Alejandro Sicarios Rio Doce (2-10-2013)
Translated by un vato for Borderland Beat
Military tactics: attack Chapo Isidro's organization to reduce violence in Sinaloa.
In July, 2012, the National Defense Secretariat (SEDENA) recommended a strategy to then-president Felipe Calderon Hinojosa of attacking the criminal organization led by Isidro "El Chapo" Meza Flores to reduce the levels of violence associated with drug trafficking in Sinaloa.
In a classified document, the study titled "Positions, Incidences and Combat against 'Satellite' Cartels in Mexico," (Posiciones, incidencias y combate de los carteles "satelites" en Mexico) --drafted by Military Intelligence Services -- argues that the small criminal cells which have split from the large drug trafficking cartels are the ones that generate the most violence.
It establishes that the alliance of Chapo Isidro with the Beltran Leyva Cartel, whose zone of influence encompasses northern Sinaloa, some mountainous areas in that state's center and which has a strong influence in Sonora, "is identified with violent events of major impact and ferocity that have something to do with 75% of the murders committed in Sinaloa."
On the other hand, the military report considers that the Sinaloa Cartel, led by Joaquin El Chapo Guzman and Ismael El Mayo Zambada, had agreed to reduce its violent actions and only act in retaliation against attacks by the enemy organization made up of Isidro Meza and the Beltran Leyvas.
No part of the document proposes any military action against the Sinaloa Cartel, which is mentioned only as a reference.
Without specifying whether or not Calderon Hinojosa and his Security Cabinet considered the Army's proposal, the military thesis considers that in Sinaloa, of the total of 1,900 murders committed in 2011, approximately 1,400 of these are related to the territorial dispute between El Chapo Isidro-Beltran Leyva and Joaquin Guzman-Ismael Zambada.
It points out that in the northern municipalities of Guasave, Ahome, Angostura, Sinaloa and El Fuerte, 92% of the homicides are attributed to the organization whose most visible leader is Isidro Meza, and were intended to eliminate anything from "dangerous rivals" to distributors and drug retailers who work for the Guzman-Zambada cartel.
The military document maintains the same position with respect to high impact crimes reported in Sinaloa in the first six months of 2012: of the 790 homicides, it attributes around 600 to the local war that the two groups are waging "with aggravated rivalry."
It is because of the numbers analyzed by tactical sections of SEDENA that it is "suggested" that the war against drug trafficking organizations "focus on 'satellite' cells that operate in different areas of the country, which represent the major violence factor, involving high impact events that accentuate in the citizenry the perception of insecurity."
When drawing the organizational chart of the violence generated by drug trafficking in Mexico, the Intelligence Cabinet of the Mexican Army also classifies the Arellano Felix Cartel as a "weak organization" and, as a consequence, "by becoming a weak organization, it has prompted the penetration of other cartels into the northern part of the country, making greater violence foreseeable in that region due to the dispute over the Arizona-California border zone formerly dominated by the Arellano (organization)."
In the case of Los Zetas, whose zone of influence is the entire Gulf of Mexico, the report makes reference to the fact that "the so-called Gulf Cartel has become a criminal organization in decline, which is vulnerable to atack because of its high degree of dispersion and loss of control, although it is pointed out that the level of violence generated by Los Zetas continued to climb during 2011 and 2012."
The document regards La Familia Michoacana as another minority organization displaced by the criminal group Los Caballeros Templarios which, in the same way as (happened with) the Isidro Meza organization in Sinaloa, La Familia Michocana reduced its strength but increased its criminal effectiveness.
In the offensive it proposes against what it calls "weak criminal organizations" or "'satellite' criminal organizations" (who orbit around strong cartels), SEDENA proposes the following actions:
1. Reclassify as cartels criminal cells that gain strength in several regions of the country as a result of their criminal activity.
2. Include their leaders, their lieutenants and their families in the reports about businesses, financial transactions and other properties linked with drug trafficking.
3. Infiltrate them to gain an accurate map of their criminal logistics.
4. Organize the deployment of troops to strike blows to the nerve centers of small criminal organizations.
5. Involve federal and state police bodies in operations against the groups that generate the most violence.
6. Block all kinds of collaboration that they may receive from authorities, police and citizens.
7. Establish a bi-national Mexico-U.S. system of rewards offered to cooperate in the location and detention of the heads of "secondary drug trafficking cells."
8. Request collaboration of international tracking systems so as to locate their operational margins.
A week after Felipe Calderon's government received Sedena "recommendation", the Ministry of the Interior (Secretaria de Gobernacion) submitted it for analysis to outside consultants on national security matters, asking for an urgent diagnosis.
The consultants, most of them former officials from the office of the Mexican Attorney General, former police chiefs and former state attorneys general, labeled the military strategy as "highly inadequate" to carry out dismantling operations of numerically and tactically weaker criminal organizations.
"We warned that it involved a slanted strategy that instead of inhibiting indicator of violence, would exacerbate them in the short term. That is the case in Sinaloa, where it can be proven reliably that for each assault against the Chapo Isidro cell, the reaction has been more violence with a greater impact," one of the consultants tells Rio Doce.
The diagnostic analysis noted that the slanted battle against drug trafficking groups or cartels should be substituted with a generalized strategy against drug trafficking and the indistinct consequences that result from that and which placed the country at the center of international criticism because of the number of victims and the overriding sense of terror.
"That's the position we outside consultants adopted: battling a drug trafficking cell or cartel, and making an exception for another criminal organization, is not the function of the Mexican government which, if it were to fall into such imbalance, would be favoring a criminal faction; the long term cost to security would be terrible," adds the consultant being interviewed.
In reality, he points out, they delivered that observation to President of the Republic and they never knew -- "because it was not our job to know" -- whether the President issued orders to the Army to implement the strategy of combating only the so-called "satellite" criminal organizations.....continues
Classification of cartels
According to the reclassification of criminal organizations involved in drug trafficking that SEDENA performed towards the end of the Calderon administration, these are categorized in the following manner:
Gente Nueva (New People)
El Chapo Isidro-Beltran Leyva
War log book
In an attack attributed to Chapo Isidro Meza Flores, on March 6, 2010, six police officers were murdered when they were transferring a convoy of inmates, in an ambush reported near Guasave.
On July 15, 2010, another 11 state police officers and a civilian died when the bodyguards of then-Secretary of Public Security , Francisco Cordova Celaya, were attacked, also in Guasave.
In May of 2011, Giovanni Salazar Ontiveros, alleged leader of Meza Flores's gunmen, was arrested. As a result of this arrest, the Attorney General released the names of Chapo Isidros principal lieutenants.
On January 30, 2012, three soldiers were killed while pursuing suspected gunmen working for Isidro Meza Flores in downtown Guasave.
On May 2, 2012, Army elements confronted a Chapo Isidro cell that was staying in a hotel in Estacion Bamoa, with two soldiers and 10 gunmen killed, among these Mario Flores, El Chonte, regarded as one of Meza Flores's lieutenants.
In July of 2012, Juan Pablo Osuna Lizarraga, El Cien, was killed in an ambush against Ministerial Police agents near Tetamboca, El Fuerte. He was another one of Chapo Isidro's strong men.
In 2012, during Holy Week, there was a confrontation in the Las Glorias resort between Chapo Isidro forces and federal police. They said that Meza Flores escaped during the shootout.
On January 20, 2013, the United States Treasury Department classified Meza Flores and several members of his family as part of a drug trafficking organization.