Friday, February 28, 2014

Post Chapo Capture: U.S. Treasury Sanctions Key Sinaloa Cartel Network

Borderland Beat
-click to enlarge-
Action Targets Colombian-Mexican Narco Trafficking Network

 WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today announced the designation of Hugo Cuellar Hurtado, a dual Colombian-Mexican national, for his material support to the narcotics trafficking activities of the Sinaloa Cartel and one of the organization’s leaders, Juan Jose Esparragoza Moreno (a.k.a. El Azul), pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act).  Six other individuals and ten entities linked to Cuellar Hurtado were also designated. 
As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property in the United States, or in the possession or control of U.S. persons in which the individuals and entities designated today have an interest, are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.
 The President identified Esparragoza Moreno and the Sinaloa Cartel as significant foreign narcotics traffickers pursuant to the Kingpin Act in 2003 and 2009, respectively.  Esparragoza Moreno was indicted on drug trafficking charges in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in 2003 and is wanted in both the U.S. and Mexico. 
On February 22, 2014, Mexican authorities captured Joaquin Guzman Loera (a.k.a. El Chapo) – the reputed leader of the Sinaloa Cartel and considered to be among the most wanted criminals in the world.  Guzman Loera was identified by the President as a significant foreign narcotics trafficker pursuant to the Kingpin Act in 2001. 
“Mexican authorities achieved a major victory with the capture of Chapo Guzman.  Building on this success, OFAC will continue targeting the finances and operations of the Sinaloa Cartel and its other leaders, including Esparragoza Moreno,” said OFAC Director Adam J. Szubin.  “Today’s action marks the next step in this effort by targeting Hugo Cuellar Hurtado, who poses as a businessman involved in enterprises ranging from ostrich farming to pawn shops.  In reality, Cuellar Hurtado is a longtime criminal who supports illicit drug trafficking activities and promotes organized crime.” 
Cuellar Hurtado has been engaged in drug trafficking activities for decades.  He previously worked for the Medellín drug cartel and shipped cocaine to the United States through Mexico.  In the late 1990s, Cuellar Hurtado began living part time in Mexico and eventually began supplying cocaine to the Sinaloa Cartel. 
Today’s designation also targets six other individuals, including five of Cuellar Hurtado’s family members.  John Fredy Cuellar Silva, the son of Cuellar Hurtado, acts on his father’s behalf and is also providing support to the Sinaloa Cartel’s drug trafficking activities. 

The other family members were designated today because they act on behalf of Cuellar Hurtado and/or John Fredy Cuellar Silva:  Ofelia Margarita Miramontes Gutierrez (Cuellar Hurtado’s current wife), Jenny Johanna Cuellar Silva (Cuellar Hurtado’s daughter), Victor Hugo Cuellar Silva (Cuellar Hurtado’s son), and Gabriela Amarillas Lopez (Cuellar Hurtado’s daughter-in-law). 

Also designated today is Lucy Amparo Vargas Nunez, who manages Cuellar Hurtado’s assets in Colombia.
 The entities designated today include four Mexican companies.  Agricola y Ganadera Cuemir and Cooperativa Avestruz Cuemir are located in Tlajomulco de Zuniga, Jalisco, which is near Guadalajara. 

These companies are engaged in ostrich farming and the breeding of Friesian horses.  Casa de Empeno Guadalajara (a.k.a. Empenos Prestafacil) and Prenda Todo (a.k.a. Casa de Empeno Prenda Todo) are both pawn shop companies in Guadalajara. 
 Further, six Colombian companies were also designated.  Agro y Comercio de Santa Barbara Lagromer, Compania Agro Comercial Cueta, and Inversiones Hunel Ltda. are all agricultural companies based in Bogotá.  Casa Comercial Oro Rapido, of Girardot, Cundinamarca, and Casa Comercial Uni Quince, of Bogota, are both pawn shops.  Hotel Paraiso Resort en Arrendamiento is a lodging establishment located in Rivera, Huila.   
Today’s action was taken in close coordination with the Drug Enforcement Administration


Above left is the initial image from the 2007-2014 OFAC TIMELINE of Designations against the Sinaloa Cartel "Kingpin" designation act.
To view the full chart link here.

