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

Sunday, March 31, 2013

"La Barbie": An American Druglord

A Borderland Beat post revisit especially informative for newbies and a good read for all, even if it is a re-read
On a warm morning in May a few years ago, Edgar Valdez, a drug lord who goes by the nickname La Barbie, woke up in one of the houses he owned in the resort city of Acapulco.

In the 1950s, this beautiful beach town was the premier haunt of American celebrities: Frank Sinatra used to prowl the hotel lounges, Elizabeth Taylor had her third of eight weddings here, and John F. Kennedy honeymooned on the coast with Jacqueline.

The glamour started to fade in the 1980s, but the city remained a popular vacation destination until a few years ago, when the Mexican cartels transformed Acapulco from a seaside paradise into one of the most violent flash points of the drug war.

As chief enforcer for the town's most powerful cartel, Barbie drove the celebrities away for good and made tourists nervous about straying too far into Acapulco when their cruise ships pulled into port. He felt bad about it, a little, but that is the way of the world, he thought – eat or be eaten.

Barbie has olive skin, but his nickname comes from his good looks and green eyes. He was known for his happy-go-lucky personality, though he could turn terrifying and bloodthirsty in an instant.

At 31, he still had the strong, raw body of the linebacker he had been in high school: five feet 10, 210 pounds. Barbie kept a glass case at home filled with 60 Rolexes and diamond-studded Audemars Piguets, but unlike most narcos, he didn't grow a beard or wear flashy gold jewelry.

He preferred to dress like a sophisticated South American on holiday, favoring polo jerseys with an emblem of a horseman and a stick, the kind that real Argentine jockeys wear. In fact, the myth of Barbie looms so large in Mexico that his addiction to the shirts started what's known as the Narco Polo trend, with working-class Mexicans clamoring to buy knockoff versions in street stalls.
"These shirts like Barbie's have become the fashion," Mario López, the governor of the Mexican state of Sinaloa, told reporters in June. "Many young people want to emulate men like him as idols."

But his fashion sensibility wasn't the only thing that distinguished Barbie from other Mexican drug lords: He was also a gringo, a middle-class suburban jock who was born and raised in Texas.

He is the only U.S. citizen known to have risen to the top of a Mexican cartel, and the only American on the State Department's list of targeted drug lords. (The U.S. government offered $2 million for information that would lead to his arrest.)
For years, as drugs flowed into Acapulco from Colombia, Barbie controlled the main distribution routes out of the city, moving as much as two tons of coke – that's 2 million grams – into the U.S. every month.

Most of the drugs went to Memphis and Atlanta, where Barbie is believed to have been the main supplier for several violent networks, including one run by the half brother of DJ Paul from Three 6 Mafia.
 Barbie cleared up to $130 million a year moving drugs in the States, but with typical boldness he made little effort to launder the money. Instead, he simply loaded the cash onto flatbed trailers and trucked it across the Mexican border.

In the lawless world of the cartels, that kind of money made Barbie a prime target. On this morning in Acapulco, he decided to eliminate the most immediate threat he faced.

One of the policemen he kept on his payroll had informed him that four hit men from the Zetas – one of the most violent cartels, led by elite, American-trained soldiers who defected from the Mexican army – had been sent to Acapulco to kill him. So Barbie dispatched some of his own guys to ambush the hit men.

When one of the assassins stopped in the town plaza to buy a phone card to call his sister, Barbie's men punched him in the gut and hustled him into a waiting SUV. To their surprise, however, the hit man had brought along his wife and two-year-old stepdaughter, figuring he might as well enjoy a family vacation while he was waiting to kill Barbie. Caught off guard, Barbie's men hustled them into another SUV, covering their faces with towels so they couldn't see.

The hit man and his family were taken to a house surrounded by an electric fence on the outskirts of Acapulco. According to testimony, Barbie's would-be assassin was then escorted to a bedroom upstairs, where he and his three Zeta accomplices were tied up and ordered to sit on top of a bunch of black garbage bags, which had been taped together to create a large tarp.
Barbie climbed the stairs in the afternoon, carrying a video camera and a pistol tucked in his belt.

With the camera on, he began interrogating the men, asking them where they came from and what kind of work they did for the Zetas. "I have the contacts in the army to find out about the patrols," one confessed.

"I am a recruiter for the Zetas," said another. "I worked as a 'hawk,'" said the third, adding that after he had kidnapped someone, his boss would tell him whether "they were going to take him to el guiso or not."

"What is el guiso?" asked Barbie.

"It's when they grab someone, they get information about moving drugs or money, they get what they want, and then, after torturing him, they execute him," the hit man said.

"They take him to a ranch or one of those places, they shoot him in the head, they throw him in a can, and they burn him with different fuels like diesel and gasoline."

The words came spilling forth. As Barbie questioned them, the men told detailed stories about kidnapping rivals, killing reporters, burying people's daughters. They must have thought they were going to get some concessions for divulging so many secrets. But Barbie had other plans. He raised his gun. "And you, buddy?" he asked the fourth hit man.

The man never got a chance to answer. Suddenly, a gun entered the frame and blew the guy's head off.

The hit man's wife and stepdaughter were kept in the house overnight. The next morning, Barbie's men, whom he taught to be merciful to women, gave the little girl a bowl of cereal with a banana and let her swim in the pool out back.
Later, they sent her away with her mother, giving them 1,000 pesos for bus fare. Before they left, one of Barbie's men told the wife, "Your husband said to tell you that he loves you."

