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

Sunday, June 30, 2013

8 Found Murdered in 3 Coahuila Cities

Borderland Beat


The bodies of five people were found this morning on State Road No. 84, branch to the Cueva de Tabaco,  in Matamoros, Coahuila state Attorney reported.

According to the PGJE, at 07:00 a report was received about the location of five bodies.  The  elements of the Investigative Police were dispatched; criminalists and the prosecution team of the PGJE arrived and initiated the investigation.

The victims were four men and one woman, aged between 25 and 35 years old. In the neck area of the back of the head, the bodies’ bore injuries that were obviously from bullet impacts.

The authorities also acknowledged locating  a message written on a card, but its content was not released.

The bodies were transferred to University Hospital for performing the autopsy.

In the early hours of Sunday, two bodies were discovered in an abandon ranch in Colonia Otilio Montaña.  Both of the deceased are males, one with the estimated age of 55 the other 30-35.

Bothe men bore signs of torture before death, and both bodies were found bound at the hands and feet. Identification is unknown.

A charred body was found inside an SUV in a vacant lot in Colonia Morelos. According to preliminary investigation,  about 6:40 in the morning  the State Emergency System, 066, received several calls from neighbors reporting that  a truck was on fire.

The authorities did not provide any information about the identity, or sex of the body found inside the  truck.

After collecting the evidence, the public prosecutor ordered the removal of the body and its transfer to the Medical Service facilities, for an autopsy.

Sources: GarzaLimon-Vanguardia-Milenio  Thanks to the BB reader for the heads up

Coahuila: Missing Governor Candidate Found Murdered
Francisco Navarro Montenegro, was local and federal congressman twice and candidate for Governor, his body was identified today by his son, as one of the two bodies found early this morning.

The bodies of two men were located Saturday morning, at different times, in Libramiento Óscar Flores Tapia, one of them was identified as Francisco Navarro Montenegro, who had been both a federal and local congressman twice, candidate for Governor, and founder of the Socialist Workers Party (PST) which later became the party of the Cardenista front for national reconstruction (PFCRN) and a leader of colonias.

Five days ago, there was information that Montenegro Navarro (who was 64 years old) was missing, but his family said he was out of town, that was he was OK and didn´t file a  report of disappearance or kidnapping.
The State leader of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) Samuel Acevedo Flores, who was his closest collaborator and political worker, is reportedly deeply saddened by the death of the leader and friend said: "We´ve lost one of the most important political assets of the left in Coahuila, because he was a social activist who defended the  causes of the poor".

The news spread through social networks, but it wasn´t until this Saturday that the Attorney General of Justice of the State (PGJE) reported that a criminal preliminary investigation had been initiated about the killing of two men whose bodies had been found in the Óscar Flores Tapia libramiento, after an anonymous call to the emergency system.

Investigating police, experts in criminology and an agent of the public prosecutor were dispatched to the area and found one of the bodies at 10:30 am at kilometer 5 + 400; the other deceased was found among the bushes 45 minutes later, at 11:15 at km 5 + 900 of the same road.

The bodies were transferred to the forensic medical service for the necropsy of law, in order to determine the causes of death.

At 13:00 one of the victims was identified by one of his sons as Francisco Navarro Montenegro, said the PGJE and pointed out that the identity of the other man is unknown because he carried no ID.

Sources close to the investigation revealed that he had been kidnapped on Tuesday and a hefty ransome payment was demanded, however although it was paid they killed him anyway.
The bodies were found in an industrial area close to Saltillo

Source: EL Universal-"Lala" and "Texcoco" Forum

American Born Narcos  Thank you to the reader who sent the story in!
The ongoing debate regarding immigration reform has once again brought the topic of border security to the forefront.
In South Texas, the area that has seen a sharp increase in drug trafficking runs from treacherous waters of the Rio Grande to the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoints in Falfurrias and Sarita, the last law enforcement waypoint along the roads leading from the Texas-Mexico border to inland metropolitan areas.
In those areas, drug smugglers tied to Mexican drug cartels work ingenious ways of moving their drugs to their destinations without detection by law enforcement.
That activity has drawn the attention of the Texas Department of Public Safety, which has classified gangs working with Mexican drug cartels as the greatest threat to Texas. 
Talks of violent executions and large-scale firefights in Mexico between cartel gunmen are some of the talking points brought up during those discussions. But what rarely gets brought up is the fact that various members of Mexican drug cartels are not Mexican but in fact are U.S.-born Texans.
Mexican drug cartels have been active in the U.S. for decades. As such, they have developed deep roots with many members being second or third generation smugglers, said Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño.
“They have been here for a long time but they try to keep a low profile; what has brought them to the forefront is what’s going on in Mexico,” Treviño said referring to the crackdown on cartels by former presidents Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderon.
Keeping a low profile or trying to minimize their role is what some of the drug cartel members who have been caught on U.S soil have done.
When police officers and deputy U.S. Marshals caught Benicio “Comandante Veneno” Lopez this month, he claimed that he didn’t have a leadership figure in the Gulf Cartel, saying he was a mid- or low-level smuggler, said San Juan Police Chief Juan Gonzalez.
“No low-key cartel guy has bodyguards, has four or five stash houses, carries bulk cash and knows about ton quantities of narcotics,” Gonzalez said. “He was trying to downplay his role to try to keep a low profile.
The activities of cartel members in the U.S are very different than those in Mexico, however the public and the media quickly associate the word “cartel” with the way they operate in Mexico, Treviño said.
“When people hear the word “cartel” they think of convoys of gunmen, brutal firefights and crude executions,” Treviño said.  “That happens in Mexico, not here. If they were to try that here they would be wiped out. The American people would not stand for that. Every law enforcement agency and resource would be used to literally wipe them out.”
Because cartel members seek to keep a low profile and are not tied to many of the crimes in the community, keeping track of them is a job best left for federal agencies, which have the best resources to attack transnational criminals, while the brunt of the Sheriff’s Office’s resources go toward local crime, the sheriff said.
Still, in a border county, cross-border organized crime intersects with local law enforcement.
“Robberies, theft, carjacking, assault and other crimes — that is not something that these individuals are interested in but it affects our communities, “Trevino said. “On the other hand, street gangs are behind the majority of those crimes. They are the ones holding up convenience stores, carrying out drive by shootings, carjackings and the brunt of our violent crime. They are our most significant threat in this county.”
Gonzalez, for his part, paints a different picture from the sheriff. He said cartel members are coming out of the shadows and becoming more active locally.
“I honestly think we can dismantle the Gulf Cartel,” Gonzalez said. “It’s important to accept the fact that they operate here. This drug cartel operates with a lot of money. These guys have 20 to 30 vehicles assigned to operatives. That concerns because they used to hide but now they are brazen and putting are putting stash houses all over the place.  It’s important we address them and try to dismantle them.”
Several key members of the Gulf Cartel and other Mexican drug syndicates have ties to the Rio Grande Valley.
Bencicio  Lopez, known as “Comandante Veneno,” (commander venom in English) is a Houston native who grew up in Roma and also climbed to a leadership role in the Gulf Cartel.
Lopez was a close confidant of Samuel “Metro 3” Flores Borrego, whose death led to a split within the cartel.
After Flores Borrego’s death, Lopez worked with other commanders to avenge the death of his friend and became the leader of a cartel cell that also worked in the Ribereña area. Lopez had been wanted by San Juan Police in connection with a 2010 failed cartel kidnapping that resulted in the death of Roberto Hinojosa, who tried to fight off the kidnappers as his wife and young son were in the room.....continues next page

