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

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Bloody Zacatecas: 11 die

By Chris Covert

A total of 11 individuals have been killed in ongoing grug and gang related violence in Zacatecas state since Tuesday, according to Mexican news accounts.

A news report posted on the website of El Sol de Zacatecas news daily said that six individuals were found shot to death between the municipalities of Vetagrande and Morelos Thurday morning.

Locals reported the find to authorities after shots were heard around 0200 hrs.  The dead included four woman one man and one youth.  A number of the six had also been tortured.

According to a news item posted on, the youth was identified as Jorge Armando Moreno, 13.  According to the news report one of the females killed was Armando Moreno's mother, but that has not been confirmed and the identity of the others have not been disclosed.

Armando Moreno was detained and had allegedly confessed to three murders last February 4th, of ten which were alleged.  He was released only hours later.  Mexican law dictates youths under the age of 14 must be released.

Armando Moreno was detained by Policia Federal operatives February 3rd along with 14 others including eight from Guatemala.

Elsewhere one Zacatecas  one unidentified state ministerial police agent and one civilian were shot to death in an attack Tuesday night in Zacatecas municipality, the state capital of Zacatecas.

The victim was travelling with another police agent aboard an SUV around 2000 hrs on Bulevar Adolfo Lopez Mateos near the El Chaparral dance hall, when armed suspects intercepted the vehicle and opened fire.  Another unidentified civilian was shot to death in the crossfire.

The other police agent and another civilian were also wounded in the attack.

Two others were killed in drug and gang violence in Zacatecas.
  • Monday evening, one municipal police agent was kidnapped and killed at a stakeout operation in Fresnillo muncipality.  The agent identified as Rodrigo Monsivais Sandoval, 27, was one of four police agents involved in the police operation in Zona CECYTEZ when armed suspects opened fire.  Rodrigo Monsivais Sandoval was kidnapped but almost immediately shot to death and left aboard  Toyota Tundra pickup truck.  Four other municipal police agents attempted to intervene.  Despite AK-47 rifle fire, none of the agents were wounded and apparently the armed group escaped aboard another vehicle.
  • Wednesday morning a taxi cab driver and a female fare were shot to death in Zacatecas municipality.  The incident took place on Avenida Garcia Salinas.
Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for

4 die as Mexican Army reinforces La Laguna

By Chris Covert

Four individuals, both armed suspects and civilians were killed Wednesday and Thursday in several incidents in the La Laguna region of Mexico as Mexican Army units filtered into the region Wednesday night, according to Mexican news accounts.

According to a news account posted on Thursday one armed suspect was killed and another unidentified youth was detained Wednesday evening when a Mexican Army road patrol attempted a traffic stop of a driver and passenger aboard a Nissan Versa SUV.

The incident took place on Bulevar Ejercito Mexicano in Chapala colony in Gomez Palacio, Durango where the military patrol intercepted the vehicle. According to the translation, one of the two suspects opened fire on the unit prompting a pursuit, which ended on Calle Geminis in Morelos colony.

The driver was identified as Raul Jimenez De La Torre, 21, who died as the scene. The other detainee was said to be a youth, but his age was not disclosed in press reports.

In Torreon, according to a news account posted on the website of El Diario de Coahuila news daily, the offices of El Siglo de Torreon newspaper has been attacked three times in the last three days, the last costing the life of one individual.

The first attack was a small arms attack that took place Monday near the intersection of Calle Rodriguez and Avenida Allende against a Policia Federal unit assigned to protect the newspaper offices, No one was reported hurt in the incident.

The second attack took place a day later and late at night near the intersection of Avenida Matamoros and Calle Acuña where armed suspects shot at the building and hit it 30 times. Apparently no security unit was present in Tuesday night's attack.

The third and most deadly attack took place Thursday afternoon against a Policia Federal unit tasked to guard the newspaper offices. That incident took place near the intersection of calles Rodriguez and Acuña. One man identified as Geraldo T. Carrera, 37 was was shot to death. A second victim, a pregnant female was evacuated from the area, but was not wounded in the incident.

In a separate incident this time in Torreon Coahuila, two unidentified construction workers were shot to death Thursday evening.

A Facebook posting by Codigo Rojo de Laguna said the incident took place near the intersection of calles Mexico and Emilio Carranza in Aviacion colony.

The Aviacion colony incident was possibly the result of an extortion and theft attempts by organized crime groups against construction companies in Durango, including in La Laguna.