Press Release

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Michoacán: "EL Pantera" of Caballeros Templarios Killed

Borderland Beat
"El Pantera" is one of the Caballeros Templarios leaders,
identified by the autodefensas council.

Today in Arteaga Michoacán, members of the Federal Police, shot and killed  Francisco Nuñez Galeana alias "El Pantera".  Nuñez was  one of the most sought after Caballeros Templarios lieutenants in the state of Michoacán.
The incident occurred at kilometer 190 of  Lazaro Cardenas-Nueva Italia highway, while the soldiers of the National Security (CNS), carried out an operation to locate him.
A chase ensued when the driver of the late model gray Frontier truck, ignored orders to stop, instead the occupants began  firing at the police convoy and also used fragmentation grenades.
Federal forces had been tracking "The Panther", through intelligence activities for weeks.  In the truck and also killed, was an unidentified  woman  and another male subject.
After the confrontation, the elements of the CNS, confiscated the vehicle, two grenade launchers, two rifles, grenades and hundreds of rounds of ammunition of different calibers.
The residents of Apatzingán thanked the Federal Forces for the stopping of  Francisco Núñez Galeana,
 identified as "The Panther ", a member of the Caballeros Templarios.  Also the sign says the
 demand the head of Chayo and all rat collaborators

Note from Chivis: confirmed today this is Pantera, and he was one of the most wanted leaders. 

He was equal to El Toro and Tena.  Pantera was the plaza chief of Uruapan and  en Apatzingán

11AM Breaking News: I have just been informed, an hour ago they have located el chayo at his ranch in la sierra de Tumbiscatio, lets hope he does not escape....

Facebook and MiMorelia and personal sources used for this post

4 die in southern Chihuahua

A total of four individuals were killed or were found dead in drug and gang related violence in southern Chihuahua state since last Tuesday, according to Mexican news reports.

Thursday afternoon, two brothers were found shot to death in Urique municipality, according to a news report which appeared in the online edition of El Diario de Chihuahua news daily.  The victims were identified as Arnoldo Gutierrez Rios 24 years old and Alonso Gutierrez Rios, 23.

The two men left their residence and were headed for the village of San Rafael, but were shot some time after they left.  At the scene of the shooting, police found two weapons magazines for the AK-47 rifle, one 30 round capacity with 24 rounds and one full 40 round capacity magazine.

Arnoldo had an arrest warrant out issued from Mina judicial district for intentional homicide.  The warrant was from a May, 2012 incident.

Meanwhile in Bocoyna municipality, an unidentified man was found shot to death on the Creel to Guachochi road near ejido San Ignacio Ararekoa near a location dubbed Piedra de Elefante Wednesday.

Finally, a man was found shot to death in Guadalupe y Calvo municipality Tuesday.

According to a news report which appeared in El Sol de Parral news daily, Emilio Julian Chaparro, 43, was found in a gap between Guadalupe y Calvo and Baborigame municipalities, three kilometers from the main road.

The victim was shot at least once in the head.

Also in Guadalupe y Calvo municipality, specifically in Parral, Chihuahua state police continue their search for stolen cars in the city by operating a checkpoint in Parral.  The checkpoint is part of a police operation called Operativo Parral.

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

Mexican security forces rescue 61 in Reynosa

Mexican security forces located and released 61 individuals in Reynosa, Tamaulipas they said were being held for ransom, according to an official Mexican news release.

According to the news release posted on the state government website of Tamaulipas, a Mexican Army unit was dispatched to a residence in Las Fuentes colony based on an anonymous citizen complaint.  There they found a number of men and women being held against their will inside.

Among the captives were 33 Guatemalans, 20 Salvadorans, four Hondurans,  three Mexicans and one  Nicaraguan. The news release said men and women were in that group, but failed to detail a count.  Some of the captives had been physically abused.

Soldiers were told that some of the captives has been kidnapped various locations in Reynosa including bus stops and local markets.