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Veracruz: Zetas Send Warning of Pending Bloodbath


At least 6 "narco banners" signed by "los zetas", were found in the states of Puebla, Veracruz and Edo of México.  In the banners  the Zetas boast of their power in those territories and claimed responsibility of   killing the leader of "Los Rojos”, José Nava Romero. ( photo below)
In one of the Banners they talk about the selling of the Puebla Plaza (square) by a public servant from the government of Puebla, in addition they say the Governor Rafael Moreno Valle is well aware that the plaza was sold to the "Beltranes."
"Moreno Vallezzzzz your people betray us by selling the plaza to the fucking Beltranes, that's why we killed “El Rojo” in Cholula so you can learn respect, and there will be a zzzzzzzzz Blood Bath this Sunday".
"Governor Moreno,  Valle Plaza belongs to ZZZ and you know this, if you betray us we will kill the fucking Beltranes to teach you how to respect and there will be blood".


Read Texcoco full post here source: AcentoVeiniano

Friday, June 28, 2013

Facebook Loving Sicario Killed

Borderland Beat

One of  five criminals who were killed in a clash with elements supporting the State Police in the town of San Juanito, had a Facebook account, where he described himself as hitman and businessman,  He also posted several photos of himself with high powered weapons.
His name, Roberto Arturo Gandara Estrada, 27 and was second in command of the criminal group "La Linea",led by  Espino Baltazar Fuentes, aka "The Balta", 42,  also killed in the clash.
Arrested after confrontation was Javier Dominguez Rodriguez, operations coordinator Bocoyna Municipal Police, assigned to San Juanito, for allegedly providing "protection" to the criminal gang.
Some of the rifles AR-15 .223 caliber, 7.62x39, and 5.56x45 HK, which were secured by police, are in the  photos on the Facebook account of  Gándara Estrada.

Likewise several handguns .357 magnum, .38 special and .9 mm, and 0 tactical uniform, including bulletproof vests. Information provided in the profile of Estrada, says he is "Dealer in and HITMAN ",  he wrote that he "studied at Eastern Hills High School", and lives in Cuauhtemoc. 
All photos were accessed from the Facebook account which has now  been deactivated. Click images to enlarge.

Source La Parada - video from Texcoco's post -see Texcoco's  Post here 

Zacatecas:7 Killed as the CDG-Zetas Nightmare Continues in Fresnillo

BorderlandBeat.Com by "Zac"
Shootout in Fresnillo resulting so far in 7 deaths
Fresnillo, Zac- Big mobilization of the Secretary of the Navy and State and federal police forces reported right now, after a bloody clash in Fresnillo between subjects allegedly linked to organized crime, elements linked to Los Zetas and the Gulf Cartel.
Unofficial reports inform of seven dead, five would have fallen in Puebla Street, in the historic center of this city, and two more in La Paz street, in colonia Industrial.
People are asked to avoid going outside at the moment, since marines and other security forces are carrying out operations throughout the city.
Past 11 pm the State Government issued a statement with official information about the clash.
Around 21:00 on Thursday a clash between antagonistic groups of organized crime in the city of Fresnillo started, with a balance of five dead men and seize of various long weapons, grenades, and ammunition.
The events began at the corner of the streets of La Paz and Jalpa, at colonia Industrial, where there were the lifeless bodies of two men.
A chase ensued among members of the two rival groups at colonias Palomares, Las Americas, FOVISSSTE and Lagunilla, where some of them encountered elements of the 79 battalion of infantry and the Ministerial police, and three of the assailants were killed.
At that site, almost at the crossroads of Reforma street in colonia Lagunilla, a pick up truck was seized, as well as ten AK 47s, six AR 15, three grenade launches, two grenades calibre 40, 53 chargers for AK 47 and 16 for AR 15.
Elements of the 97 infantry battalion, SEMAR, Ministerial police and State preventive police were deployed to the area.
On Thursday, early in the morning, a man was found executed in Valdecañas, Fresnillo
The corpse of a man, about 35 years old, with two shots in the head, was found Thursday morning in the community of Valdecañas, at the side of the road to Saucito del Poleo.
It was about 6:30 hours when the deputy delegate of that community was notified by some residents about the presence of a body.
They immediately reported to the emergency system 06 , whereby police were dispatched.
Two municipal police patrols arrived and verified the discovery.