According to a report posted on the website of El Siglo de Durango, Durango state Comunicaciones y Obras Publicas del Estado (SECOPE), Guillermo Rodriguez Salazar said the organized crime has been focused on stealing bagged concrete and fuel as well as other construction materiel.

The translation said that companies involved in public works construction projects have been targeted so far.

According to a separate news account posted on the website of, the Mexican Secretaria de Defensa Nacional (SEDENA) has moved 700 troops into the region with 350 to be deployed in Gomez Palacio and the rest, 350 in Torreon. The reinforcement was made pursuant to a request early in February in security meetings between Coahuila and Durango state officials and federal government officials, or around the time Operativo Laguna was formally begun.

The reinforcement is equivalent to an entire Mexican Military Zone or a rifle regiment. Since the security operation began earlier in February, Mexican Army as well as Mexican Naval Infantry units have been involved in security operations in La Laguna, but in unknown strength.

The previous SEDENA, General Guillermo Galvin Galvin preferred a system of constant troop rotation from every corner of Mexico as a security precaution, sometimes moving troops into troubled areas such as La Laguna from as far away as Chiapas, and rotating other units back out for reassignment or rest. It is unclear by either news account or by any official announcements if these new troops are an actual reinforcement or are part of a troop rotation.

Meanwhile presumed organized crime groups have been adding their own unique take on the security situation in La Laguna by putting up narcopintas or blankets painted with messages charging Durango Governor Jorge Herrera Caldera and Policia Federal troops for trying to deliver La Laguna to organized crime.

According to a news account posted on the website of Milenio news daily, narcopintas have appeared in Gomez Palacio where the violence and fighting has been the worst since the start of the year.

Narcopintas are a nearly constant feature in Mexico's drug war, and sometimes mean very little. Local drug gangs are known to put up narcopintas as a false flag operation, or claiming to be from one group when they have been put up by the other. In a few instances local police have been known to put up false narcopintas.

The narcopintas were quickly brought down by local officials.

Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for

A Look Into 'La Chucky's' San Diego Life

Borderland Beat

A $4.7-million house in a quiet cul-de-sac in Coronado Cays appeared empty Wednesday afternoon, its occupant far away in a Mexico City prison, facing embezzlement charges.

The arrest of Elba Esther Gordillo, leader of Mexico’s powerful teachers union, brought unprecedented focus this week to the labor boss’ lavish lifestyle — and to her San Diego connections.
Mexico’s attorney general has accused Gordillo of illegally funneling $160 million from the National Union of Education Workers into U.S. and European bank accounts and using part of that money to purchase two Coronado properties, pay for treatments at California hospitals, and pay off her Neiman Marcus credit card.
A longtime labor leader in Mexico whose influence reached into the country’s highest echelons of power, Gordillo drew little attention during her stays in Coronado Cays, where property records link her to a house that includes six bedrooms, a swimming pool, and a boat slip with a 30-foot Bayliner Yacht registered to Francisco J. Yañez and valued at more than $82,000.

Boat is hers as well as the 4.7M home on the right

Like other wealthy Mexicans with homes in Coronado, Gordillo kept a low profile. “They’re just like normal people, I see them, once in a while they go for a boat ride,” said Ken Allen, who maintains her neighbor’s yacht and said that for years he has observed the occupants of Gordillo’s residence.
“I think she liked to get away from the hustle and bustle of Mexico City,” said one Coronado resident, who did not want his name used to protect his own privacy. “I ran into her every now and then, she was always polite, normal and unassuming,” he said. But “when she took a call on her portable, she switched from unassuming to very much in command.”
One Coronado Cays resident said he would occasionally see Gordillo at the spa at Loews Coronado Bay. “She sometimes would be walking the treadmill with a helper who would be holding a phone, or a towel or water,” said the man, who also asked that his name be withheld. “There would be a driver outside.”
The Mexican newspaper, Reforma, reported that Gordillo was arrested Tuesday at Toluca airport outside Mexico City (photo above) after flying in from San Diego. Hours later, the front door of the Coronado Cays house was wide open, and the lights were turned on but nobody was answering the doorbell. Alerted by a U-T reporter, Coronado police stopped by the residence, and secured the property after finding no one inside.
Gordillo’s name is nowhere on the county property record for the residence, which identifies the owner as Comercializadora TTS, S.A. de C.V., a Mexican corporation. Mexico’s attorney general, Jesús Murillo Karam, said in a Mexico City news conference on Tuesday that the company is linked to Gordillo’s late mother, Zoila Estela Morales Ochoa. The company also owns the house under construction across the street.

