With the massacre in Iguala, Guerrero and the resulting fallout, the organization known as Guerreros Unidos has been frequently mentioned on Borderland Beat and other media. Nevertheless, good background information is hard to find and what little is out there is often contradictory. While I am far from an expert on Guerreros Unidos, I have been aware of the organization for nearly three years and would like to share what I know and understand about it.
Guerreros Unidos is a drug trafficking organization based in the north-central part of the state of Guerrero, with additional presence in Morelos, the state of México, and Puebla. While documents of the Attorney General of Mexico (PGR in its Spanish abbreviation) classify it as a cell of La Familia Michoacana, I personally feel it merits the designation of an independent cartel due to its cultivation of marijuana and heroine, which is trafficked in part to Chicago, Illinois, as well as controlling some cocaine shipments.
From my research, it appears that the first use of the name Guerreros Unidos was on December 16, 2011, when a banner was found in northern Guerrero against Los Rojos signed by "Guerrero Unidos brazo armado de La F.M." (Guerrero Unidos armed wing of La F.M., in reference to La Familia Michoacana). At that time, Los Rojos, based out of Chilpancingo, Guerrero, and La Familia Michoacana were locked in a brutal battle for control of the region.
Yet something changed in the following months. Around 6:00 AM on March 18, 2012, 10 heads (7 males and 3 females) were left at the entrance of the municipality of Teloloapan,Guerrero. A message written on a card accompanied it as well, which stated that "This will happen to all those who support La F.M."..."Sincerely: Guerrero Unidos".
I have never read a solid explanation for why Guerreros Unidos split from its parent organization, though, around this time frame, Los Rojos and La Familia Michoacana reached a ceasefire which, I believe, played at least a factor in its rise to independence. Since that time, Guerreros Unidos has fought an unending war against both Los Rojos and La Familia Michoacana.
While Guerreros Unidos origin lies within La Familia Michoacana, the bulk of its membership derives from the Beltrán Leyva Cartel and its splinter organizations. Here are a few of its former and current members worth noting:
"El Sapo Guapo"
Mario Casarubias Salgado, alias "El Sapo Guapo", was once a bodyguard for operators of the Beltrán Leyva Cartel. Following the death of Arturo Beltrán Leyva on December 16, 2009, he continued his criminal activities as a member of Los Rojos.
For some unreported reason, he began to have differences with Los Rojos and left the organization. His former rivals in La Familia Michoacana approached him with an offer to join them and by December 2010, if not earlier, he was a working member of La Familia. "El Sapo Guapo" waged a savage war against Los Rojos in and around Chilpancingo.
For another unreported reason, he began to have differences with La Familia and left the organization. Due to his hatred of Los Rojos, my working theory is that he was angry about a ceasefire between the organizations, but I may very well be wrong. Regardless, "El Sapo Guapo" is generally regarded as the founder of Guerreros Unidos, though some reports place him as the second leader. He was arrested on April 29, 2014. His brother, Angel Casarrubias Salgado was also a reported member of Guerreros Unidos and is still at large.
Rodolfo Paredes Cárdenas, alias "El Bofo", was a high ranking member of La Familia Michoacana and considered the right hand of José María Chávez Magaña, alias "El Pony", a regional leader of La Familia who would eventually become its leader.
A split in the cell of "El Pony" occurred and "El Bofo" left the organization along with other members. "El Bofo" is sometimes reported as the cofounder of Guerreros Unidos, along with "El Sapo Guapo", though other reports place the split as occurring in May 2012 and him joining the already formed Guerreros Unidos. Regardless, "El Bofo" is still at large, though his status within Guerreros Unidos has been unreported for quite some time.
Cleotilde Toribio Rentería, alias "El Tilde", began his criminal career as a member of Los Pelones, a cell of the Sinaloa Federation under the command of the Arturo Beltrán Leyva. Upon the split from the Sinaloa Federation, he continued as a member of the Beltrán Leyva Cartel.
Following the December 16, 2009 death of Arturo, he sided with Edgar Valdez Villarreal, alias "La Barbie" in his split from the Beltrán Leyva Cartel. On September 30, 2010, he reportedly carried out the killing of 20 tourists from the state of Michoacán in Acapulco, Guerrero.