Agents of the State Ministerial Police (PME) arrived, as well as forensics, who transported  the corpse.
So far it´s unknown who killed him, the body bore signs that the man had been tortured first,  then transported  to the site where he was executed.
Additional information from Proceso:

Five suspected hitmen killed, once members of the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas as clashes erupted on Thursday night in different parts of the city of Fresnillo.
Two men were killed after a prolonged chase between criminal groups, and three others were killed when the assassins encountered elements of the 97 infantry battalion of the army and agents of the Ministerial police who were mobilized when citizens reported the clashes.
After the clashes, security corporations found a pick-up truck which was abandoned in Reforma street, loaded with grenade launchers, ten AK-47, six R-15 rifles, grenades, as well as scores of magazines and cartridges.
The first reports were made around nine o'clock in the evening. Neighbors of the colonia Industrial reported shootings and a chase between several vehicles, which continued through other streets.
At one point,  at Jalpa and La Paz streets there were the bodies of killed, but the confrontation continued in the colonias of Las Américas and Fovissste, among others.
However, at La Lagunilla the criminal suspects met the elements of the 97 infantry battalion and the PM who had been mobilized, and started another firefight.
Three of the alleged assassins were riddled with bullets.
In the morning it had been reported the discovery of a man executed with a shot to the head, whose body was abandoned on a road in the community of Valdecañas, Fresnillo municipality.
In the last two weeks there have been conflicts attributed to the dispute of the plaza between these criminal groups.

Last week at least 12 victims were counted in different skirmishes both in the city of Fresnillo and in several communities, such as Estación Gutierrez, where in a clash occurred on Thursday 20th  eight people died.

Sources used to write this post: LasNoticiasya-NZRZacatecas-El Circo

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Legionarios Offer Rewards for Information Leading to Zetas

BorderlandBeat.Com Posted on Forum by "Lala"

Los Legionarios offer 50 thousand dollars for a plaza boss and 5 thousand for halcones or sicarios.

Los Legionarios reappeared in the main cities of Tamaulipas. In Reynosa, Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros and Ciudad Victoria where they placed mantas offering million-dollar rewards for information that leads to the capture the zeta leaders, halcones and policemen who work for the criminal group.

In their mantas, los Legionarios make a call to society for the location and destruction of Los Zetas.

For example, for the brothers Treviño Morales, Miguel Ángel (Z-40) and Omar (Z-42) they offer a million dollars for any information to find their location.

For a plaza commander, los Legionarios offer 50 thousand dollars, halcones and sicarios five thousand, and the same for police chiefs or former elements of the municipal police in collusion with Los Zetas.

Similarly, they offer 5 thousand dollars for information of night clubs, bars, and shops used to launder drug money.

"Any information from any "plaza" is valuable. In Nuevo Laredo, in particular, you already know where to report that we are checking it... it is about time you respect the society and especially in Nuevo Laredo", reads one of the mantas.

Los Legionarios invited other cartels and especially Daniel Velázquez Caballero, L-52 or El Talibancillo, brother of Iván Velázquez Caballero (above left), Z-50 or the Talibán.

In October of 2012, after the arrest of el Talibán, the territorial cells under his command, that were once part of Los Zetas, went to form a group antizeta, called los Legionarios, which threatens with exterminating Miguel Angel Treviño Morales, Z-40.

Source:24 Hours

Manta: Cd. Victoria Zetas Upset Over Arrival of Plaza Boss Appointed by Z40

BorderlandBeat.Com  Posted on BB Forum by "777"

Mantas displayed in Ciudad Victoria
CD. Victoria, Tamaulipas.-This Thursday the city was blanketed with organized crime narcomantas, one in Calzada Tamatan,  another two blocks away from the Government Palace, and one more on the Lopez Mateos boulevard which was taken down by state officials.
In said narcomantas, members of the Zetas Cartel from that plaza complained about the arrival of a plaza boss on appointed by Z40.

To the public’s opinion

We want to manifest our /Zeta Disapproval/. A high ranking leader from Nuevo Laredo threatens to provoke more violence.

He is Regino Gutierrez Moreno. He was sent by MIGUEL ANGEL TREVINO EL Z-40. We want him to leave the same direction he came from. We already have a leader here in Victoria. We know there will be retaliations. But we are /UNITED AND PREPARED/. No fucking ??? is going to come here and claim what is rightfully ours.

What a badass huh? Skinned and fed to him! He better go and chase his own hare because we have this one already. To be clear he is being protected by the SECRETARIO DE SEGURIDAD ESTATAL RAFAEL LOMELI. He hides him and even lets him roam around freely as if he was a police officer.

We want the governor to know that this will bring more violence and we will not let him take control of this plaza, even if he was sent by Z40. We would rather risk our lives instead of losing it by betrayals.  


Source: Notinfomex

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Fotos and videos of balacera in Reynosa

Thanks to Chivis for the links:

From Valley Central, an excerpt:

Authorities have confirmed that three gunmen and one soldier are dead following a gun battle near an oil company facility in Reynosa.

It all happened in the Colonia Petrolera next to a PEMEX facility off Boulevard Morelos in central Reynosa around 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Reynosa residents turned to the #reynosfollow hashtag of the social media network Twitter to report the deadly firefight.

