehicles blocking the highway carrying armed men with their faces covered.
"We're Zetas," they identified themselves, then asked the migrants to get off the trucks. Then they took them in pickup trucks to the warehouse of an abandoned ranch. There, 58 men and 14 women were taken down off the trucks and placed against the walls in the store room. First, they questioned them to find out where they were coming from and what they did for a living. They all denied they were working for the Gulf Cartel.
Their captors wanted to force them to work for them, but the migrants refused the offer. In the face of such a refusal, they made them lie down on the floor with their faces (facing) down.  They told them not to look up and then shot them with bursts of bullets from assault rifles. To make sure nobody was left alive, they fired the coup de grace into their heads.
A man from Ecuador who was not hit by the bursts of gunfire and whose coup de grace went into his neck and came out through his jaw pretended he was dead and waited until the executioners left. He left the ranch and walked almost 15 miles until he found some marines and asked for help. "The massacre was a little while ago," he told them, but they didn't believe him.
The incident was reported to their  superiors, who ordered an aerial   reconnaissance of the area. That afternoon, when the Army helicopter was flying near the store room, they were attacked by criminals who were going back to the site  get rid of the bodies. 
It was getting dark on August 23 and the Marines withdrew to Matamoros. But they came back to the ranch the next day with reinforcements. There they found the 72 bodies.
After the murders of the migrants were discovered, El Kilo and his staff fled. They hid in Ciudad Victoria. Nevertheless, he was arrested there along with 11 accomplices on April 14, 2010. Two months later, they captured Huerta Montiel  in Fresnillo.
The masterminds of the massacre are still free: La Ardilla and the two Zeta leaders, El Lazca and Z-40, who ordered the murders.
Yedmi and Tonito returned to Pasaquina in September, 2010, in coffins draped with the flag of El Salvador.

Graphics by Chivis

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37 Borderland Beat Comments:

Anonymous said...

Sick evil twisted bastards. These tossers should have the same done to them and any loved one such as their mother, father etc to try and inflict the same hurt on them to let them know exactly how it feels then put them down like the sick animals they are.

Arturo Villegas said...

My condolences to their families. Even more respects to my Central Americans friends. They have to put up with all the $hit from the Mexicans as the Mexicans complain on the Americans. They should be happy we don't line them up on the border!!!

Anonymous said...

They were ordered from Z3 to kill all 72 because they thought they were making the journey to Reynosa to join Metro-3, how the hell could you come up with that sort of idea in yah head!!! waste of innocent lives,how could they do such a thing.

Anonymous said...

This incident was their downfall. Since then they have been branded the scourge of Mexico.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't take a mastermind to do this, just a couple of doped up cheerleaders that even fucked up and could not dispose of the bodies in time.

"The masterminds of the massacre are still free: La Ardilla and the two Zeta leaders, El Lazca and Z-40, who ordered the murders."

Anonymous said...

All you Z cheerleaders should be proud of yourselves.

Anonymous said...

Unbelievable,everyone remembers this atrocity.
Didn't they say they found messages on some phones from CDG mafia etc?Whatever their justification,no matter how many may have accepted an offer to work for the other side.
Most,were innocent,and even the ones who had messages hadn't actually participated in anything.
To think that our hero HERIBERTO LAZCANO,ordered them all murdered from his place of safety,wherein he may have his little girl and sons staying with him.He gave an order to murder women and a girl around the same age as his daughter?They were trying to find a way to earn money through work,they come across these fuckin genius's who kill them all?Is it that easy to kill this many people with impunity.Where is the absolute outrage?Why is Lazcano still breathing?Hunt these dogs down.

Anonymous said...

That this went on one time is beyond belief. Mexico should be ashamed at this level of corruption.

Anonymous said...

What a sad tragedy... No justice for the poor and disenfranchised in this world. Hopefully in the after life.

Great article.

Anonymous said...

El Kilo and his Z henchman will pay dearly for that attrocity. Even by Narco standards that was a new low. Reading that whole story puts a perspective on how pathetic these narcos have become in Mexico and how out of control their pendejos are. The Government turned a blind eye to this massacre and for that they should be ashamed as well.
Pinche gente ignorante.

Mark L said...

It is a flat out disgusting shame that the US media doesn't have this information in front of people's eyes everyday! God bless BB, Chivis, and the rest for getting this out.

Anonymous said...