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

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Operation Gargoyle: Pursuit, capture and confessions of El Chapo

Noticieros Televisa (2-24-2014) By Carlos Loret de Mola Fuente

Respectful, using no bad language, and in an even voice, Chapo 
 confessed to having killed between 2,000 and 3,000 persons"
Translated by unvato for Borderland Beat (parts of the text interlinks to the video found at bottom)

CIUDAD DE MEXICO, Mexico, February 24, 2014.- On January 19th of this year, 200 elite Mexican Navy marines landed in the Culiacán, Sinaloa, airport.

It was the start of Operation Gargoyle.

This is the story of how Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera, the most wanted man in the world, was located, pursued, surrounded and captured, according to the testimony of the Navy soldiers who arrested him, their commanders who coordinated the operation, and the elements of the PGR (Attorney General) who assisted. 
This is the building.
This is the apartment.
This is the room.
This is the bath.
And behind this door, the last hideaway of 'El Chapo' Guzman.
Here, he was apprehended by an elite commando, made up of six marine troops.

To locate him, they tapped his phones, they used aircraft to spy on him, they intercepted his radio communications, they had recent photographs of him, they figured out he had three weaknesses (money, women and candy), that he was a fan of Tutsi-Pop and peanuts, that he frequently ordered good food from restaurants, that he never spent more than two days under the same roof, that he dyed his hair and mustache, that he had exercise walking machines in all his safe houses, that he had recently lost weight, that he didn't use a cell phone, that many times he would make his men eat the food they took him to make sure it wasn't poisoned, that he didn't use drugs any more, that he was so mistrustful that he allowed only four people to be with him at all times: Chaneke, his chief of security; Condor, his chief of communications;  Nariz, his main errand boy, all three former members of Army Special Forces, and his cook.

It was 6:00 a.m., Mazatlan, Sinaloa, time, 7:00 a.m. Central Mexico time, this past Saturday, February 22, when Joaquin Guzman Loera showed his face through the bathroom door of the main bedroom in apartment No. 401 in the Torre Miramar (Miramar Tower) on the Mazatlan coast.  Then he showed his unarmed hands and, on being firmly told to surrender because he was surrounded, he responded four times: "OK". 

But to be exact, the story of the arrest of the most wanted man in the world began 120 miles from here, a month ago, in a place in the middle of nowhere.

There's nothing to see anywhere. Wherever one turns, it's swamp, dirt and bushes; for "El Chapo Guzman", his new jewel, the ranch in the community of Sanchez Celis, in the municipality of Culiacán
Chapo's 'Miramar' condo is now rendered a tourist attraction
For the authorities, Plan 'A'.

Here's where they wanted to capture him. It looked like an ideal place to them because there were no civilians around, because it is much more difficult to escape and get lost.

In addition, government intelligence reports pointed out that Guzman Loera visited the property only with his family, to spend time with his children, and for that reason, he preferred that there not be a lot of weapons and bodyguards around.

This is the access to the ranch. With mosquito netting that covers the garage completely, so that if somebody were lost around there, taking pictures or getting ready to shoot, he would not have a target, would not be able to see him, could not photograph him.

He would get down from his vehicle parked here, knowing full well that they could be spying on him from the air, with the use of satellite systems or aircraft. The route remains covered all the way, roofed until you get to the house. This is the main ranch house, which, according to what they tell us, was still under construction, and here, outside, we can see a new platform in this swamp, and the paradise he had constructed to visit with his family; Joaquin Guzman Loera.

The ranch is a complex of bungalows with a main house that surround a jacuzzi, a wading pool and a swimming pool with a bar.

It's all new.

The guest room is a luxurious suite of 150 meters square, with glowing furniture and with all the amenities.

The main house includes a principal bedroom, where presumably the leader of the Sinaloa cartel slept, and two adjacent rooms for the children and the nannies, joined by a dining room and an open kitchen.

One bungalow is a play room still being furnished, another one has space for ladies' and men's rooms; another is a kitchen that can cook for a banquet.