The Tamaulipas Attorney General's Office (PGJE) later confirmed that the deadly firefight between gunmen and Mexican soldiers lasted about an hour and fifteen minutes.

From Sin Embargo:

 En menos de 24 horas nueve personas pedieron la vida en dos balaceras distintas ocurridas en los municipios de Reynosa y San Fernando en el estado de Tamaulipas.

De acuerdo con reportes oficiales, el enfrentamiento que esta mañana se registró en Reynosa dejó cuatro muertos, tres civiles armados y un elemento del Ejército Mexicano

Photos from Twitter:

En menos de 24 horas nueve personas pedieron la vida en dos balaceras distintas ocurridas en los municipios de Reynosa y San Fernando en el estado de Tamaulipas. De acuerdo con reportes oficiales, el enfrentamiento que esta mañana se registró en Reynosa dejó cuatro muertos, tres civiles armados y un elemento del Ejército Mexicano.
De tuitero @Raptor_111
De tuitero @tuidolo4ever1

Valley Central
Sin Embargo

En menos de 24 horas nueve personas pedieron la vida en dos balaceras distintas ocurridas en los municipios de Reynosa y San Fernando en el estado de Tamaulipas. De acuerdo con reportes oficiales, el enfrentamiento que esta mañana se registró en Reynosa dejó cuatro muertos, tres civiles armados y un elemento del Ejército Mexicano.

11 die in Tamaulipas state

By Chris Covert

A total of 11 individuals have been killed in separate drug and gang related incidents in Tamaulipas state since Tuesday, according to Mexican news accounts.

Four unidentified individuals were killed in  a gunfight with a Mexican Army detachment in Reynosa Wednesday morning, according to a news report which appeared in the online edition of Milenio news daily.

According to the report, the gunfight took place at about 0900 hrs in Ampliacion Rodriguez colony and then spread on Bulevar Acapulco to Petrolera colony near a school, and finally concluded at around 1015 hrs.

Armed suspects were traveling aboard a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck, and had apparently fired on a Mexican Army road patrol.  Army return fire killed three.   One of the dead were identified as Javier Antonio Cardenas Lopez, 30, from Sinaloa state.  In the pickup truck, soldiers seized three rifles, 38 weapons magazines, six grenades and  estrellas metalicas or metal stars, which are used to puncture vehicle tires.

One unidentified Mexican Army fusilero was killed and another was wounded.  Additionally five other unidentified civilians were wounded in the crossfire, three of them requiring medical attention.

In San Fernando municipality, a total of five armed suspects were killed in a firefight Tuesday night with a Mexican Army unit.

According to a news account posted on Milenio's website,  the gunfight took place at around 2015 hrs near ejido Guadalupe Victoria and El Rancho La Isla, where armed suspects traveling aboard an H3 Hummer fired their weapons on the army patrol.

The dead ages ranged between 40 and 16, and were not identified in the news report.  Five rifles, one grenade launcher, 28 weapons magazines and an undisclosed number of grenades were seized following the firefight.

San Fernando municipality is roughly halfway between Ciudad Victoria, the state capital of Tamaulipas and Matamoros, and has in the past been the scene of some of the bloodiest incidents in the drug war.

Meanwhile, two days ago the body of a Mexican journalist was found dead in Reynosa along with an unidentified female, according to a Proceso wire report which appeared on the website

The partially buried body of El Ciudadano columinist Mario Ricardo Chavez Jorge was found near ejido Santa Clara.  The female companion found with him had been decapitated.

Monday, a total of 52 migrants were rescued from a safe house in Reynosa by a security group, according to Mexican news accounts.

A new report which appeared in the online edition of El Siglo de Durango news daily said that a Base de Operacones Mixtas (BOM) of Policia Federal and state police stopped two suspects, which were traveling aboard a Dodge Avenger sedan.  The suspects revealed the location of the safehouse with the migrants who had been detained at the location.

The news account did not disclose the location of the safe house.  Of the 52, 48 were from Guatemala and two each were from El Salvador and Mexico.

The detainees were identified as Pablo Avellaneda Torres and Luis Angel Perez Sanabria.

Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for  He can be reached at

DEA Announces Largest Ever Synthetic Drug Bust


Nationwide enforcement actions target dangerous new and emerging class of chemicals from overseas

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and its law enforcement partners today announced enforcement operations in 35 states targeting the upper echelon of dangerous designer synthetic drug trafficking organizations that have operated without regard for the law or public safety. 

These series of enforcement actions included retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers. In addition, these investigations have uncovered the massive flow of drug-related proceeds back to countries in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Since Project Synergy began in December of 2012, more than 75 arrests have been made and nearly $15 million in cash and assets have been seized--all leading up to today’s global takedown.  Today, law enforcement executed over 150 arrest warrants and nearly 375 search warrants in 35 states, 49 cities and five countries. During the past three days prior to today, over 550 kilograms of synthetic drugs were seized in a joint operation with Customs and Border Protection aimed at international shipments of synthetic drugs at express consignment facilities. Since February, over 1,000 kilograms of synthetic drugs have been seized at express consignment facilities.

Project Synergy was coordinated by DEA’s Special Operations Division, working with the DEA Office of Diversion Control, and included cases led by DEA, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), FBI, and IRS.  In addition, law enforcement in Australia, Barbados, Panama, and Canada participated, as well as countless state and local law enforcement members.

“Shutting down businesses that traffic in these drugs and attacking their operations worldwide is a priority for DEA and our law enforcement partners,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart.  “These designer drugs are destructive, dangerous, and are destroying lives. DEA has been at the forefront of the battle against this trend and is targeting these new and emerging drugs with every scientific, legislative, and investigative tool at our disposal.”