Barbie believed in vengeance, and in taking care of his enemies. Over his 15 years in the drug trade, he had managed to alienate the leaders of almost every major cartel in Mexico: the Zetas, the Gulf cartel, even the Sinaloa and Beltrán-Leyva cartels he worked for.

"Barbie had enemies galore," says George Grayson, a Mexico scholar at the College of William & Mary and the author of Mexico: Narco-Violence and a Failed State.

 "He could have set the Guinness World Record for people who wanted to kill him."

Yet Barbie remained chillingly detached, unable to see the connection between his personal savagery and the way his own family and friends came to fear him.

"Even with all the bad things he's done, Barbie always thought the world looked on him kindly," says a law-enforcement source familiar with Barbie.

 "He's just one of those blithe-living guys who thinks his life is charmed."

Like many Texans, Barbie grew up right across the border from Mexico, in the city of Laredo. The place feels like something from a Mexican postcard, with cobblestone plazas and picturesque waterfalls – except for the massive, multilane bridge to Mexico that cuts straight through town.

Until the drug war, everyone in Laredo saw the two sides of the border as one; many families, after all, had blood ties in both Mexico and the States.

As a kid, Barbie loved to visit Nuevo Laredo, a border town bustling with donkeys, food carts, girls in little embroidered dresses, shoeshine boys and the smell of roasting corn. It was like stepping into another world, and all you had to do was cross the bridge.

In high school, Barbie was in the popular crowd, horsing around in the breezeways outside of class and waging egg wars after school. On weekends, he went to keggers on ranches, played elaborate scavenger games and hung out with his steady sweetheart, Virginia Perez, a bubbly, blue-eyed blonde.
He grew up in a middle-class development on the outskirts of Laredo, a kind of no man's land where Burger Kings didn't begin to sprout up until the Nineties.

Even the people of Laredo considered it "Indian territory," an area rife with dope and illegal immigrants. Barbie's parents raised him and his five siblings in a tidy, orange-trimmed home with palm trees in the front. "They're regular Ozzie and Harriets," says Jose Baeza, a spokesman for the Laredo police department. "They're business owners, PTA, morning-jog people."

At school, Barbie was an inside linebacker on the football team in a year when the United Longhorns won the district championship. He was a solid player, getting a sack or two a game, but he was never a star.

His nickname came from his coach. "We called him Ken Doll, mostly because his hair was blond and kinky like the doll's," says a friend from that time.

"Then the coach upped the ante to Barbie, and it took off like wildfire." Barbie took the teasing in stride. "He was a joker with a good sense of humor, walking around in his jockstrap and snapping his towel," recalls a teammate.

When he got an infection his senior year and had to be circumcised, he showed it off in the locker room, telling everyone, "Hey, look, guys, I got my turkey neck cut off."

Barbie never sold drugs in high school, according to friends, but he and his buddies engaged in a common teenage exploit in Laredo: roping cows in the middle of the night, loading them onto trailers and selling them to the highest bidder.

Mostly, he liked hitting the bars across the border after a game on Friday night, and driving his Chevy with its custom red-and-gold paint job, especially on a desolate stretch of road where there was nothing but desert in the distance.

One night, two months before graduation, he collided with another car. The other driver, a middle-school guidance counselor, died instantly. Barbie faced trial for criminally negligent homicide but was cleared of all charges.

"I don't know how it affected him," recalls a friend. "The weird thing is that right away, Edgar came back to football practice, and he seemed exactly like the same guy, just horsing around."

When Barbie graduated from high school soon after, his dad pushed him to go to college. But Barbie, who was a terrible student, decided to pursue a more lucrative career path – one that didn't involve hitting the books.

Before long he was hanging out at border nightclubs, being flashy with his cash. "One night at Sombrero's bar in Nuevo Laredo, the bartender told me that el güero" – a white guy – "wanted to send over some bottles of alcohol," says a friend from high school.

"Barbie never even came over to talk to us, but when we left we saw him outside, in a black Jeep Cherokee. He stopped to say hi, and we saw that he had bulletproof windows. We just thought he was rich."

By age 20, Barbie was deeply involved in drug dealing. Laredo is the biggest commercial land crossing on the Mexican border, and customs agents can check only a small fraction of the 8,000 trucks that pass through the town every day. Barbie knew that if he could smuggle pot from Mexico in his truck, the resale price would instantly skyrocket.

He started out bringing in small quantities, just to pocket a little extra spending money. But once he realized how much there was to be made, he and a friend began smuggling as much as 150 pounds of pot over the border at a time. Eventually, they expanded into cocaine, making their initial sales by FedExing the drugs to midlevel traffickers in Louisville and Memphis.

The year Barbie turned 21, his family's fortunes took an unexpected turn when one of his sisters won $1 million in the Texas Lottery. The Valdezes began making plans to move to the ritzy part of town, and Barbie married Virginia, his high school girlfriend. But the sudden influx of cash did nothing to stem his drug dealing. He had a good eye for deals – and, even more important, for when to walk away.

"I met him at a Popeye's in town to do a deal for 300 pounds of marijuana," recalls Martin Cuellar, a sheriff in Laredo, who was working undercover at the time. "He seemed ready to work with me, but then he stopped answering his phone.

I guess he smelled something." Even when those close to him got busted, Barbie always seemed to elude jail. At one point, the cops captured a trafficker in Mexico who was supplying Barbie with cocaine. When they dug up the guy's backyard, they found the bodies of a missing Texas couple.