Government technology also allowed observation of last minute work and detected when "Chapo" got there, much earlier than they had expected him.

That's why Plan 'A' was aborted. Government agents weren't prepared to proceed against such a powerful objective. And 'Chapo' Guzman never went back to the ranch.

Chapo's new ranch
Plan 'B' was located 21 miles to the north. In the very heart of the city of Culiacán, his bastion.

Authorities say that discretion his strength. He didn't use sports cars or showy pickups, but he did use high quality pickups and automobiles with Level 7 armor, the highest grade available.  He would travel in one vehicle, two at most.

His safe houses, in middle or upper middle class neighborhoods. Government reports describe the homes as attractive, safe and with escape routes. Joaquin Guzman would jump from one house to another, and he felt at ease in Culiacan. The Navy's strategy was to double its presence in the city; patrols, roadblocks, searches, operations. They wanted 'El Chapo' to feel harassed so he would leave the more populated zones and they could capture him in outlying areas.

That was Plan 'B': If Culiacan was his bunker, they wanted to get him out of there.

But he never left. It appears that he did not feel insecure. They understood why on Monday, in the early hours of February 17, when they tried to open the door to his house.

It was Plan 'C'. Take him wherever he was. 200 men went after him.

The intelligence work by Mexican authorities had determined the areas where 'Chapo' Guzman was located. In the early hours of February 17, around 3:00 a.m., they managed to capture a man called "Nariz" ("Nose"), one of the men closest to Mexico's most wanted man, when he was on his way home. "Nariz" was his personal assistant  and would run errands and satisfy his whims.

"Nariz", when he was captured, tried to mislead the authorities. He lied to them about the house where "Chapo" was staying, but the authorities were able to disprove it immediately because their technical abilities has already allowed them to locate precisely the area, the street -- Rio Maya Street --, where "El Chapo" was hiding, so the authorities went there and parked their vehicles.

They parked them right in front of the house where he was staying. With their weapons, a tight group of Marines lit up the windows of the house where they were minutes away from catching "Chapo" Guzman. The moment they shone their lights they saw a light turned on and off, and they were certain that there was somebody inside, probably the most wanted capo in Mexico. The windows closed automatically, so the Marine used special equipment to try to go in through this electric garage door.

Now, let's look at the doors from the inside. They went in through this one, because it didn't have any bolts; they had forgotten to slide the bolts. But this one, this one had two large locks. They didn't open this door, but we're going to go in through here to learn about the house where they were minutes away from capturing "El Chapo" in Culiacan, Sinaloa, and also about what we talked about a little earlier.

This is the door, this is commonly found in any house with an electric door. But what is not common are these security rods that, upon closing, prevent any person from opening  the door. But they had forgotten to close these, they were not locked, and that's where Marine elements went in. They thought they were done, that they had him, that it had been a relatively quick operation.

What they had not counted on was that this door is doubly reinforced with steel.

With a large hammer, called breaching equipment, they began to pound, pound on it. The hammer broke, but the door didn't open. They had to use another hammer, because this door had three ... see how heavy it is. It had three of these pieces of steel placed across the door in such a way that if somebody broke off a piece of the door, only that piece would break off, the rest would not.

Not only that; the four metal compartments were filled with water. What's that for? What they tell us is that when one is hammering on metal, the heat that it generates causes it to bend until it breaks. But when it is filled with water, one, the shock is absorbed, and two, the metal stays cold and won't bend. According to the reports, it took eight minutes to open this door. It normally takes three seconds. Those eight minutes allowed "El Chapo" to escape through a complicated system of tunnels installed under this and other homes in the area.

Let's go inside the house. This is the route the Marines took on Monday, the 17th, just as the sun was coming up. They had waited until that time -- 6 a.m.-- so that in case "Chapo" came out in a vehicle, on foot, or whatever, the helicopters could track him. There's a small storeroom, it has one of these... Christmas trees. There's a bath, and a complete kitchen.