In the fallout of this slaughter, the Cártel Independiente de Acapulco was formed, to which he joined. By February 17, 2011, infighting in the organization resulted in a splinter organization being formed, named La Barredora, which he joined, and by August 29 he was reported leader of a cell within the group called Los Calentanos.
Eventually he left the La Barredora, joining Guerreros Unidos, though a few reports say that he actually founded the organization and was its original leader. I personally doubt this version of events as it does not fit the chronology of the emergence of Guerreros Unidos. Regardless, he achieved a leadership role within the organization and was arrested on July 9, 2012. His brothers Moisés, alias "El Moy", Sóstenes, and Zeferino, alias "El Zefe" are at large and are possibly members of Guerreros Unidos.
Leonor Villa Ortuño
Leonor Villa Ortuño is the wife of Salomón Pineda Bermúdez (arrested May 7, 2009), and mother of four sons, José Alberto Pineda Villa, alias "El Borrado" (killed September 12, 2009), Marco Antonio Pineda Villa, alias "El MP" (killed September 12, 2009), Salomón Pineda Villa, alias "El Molón", and Guadalupe Pineda Villa (kidnapped by La Familia Michoacana and presumed dead), and a daughter María de los Ángeles Pineda Villa.
"El Borrado" and "El MP" held a leadership position within the Los Pelones cell of the Sinaloa Federation under the command of the Arturo Beltrán Leyva. Upon the split from the Sinaloa Federation, they became high ranking members of the Beltrán Leyva Cartel. A relative of hers, Carlos Federico Quinto Guillén, deputy secretary of the Mexican marines, allegedly provided logistical support to the Pineda Villa brothers for the importation of drugs before their deaths.
In the years following, a member of their cell, Carlos Campos Hernández, alias "El Comando", joined Guerreros Unidos. He put "El Sapo Guapo", in contact with Leonor Villa Ortuño, who arranged military support to Guerreros Unidos through Carlos Federico Quinto Guillén, as well as political and police support in Iguala, Guerrero, through her son-in-law, José Luis Abarca Velázquez, the current municipal president of Iguala. "El Molón", who was released from jail in July of last year, is reported to have become head of the Iguala plaza for Guerreros Unidos.
Following the April 29, 2014 arrest of "El Sapo Guapo", banners were hung in Morelos which claimed that Federico Figueroa became the new leader of Guerreros Unidos, directing the organization from his ranch in Taxco, Guerrero. It has been reported that Federico has used the fame of his brother José Manuel Figueroa (a Grammy aware winning singer and songwriter since the 1970s better known by the stage name Joan Sebastián) to achieve political support for Guerreros Unidos.
Gonzalo Martín Souza Neves
Arrested on July 10, 2014 in Puebla, Puelba, Souza Neves was reported to have taken over leadership of Guerreros Unidos following the arrest of "El Sapo Guapo", and coordinated the shipment of cocaine to the United States in hidden compartments of passenger bus lines. Other reports indicate that he was merely head of plaza in Puebla.
The criminal career of Benjamín Mondragón Pereda, alias "El Jamón", " El Benjamón", and "El Tío", dates back to at least 2010, when he was reported to be a member of the Cártel del Pacifico Sur, which was founded that year by Sergio Enrique Villarreal Barragán, alias "El Grande". At that time, he was a coordinator of drug dealers for the organization and involved in petty thefts as well, such as robbery and dismantling vehicles to sell parts.
With the dismantling of the Cártel del Pacifico Sur, "El Jamón" continued as an independent criminal, though he eventually joined Guerreros Unidos. In February 2014, a message in Cuernavaca, Morelos was left indicating he held some sort of leadership position within the organization. He either was killed orcommitted suicide on October 14, 2014. While some reports indicate that he was the leader of Guerreros Unidos, he was actually a recruiter for the organization, as well as coordinator of drug sales and weapons trafficking in the state of Morelos.
In the fallout of the Iguala massacre, the alias of "El Chuky" has been mentioned as the current leader of Guerreros Unidos. Unfortunately, that is the extent of the information provided about him and it is unknown was his real name or criminal career is.
On the Borderland Beat forum, El Faro has proposed an interesting theory that "El Chuky" is, in fact, Jorge Luis Valencia Arzate, who is known to use that alias. If this happens to be the case, "El Chuky" was once a high ranking member of La Familia Michoacana, serving as head of plaza in Morelia, Michoacán and was last reported as a member of Los Caballeros Templarios.