Finally, in 1998, Barbie's luck ran out. Police succeeded in planting an informant among Barbie's men, and he and a dozen members of his crew were indicted in Laredo for shipping at least 700 pounds of marijuana to San Antonio and 133 pounds to St. Louis.

Terrified, Barbie pursued the time-honored path for criminals on the lam: He fled across the border into Mexico. Instead of putting an end to his career as a drug dealer, the indictment inadvertently paved the way for his rise to the top of the Mexican cartels.

For a 25-year-old drug dealer on the run in the Nineties, Nuevo Laredo was an ideal spot to do business. The violence among the Mexican cartels had not yet exploded, and there were pockets along the border where the drug trade remained largely free from their influence.

Barbie was one of about 20 independent traffickers who worked under the eye of Dionisio Garcia, an established trafficker who sold them coke and required them to pay $60,000 a month as a piso, or tax, which was used to pay off corrupt border agents.

From the start, Barbie liked operating on his own. Over the next decade, he learned how to gather intelligence on the cops and other dealers through a network of "falcons" – a league of spies composed of cab drivers, waiters and street vendors.
Unlike his flashier rivals, he liked to keep a low profile, driving a Chevy Malibu and a Nissan Sentra, though he demanded that the cars be washed regularly – he hated any hint of sloppiness. Barbie's close associates didn't look like average narcos: He insisted they be polite, quiet and clean, never come to work drunk or high, and never hurt women or children.

But the calm along the border didn't last. Within a few years, the big cartels started warring for regional control, and Nuevo Laredo, one of the jewels of the trafficking trade, suddenly became too valuable to remain independent.

By 2002, the Zetas began to move into the area in allegiance with the Gulf cartel, which was run by Osiel Cardenas, better known by his nickname, the Friend Killer. Cardenas' first order of business was to get rid of Garcia, who was left to die a grisly death in his red underwear.

Then Cardenas took over and immediately jacked up the price of cocaine. "From now on," he told the independent suppliers, "you're going to buy coke from me, or you're going to pay me the tax."

Barbie was angry about the killing of Garcia, but all he could do was bide his time. It didn't take long for Cardenas to run afoul of the law: Within a year, he was captured by the Mexican army.

With the Friend Killer gone, Barbie, then 29, staged a brazen tax revolt: He decided to stop paying the piso imposed by the cartels. "Barbie stiffed the Gulf cartel on the tax for a ton of cocaine that they had fronted him," says a law-enforcement source. "They didn't take that too kindly. It was a big moment, the one that started the cycle of violence in Laredo for the next few years." Continue on next page

KIDNAPPED: ”I Prayed to God and Left Myself in His Hands”

Borderland Beat

Testimony #2: ”I Prayed to God and Left Myself in His Hands”
Héctor Gordoa was supposed to write about a murder that was posted as a clip on Youtube. He was about to face the same fate himself. He was released—if he promised to write what the drug mafia said. Or else his friends would die.
March 9, 2013, Text: Héctor Gordoa.  Translation from Spanish: Stuart Shield
My name is Héctor Gordoa. I am a Mexican journalist. Although I have faced risky situations of various kinds in my 25 years in the profession, I had never gone through an experience like this, an ordeal which has forced me to rethink both my professional and family life.
On 26 July, 2010, while engaged in an investigation of the Gómez Palacio prison in Durango, Mexico, I was abducted by a group of drug traffickers belonging to the Pacific Cartel, headed by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.
The investigation I was conducting focused on an assessment of the Comarca Lagunera, the region adjoining Coahuila and Durango, where a bloody turf war is being waged between the Pacific Cartel, which controls Durango, and Los Zetas, which rules in Coahuila, for control of drug, migrant and arms trafficking operations.
The river Nazas marks the boundary between the municipalities of Torreón in Coahuila from those of Gómez Palacio and Ciudad Lerdo in Durango.
The publication of a video on the Internet was an important piece of the investigation into the murder of 17 people in the country villa, the Italia Inn, in Torreón, Coahuila. In the clip, Rodolfo Nájera, a municipal policeman from Lerdo, confesses—having previously been tortured by his Zeta interrogators—that members of the Pacific Cartel, who were inmates of the prison, were allowed out at night so they could attack their rivals in Torreón. They then returned to the safe refuge of the Centro de Readaptación Social (Centre for Social Readaptation). At the end of the VIDEO, the policeman is executed.
This act prompted its rivals, the Pacific Cartel, to do the same. However, on this occasion, we— representatives of the media—were the targets.
The kidnapping took place just a few streets away from the Gómez Palacio prison. We were intercepted by three units of heavily armed men. They pointed high-powered rifles at us and got into the car. After slapping me several times, they forced me to drive and told me to follow one of their cars.
We proceeded to a dirt road off the highway to Lerdo, Durango. A military convoy was parked there. I almost decided to collide with them deliberately, but on reflection I suspected we were meant to take that route, and so drove on.
We pulled up in a clearing by an irrigation canal. They ordered us out of the car and told us to get in the boot. The outdoor temperature then was about 38 degrees Celsius; inside the boot I and my colleague, the cameraman Alejandro Hernández, were close to suffocation. Some 40 minutes later, they pulled us out and marched us to the foot of a tree. They had also kidnapped Javier Canales, a cameraman from Multimedios Laguna.
We heard our death sentence: “They’re f***ing dead!” and the sound of guns being cocked. One of the hit-men ordered me to put the T-shirt I was wearing on my head and cover my eyes with it. He then put the gun to my temple. I said the Lord’s Prayer and commended my soul to God. I heard nothing except the sound of a gun being cocked and a mocking laugh.
Just then, someone asked who Héctor Gordoa of Televisa México was. I realised that they wanted something from me, and I asked to speak to the leader of the group so I could find out what they needed and how I might be able to negotiate our release. It was incredible: the only people who knew I was in area were the Secretary of Public Security for the state of Durango and the mayor of Gomez Palacio. I had been sold out.
From there, the three of us were moved to a safe house. When we arrived, they led us into an unfinished room at the back of the building. It also housed six other captives. In the middle of the area was a bucket which we used as a toilet and which remained there, un-emptied, during the entire time of my captivity. We were tormented by the stench, the heat and ant and spider stings. Under the constant threats and beatings, we lost all sense of time.
Three of the other captives were agents of the Agencia Federal de Investigación who were trying to establish the veracity of the video I mentioned earlier: Javier Ortega, Antonio Corona and Gerardo Arroyo. They had previously shot a video– featuring a municipal police officer and two taxi drivers – pointing to complicity on the part of federal agents in Los Zeta’s operations.
 The police officer, Ramón Gerardo Adame Acosta, was filmed in another video, also posted on the social networks, in which he was asked to identify links between state authorities and the municipalities of Coahuila on the one hand and Los Zetas on the other.
                Ramon Adame
The leader of the group, whom they addressed as ‘Adán’, had spoken to me on numerous occasions. He described how the Pacific Cartel was organized, explained why hostilities between the drug cartels had intensified, and confirmed that some authorities at federal, state and municipal level had become allied to them.
The conditions of our release was that the media groups Televisa and Milenio would broadcast these videos. I accordingly requested to be appointed interlocutor as this would give me scope to communicate with Denise Maerker, leading presenter and director of Televisa’s Punto de Partida, a weekly political analysis and discussion programme of which I was head of information, and to extend the ongoing dialogue with my captors.
Milenio agreed to these conditions but Televisa did not. We had to find a way to convince them that the decision wasn’t ours; we were merely employees of a news media company. On the second day, the negotiations came to an end.