“CBP and DEA enjoy a close working relationship that was further enhanced through the collaboration of the National Targeting Center and CBP officers in the field at express consignment hubs during this operation to target, test and detain shipments of synthetic drugs, as well as precursor herbs used to manufacture synthetic marijuana,” said CBP David Murphy, Acting Assistant Commissioner, Field Operations.

“The criminals behind the importation, distribution and selling of these drugs have scant regard for human life in their reckless pursuit of illicit profits,” said Traci Lembke, HSI Deputy Assistant Director of Investigative Programs.  “For criminal groups seeking to profit through the sale of illegal narcotics, the message is clear: we know how you operate; we know where you hide; and we will not stop until we bring you to justice.”

“The harm inflicted by these designer drugs is matched only by the profit potential for those who sell them,” said Richard Weber, Chief, IRS-Criminal Investigation.  “Today’s enforcement actions are the culmination of a multi-year effort in which IRS-CI worked with its domestic and global law enforcement partners to disrupt the flow of money - the lifeblood that allows these multi-million dollar organizations to proliferate.”

“On behalf of the Australian Government, I congratulate the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Project Synergy. This is a significant seizure of synthetic drugs and is a terrific result for our respective law enforcement agencies. Australia remains committed to sharing intelligence with its U.S. partners to combat transnational crime across international borders. This is a win for our collective communities,” Australia’s Acting Ambassador to the United States, Graham Fletcher, said.

Background on designer synthetic drugs

Designer synthetic drugs are often marketed as herbal incense, bath salts, jewelry cleaner, or plant food, and have caused significant abuse, addiction, overdoses, and emergency room visits. Those who have abused synthetic drugs have suffered vomiting, anxiety, agitation, irritability, seizures, hallucinations, tachycardia, elevated blood pressure, and loss of consciousness. They have caused significant organ damage as well as overdose deaths.

Smokable herbal blends marketed as being “legal” and providing a marijuana-like high have become increasingly popular, particularly among teens and young adults, because they are easily available and, in many cases, they are more potent and dangerous than marijuana.  These products consist of plant material that has been impregnated with dangerous psychoactive compounds that mimic THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Synthetic cannabinoids are sold at a variety of retail outlets, in head shops and over the Internet.  

Brands such as “Spice,” “K2,” “Blaze,” and “Red X Dawn” are labeled as incense to mask their intended purpose. In 2012, a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported 11,406 emergency department visits involving a synthetic cannabinoid product during 2010. In a 2013 report, SAMHSA reported the number of emergency department visits in 2011 involving a synthetic cannabinoid product had increased 2.5 times to 28,531. The American Association of Poison Control Centers reported 5,205 calls related to human exposure of synthetic cannabinoids.

For the past several years, there has also been a growing use of, and interest in, synthetic cathinones (stimulants/hallucinogens) sold under the guise of “bath salts” or “plant food.” Marketed under names such as “Ivory Wave,” “Purple Wave,” “Vanilla Sky,” or “Bliss,” these products are comprised of a class of dangerous substances perceived to mimic cocaine, LSD, MDMA, and/or methamphetamine.

Users have reported impaired perception, reduced motor control, disorientation, extreme paranoia, and violent episodes. The long-term physical and psychological effects of use are unknown but potentially severe. The American Association of Poison Control Centers reported 2,656 calls related to synthetic cathinone (“bath salts”) exposures in 2012 and overdose deaths have been reported as well.

These products have become increasingly popular, particularly among teens and young adults and those who mistakenly believe they can bypass the drug testing protocols of employers and government agencies to protect public safety. 

They are sold at a variety of retail outlets, in head shops, and over the Internet. However, they have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for human consumption or for medical use, and there is no oversight of the manufacturing process.

Controlled Substance Analogue Enforcement Act

While many of the designer drugs being marketed today that were seized as part of Project Synergy are not specifically prohibited in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), the Controlled Substance Analogue Enforcement Act of 1986 (AEA) allows many of these drugs to be treated as controlled substances if they are proven to be chemically and/or pharmacologically similar to a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance.  A number of cases that are part of Project Synergy will be prosecuted federally under this analogue provision, which is being utilized to combat these new and emerging designer drugs.

DEA has used its emergency scheduling authority to combat both synthetic cathinones (the so-called “bath salts” with names like Ivory Wave, etc.) and synthetic cannabinoids (the so-called incense products like K2, Spice, etc.), temporarily placing several of these dangerous chemicals into Schedule I of the CSA. Congress has also acted, permanently placing 26 substances into Schedule I of the

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

5 die in southern Chihuahua

By Chris Covert

Five members of a family were shot to death Monday night in far southern Chihuahua state, according to Mexican news accounts.

According to a new report posted on the online edition of Milenio news daily,four armed suspects staged an ambush along a dirt road at around 1930 hrs in Guadalupe y Calvo municipality in Baborigame.

The victims were identified as Adelina Carrillo Gutierrez, 61, Jesus Chaparro Loera, 63, Wenceslao Chaparro Carrillo, 36 and two unidentified children ages 11 and 7 were traveling aboard a GMC Sierra pickup truck when the shooting took place.

Several AK-47 and AR-15 spent cartridge casings were found at the scene by investigators.

Guadalupe y Calvo has seen an increase of violent security incidents in recent weeks, the last incident an apparent ambush in a remote part of Guadalupe y Calvo, which claimed the lives of four individuals.  A previous incident of the kidnapping of a political candidate just a week before that shooting preceded a renewed deployment of Mexican federal security deployments including army and naval infantry troops to the region.
Miguel Osorio Chong

Meanwhile Mexico's Secretaria de Gobierno (SEGOB) or interior minister Miguel Osorio Chong, formally announced the training of the first of the news Gendarmaria Nacional, totaling 5,000 effectives, according to Mexican news accounts.