They told us that he kept several homes completely furnished so that he could sleep in the one he would choose at the last minute. He was so mistrustful that he wouldn't tell anybody where he was going to sleep. He simply sent his most trusted people ahead and everything was ready.

Remains of a meal, vegetables. This is the kitchen. One of the characteristics that authorities reveal about "El Chapo" is that he was a very paranoid man. The authorities say that he maintained a television monitor that showed everything that was happening outside and inside the house, so he was always on alert. According to the marines, when they got inside the house at 6:00 a.m., the monitors were switched on.

Let's go back to the house, where we'll find the key point, the escape point.

Peanuts to eat while watching TV, and again, the security monitor. The house has two floors; on top, there are living areas and a lot of security equipment. There are bathroom supplies, clothing on the floor, this is the bedroom, and again, the TV and the monitoring equipment. The government followed "Chapo" Guzman's activities very closely. They say that Buchanan's '18' was his favorite drink. People close to him said he no longer took drugs, like he did before.

And this was the key. The marines got inside and they felt very frustrated because they thought they had him, but those eight minutes gave "Chapo" the advantage.

Let's see how he escaped. This is the bathroom in the bedroom that is located on the first floor where they almost got Guzman Loera. And this is the tub, in reality the tunnel. A hydraulic system lifts the tub and opens a stairway. Don't think it would open the way I just did it. In reality, they discovered that you have to move this plug with a connection tied to a cable so that it completes a circuit, then the mirror here causes the tub to lift automatically. This is the escape route.

The marines who had studied "El Chapo" said that his most important weapon, what he had counted on more than money, more than weapons, was time. That's what allowed him to get away on February 17, in the early morning hours in Culiacan, Sinaloa: time.

(Photo of reporter in tunnel)  (Caption: this tunnel is approximately 1.8 miles long and reaches the river. Let's look at it.)  

The tunnel is approximately 1.4 meters in height (4.5 ft. high), and there's places where it gets much narrower. The first stretch of the tunnel is completely wired for electricity. The tunnel connects farther down with the rain drainage system for the city of Culiacan, and from there on, of course, conditions change. This escape route had steel compartment doors, and this is the drainage system for the city of Culiacan.

The escape took approximately 1.8 miles in these conditions. The Marine troops followed his footsteps thanks to an expert tracker who managed to find signs on the tunnel corners and turns that told him they had gone that way, for example, spots where they had sat down to rest. Because the posture is very uncomfortable -- one has to walk bent over --, for a 57 year old man in "Chapo's" condition, that's how it was.

It was 1.8 miles until he got to the river and there the Culiacan plaza boss, whom he had called by phone, picked him up and took him away.

According to authorities, "Chapo" presented lacerations on his shoulders and on his head, the result of that escape. Because a few meters beyond the first part of the tunnel there is no light. He himself told authorities that he did not have a flashlight, that he was bumping things and hurt his shoulders, his head. This is verified in the investigation report.

Eight minutes. That was the head start that the most wanted capo on the planet had on the authorities who wanted to capture him. Eight minutes and a tunnel that connected with the rain drains, a dark labyrinth of clear and dirty water.

The elite team of marines that followed him through the entrails of "Culichi" reported that "El Chapo" and his men, most probably exhausted by the long race in the dark and bent over forward, left stuff behind, first a suitcase with clothing, then some grenades, farther ahead, bulletproof vests, then, finally, at the opening of the drain, right on the Humaya River, a grenade launcher that, had they fired it at their pursuers, would have killed every one of them.

According to the official report, they took advantage of drain openings to call for help with their cell phones.

When they came out of the main drain, a few yards from the Sinaloa Government building, the escape was not finished.

He ran about a quarter of a mile along this dirt road, passed to one side of the National Water Commission offices and stopped in the shade under this tree, where "El Picudo", his plaza boss in Culiacan, picked him up, this according to the testimony of both "El Chapo" and "El Picudo".

The PGR investigation establishes that Manuel Lopez Osorio, "El Picudo", took him to Kilometer 24 on the Culiacan-Mazatlan highway, where he switched cars to one driven by Alejandro "Bravo" Aponte, his security chief  in the area around Culiacan.