All of them nameless and faceless people were someones family.They were only trying to get a better life.And to think,you still got scrubs runnin around willing to do shit like this again.
No matter what cartel or group,they cannot possibly justify anything of this sort.It is actually hard to believe that LAZCANO may have sanctioned this shit?Can we agree that in a lot of other countries the perpetrators would have been hunted down remorselessly.The actual hands on mutts say it was LAZCANO who gave the order?
Why isn't he hunted down?I hope as some say that the motherfucker is rotting in a shallow grave somewhere.But i kinda doubt it.He got the power and money in a country where it matters more than innocent lives,it matters more than law and order and decency.

Anonymous said...

This is some really sick stuff. Calderon shouldn't get one wink of sleep until these maniacs are gone.

Anonymous said...

>Why is Lazcano still breathing?Hunt these dogs down.<
Why do people reference lazcano and trevino to dogs?
Dogs are loyal, loving, comapssionate and smarter than most people.
Refer to them as rabid vermin would be appropriate.

atte" Dog owner!

Anonymous said...

Everything has a price. Retribution, in one way shape or form, always happens. The flames of Hell await the damned & the killers of innocent people.

Anonymous said...

The west will just be the spectator because it has nothing to do with islam. if a muslim killa a man, it is called terrorism but if a narco mafia massacres a 100000000 man, it is just a statistic.

Anonymous said...

Fuckin zeta animals they are not human ,we should line them all up and shoot them

Anonymous said...

Have you ever heard "Shit rolls down hill"?Just like SOME Mexicans do this to Central Americans, I'm pretty sure El Salvador does it to the further south countries. So why bitch about us Mexicans when everybody does the same shit i.e. The Minutemen on the US border, and I'm pretty sure they don't care if they are ball busting Mexicans or Central Americans.

Anonymous said...

"To think that our hero HERIBERTO LAZCANO,ordered them all murdered from his place of safety,wherein he may have his little girl and sons staying with him.He gave an order to murder women and a girl around the same age as his daughter?They were trying to find a way to earn money through work,they come across these fuckin genius's who kill them all?Is it that easy to kill this many people with impunity.Where is the absolute outrage?Why is Lazcano still breathing?Hunt these dogs down."

...and To think that our hero HERIBERTO LAZCANO,ordered them all murdered from his place of safety,wherein he may have his little girl and sons staying with him.He gave an order to murder women and a girl around the same age as his daughter?They were trying to find a way to earn money through work,they come across these fuckin genius's who kill them all?Is it that easy to kill this many people with impunity.Where is the absolute outrage?Why is Lazcano still breathing?Hunt these dogs down."

...and that is what burn me the most. Kill innocent people while their(Lazcano's)family enjoy the safety and the dirty money. It all comes down to politics. Some might say, "you are not part of the solution" or "you are part of the problem" but you have to kill not their leaders but their families too. Once you do that, you make others think twice before joining any cartel. (unless you are "El Diablo" who careless about his family).

Anonymous said...

Thanks for such a well written and heart-wrenching story. Sometimes I can't believe what hell the Central Americans go through to get here. God how many of the girls end up as putas in TJ or similar border towns?

Anonymous said...

They have blogs with mucho pics of this El Kilo and if he doesn't look like an In Breed from some mountain then "No One" does. You can't tell me that this guy's father isn't his Own brother..! You just don't look like a Neanderthal and Act like this Guy unless You are an INBREED..!

Anonymous said...

Mexico should be wiped off the face of the earth.

Anonymous said...

That's why you want to be rich.
That's why they call the poor the downtrodden.

Anonymous said...

When will Chicos learn? They need to stay in their own goddamn country. Did Europeans move during the dark ages? No we improved the place. Took some time, there has been blood up till WW II. But now its pretty livable.

I hope those Zetas get many more of those chicos looking to cut themselves a slice from my cake. Those are chicos that wont take American jobs.

Anonymous said...

