For quite some time, the divisions within the Gulf Cartel (often abbreviated as CDG) have been quite obvious. During one of the first internal conflicts that ravaged the organization, reports spread and many became aware of the two main sides: Metros and Rojos. As things relatively calmed down, the flow of information became scarce, leaving many confused anytime fighting occurred.
For those that followed more closely, a much more complicated picture emerged as the CDG splintered into various factions and sub-factions. The website Valor por Tamaulipas and its companion Facebook page offered a glimpse as to what was happening, though it would prove a tangled web. I, among others, worked to understand what was happening in the shadows, often resorting to analyzing the most minuet pieces of information. It was something as simple as a map would eventually spur the writing of this report.
Valor por Tamaulipas had color coded the state of Tamaulipas into areas of control a while back ago. More recently, they posted a revised version of this map, on which I noticed a brief note about additional areas of control. Around that same time, while I was looking through old notes, a passing reference to a plaza chief sparked my interest, leading me to research as much as I could. This is what I found... (Click on image to enlarge)
The state of Tamaulipas is the birthplace of the CDG and many of its factions. Among the factions is the CDG del Sur, which literally means the Gulf Cartel of the South. Thus, it should be of no surprise that the CDG del Sur is found within the southern part of the state of Tamaulipas.
The bastion of the this faction is the Tampico metropolitan area, which in Tamaulipas is composed of the municipalities of Tampico (#38 in the above map), Ciudad Madero (#9 in the above map), and Altamira (#3 in the above map).
While Tampico and Ciudad Madero are urban, Altamira is a mixed municipality, urban in the southeast, but stretching out into rural areas. It appears that part of this rural area is considered a separate plaza, Campos de Ordeña, under which the towns of Cuauhtémoc and Esteros fall. The Tampico metropolitan area is fertile grounds for the CDG del Sur: its ports allow the importation of cocaine, its urban areas open the door for retail drug sales, kidnappings, and extortions, and its rural areas are rich in gas and oil thefts as well as involvement in migrant smuggling.
Just west of Altamira is the CDG del Sur controlled municipality of González (#12 in the above map). ;A sparsely populated municipality, it appears from a map that the most strategic town is Estacíon Manuel, which is located along highway 80 and is intersected by highways 39 and 180.Based upon the Valor por Tamualipas map, it appears the municipality is divided into two plazas (González and Graciano Sánchez/Magiscatzin) and has a base of vehicle robberies in the south and training camps in the mountains in the northeast. Further west is the Zeta controlled territory of Mante (#21 in the above map), and it appears that Graciano Sánchez is part of a strategic buffer zone between the CDG del Sur and Los Zetas.
Northeast of González and directly north of Altamira is the CDG del Sur controlled municipality of Aldama (#2 in the above map). Even more sparsely populated than González, the municipality appears to be divided into four plazas: the town of Aldama, along highway 180, the town of La Muralla, located further north along highway 180, Barra del Morrón along the southern coast, and Barra del Tordo in the central coast.
Directly north of Aldama is another sparsely populated municipality, Soto la Marina (#37 in the above map), with the town of the same name located along highway 180. Soto la Marina appears important in a number of ways. Highway 180 continues north into the municipality of San Fernando (#35 in the above map), which is partially controlled by the CDG faction of Matamoros, thus it is likely the final staging ground of any drugs being turned over to Matamoros (#22 in the above map). To the west is the Zeta territory, therefore highways 70 and 75, which connect into the town of Soto la Marina, would likely be strategically controlled by the CDG del Sur.
Northeast of Soto la Marina is the final municipality in Tamaulipas controlled by the CDG del Sur, Abasolo (#1 in the above map). To reach the city of Abasolo itself, one would turn off of highway 180 onto highway 38. Based upon the overall location, I believe that Abasolo is strategically controlled in order to form a barrier from Zeta controlled territory to the west (#18 in the above map) and north (#10 and #35 in the above map). Directly south of Tamaulipas is the state of Veracruz. It is made up of 212 different municipalities, and, due to its vast size, the various municipalities are grouped into 10 different regions.
The northernmost region in Veracruz is called Huasteca Alta and is composed of 15 municipalities. was a point in time that Veracruz was considered solely dominated by Los Zetas. An article from December 31, 2011 focused on the Huasteca Alta. It mentioned how the Pánuco River, which marks the border of Tamaulipas and Veracruz was a line that both sides attempted to cross, with Los Zetas incurring into Tampico and the CDG incurring into Pueblo Viejo (#3 on the map below) and Tampico Alto (#4 on the map below).