The Gendarmaria Nacional which will operate under the auspices of the Policia Federal, was the centerpiece of the new security strategy by the recently elected President Enrique Pena Nieto.  The emphasis in the  new strategy was to reduce drug and gang related violence which has plagued Mexico for the last several years.

According to a news report posted on the website Animal Politico, Osorio Chong in a radio interview with Joaquin Lopez Doriga, reiterated his government's commitment "in the coming years" to a "news justice model".  The aim, according to several new accounts is to reduce the involvement of Mexico's military in counternarcotics operations, long an objective with Mexico's political left.

The news is a seeming reversal since mention of the Gendarmaria Nacional was omitted from the Plan Nacional de Desarrollo or National Development Plan last May, a move Mexican press claimed was a reneging of a campaign promise Pena made a year ago, despite reepated announcements since Pena's inauguration.

According to a separate news account, in the first stage of the Gendarmaria Nacional plan, a total of 8,500 soldiers and 500 naval infantry troops would be included in the new security force.  It is unclear in Osorio Chong's latest announcement if that part of the plan has been followed.  Osorio Chong has said in the past the the new Gendarmaria Nacional would have both police and military training, which suggests that SEGOB has been or will be moving some elements from the army and navy into the GN.

Currently, Mexico's military and federal police appear to be operating in counternarcotics operations under the command of SEGOB, the Policia Federal under its direct control.  For years during the administration of Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, the Policia Federal had operated as a separate cabinet level agency.  During the legislative honeymoon last December, the Policia Federal were moved as a sub-agency of SEGOB.

When the elements of the Gendarmaria Nacional are ready to be deployed, they will likely go to the worst of Mexico's trouble spots, mainly on the northern border where the most intense of the drug and gang related violence has taken place over the years. 

One likely location will be southern Chihuahua state.  Earlier this year Chihuahua governor Cesar Duarte Jaquez had announced that Gendarmaria Nacional troops would be deployed to the region which can now be seen as a rather premature announcement.

Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for and Borderland He can be reached at

COLOMBIA: Arrests Made in Killing of DEA Agent


The Colombian newspaper El Tiempo reported that Watson was a key agent in the arrest and extradition of drug trafficker Hipolito Martínez Felipe González and his network, who operated out of the Gulf of Urabá near Colombia’s northern border with Panama.
Local authorities have said the killing was a express kidnapping.

JUNE 25 - (Washington, D.C.) --
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s statement regarding the arrest of four individuals in connection with the murder of Special Agent Terry Watson in Bogota, Colombia:
“The Drug Enforcement Administration is grateful for the outstanding work of the Colombian National Police, the Special Investigative Unit and the Attorney General’s Office that led to the swift arrest of these suspects,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart.
 “We will never forget Special Agent Watson and his sacrifice, as well as all those who have given their lives for the rule of law. We salute the brave and expeditious work of Colombian law enforcement and we look forward to justice being served.”
The body of slain U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Agent James “Terry” Watson was returned to his Louisiana home following his stabbing last week in Colombia during an aborted robbery attempt. He will be buried tomorrow.

The following was the press release from the DEA at the time of agent Watson’s murder
DEA Announces Tragic Loss of Special Agent in Colombia
JUNE 21 (WASHINGTON)  - The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) today announced the tragic loss of Special Agent James “Terry” Watson, who was murdered in what appears to have been a robbery attempt last night in Bogota, Colombia.
At the time of his death, Special Agent Watson was assigned to the DEA Cartagena, Colombia office and was on temporary duty in Bogota. Colombian and U.S. authorities are currently investigating.  No further details are available at this time.

“We are all saddened by this devastating loss of a member of the DEA family,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. “Terry was a brave and talented DEA Special Agent who served our agency for 13 years. These are the worst days for anyone in law enforcement and we grieve Terry’s loss.  Our thoughts and prayers are with Terry’s wife and family, and we will forever carry his memory in our hearts.”
In addition to serving in Colombia, Special Agent Watson has served in Honolulu, Hawaii and San Juan, Puerto Rico. He also served on three deployments to Afghanistan conducting dangerous counter-narcotics missions as a member of DEA’s FAST program.  Prior to his DEA service, Special Agent Watson worked for the U.S. Marshals Service and served in the United States Army.
 Sources: DEA Press Releases

Monday, June 24, 2013

Drug cartels in Oregon: Violence in the Northwest

Borderland Beat

Drug cartels in Oregon: Canby explosion may have been cartel relatedCanby Police Sgt. Frank Schoenfeld walks through the sequence of events at the site of the Dec. 11, 2011, explosion that killed Ivan Velasco Rodriguez.

By Les Zaitz,
The Oregonian

For more than a day, the plastic orange toolbox sat on the lawn under a cherry tree, a few paces from the sidewalk.

No one passing the Canby home took notice. Not the runners. Not the dog walkers. Not the kids riding by on bicycles.

Then curiosity drew a 31-year-old landscaper who had come to the home just after sunset to help a friend move. Ivan Velasco Rodriguez poked the toolbox with a wooden rake handle.

The pipe bomb lurking inside exploded. Metal shards flying at bullet speed fatally injured Velasco Rodriguez and slammed into surrounding homes. Pieces fell on roofs two blocks away.

Canby police and federal agents swarmed the scene that night in December 2011. Who planted the booby trap that killed Velasco Rodriguez, a married father of four? And who was the intended target?

Police made no arrests, and the crime faded from public view.

But behind the scenes, federal law enforcement sources say, investigators reached a chilling conclusion: A Mexican drug cartel most likely commissioned the bomb to kill a witness who once listed the address as his own. Their suspicions deepened when they discovered the bombing was eerily similar to twin explosions in central Washington, where rigged devices killed two men hours apart in 2008.