The die was cast; now everything depended on us. We had to dialogue: they insisted that there should be an investigation into what was really happening in the Comarca Lagunera area, to which I replied that this was precisely why I had come there.
This would be the initial key to my freedom. On the morning of that Monday, I had interviewed the mayor of Gomez Palacio, several municipal police officers and relatives of guards and inmates of El Cereso prison. This would allow me to put a report together and include it in the programme. This was accepted, but my companions, Alejandro and Javier, were to be kept as hostages. If I didn't keep my part of the bargain, they would be killed.
They let me go on the Thursday afternoon. They dropped me in the industrial area of the municipality. I got out of the car, still blindfolded, and they placed the camera and the material for my report at my feet. I took off my blindfold, hailed a taxi and went straight to Televisa Laguna. My aim was to write and publish my report—which I did.
As we pulled up, I saw that the TV station was ringed by a guard of federal police, who failed to notice my arrival. Inside the building, they greeted me and notified the directors that I had been released. I asked for a computer and sat down to write. My one aim was to save my companions....continues on next page

The Texas Department of Public Safety Releases its “Threat Overview” for 2013, with Mexican Cartels at No. 1 Spot

Borderland Beat

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, Mexican drug cartels pose “the most significant organized crime threat to the state.” That’s according to the Texas Public Safety Threat Overview 2013, which was released today following its presentation at the 2013 Texas Emergency Management Conference in San Antonio earlier this week.
The 76-page report, which can be read HERE, identifies myriad “threats” to the state — everything from prison gangs to “criminal aliens” to child traffickers to terrorists (among them would-be Fountain Place bomber Hosam “Sam” Smadi) to drug traffickers bring “cheese” into schools around Northwest Dallas. As the DPS notes in its release this afternoon, its threat assessment was culled from info provided by myriad local and federal law enforcement agencies.
But, says the report, the cartels are No. 1 on the threat list. “Six of the eight cartels currently have command and control networks operating in the state, moving drugs and people into the United States, and transporting cash, weapons and stolen vehicles back to Mexico,” says today’s release.
Texas DPS Director Steven McCraw adds this in a prepared statement: “The impact of cartel crime is painfully obvious when we look to our neighbors in Mexico, with some 60,000 deaths since 2006 and continued cases of brutal torture. It is a top DPS priority to severely obstruct the range and power of Mexican drug organizations to affect the public safety of Texas citizens.”
According to the report, the Zetas and La Familia are the cartels most active in North Texas.
 Thanks to my sidekick Lacy for bringing this to my attention!
Source StateTxUS

Two men hung from bridge in Atizapán, Edomex

Borderland Beat

The bodies of two men were found hanging Saturday morning from an overpass located between Ignacio Zaragoza Boulevard and Lechería-Chamapa Highway, in the neighborhood of  Las Torres de Atizapán, Mexico State.

The men, between 20 and 30 years old, apparently were shot and then hung with ropes from the bridge.

On the road they found several shell casings and a narcomensaje, which is not, as of yet, being shared.

One of the victims was wearing gray sweatshirt and dark green pants, while the other wore blue sweatshirt and blue pants.

The Torture Comes "From Above"

Borderland Beat

Increases in beatings, threats, and sexual abuse against detainees

Javier Valdez / Ríodoce
Among the "techniques of torture" used by agents of the State Ministerial Police to force detainees to plead guilty are death threats, threats of raping close relatives, drowning, beating, stripping, and making the suspect feel as if he's about to be dropped from the top of a bridge. 