"El Chapo" vanished.
Chapo did not resist arrest-his injuries were from slamming into tunnel walls
while escaping two days earlier in Culiacán without light of any source
If he planned his escape for years, if he connected five homes with tunnels to the drainage system, if he bought homes around him for his men, it worked. He bought time. Eight minutes, to be precise. Time in the shape of reinforced doors, hydraulically lifted bath tub, tunnel, walls, partitions, compartment doors. Because of those eight minutes,  he escaped from them.

4 armed suspects die in Tamaulipas

Four unidentified armed suspects were killed in an armed encounter with Mexican security forces in the northern Mexican border state of Tamaulipas Tuesday afternoon, according to official Mexican government news reports.

A road patrol of Mexican Naval Infantry came under small arms fire in San Fernando municipality near ejido Santa Teresa from armed suspects traveling aboard a GMC Sierra pickup truck.  Marine return fire killed all suspects in the truck.

Inside the truck sailors found three rifles and four weapons magazines.

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

Narcomantas:Los Zetas celebratory over the capture of Chapo

Borderland Beat

On  Tuesday several "narcomantas" were hung in various cities such as  Ciudad Victoria, Nuevo Laredo and other entities in which members of the criminal group "Los Zetas" are in celebration over the capture of the Sinaloa cartel leader, Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Loera, known as " El Chapo Guzmán. " 

An sample of banner text as follows (difficult to translate):
"Once again the fate of the fucking chaputos is shown, they will not fit in anywhere, not in prison, nor in hell, because Los Zetas will be there. For all the fucking smelly chaputos  that bring the instruction of the Chapo's informant, let’s see where they will go,  they have nowhere to go. They are circling  in the same pan...”  sincerely  the Zetas unit.

At dawn the banners were removed by members of the State Police and Federal Police. A similar situation occurred in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, where on Saturday an elite group  of the Mexican Navy, with coordination of DEA  arrested "El Chapo Guzmán".

Meanwhile in Culiacán, Sinaloa, citizens organized a protest march, to liberate Chapo Guzmán

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Mexican Supreme Court restricts preventative detention

By Chris Covert

The Mexican Suprema Cort de Justicia del Nacion (SCJN) or Supreme Court, said Monday that Mexican states may not use preventative detention, saying that the practice was available only to the federal government, according to Mexican news accounts.

The practice, known as arraigo, or rooting was a constitutional reform passed in 2008 in order to allow federal prosecutors a tool in dealing with organized crime.  Arraigo allows the government to detain individuals incommunicado suspected in serious crimes drug crimes for up to 80 days in 40 day increments without trial or bail.  Arraigo can only be granted by a federal judge, and can only be extended once  by a federal judge.  In past drug cases, some defendants have been detained for 20 days.

According to a La Jornada wire dispatch which appeared in the online edition of El Diario de Chihuahua news daily, the panel voted eight to two on a case brought by  Comision Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (CNDH) or Human Rights Commision, concerning Article 291 in the state constitution of Aguascalientes, which permitted local and state judges to grant requests for preventative detention for serious crimes.

The SCJN members said that arraigo was intended to be applied only in serious crimes linked to drug cases.  While the ruling negated the Aguascalientes law, the court said that preventative detention cases would have to be evaluated on a case by case basis.  That part of the ruling means that criminal defendants are not to be released en masse until a judge has had a say in the release, but can petition the court for redress.  A number of state entities have arraigo on their books including Hidalgo state.

In Mexico in the legal community, arraigo is generally considered a violation of human rights inasmuch as a judge is employed to oversee the detention. The ruling leaves unaddressed federal use of arraigo.

According to the news report, arraigo violates international human rights conventions, and it also is in direct contradiction to the SCJN ruling in 2011 that international human rights treaties have the same force as as Mexican laws in the area of human rights.

According to a Notimex wire dispatch which appeared in Milenio news daily, SCJN  intends to deal with the 2011 ruling in a later session.