USA beheadings.
Posted: Jan 10, 2012 5:53 PM
Updated: Jan 11, 2012 11:27 AM
Three beheadings in two different states and they happened here in the United States, not Mexico.
Former DEA supervisor Phil Jordan says all three beheadings have cartel written all over them. They happened in Arizona and Oklahoma in the past year.
A murder mystery is now unraveling on a stretch of North Reservation Road in Tucson, Ariz. County workers found a headless man lying on the side of the road Jan. 6. The man's hands and feet were reportedly missing, too.
"It would lead me to believe the message wanted to be sent. This is one of the ways they do it in Mexico, Colombia and other places," says Jordan.
Jordan says the cartels are getting bolder in carrying out their beheadings across the border. He says we only used to see these crimes in Mexico.
"They don't have any borders," says Jordan.
More than 600 miles from the border, a 19-year-old human trafficking victim was found beheaded in Oklahoma. Carina Saunders was stuffed into a bag and left in a grocery store parking lot.
"People know if they get on the wrong side of the fence, they'll be dealt with," says Jordan.
The police chief in the area says two men running the trafficking ring killed Saunders to send a message to the other victims. Jordan says the cartels' calling card is all over this case. Trafficking and smuggling are their top moneymakers. Revenge is the price of doing business.
"Definitely a cartel hit," says Jordan.
Investigators in Chandler, Ariz., say cartel operatives came from Mexico to kill 38-year-old Martin Alejandro Cota Monroy. His beheaded body was found in his apartment.
"One is too many; two is too many. Three should send an alarm," says Jordan.
He says investigators were too late to stop the killings three times in the last 12 months. Jordan says agents are trying to develop more informants to get to the cartels before they can commit the crimes. He says the cartels will only specifically target their victims and aren't interested in random beheadings. video at
http://www.krgv.com/news/expert-says-beheadings-in-u-s-look-like-work-of-cartels/

Anonymous said...

This is why I think Mexico didn't make a big of this murders... Cause they were south americans.. the Mexican border patrol treaths this migrants the same way.. they extort them and rape the women.. BUT if the 72 murder were US soil Mexico would want justice... How the Fuck does Z3 or whatever this cocksucker name is, confused 72 south American women,men and some kids as sicarios going to work for another stupid cartel?? I'm sure in Mexico they know who did it , but everyone is to afraid to talk...

Anonymous said...

Isnt La Ardilla dead? He got blasted by the Army. http://www.borderlandbeat.com/2011/07/el-lazcas-capture-was-objective-in.html, that was commandante ardilla. But it seems like "la ardilla" got arrested last january. How many squirrels can the Z have?

Anonymous said...

"When will Chicos learn? They need to stay in their own goddamn country. Did Europeans move during the dark ages? No we improved the place. Took some time, there has been blood up till WW II. But now its pretty livable."

When Europe groped through the dark ages it was Muslims who moved in some parts of it, mostly in Spain, and improved somethings. Europeans didn't go anywhere because there was wasn't anywhere to go - the whole place was screwed. In the 1970s Italy had a major problem with kidnappings that's why some wealthy folks fled to other countries.

Anonymous said...

"When will Chicos learn? They need to stay in their own goddamn country. Did Europeans move during the dark ages? No we improved the place. Took some time, there has been blood up till WW II. But now its pretty livable"
Get the fuck outta here with that race shit.We got enough racist Mexicans postin on here,we dont need white cranks like you goin on about race.Im white by the way,but clowns like you give everyone a bad name.And i aint no bleeding heart bitch.These people were looking for a better chance in life.Can you blame them for trying.Do you think they deserved shit like this you fuckin clown.Lazcano and his Zs need to get fucked all the way up.

Anonymous said...

La ardilla?? Haha... Alvin y los chipmunks se meterion de zetas... Ardilla that's a scary cartel name.... Lmao

Anonymous said...

August 24, 2012 1:04 PM .
YOU RIGHT IN A WAY BRAH,BUT IT WAS COMMANDER CENTENO/ARDILLA,HERIBERTO CENTENO MADRID.You know yourself every name been taken 4 times each.They gotta start comin up with new ones.It is on BB though older post.

Anonymous said...

"Dogs are loyal, loving, comapssionate and smarter than most people.
Refer to them as rabid vermin would be appropriate"
It was me who wrote that about Lazcano and dogs and i apologize,because i couldn't agree with you more.I love dogs and we have had them as long as i can remember,right now 2 rottweilers(big babies)anyway to compare a dog with a human is wrong.Dogs want love,humans want everything.

Anonymous said...

Small correction: El Kilo was captured in April of 2011, not 2010.

Anonymous said...

I think El Lazca is "Low Man" on the present "Totum Pole" as far as who is in
Command; it would have to be This 40 character and his brother (Ivan). They seem to do anything
they want w/out any bother from Lazcano..! He's
either DEAD or has lost his balls when it comes to "Trevino" and his bro's..! As I said before eversince they split from the Golfo's over Tony Tormenta not giving up his main sicario over to the Z's for killing a couple Z's w/out permission; you don't hear shit about Lazca..!

Anonymous said...

You should be wiped out.. u ignorant bastard.. there's a lot hard working Mexicans ...not all Mexico is this twisted... In that case so should the US , they done worst things but they keep it low... So they look like good guys... Do ur history before u open ur mouth.... Or type stupid shit

Anonymous said...

This was a sad story.

Anonymous said...

Because there are South American women men and some kids working as sicarios for every cartel in Mx

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