Human rights advocates differ on whether or not torture is on the rise, but most agree that it is rising in high-profile cases which involve a notable member of the community. In particularly visible cases, the implications of torture often can become a greater scandal than the initial crime being investigated.

Data from the State Commission of Human Rights (CNDH) shows that 2008 was the year with the most cases of torture in Sinaloa, totaling 21 complaints, of which six recommendations were issued.  In 2009, the figure dropped to 17 complaints with five recommendations. 2010 there were 14 registered complaints  with one recommendation . In There were only 10 complaints  in 2011 and one recommendation while there were 13 in 2012, with three recommendations.

In total, 75 complaints were filed by citizens against the different police organizations during the years of 2008 -2012.  16 recommendations were issued. So far in 2013,  there has been one recommendation.  It is concerning the case of Yesenia Armenta Graciano, charged with the murder of Alfredo Cuen Ojeda, the brother of the former president of the UAS and former mayor of Culiacan, Héctor Melesio Cuen, who is the current Sinaloense party leader (PAS), and 13 cases left in 2012, four were completed and nine are pending.

Juan Jose Estavillo Rios, president of the CEDH, said of 1,000 complaints last year, only three recommendations came out of the 13 in which it was considered that there were elements of torture.

"There isn't a high incidence, in contrast, it has been dropping. It is no longer a constant in the investigation process for the vast majority of crimes. Now it's only done in very significant, very private matters. Seriously, that's a fact. It is serious because in the lexicon of human rights violations these facts are significant, so much so that the United Nations Organization (UN) urged us to sign an international agreement known as the Istanbul Protocol," Rios said.

This protocol, he said, represents the unification the medical, psychological, legal criteria, and in the case of Mexico, only the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) can practice, as in the case of Yesenia Armenta.

In addition to the case of Cuen's widow, which led to a recommendation of February 25, the defense team of Juan Carlos Cristerna Fitch, who was arrested for the May 2012 murder of University Autonomous of Sinaloa professor, Perla Lizet Vega Medina, alleges that Fitch was tortured by ministerial agents twice, once as presumed guilty and the second time as apprehended

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Northeast Mexico: Cartels don't believe in a change of administration

Proceso (3-29-13)

                                                                                    click to enlarge
Translated by un vato for Borderland Beat

The narcos have shown that they do not believe in a change of government. Far from lying low to wait for a new government strategy for dealing with them, criminal organizations continue to dispute territories amongst themselves and, within their organizations, for their respective leaderships. Since Tuesday, (March) 19, Monclova, Coahuila and Reynosa, Tamaulipas, were the scene of  violent confrontations between cartels that, with no government authority able to suppress them, see the entire region as booty that will go to the most bloodthirsty among them.  

SALTILLO, Coahuila (Proceso).-- In recent weeks, Ciudad Victoria, Gomez Palacio and Monclova were transformed into the most violent cities in Coahuila, causing this state to join Tamaulipas and Durango as the most violent in the region.

Recent splits within the cartels that control the territories -- the Gulf, Sinaloa and the Zetas cartels-- are taking violence to levels similar to those in Torreon, Reynosa and Monterrey.

Beginning at 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday, March 19, there were reports of confrontations in Monclova  between criminal groups using grenades and high power weapons. Afterwards, Federal Police and Army troops intervened in the fight.

City residents informed Proceso that skirmishes broke out simultaneously at several points in the metropolitan area, which includes the municipalities of Monclova, Castanos and Frontera.

Minutes prior to 7:00 a.m., dozens of young men began to seize trucks, trailers and cars from drivers to use them to block the main streets and place as obstacles to prevent the arrival of federal forces.

"They used city buses to block the entrance to Monclova, at Castanos," says a woman who was interviewed. The same thing happened in places like Harold Pape Blvd., which runs through the three municipalities, where the federal forces pursued and exchanged fire with criminal gangs.

The State Office of Attorney General (PGJE: Procuraduria General de Justicia del Estado) reported only one of the confrontations between gunmen: "At 7:45 a.m., it was reported that in Socrates Street in Colonia Tecnologico there was a confrontation between armed civilians.

When the Federal Police got there, they were received with gunfire. At this location, a Federal Police officer dies (sic) as a result of gunfire," says the report.

(The report) also revealed that, in addition, the police secured a house in Socrates Street, where they found an AK-47 and an AR-15, eight loaded magazines and a .40 caliber grenade, also including a Jetta car without license plates (in which were found two full magazines) and a Pacifica pickup.

Hundreds of residents were trapped by the gun battles on the way to work. Schools suspended classes; students and teachers already at the schools threw themselves on the floor to avoid being hit by bullets.

Monclova Mayor Melchor Sanchez reported that 250 municipal police were deployed to protect school buildings and to prevent students from leaving,. After the confrontations ended, around 10:00 a.m., the public official confirmed that "he had reports of several killed."

For one of the witnesses, "the gunfire sounded stronger in Frontera." In that municipality, other witnesses interviewed said that "around 20" bodies were left lying on the streets and "were then  picked up by soldiers."

The gunshots and explosions lasted approximately two hours. Although official reports only reported one Federal policeman killed and one civilian wounded, conservative estimates by the residents state there were around 40 killed.