Both Morales and Comercializadora are named in a lien filed against Gordillo’s residence by the Coronado Cays Homeowners Association in December, saying that it was owed $1,162.

Gordillo was involved in a traffic accident in Chula Vista in December 2006, after running a stop sign on Proctor Valley Road and striking another vehicle, according to court records.
According to a police report of the incident, Gordillo told officers that she had lived in Coronado Cays for 25 years, but admitted she did not have a California driver’s license, telling the officer “she had not bothered,” to get one.

A Humble Beginning in Chiapas (AP)

Elba Esther Gordillo began her career as a school teacher and became one of Mexico's most flamboyant and powerful political operators, displaying her opulence openly with designer clothes and bags.
For years, the 68-year-old union leader beat back attacks from dissidents, political foes and journalists who have seen her as a symbol of Mexico's corrupt, old-style politics. Rivals long accused her of corruption, misuse of union funds and even a murder.
But prosecutors had never brought a charge against her until Tuesday, when she was arrested and accused of embezzling $160 million in union funds to pay for everything from a house in San Diego, California, and plastic surgery procedures to her Neiman Marcus bill.

Gordillo was detained as she landed at the Toluca airport near Mexico City on a private plane from San Diego and whisked away by authorities.
Born in the impoverished southern state of Chiapas, Gordillo was just 15 years old when she joined the National Education Workers Union, then considered a sort of electoral army for the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which governed Mexico for 71 years.
She followed the path of most Mexican politicians, rising through a series of union, party and government posts. She was a senator for the PRI and also served in Mexico's lower house.
When a strike by dissident teachers led President Carlos Salinas to oust the old boss of the teacher's union in 1989, the job fell to Gordillo, who was widely seen as a reformer.

The union post made her one of the most powerful figures in the PRI at a moment when democratic reforms were starting to erode the party's hold on power, as well as its unquestioning subservience to Mexico's president.

Even before the PRI lost the 2000 election to the National Action Party's Vicente Fox, Gordillo began hedging her bets. She was the guiding force behind the creation of the New Alliance Party, which was based on members of the teacher's union and was once headed by one of her daughters.

She participated in a high-profile discussion group that included prominent social activists and opponents of the government, including Fox, and her friendship with him infuriated some PRI officials, who managed to prevent her from becoming leader of the party in 2005. She was expelled from the party a year later for supporting other parties' candidates and for founding the New Alliance.

The new party, along with the vast spread of the teacher's union itself, has given Gordillo special leverage. Because it is large enough to swing votes from one large party to another, rivals have negotiated for its backing.
Her support was considered key in giving both Fox and Felipe Calderon the presidency, as well as blocking her rival, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, from reaching Mexico's highest office.
She maintained close ties to Calderon and was seen as the force behind the humiliating firing of Education Secretary Josefina Vazquez Mota in 2009. Officials said the firing was revenge for Vazquez Mota mocking Gordillo after it was widely reported that the union leader was going to offer Hummers to subordinates.

 In the middle of the Hummer controversy, Vazquez Mota jokingly offered a toy Hummer to one of her advisers at a private dinner and Gordillo heard of the incident and became enraged.

Witnesses recall seeing Vazquez Mota's legs trembling so much she had to sit down as Calderon announced her resignation.
Critics accused Gordillo of amassing more than a dozen properties worth millions of dollars. The newspaper Reforma once published a story analyzing one of her outfits and reported she was carrying a $5,500 purse and wearing $1,200 shoes.

She has acknowledged some of the wealth, saying part was inherited and part she earned through her job that paid her about $6,000 (80,000 pesos) a month.
A company that Mexican prosecutors said was registered to her dead mother's estate owns two multimillion-dollar homes in Coronado, a wealthy peninsular enclave across the bay from downtown San Diego. The homes are across the street from each other in a gated community that caters to retirees and people with second homes.
A modern six-bedroom home with a three-car was purchased in 1991 for $1.15 million and is currently assessed at $4.72 million. A boat was docked behind the house Wednesday.
Coronado police visited the home Tuesday night after a newspaper reporter called to report that the front door was wide open, said spokeswoman Lea Corbin. No one was inside, and police closed the door.
The company, Comercializadora TTS SA de CV, owns another property across the street that was purchased in 2010 and is currently assessed at $4.08 million. A wood frame sits on the property.
Lothar Kramer, 85, has lived next door to the six-bedroom home since 1985 and said he rarely saw anyone at the home and didn't know who lived there

And for you readers that noticed a similarity...I made this one just for you...........