According to a news article in Animal Politico,  8,595 individuals have been placed in preventative detention, but only 3.2 percent have actually been convicted of a crime.  In a separate news report, Mexican federal judges have denied arraigo only 4.7 percent of the time. It is unclear in the news report if those statistics are nationwide at the federal level or at both the federal and state levels.  In states such as Hidalgo, crimes listed under which states have imposed arraigo include murder, robbery, extortion, abortion and rebellion.

According to  Jose Antonio Guevara Bermudez, director of the Comision Mexicana de Defensa y Promocion de los Derechos Humanos (CMDPDH) or Commision for Defense and Promotion of Humans Rights, preventative detention increases the chance that a detainee will suffer physical abuse at the hands of the state.  In the Animal Politico article a 2011 case is cited of  Miriam Lopez, who was arrested in Ensenada, Baja California.

Senora Lopez claimed she was subjected to torture and physical and sexual abuse during the three weeks she remained in preventative detention. 

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

PGR Explains Indentification Process Used on El Chapo

Chivis Martínez for Borderland Beat
The Attorney General's Office (PGR) gave a press conference to explain how the agency verified the identity of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera, following his arrest in Mazatlan, Sinaloa on Saturday  February 22nd.

Sara Monica Medina, general coordinator of services expert PGR said that the identity of "El Chapo"  was verified by genetic DNA, morphological [a study of facial construction] and fingerprint evidence.

Among the analysis to which Chapo was subjected, the PGR conducted a buccal  swab to extract  DNA and access his genetic profile, it was then compared to that on record,  which was positive.

Additionally,  a comparative study of photographs with existing physiognomy which also resulted in a match.  The   anthropometric of features and overlay test was consistent with the image of headshot matches.

The benchmarks fingerprints of both hands that confirmed the identity of  detainee  Joaquín Guzmán Loera, is the same person who spent five years imprisoned in the penitentiary that at the time was known as Almoloya.
The government of the US is reported to have conducted testing in tandem.
 all photos are from PGR

An inside look at life behind bars for Chapo Guzman at altiplano prison

Chivis Martínez for Borderland Beat revised BB archive post

'Centro Federal de Readaptación Social Número 1 "Altiplano"
No.1 is Mexico’s only recognized “Supermax” prison; its history is free from escape, so it can be no surprise that the most notorious capos are sent to No.1 for incarceration.
The prison is located Santa Juana neighborhood of Almoloya de Juárez, in the State of Mexico. Detailed attention has been given to prevent escape, overhead airspace is restricted, cell transmission restricted to 6 miles, 3 foot thick walls, regular polygraphs given to all level of personnel, an armored vehicle convoy, state of the art technology that can pin point the logistics of equipment  and people,  and officers trained in repelling escape, are on site and ready to react in the event of an escape attempt.

Chapo Guzman has joined Miguel Treviño Morales at in Altiplano No.1 Prison,  transferred from PGR facilities  in Mexico City.

The two capos now accompany those on a
long list of notorious narco-bigs who were housed there in the past and those presently incarcerated at No.1;   Édgar Valdez Villarreal "La Barbie" BLO, Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo "El Padrino" "The Godfather, Gerardo Álvarez Vásquez, alias "El Indio" BLO,   to name a few. [Chapo was transferred in 1995 from No.1 to Puente Grande Maximum security prison in Jalisco.  He escaped from the Jalisco prison 6 years later].

The United States has filed for the extradition of Miguel Treviño,  
There is a US indictment waiting for him.  As for Chapo, US has filed with Mexico for extradition.  I strongly feel an agreement was cut between Mexico and the US and the extradition will occur.

The prison is under the direction of a woman, a psychologist named Marissa Quintanilla.  Quintanilla, who has both an economics degree and psychology degree, has been assigned to No.1 for a year, but has 14 years working in the federal prison system, in Icesave Sinaloa and Matamoros, Tamaulipas.