Monclova [at left] and its metropolitan zone are under the iron grip of Los Zetas, and is part of its border corridor from Ciudad Acuna to Piedras Negras. Also, it was at one time the refuge of Heriberto Lazcano, El Z-14.

This gang's control is such that when a guest arrives at one of the many underground clubs it owns, the host welcomes customers with this basic information: "You are coming into a business (owned) by the Compania." And he offers them "products" and shows them special places where they  can be consumed.

To this day, it is not known whether the men who came to "heat up the plaza" for the Zetas were from the Gulf or Sinaloa cartel, or both.

On Tuesday afternoon, March 19, they had not even finished picking up evidence in Monclova when there were reports of narco blockades and gun fights in Reynosa, Tamaulipas.

According to the State attorney general's office, "at 1730 hours, in the City of Reynosa, there were reports of confrontations between armed civilian groups, causing street blockades and one person wounded, a young woman who was a bystander." The victim, 16 years old, was shot in the leg and taken to a Social Security hospital for treatment.
"The events took place on several streets in the Colonia Balcones de Alcala and, to prevent law enforcement forces from intervening, the armed groups blocked (the streets)," concluded the Tamaulipas government agency.

The criminals closed off all access into Colonia Balcones in that manner. When the military troops arrived, they had to stop and listen to the volleys of gunfire coming from a street where gunmen overran a home and its residents. It was the second confrontation of that nature reported this month.

On Sunday night, (March) 10th, right at 11:00 p.m., hundreds of armed individuals who were traveling in caravans of up to 30 pickups exchanged gun fire and grenade attacks until sunrise at several points in the city, including areas adjacent to the international bridges to the United States.

Hour prior to that, Gulf Cartel men led by Miguel El Gringo Villarreal stole about 18 pickups from six dealerships and used them in their battles. However, the Tamaulipas attorney general reported that the final result was "one collateral victim." In addition, a minor was injured while riding in the car with his father.

The official version was contradicted by a police source who informed the McAllen, Texas,  newspaper, the  Monitor, that the fighting left at least "thirty dead." The source added that the new wave of violence was the result of a power struggle in the Gulf Cartel: 

"The most recent internal disputes have immersed the city of Reynosa in shootings, like the one that took place on March 10, which lasted 3 hours, between factions of the Gulf Cartel loyal to Mario Pelon Ramirez and the groups with Miguel El Gringo Villarreal," explained the source.
                          Reynosa Below
According to the same source, the shooting started when Pelon Ramirez ordered his gunmen to erase El Gringo Villarreal and promised that they could keep whatever they could grab as booty.

Ramirez has attempted to take control of the Gulf Cartel, allying himself with his Sinaloa rivals since Jorge Eduardo Cosilla Sanchez, El Coss, and Mario Cardenas Guillen were arrested by marines in September of 2012.

Meanwhile, Miguel Villarreal, born in Texas and former plaza boss in Miguel Aleman, is in a dispute for power with El Pelon, with the support of some of the heads of the oldest Cartel families.

An ally of Villarreal, El Puma Garcia Roman, was shot in one of the nighttime battles of March 10, in which grenades, .50 caliber Barrett machine guns and armored trucks were used.

(Fragment of a report published in Proceso magazine, Edition No. 1899, now in circulation.)

Subsequent to the March 10th balaceras commenced this shootout on the 15th.  Rapid fire with only one short lull.  Amazing.  And no deaths reported "officially". 

Friday, March 29, 2013

7 killed, 3 women in Chihuahua Bar

Borderland Beat
At least seven people were killed and two others injured after an attack inside a bar in the city of Chihuahua.

According to early police reports, four men and three women died as a result of gun shots,  perpetrated by a man wearing tactical gear. After he committed this crime, he fled on foot out into the streets of Centro.

Unofficial sources said that the alleged shooter was young. The Diario de Juarez reports that the incident took place inside Mogavi, a bar located on 21st and Doblado Streets

Elements of different police forces as well as emergency services arrived on the scene to treat the injured.

Among the casualties are two waitresses who worked for Mogavi and another employee, identified as "Chava." 
The bodies were taken to the premises of C4 to proceed with proper identification and autopsy as required by law. A major police operation responded to the call to look for the triggerman.
Six of the seven victims have been identified

Alma Aracely Miguel Quiroga, 37 años and Tayde Frías Muñoz, 37 both employees at the bar

Norma Lorena Santiago González, 41 Sergio Daniel López Montes, 38; Tomas Casillas Tarín, 44, Oscar Guillermo Payán Rodríguez, are four of the five bar patrons that were victims. 

There still remains one more male bar patron victim client to  identify.

Chihuahua is one of the most violent states in recent years have disputed criminal groups in the service of the Sinaloa cartel, led by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman and Juarez.

2 relatives plead guilty in Los Zetas case

Borderland BeatHiding in Plain Sight after vigorous background checks
Z-40 to Take the Fall for HorsesLos Zetas' Race Horses Auctioned Off

Zulema Treviño and Alexandra Garcia Treviño Plead guilty in Zetas money laundering case

The niece and sister-in-law of the Zetas drug cartel's leader pleaded guilty Friday in a federal court to charges stemming from the criminal organization's money laundering scheme.

Zulema Treviño pleaded guilty to a money laundering conspiracy count, and Alexandra Garcia Treviño pleaded guilty to one count of misprision of a felony. Prosecutors recommended they receive probation.

Zulema Treviño is married to José Treviño Morales, the brother of Zetas leader Miguel Treviño Morales. Alexandra Garcia Treviño is her daughter.