COURT VIDEOS-NOTE:   The videos below are in Spanish, however click on the CC captions tool, click on Spanish (first) and it will close click CC again and go to translations there will be a list of languages beginning with Afrikaans scroll to English.  ... continues on next page

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I felt like Simba when he lost his father

Luz del Carmen Sosa El Diario (2-23-13) 

Translated by un vato for Borderland Beat

At night, just when it's time to go to sleep, is when Lilia most feels her mother's absence. She can't prevent the tears and silently says the prayer that, night after night, they would repeat together.

"At the end, she would always tell me. 'Good night, love', that's what I miss most about her," says the little girl, who didn't witness her mother's murder but lived for months with the fear that the killers would come back to finish off the rest of the family.

"I saw the film of the Lion King and I felt like Simba when he lost his father. I was very angry," the 9 year old recalls, orphaned months before when an armed group murdered her mother on the street.

The animated film was part of the group therapy that Lilia received through the Department of Justice's Special Office for the Care of Victims (FANVI: Fiscalia Especializada en Atencion a Victimas), created to provide services to those who lost a loved one in a violent crime. And in Juarez, that happened by the thousands.

The little girl remembers that it was in the cemetery, after her mother's body was covered with dirt, that she assimilated the magnitude of her reality.

"Everything changed. Everything. She would help me get ready to go to school, now I comb my hair by myself," she says, sadly.

"Well, sometimes I look OK, other times I don't, but there's nothing I can do about it, I go like that," she says with a half smile on her lips.

The girl can now talk about the murder of her mother and how much it took to get through the tragedy.

The assistance that this agency offers has not yet gained acceptance among the families of the victims of intentional homicide, perhaps due to ignorance or mistrust because of the impunity that prevails in the investigation of these crimes.     

An analysis performed by the Citizens Council for Public Safety and Criminal Justice (Consejo Ciudadano para la Seguridad Publica y Justicia Penal) stated that Ciudad Juarez is the fifth municipality in the country -- among the 60 most violent at the national level -- with the highest index of impunity regarding the resolution of homicide cases.

According to the study, "The violence in Mexico's municipalities", presented by the civil association in Mexico City, in the 20 municipalities that showed the highest number of homicides, only an average of 4.81% of homicides were punished, a percentage that is three times lower than the number for the entire country in 2011: 16.21%.

In the case of Juarez, the city occupied 13th place among municipalities with the most homicides, with a homicide index of 48.97 per 100,000 population, while the sentencing index [crimes that were actually punished] was only 2.63%, that is, a level of impunity of 97.37%.

Here, only one out of every ten families seeks government assistance.

So far during this (state) administration, FANVI opened only 1,200 files and provided benefits to approximately 5,000 persons, mostly children, reports Israel Anaya Alarcon, the Northern Area coordinator for this agency.

"Justice is something we're working on. Building solid foundations so justice can reach the families requires movement of many aspects in social life, from the one who commits the crime, the victim, the one who reports it, the one who investigates, the one who delivers justice, the one who issues a sentence, the one who rehabilitates. We all have our tasks, there's still work to do, but it's everybody's duty," says the public servant.

The Strategy

Anaya Alarcon specifies that, through the trust fund for care for children of the fight against crime, they have provided care to families that have lost a loved one.

The assistance consists of comprehensive care for children, however, emotional health is the priority.

"In the context of the social violence we experienced in past years, workshops on mourning are offered as part of the emotional health care provided for families," he says.

"We are looking for the children's social and emotional rehabilitation, for families to retake life's projects, for it not to be truncated by a deplorable act of violence," he states.

He explains that the workshops on mourning must first be accepted by the person left in charge of the legal custody of the boy or girl.continues on next page

Acuña Heats Up as 10 killed in 2 Days, Another .50 Cal at the Scene

Chivis Martinez Borderland Beat

Acuña:  a conflict on Monday resulted in a shootout between elements of GATES (State of Coahuila Special Forces) and “gunmen”.   The clash began at 3:20 PM on the street “15” and “Dos de Abril” in the colony Garmez Sumara, reports the Attorney Genral of Justice of the State.
According to his report, the elements were on patrol when as the approached the Street “15” they found themselves under gun attack by four gunmen aboard a red Ford Explorer.
The gunmen were on the losing end of the battle which resulted in all four of their deaths.
Confiscated in the aftermath were the vehicle, bearing Texas plates, and three AK47 aka Cuerno de Chivo (goat horn)

Today at around 10:30 AM commenced a second deadly confrontation.  Reports from the ground indicated that  as my source travelled from Combugas to Soriana, soldiers  were advancing towards the Macroplaza. 
As the source came to Jose Las Fuentes Rodriguez and  libramiento Emilio Mendoza he saw the soldiers once again heading north on Fuentes Rodriguez with guns positioned and lights flashing heading towards the fairgrounds.  He managed to get a couple of photos (see left).
He later emails me to advise that in the aftermath the body count was six.  All the dead were gunmen with no reported police causalities.   Subsequent information is all over the place with numbers of deaths, I will keep you posted. 