The findings, never before disclosed to the public, were uncovered by The Oregonian as part of a nine-month investigation into the astonishing reach of Mexican drug cartels in the Northwest.

The Oregonian has learned that Mexican cartels, including the powerful Sinaloa and the brutal Los Zetas, have infiltrated almost every corner of Oregon. At last count, authorities were aware of no fewer than 69 drug trafficking organizations selling drugs in the state, nearly all supplied by cartels.

Police have taken down drug operations cloaked as a restaurant in Bend and a grocery in Hillsboro. They've busted traffickers in Gresham, Pendleton and, in a takedown last month involving 300 officers, in Klamath County. They've intercepted shipments from Oregon traffickers as far away as Texas, Minnesota and Florida.

Cartels and their allies control nearly every ounce of heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine flowing into the region, investigators say, smuggling drugs up Interstate 5 by the ton and money back down by the millions. They dominate the marijuana market, tearing up Oregon forests for massive plantations. They exact an unfathomable toll in lives ruined and cut short by drug abuse.

Perhaps most unnerving, cartel-connected traffickers lash out in violence to control territory, settle debts or warn rivals -- not just in Mexico, but here in the Northwest. Police suspect a cartel is behind the roadside execution early last year of a trafficker near Salem.

They think cartel operatives shot two California drug dealers whose bodies were found buried in the sage northeast of Klamath Falls last fall. They also believe a cartel ordered a 2007 hit in which a trafficker and four friends were lined up on the floor of a Vancouver rental home and shot in the head.

"They will take advantage of any avenue they can to make their business succeed," said Kelvin Crenshaw, until recently the special agent in charge of the Seattle regional office of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. "Make no bones about it. The control is from the cartels."

Yet even as traffickers live in our towns and menace our residents, their scourge has remained hidden in plain sight. Police often report homicides, drug busts and threats as isolated incidents. Until now, the region's drug enforcement officials have mostly kept a lid on connections that all point in one direction: to the cartels responsible for the rivers of bloodshed hundreds of miles away in Mexico.

"They are here," said one former cartel member, a 29-year-old Oregon man who asked that his name be kept secret to protect his safety. "They try hard to stay off the radar."

Suspected cartel violence

The Oregonian's investigation included the unprecedented cooperation of law enforcement officials at all levels, including more than 250 interviews with investigators in six states. The newspaper reviewed 50,000 pages of documents, including rarely available wiretap excerpts and files in open homicide cases. Sources also included former traffickers, defense attorneys and victims, such as the family of a Bend 21-year-old who collapsed on his front lawn as a lethal heroin dose flowed into his veins.

Law enforcement officials helped with The Oregonian's investigation because they're convinced the public needs to better understand the growing threat the region faces. Though many cartel homicides are never solved -- witnesses are threatened into silence, and killers leave few clues before sliding back across the border -- authorities say cartels' involvement in deaths and other crimes here is unmistakable.

"Oregonians," said John Deits, the assistant U.S. attorney who oversees federal drug prosecutions in Oregon, "are totally naive, totally out of touch with what is happening."

 Disturbing leads
The neighborhood of the Canby bombing seems an unlikely place for a cartel hit.
Ranch houses and newer Northwest-style homes line Northeast 22nd Street, which runs east-west along the north edge of town. The scent of freshly mowed lawns hangs in the air.
The one-story white house where the bombing occurred sits on an extra-wide lot. A gravel driveway sweeps along one side, past the cherry tree, to a carport and shop in back.

At the time of the crime, a man rented the house with his wife and their 19-year-old son. Their names are being withheld to protect their safety. The renter declined to be interviewed, but lead investigator Chris Mead of the Canby Police Department gave an account. Ben Hartwig, who was visiting the neighborhood at the time of the bombing, filled in details.

The renter worked two jobs, saving enough to buy a home in Salem. The family was in the middle of moving on the evening of Dec. 10, 2011, when the renter spotted the toolbox as he pulled his pickup to the house for another load. Believing that another man's property should be left alone, he told his wife and son about the toolbox but did not call police.

The son, disobeying orders to stay away, tried to open the latch after his parents left for Salem. A string held it fast, but the box opened just enough to reveal something odd inside. The son called his parents' cellphone only to be told again to leave the box alone.

Join investigative reporter Les Zaitz, Tuesday at noon for an online reader Q & A.
The renter worked the next day, a Sunday. As he headed home, he called Velasco Rodriguez, a friend, for help gathering scrap metal at the Canby home. Velasco Rodriguez arrived with another helper, parking near the cherry tree. He asked the renter about the toolbox and was told to let it be.

The renter was in the carport loading plants into his pickup when he was rocked by a blast. He ran to the front yard. Two doors down, Hartwig was attending the annual gingerbread-house contest of his fiancee and her family when the home shook and the windows rattled. Hartwig, an Iraq War veteran and former explosives expert in the U.S. Marine Corps, froze for a second.

"It didn't really make sense -- a bomb going off in Canby," he said.

He rushed down the block to find the renter and the other helper standing over Velasco Rodriguez in stunned silence. Velasco Rodriguez lay on his back in the driveway, shrapnel wounds in his head and stomach. Hartwig, who'd received his EMT certification five months earlier, knew the wounds were probably fatal. But he, neighbors and then medics tried to save Velasco Rodriguez.

In the days that followed, local investigators and agents from the FBI and ATF combed for clues. The explosion so shredded the toolbox that plastic bits remain at the scene even now. Investigators recovered enough of the pipe bomb to reconstruct it but learned little about its origin. They dug into Velasco Rodriguez's background but quickly concluded he wasn't the target. They also found no disputes or drug activity involving the renter and his family.