Neither would comment after the hearing.

“It's a very difficult situation to be born into the family,” said Alexandra Treviño's lawyer, Frank Ivy. “She's doing the best she can.”

José and Miguel Treviño are also charged in the same indictment, which alleges that the Zetas laundered millions of dollars of drug money through the U.S. quarter horse industry. José Treviño has pleaded not guilty. His brother is a fugitive in Mexico
.U.S. agents last year raided ranches, houses and stables across the Southwest and charged 19 people in the alleged money laundering conspiracy.

The feds seized hundreds of horses, many of which were auctioned off in November. Julianna Holt, who with husband Peter Holt owns the largest stake in the Spurs franchise, purchased one of the animals.

Miguel Treviño, knownas “Z-40” ascended to the Zetas leadership in October. Along with money laundering and drug trafficking charges, he's wanted in Laredo on charges that he ordered five murders in the U.S. during 2005 and 2006.

Chapo's tentacles extend to the FARC

Iva Ventura/Excelsior El Diario (3-28-13) 

FARC Negotiating Team
Translated by un vato for Borderland Beat

Distrito Federal -- The tentacles of Joaquin El Chapo Guzman's  Sinaloa Cartel are extending into the south of the continent due to the vacuum being left by the Colombian Armed Revolutionary Forces (FARC: Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia), who are having peace conversations with the government of Juan Manuel Santos (below left).

The arrival of Mexican drug traffickers in that region puts at risk the security of the entire continent because their power is growing with the alliances they are finalizing with local criminal organizations in exchange for weapons or money.

According to Inter American Dialogue, the Mexican criminal organization is already operating in that South American country. For United States experts, the problem is alarming and governments, including that country, will have to join forces to confront a continental problem.

Douglas Fraser, retired general and former commander of the Southern Command of the United States, said that Mexican drug cartels, like the Sinaloa Cartel, have developed ties with Colombian criminal networks, like the FARC and the National Liberation Army (ELN: Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional), for several years.

He believes that the agreements will hold even if the Santos government negotiates peace with the FARC. "The Colombian government has demonstrated a capability to confront criminal networks effectively and its efforts will continue. For example, they have reduced cocaine production by more than 50% in the last five years, and imprisoned or extradited hundreds of criminals, but that battle is not only in Colombia.

"Criminal networks operate throughout the Americas, including the United States, which is why the hemispheric battle against them has to improve; the battle against transnational criminal networks is an inter-American problem, and a growing global problem."

John Arquilla, with the Rand Corporation, said that all the governments in the hemisphere have to increase the collective understanding of these criminal networks, to develop and improve the exchange of information, and to improve coordination of intelligence among them. 

"The governments will not resolve this problem by themselves. All of us, the citizens, need to work within our societies to drastically reduce the demand for illegal substances. We have to be part of the solution," he asserts. Jack Devine and Amanda Mattingly, president and director, respectively, of the Arkin Group for Latin America, said that if it is true that the Sinaloa Cartel is buying into the Colombian drug traffic, that is worrisome.

"It's another example of how drug cartels are transnational criminal organizations who are not limited by borders... President Enrique Pena Nieto will not get a ceasefire on the issue of security, as he should have expected. "The possibility that the self defense groups (in Mexico) could be taken over by cartels or that they would infiltrate the forces of law enforcement constitutes a threat of war...

"It is clear that the United States must continue to support Mexico and Colombia. The U.S. should do more... but they need to keep working with our partners in the hemisphere to decrease the supply of drugs through police training, equipment, shared intelligence and economic development," they stated.

For Oliver Wack, Colombian risk control analyst, the increasing participation of Mexican cartels is accelerating the problem.

"On the part of the guerrilla, one can observe a growing fragmentation of the group and the gradual growth of local structures that operate independently of the central command.  If the FARC were to demobilize after a peace accord, the mid-level commanders who refuse to demobilize would come forward. They would rearm themselves to maintain control of illegal enterprises."

With time, he explains, those successor groups of the FARC would be susceptible of being absorbed by large criminal organizations like the Bacrim (criminal groups, successors of paramilitary groups and now engaged in drug trafficking.) He explained that the country has seen a decrease of Bacrim from 21 to 10 since 2008, but the (the Rastrojos and the Urabenos) are becoming the principal actors.

"The Mexican cartels' strategy of expanding their presence in Colombia will probably end up incorporating these two groups, leading to a resurgence of violence, because they will work with the Mexicans, tempted by the flow of cash (and perhaps weapons), intensifying the battle for territories and routes."

(Ivan Ventura/Excelsior)   

El Chapo's Asia-Pacific-US Meth. Domination

Borderland Beat
Mexico • The Sinaloa cartel controls the trafficking of methamphetamine in the Asia Pacific triangle-Mexico-United States organization that is considered a "global company" by diversifying its global market.
Its markets include North America, Europe, Asia and Australia, where they sell marijuana, cocaine, opiates and methamphetamine..

According to an article by a doctor of political science from Columbia University in New York,  Dr. José Luis León Manríquez, published in the Atlas of the security and defense of Mexico 2012, the trafficking in methamphetamine and designer drugs has had a global surge.

It is the criminal group headed by Joaquin El Chapo Guzman which has a monopoly on this type of drug.
Before completing the last six years, the government of Mexico detected the increase in the number laboratories manufacturing synthetic drugs in the Mexican states of Guanajuato, Durango, Sonora and Baja California, where five cartels are vying for control of territory that can generate consumers death within one year.