As of 5:30PM the conflicts continue.  Notable was a new PGJE report that at the scene not only were the AK-47s confiscated, but a .50 Cal Barrett.  A .50 Cal weapon was used to execute the state police chief of Nuevo Leon a week ago, and was the first confirmed use of a .50 caliber. 
Acuña, Coahuila is but an international bridge apart from Del Rio, Texas.  It is the site of the execution of Eduardo “Lalo” Moreira last October on the orders of Miguel Trevino leader of the Zetas. 
Lalo was the son of the former governor and National PRI Chairman Humberto Moreira.  The sitting governor of Coahuila is Humberto’s brother, Ruben.  The once close brothers have suffered a severe relationship split and Humberto makes it no secret he harbors blame for the execution of his son, and places that blame on Ruben’s shoulders.
The killing was retaliation for the death of Trevino’s nephew’s killing by GATES elements, assumedly an eye for an eye, a nephew for a nephew.
In the months prior to the killing of Lalo, and since then, Acuña has been tense and heated.  Many reports of killings and kidnappings have been reported by people on the ground, many that do not manage to find their way to publications.

I wrote a post about the night Lalo was killed.  A killing that involved the police chief, supervisor and other police. 
 That on the night of the murder four bodies were thrown on the Bravo side of the Rio Grande but one victim was not dead. 
He managed to reach the Del Rio side and picked up by US Border Patrol, taken for medical care, transferred to GEO and deported, over a few weeks. 
There was a small reference to the incident in the Del Rio Herald, but not one publication in Mexico ran the story.  Many incidents of murder go unreported.
I have reason to believe the person that survived the Bravo toss  was Victor Sifuentes, the police supervisor who “found the body”. 

He was listed as one of the wanted people suspected of the murder.  

A reliable source in Del Rio, confirmed to me, that the man in the river was Sifuentes, based on a first person identification and photo match.
After the deportation of the "man in Rio Bravo", Sifuentes was soon captured in Monclova.

Since the Zeta/CDG split, Acuña has been controlled by Los Zetas, with occasional strikes by CDG.  However for a town along the frontera it has been relatively quiet.  A game changer is two fold, one is the alliance between CDG and CDS.  CDS has wanted the NE and the alliance gave way to that possibility, a foot in the door so to speak. 

With CDS, CDG has gained strength for the time being, though once CDS acquires the target territory they desire look to the alliance to break as CDS will want complete control.  That assumes Zetas are defeated. 

The other element is the relationship between Zetas and the state government.  Widely spoken about was the working relationship between the governorship of Humberto and Zetas, a relationship that appeared to fracture as the "new" Moreira Governor stepped into office.  That was highlighted in the Lalo Moreira murder. 

Thank you to TexPatNMex for the on the ground reporting...... 
Woman Arrested in Eagle Pass Changed with Trafficking AK47's
Acuña, Coahuila. - The Border Patrol Del Rio Sector reported the seizure made ​​on the bridge of Eagle Pass, Texas,(adjacent to Piedras Negras,  fourteen AK 47 assault rifles, known as the "goat horn".  A Texas woman 52 years of age was arrested carrying the weapons in a hidden compartment of the pickup truck she was driving.
The report issued did not give an exact date of the arrest, but indicated there was a delay as the investigation proceeded.  The report was published today in Mexican newspapers.  No name was given, and the crime was handled with unusual secrecy. 
She was driving a Ford150, and chose an untimely day and time attempting to cross, as  customs and border patrol were in a joint operation in the inspection of vehicles, which resulted in the discovery of her clandestine cargo destined for Piedras Negras, Coahuila.
She was arrested and is being detained in the Val Verde County Detention Center awaiting prosecution for weapons trafficking with the intent to traffic them out of the country.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Armed suspects spring 12 from prison in Tamaulipas, SEDENA seizes cocaine

By Chris Covert

A total of 12 inmates escaped from a prison facility in Tamaulipas state Tuesday, according to Mexican and official news accounts.