Then an ATF investigator discovered that the address had been listed by a man connected to a major drug case in another state. That led federal law enforcement officials to suspect the work of a Mexican drug cartel.

A month after the Canby bombing, the ATF agent traveled to Moses Lake, Wash., to learn about the 2008 bombings. There he found startling parallels to the Canby killing.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Guerrero: Among Mexico's Poorest States Defends Against Crime

Borderland Beat

The state of Guerrero (which means "warrior") is one of the poorest in Mexico and the site of some of the worst violence in the battle between the drug cartels and Mexican authorities. As a result of the violence, hundreds of civilians have armed themselves with machetes, rifles, and shotguns, put masks on, and decided to police their own communities, effectively taking justice into their own hands.
I have referred to the constitutional right of the indigenous groups to self-govern, in this video a man known as “G-1” explains the federal and state law.
Thank you to the reader that sent this video in…


Zacatecas Violence as Zetas and Golfos Fight for Fresnillo

Borderland Beat by "Zac" and Chivis

"El Pelón in Custody

Violent Day in Zacatecas leaves a balance of ten dead criminals, a criminal arrested and three policemen detained by the SEIDO.

After 24 hours of intense armed confrontations between antagonistic groups of organized crime in the North border with the municipality of Fresnillo in Zacatecas, military authorities reported ten suspected criminals shot dead, 8 during Thursday´s shootout between zetas and CDG.
Two additional criminals were killed today by members of the Mexican army, and the arrest of an alleged criminal nicknamed "El Pelón", who was wounded by a bullet impact.  Also reported is  the arrest of two agents and a commander of the Municipal police, who were transferred to the city of Mexico by agents of the attorney specializing in investigation of organized crime (SEIDO).
The violent day started on Thursday afternoon, June 20, and has forced the mobilization of troops of the eleventh military zone of the Mexican army, the 97 motorized infantry battalion, the navy of Mexico, Federal Police, Federal Ministerial police, State police and staff and experts of the forensic medical service. 
They maintained an operative on the 45 Federal road on the stretch of the municipalities of Fresnillo to Rio Grande as well as the roads of the state´s Northeast and the connection to the States of Coahuila and Durango, fearing new clashes between members of organized crime, who are mobilizing in the area according to reports from locals.
After the joint operative, four recent model vehicles, fire weapons of exclusive use of the armed forces and sophisticated radio equipment were secured.
It´s been confirmed that on Friday 21, at 4 pm, there was a clash between soldiers from the 97 infantry batallion and members of organized crime that started in the heart of the urban area in Fresnillo, the chase started by the Chedraui supermarket towards the colonia Lomas de Plateros and up to the exit to the community of Plateros.
By the CECYTEZ (college for scientific and technological studies) 2 criminals were shot dead by the military. The remaining criminals managed to escape through dirt roads leading towards Cañitas de Felipe Pescador municipality.
This vehicle laden with suitcases, clothes and 6 dead Golfos-in the same clash 2 dead Zetas
Amid a total secrecy about the events, it became known that the military personnel deployed on a dirt road nearby the community of Plateros arrested members of the Fresnillo Municipal police attempting  to take in their patrol car a local zeta leader (possibly the new plaza boss in Fresnillo after the recent arrest of el Cachetón) to a hospital to be treated from a bullet injury, in a failed attempt to evade the check points of the federal authorities.
Another version of this scenario is that after the military learned that the officers had transported El Pelón to the hospital for his injuries they immediately dispatched to the hospital.  Seeing the officers were very nervous they opted to interview the men where it was determined they were accomplices of the wounded narco. (Updated information has the number at 8 police accomplices of Zetas)

two dead sicarios
It´s worth mentioning that on June 7, after a threatening message signed by CDG left with 3 executed bodies and addressed to the municipal police in Fresnillo (warning them against working for the zetas) only 40 agents in the whole municipality showed up for work.
Authorities of the Attorney General of Justice in Zacatecas PGJEZ, and the Attorney General of the Republic PGR, keep silence about the details of these clashes and the result of the anti-crime operative’s arguing that there is an ongoing investigation
In the middle of a political meeting and almost in front of dozens of PRI militants, a heavily armed command stormed to kill former Mayor, José Ramírez Román, who was a teacher and a well-known politician in the municipality of Saín Alto, which is located in the Center - North of the State 120 kilometers away from the city of Zacatecas.
The preliminary report from local authorities and Civil Protection indicates that the attack occurred at 20:10 hours on Friday 21.
José Ramírez Román served as Mayor of Saín Alto in the triennium from 2001 to 2004 and since then remained as an active militant of the PRI and promoter of local politicians.
The Attorney General of Justice of the State still has not issued an official report on the assassination.
Unofficial reports of two men dead and a woman seriously wounded is reported  the balance of a clash between suspected members of the "Zetas" and the CDG in Fresnillo.
Close to 11:00 am, clashes between members of opposed groups of organized crime, which are currently disputing the Plaza of Fresnillo, Zacatecas.
The groups clashed in the streets of Fresnillo, ending in Carrillo Puerto Street, near La Vacula, in colonia Esparza, where a navy blue Saturn, manned by several criminals, crashed into a parked truck.
 Criminals had already shot the sedan and the wounded occupants crashed into the pick up, witnesses mentioned that they opened fire on the vehicle again and then left the place.
Inside the car there were two criminals dead and a woman was seriously injured.
A rescue unit arrived, attending the wounded woman who was transferred immediately to a hospital, while paramedics certified the absence of vital signs in the other 2 car occupants, leaving the authorities to conduct investigations.
Sources used: Zac Imagen-Facebook-ntrzacatecas-OEM-ZacOnLine