Times have changed. According to a note on the map created by Valor por Tamulipas
“Matarredonda and Pueblo Viejo Veracuz form part of the CDG del Sur with their own heads of plaza. They make incursions into the zones of Z control”. The municipality of Pueblo Viejo is part of the Tampico metropolitan area. While I have not specifically located Matarredona, it is not a municipality and appears to be an area within Pueblo Viejo itself.
Theorizing that there may be additional areas of CDG del Sur control within Veracruz, I researched as much as possible, though information is sparse. I did find an article from October 1, 2012 which reported that marines had dismantled a communications network made up of retransmission antennas. While the article did not specify which cartel these antennas belonged to, it did mention some were found in Tampico, Ciudad Madero, and Altamira in Tamaulipas. It mentioned additional antennas found in Veracruz, in the municipalities of Ozuluama (#6 in the above map) and Naranjos (#14 in the above map).
Though it did not state that all these antennas were part of a single system, the article heavily implies that they were and with the Tamualipas locations falling under CDG control, I believe these were all part of a CDG network. The impression I get is that CDG del Sur incursions into Veracruz have focused on pushing south along highway 180. The establishment of antennas would imply a level of control within these municipalities beyond mere incursions, though that is not to say that they were not being contested with Zeta forces. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find additional information in these areas, nor the neighboring region of Huasteca Baja.
Another area I theorized that the CDG del Sur would seek control of is Pánuco (#1 on the above map). In the north of the municipality is an east-west highway, 70, which connects into Tampico itself. Along this highway, and just outside the Tampico metropolitan area is the town of Tamos. I recently discovered the Valor por Huasteca Facebook page, which only days ago reported more than 20 pickups with armed men in Tamos. Furthermore it stated "I do not know if they were of the Dragon group or of Los Z". This supports my theory that CDG del Sur would make incursions into Pánuco. Unfortunately, I have found no additional information. The town of Canoas would be vital for either group, as it is the intersection of highway 70 and highway 127, which runs south to the city of Pánuco itself.
San Luis Potosí
The state of San Luis Potosí, is made up of 58 municipalities which are grouped into 4 regions. While the state has been generally regarded as dominated by Los Zetas, even in the past, this was mostly within the regions of Altiplano and Centro.
The easternmost region of the state is that of Huasteca, which is made up of 20 municipalities.
Earlier in the year, there was a post on Valor por Tamaulipas that made reference to an individual that was the plaza head of Ciudad Valles (#16 in the above map) for the CDG. ;While for a brief time frame I theorized another faction of the CDG, I did confirm via message with the director of the website that Ciduad Valles is a CDG del Sur plaza.
While this opens the door to a CDG del Sur presence throughout the Huasteca region of San Luis Potosí, there is virtually no information about cartel activity in this region. However, looking at a map, however, I realized that Ciudad Valles is at the intersection of highway 70 and the north-south highway 85. To the north is Mante, which, as stated previously, is controlled by Los Zetas.
Therefore, I would think any CDG del Sur presence in the region would need to control highway 70 east to the neighboring municipalities of Tamuín (#17 in the above map) and Ebano (#18 in the above map). From Ebano, the highway continues to the previously mentioned town of Canoas, Veracruz. Another possible access route occurs in Ebano, where highway 39 spurs off to the north, crossing the extreme northwest of the municipality of Pánuco, Veracruz, and eventually connecting into the previously mentioned town of Estacíon Manuel in González, Tamaulipas.
Based upon my suspicion that Ebano would be of importance, I did some searching and was able to find an article from March 5, 2011 which reported that a member of the CDG, Gustavo "El 85" Arteaga Zaleta, was arrested in Tampico. He was said to have been the plaza chief of Ebano. Furthermore, it said that he charged extortion money from merchants in Ciudad Valles, Tamuin, San Vincente (#20 in the above map), and Ebano. I have not found any additional information in the following years, but because of past CDG presence, the chances that they are CDG del Sur territory increase.
There is also the matter of the Media region of San Luis Potosí. At one point the CDG had a presence within Rioverde, which is located roughly halfway between Ciudad Valles and the city of San Luis Potosí itself, however there is an extreme lack of information in this area and due to the changes in terrain from the Huasteca region, I find CDG del Sur dominance difficult, though not impossible.
While there are many unknowns due to a lack of reporting, it is quite obvious that the CDG del Sur reaches further than first appears. We can feel confident in its presence in Tamaulipas as well as Pueblo Viejo, Veracruz, and Cuidad Valles, San Luis Potosí. Beyond that, the presence of the CDG del Sur becomes more theoretical, but I will continue to research in hopes that more conclusive information is out there, as northern Veracruz and eastern San Luis Potosí most likely has incursions by the CDG del Sur and many municipalities may be under there control.