A news report posted on the website of Animal Politico news website said that armed suspects entered a Centro de Ejecucion de Sanciones (CEDES) prison in Miguel Aleman and released 12 inmates early tuesday morning.

A total of 15 armed suspects arrived at the prison aboard several vehicles, dismounted and disarmed prison officials, taking keys to the cells.  Apparently no shots were fired and no one was wounded in the escape.

The Los Zetas drug gang are known to stage mass prison escapes, the largest to date being eh December 2010 mass escape from the Nuevo Laredo CEDES in which 151 inmates were let out and escaped aboard buses awaiting them.

Another smaller but far more significant escape was last September in the Piedras Negras Centro de Readaptacion Social (CERESO) in Coahulla where 131 inmates escaped, nearlty all of them said to be members of Los Zetas.  This escape is significant becasue of the security headaches of releasing so many criminals into an area to continue their activities.  It has been reported in Mexican and English language press that the Piedras Negras prison escape was facilitated to "replenish" gang membership on the area.

The escaped inmates in Tuesday's prison break in Miguel Aleman were identified as Horacio Puente Alfaro (homicide), Daniel Alberto Solis Trejo (homicide), Enrique de la Peña Saenz, Alberto Campos Gordillo, José Ramirez del Angel, Jaime Rodriguez Hernandez, Patricio Gerardo Alvarez Sanchez, Víctor Hugo Alonso Alvarado, Miguel Angel Gonzalez Malpica, Rodolfo Lopez Cortes, Juan Carlos Coronado Vazquez and Mario Esteban Urbano Vazquez.

Meanwhile, in other drug war news further south in Cruillas municipality, a Mexican Army unit manning a checkpoint seized a total of 27 kilograms of cocaine.  Cruillas is about 30 kilometers west of San Fernando municipality.

Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for

PGR Arrests Elba Esther Gordillo

Elba Esther Gordillo
The Attorney General’s Office, Jesus Murillo Karam, said that the leader of the SNTE (Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación) (National Education Workers' Union) Elba Esther Gordillo, was arrested for allegedly misappropriating and diverging funds from the SNTE to personal bank accounts.   
Jesus Murillo Karam, Pictured At Far Left

Murillo Karam reported that Elba Esther is now detained at the airport in Toluca located in the State of Mexico.

At a press conference, Murillo Karam said that the SHCP (Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público) (Mexico's Secretariat of Finance and Public Credit), filed a formal complaint with the PGR (Attorney General) when they detected an irregular operation totaling around 2 billion pesos ($156 million) in two accounts of the SNTE.

The official explained that from 2008 to 2012 there were funds that were diverted from SNTE worker’s accounts to mainly three individual accounts in foreign banks.  This money, according to Murillo Karam, was subsequently withdrawn by these people in foreign banks through checks and cash transfers.

The two accounts of the SNTE from where the money was withdrawn from had around $156 million and also had an output to 4 people in particular and a corporation— a real estate company.

The deviations of resources from the SNTE include: shopping malls, payments to cosmetic surgery clinics, art galleries, and buying property abroad.  He also goes on to say that Gordillo allegedly used the funds to pay for her plastic surgery, her credit card bill from Neiman Marcus, the purchase of a private airplane, and to buy a house in San Diego valued at around $1.7 million dollars which she claims belongs to her mother and other family members.
Alfredo Castillo Cervantes

We will have to analyze the other accounts of the SNTE, said the attorney for the Regional Control (Control Regional, Procedimientos Penales y Amparo de la PGR), Alfredo Castillo.

Another Mexico Mixup: The Real Fantasma Identified

      Borderland Beat
While everyone else ran with RioDoce’s photo as real, myself and you readers knew…’no way’.
A reader sent me this article early yesterday but I have not had time to post.  Here is a bit of the explanation of the ‘mix up’ identity.  Now this guy does look like the Fantasma photo of old and the one I used on the original story and everyone followed suit. 

RioDoce is the source of the erroneous photo in the first place but has corrected the error and a complete explanation, that story is below. ….Paz, Chivis
EL Fantasma took on the name Jonathan Salas Avilés. Hence the confusion. The real Jonathan  was not an accomplished shooter. He had joined the ranks of Chapo Guzman a year before he was killed in the clash Sinaloa cartel had with the Navy the night of March 1, 2012, and of which the elusive head of sicarios reportedly escaped in the fire.