In a report on the subject prepared by various federal states after conclusive operations were conducted by the Mexican Army revealing the production centers.

The researcher, who was an adviser to the Foreign Ministry, in their study published information documented that the Sinaloa cartel has been in trafficking methamphetamine since the 1990s.

He mentioned that he was the kingpin (killed in a raid in Zapopan, Jalisco, in 2010) was the one who visualized the market potential of methamphetamine, a business that was initially controlled by the Colima cartel, headed by Amezcua Contreras brothers
"Ignacio Nacho Coronel " was also known as the Crystal King, consolidated a broad network that imported ephedrine from Asia and processed it into meth. in Mexico. Taking advantage of its ability to place other drugs in the U.S., the Sinaloa cartel began distributing free samples in that country, "he explained.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

GRAPHIC VIDEO:CDG Executes Zs , Dismembers, Boils 3 Men 2 Women

Chivis Martinez Borderland Beat
C.D.G. Sends Zetas an “Gift for Holy Week” Execution of  3 Men and 2 Women
A ghastly, graphic video depicting CDG executing and dismembering five Zeta members.  The five victims comprised of three men and two women. 

The video was sent to the facebook page of the popular ValorXTamaulipas several days ago.  They posted the photo at left.  

One of the narco blogs advertised they were in possession  of the video, but asked for 5000 “likes” before they would publish it.  It appears that some blogs regard the tragedy of the drug war as a game. 
In the extreme southern portion of Tamaulipas are two cities; Mante and González.  They are a 45 minutes drive apart.  Zetas control Mante, and their rival CDG controls González.

In the video are five kidnapped Zetas, kneeling, blindfolded, with the hands of the women duct taped together in the front, while the men have their hands duct taped in the back.
The five are surrounded by their CDG captors.  There is the usual interrogation of the five, questioned one by one, right to left, each admitting working for Zetas.  After the interrogation “Mr. Big” of CDG gives the usual warning speech that the same fate would be waiting for others going against “Golfo” (CDG).

The victims are knocked unconscious from a hit to the head by an ax.  They are then decapitated, dismembered and body parts thrown into the blue barrel of boiling acid.  On the image above one can see the flames under the blue barrel.
This process is used by cartels, and by both CDG and zetas to eliminate evidence, whereby the bodies are cooked and dissolved.
This type of despicable execution is done in what is known as “kitchens” at narco camps.  In southern Mexico a  process is used  to  destroy evidence  by constructing underground ovens to cook bodies.
ValorXTamaulipas writes:
The conflict between CDG from Cd Gonzáles and Zetas from Cd Mante has been one of the most violent, to the point that in 2010 and 2011 it was required to show an ID to enter Mante. If the person was from González he or her will not be allowed to enter the city. In response CDG in Cd González did a similar thing, they applied restrictions to people and businesses from Cd Mante.
Since then, the incursions of both criminal groups have been constant, especially in the area Temporalera de ​​Mante and in González, in the southern suburbs of the municipality. Constantly, executed victims are found in vehicles all around the gaps between Mante and Gonzalez.
On many occasions, most publications are generated only in large cities, but areas with smaller populations, have come to suffer and continue to suffer violent situations and they are ignored and what is happening in these areas don't get published in the news.

Video narrative transcript:
CDG:  What is your name , nickname and where are you from?

1st guy: Daniel Hernandez Hernandez, I am from Veracruz

CDG: Where did they pick you up?

1st guy: In Gonzalez

CDG:  What organization do you belong to and what do you do?

1st guy:  Zetas, to give money to Damien

CDG:  What is your name and nickname:

2nd guy:  Guillermo Salas Hernandez

CDG: What organization do you belong to?

2nd guy:  Zeta's

CDG:  What were you sent to do?

2nd guy:  To leave something only for Damien

CDG:  Where were you picked up?

2nd guy:  In Gonzalez

CDG:  What is your name and nickname?
3rd guy:  Daniel Aguilar Sandoval
CDG:  What organization do you belong to?
3rd guy:  The Zeta's
CDG:  What were you told to do?
3rd guy: To check the point of Matias (sounds like)  to Jose Manuel
CDG:  Where were you detained?
3rd guy:  In Gonzalez
CDG:  Who do you report to?
3rd guy:  Comandante Mante
CDG:  Who does he report to?
3rd guy:  To Ricky Santillan (sounds like) and El Danny (sounds like)
CDG:  This goes out to all the scumbags from the CDG.  Keep sending
dumbasses like these and you are going to get fucked senores.
CDG:  A message for you, Ricardo Santillan, even though you cover your
face just like Polo, that participated in the killings of innocent
people,  because that is the only way you intimidate people, by
pretending to be soldiers, lying to the people and local authorities.
For example, I have a list, Homero Cuervos, Chief of Police, who give
the whereabouts of the SEDENA and SEMAR.  Felipe aka La Pona, who gives
crooked papers so you can cruise the streets like nothing has
happened.  The Deputado, Jose Luis, who helps you launder your money.
All the people who plan to help these scumbags, we remind you that
here in the Gulf is nothing but business,  not like all you fucking
cowards that don't admit your own mistakes. Supposedly when you
whooped our asses the ones you killed were innocent people and you
killed them anyways.  Watch your back, Sandia, because in the list of
involved is your cousin, the Barritas, and your wife, La Pansona.  All
the people that support La Temporalera so you can see not everybody
wins.  Your fucking lousy estakas from San Buena El Chaneke also going
to fall bitches.