Ticante Marcelino Castro is the Phantom's real name, he was arrested by the army at dawn on Saturday February 9, 2013, but at this point neither the Ministry of National Defense, who arrested him, his name has been made public.
On March 1, 2012 a clash occurred in Oso Viejo, receivership of Quilá, Culiacán, killing four alleged offenders. Two of them were incinerated in a van Cherokee, where they found the remains of several guns and ammunition,  one was lying on the ground, a few feet from the vehicle. The real Jonathan died in a clinic in Culiacan, where he had been admitted with a gunshot wound to the head.

From the early hours of the events was speculated that El Fantasma had died in the clash.

Also reported  by the people of the region; the gunmen had shot down  a helicopter.

The reason the mix up occurred was the name of who was taken by ambulance to the Red Cross in Culiacan:

Jonathan Salas Avilés. 

[at top left the Real Jonathan and misidentified as El Fantasma]
But the authorities, the Attorney General, the Navy and the Mexican Army itself, contributed to the confusion.
Confirming  the next day that the man who had died in the clinic had been identified as Jonathan Salas Avilés, but it had not been established to be El Fantasma. Moreover, were never provided the names of the other three gunmen dead, opening avenues for speculation.  

 Another factor contributing to the mess that the operation was March 2012, as stated by the general himself of the Ninth Military Zone, Moises Melo Garcia had been done by "federal forces" (referring to the Marina) and the Army only been involved in the protection of the area after the clash. But then, from Mexico City, the Department of Defense claimed the operation.

Now, when the real Fantasma was arrested in Costa Rica, neither the authorities nor the state, nor federal, gave his first name.
The name assumption (between the two men) began with;  “Lend me your name”, El Fantasma had ordered Jonathan Salas, who had a relation with that group, doing minor tasks. He lived in the Colony Lazaro Cardena, by the street Emilio Portes Gil, in a neighborhood that st nightfall  becomes a black hole because of the scabrous of the land and the lack of public light.
El Fantasma was already a reference on the criminal world, but not many knew his real identity.
Native from Veracruz, ex-military, was at the service of Municipal Police of Culiacan at the beginning of the last decade. He did not last long in the corporation. Those who met him refer to him as a man of few words, serious and even describe him as “peaceful”....continues

Narco Weapon Progression: Sicarios Use .50 Caliber to Execute Nuevo Leon State Police Chief

Borderland Beat

Dr. Robert Bunker Small Wars Journal 
This significant incident was brought to my attention by the reporter Chivis with Borderland Beat. He also provided the translations. This may very well be the first targeted assassination of a Mexican public safety official by a sniper utilizing a .50 cal rifle (possibly a Barrett but this is speculation).
The standoff range was reported to be 60 meters which is about 66 yards away. This is the distance where a tripod (e.g. tripié del fusil—this is likely in error as a bipod would typically be utilized— but it was left behind so the stabilization device is in question) was found abandoned along with a shell casing—which possibly suggests a lower level of training and/or the immediate need to escape and evade pursuers.
The sniper may have been in a prone firing position as the items were reported found in vacant lot near the Commander’s home. The target was hit in the back with the lot providing a clear line of site to the parking and/or door of the residence. Of interest is that Chivis had interviewed me about Mexican cartel weaponry employment patterns in December 2012. The use of 50 cal. sniper rifles was briefly discussed in the interview.

Francotirador ejecuta con fusil calibre .50 a mando policiaco de Nuevo León

MONTERREY, N.L. (apro).- El comandante de la Agencia Estatal de Investigaciones, Gustavo Gerardo Garza Saucedo, fue ejecutado esta madrugada por un francotirador que utilizó un fusil de bala calibre .50 para dispararle cuando llegaba a su casa en Apodaca, 20 kilómetros al nororiente de la capital, informó hoy la Procuraduría de Nuevo León.

Translation: MONTERREY, N.L. (apro).- The commander of the State Investigation Agency, Gustavo Gerardo Garza Saucedo, was executed this early morning by a sniper using a .50 caliber rifle  to shoot him when he arrived  home in Apodaca, 20 kilometers northwest of the capital, reported today by the Prosecutor of Nuevo Leon.  Full Proceso Article Here

 The Changing Mexican Drug War Brings New Challenges by Chivis Martinez

I wrote this post at the end of December not knowing how quickly Dr. Bunker would be proven correct in his forecast of weaponry progression.  
As the drug war progresses the transitive nature of this war is a study in of itself.  Apart from struggling to realize sheer numbers of dead and missing, elements of war not often written about on a Mexican Drug War blog are essential to determine where the war is and where it is heading.

The spread of Mexican cartel activity worldwide has been a rapid fire phenomenon that has resulted in Mexican cartels now being considered the world’s premier provider of street drugs.  Last week Mexico announced the estimated number of cartels, splinter groups, enforcers groups and gangs wanting their piece of the financial pie is now 80.  Others estimate the number to be 100+.

Increasing cartel presences in Central America have tiny, fragile nations under the thumb of some of the powerful cartels.  Guatemala is an example. By its own estimation 75% of the country is under the control of cartels, namely Los Zetas, with the Sinaloa Cartel also having a good presence in specific areas of the south and a portion of the north border.

It is not difficult to understand the importance of Central America to cartels, as trafficking routes restructured to accommodate both the US and Europe. 

US cocaine use has tumbled in a decline since the late 80s.  It is estimated that 60% of street drugs usage  in the US is marijuana, with RX comprising the bulk of the remaining 40%.  One can envision a scenario wherein knock off RX manufacturing would be conducted openly in Central American labs. 

Additionally intellectual marketing products and other knock off products could concentrate production in Central America, diversifications now comprises 50% of the cartel product and resource line.

Aside from logistics astounding advances in narco warfare exists, including narco manufactured tanks, sophisticated advances in narco tunnels, communication, and weaponry.

Watching the ever evolving cache  of weapons  lingering at the aftermath of shootouts, I wondered what they represented in the changing war. 

I immediately thought of Dr. Robert Bunker as a go to person for answering some of the questions of narco tactical and weapon advances focusing on MANPADS and other weapon… link here to read interview

 Video is a one mile Barrett .50 kill shot in Iraq

The Man who Turned on Lazca

From Classified SEDENA File
Borderland Beat Exclusive

By ACI - Borderland Beat
In 2010 Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano was in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. His movements were being traced through a currupted Nextel number. The only reason this is known is because of a man named Pedro Vazquez Torres ' el perro' or the dog. El Perro was part of Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano inner ring of security. It was said he rarely ever left Lazcano’s side but on the day of his death El Perro was absent. While the accounts of what occurred that day differ widely, the following is what is believed to be true.

On October 7, 2012, Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano was attending a soccer game in the town of Progreso, Coahuila. As Lazca was watching the game he had little clue as to what was taking place around him. A contingent of Mexican Marines moved in on Lazca’s location, surrounding the entire area.

The Mexican Government claimed someone had called in a tip about gunmen at a baseball game. This has been hard for many to believe. Some have speculated that perhaps he was set up by Z-40, another powerful leader of the group. While I cannot say for certain, I have confirmed what I believe is closest representation of the truth. Lazca was turned in by his inner ring of security, possibly with the green light from Los Zetas.

Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano was known to use several layers of security at any given moment. He was supposed to be alerted anytime anyone hostel was in the area. If the Military was moving anywhere in the state Lazcano should have gotten a phone call. The fact that Lazca was unaware of the military presence in the area suggests every layer of his security failed. He fell in a hail of bullets not far from the baseball field, shot by elements of the Mexican Miltary. He was killed with his lone body guard Mario Alberto Rodriguez Rodriguez.

There is very little information regarding Pedro Vazquez Torres. Most of the information presented in this story comes from a confidential file created by Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional or SEDENA. He became part of Mexico’s notorious Grupo Aeromóvil de Fuerzas Especiales (GAFE) in 1999. The GAFE is a branch of Mexico’s Special Armed Forces. Los Zetas were originally founded by a group of deserters who originated from GAFE. A Proceso article mentioned his name incorrectly but did state he also worked on communications for the group.

Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano continued to favor those who had been part of GAFE. Many druglords turn to highly experienced security professionals for protection. It is also not surprising that many of these professionals are ex-military. These security professionals generally serve as the inner ring of security, however have also tended to rise quickly within the criminal organizations.

Employing ex-GAFE member has been a long standing tradition within Los Zetas. It was Lazcano’s boss Osiel Cardenas of the Gulf Cartel who originally began the militarization of the Mexican Cartels. A move he made out of paranoia and fear for his own life. Within Los Zetas the practice of recruitment continues to this day, though not a prevalent as it has in the past. One particularly bold example of this was when Los Zetas hung banners recruiting anyone with military experience.

What is known:

SEDENA had a file on el Perro since at least 2010

In June of 2010 DEA had a working Nextel number for Lazca

In June 2010 Lazca was in San Louis Potosi, the DEA was aware of this

Lazca was killed in October 7, 2012 under suspicious circumstances

El Perro was not with Lazca when he died