Quintanilla literally lives at the prison.  24/7 it is her home.  The self-imposed  “incarceration”, is a self-preservation necessity.
In an interview with Televisa a year ago Quintanilla explained other reasons that require her to live at the prison;

“I am permanently here, 24 hours a day, this is a full time processing center, then there are hearings, etc. the center operates day and night", what if I am  required in the middle of the night?, I could be called for at any hour”
She was asked when she is able to sleep, “I get very little, but even if it is three hours, it is comfortable, relaxed sleep, I sleep very well”, answered the director.

Quintanilla speaks about the consequences of being director of a prison such as Altiplano No.1.
"My family is far away, very secured.  Though they are very proud of my work, they are also sad, because at this time it has been 16 months of not seeing my mother”. 
She believes in the rehabilitation of these offenders, with the help of their families and society, in working together the rehabilitation of offenders is possible, that treating offenders in a humanizing manner will have a positive impact.
Over the top humanizing say her critics.
From the menus [click any image to enlarge], to the private visiting rooms, sans bars, she has been criticized for her approach, which her detractors tag as dangerous and “soft”. 
"I am asked; hey why do so many things for the offenders, how do you think the victims feel? "
"I answer that my role is not working with the victims; it is to work with offenders, to rehabilitate, so in that way the institution does something for the victims, and society, by working for the prevention of crime. "
Other features of Quintanilla’s prison plan for inmates are offering education through high school,  and work shop and training, utilizing outside businesses contacted with the prison. 
The prison population has grown to 1,200 inmates with plans for expansion.  250 inmates are deemed “high risk” or “dangerous”, having been sentenced for Offences of Drug Trafficking, kidnapping, Organized Crime operations.
As for fear, she maintains healthy fear is good, it keeps you alert in your surroundings, allows good decisions, but the type of fear that can be paralyzing to the point of paranoia, you will miss signs and that can result in you losing your life.
According to information made public in 2011 the cost to feed inmates was about 4 USD per day.  There are no current figures made public.  I can say from personal experience, the kitchens I have constructed in Mexico for impoverished children serve meals at 12 cents or less per meal.
The state entered agreement with the foundation to; train volunteers [usually mothers] to prepare food and hygiene, a certified nutritionist creates the balanced menu, and the food is delivered to the site and we are charged government or surplus prices.  
The meals are nutritious but far from the fancy food on the narco-menus.  We serve breakfast for the morning school session, and dinner for the afternoon.  Food ranges from pancakes, scrambled eggs, fruit and carton of milk for breakfast, to ham and cheese sandwich, fresh fruit, soup and juice or milk for dinner, everything is prepared fresh on site in our kitchens.  We also use a lot of soy which the children like.  We supplement the meals with a snack, such as a biscuit and drink, or frozen fruit bar depending on the weather.  
The  meals from No.1 presents a good case of “What’s wrong with this picture??” 
From El Universal, below is a video tour of the prison with Quintanilla translated narrative follows.
Video narrative no 1 Altiplano
Max-Prison menu: What do incarcerated capos eat?
How much does it cost for  Mexicans to feed the inmates of the Altiplano penitentiary, maximum security prison that lodge some of the most dangerous criminals of the world of drug trafficking.....continues next page...


Monday, February 24, 2014

Mystery woman arrested with Chapo Guzman is identified as his wife

Chivis Martínez for Borderland Beat

The leader of the Sinaloa cartel, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman , was not alone in the condo when  he was arrested by special forces of the Navy, in Mazatlán, this past Saturday, he was with his wife Emma Coronel Aispuro.
Officials of the Office of Security and Justice confirmed that the navy found the wife of the capo at his side, the  woman was  retained shortly,  but the absence of a warrant or investigation pending against her, she was released, reports Milenio.
Guzman Loera, however, now held in the Federal Social Readaptation Center No. 1 "Altiplano" maximum security prison, where he faces various criminal charges, handed down on Monday, but is expected to be extradited to the U.S..

"Altiplano" No. 1 is the prison he was incarcerated in after his 1993 arrest, but was transferred in 1995 to Puente Grande prison in Jalisco.  It was from the Jalisco prison that he managed his escape in 2001.

There has never been an escape from Altiplano No.1 
Emma Coronel is the niece of the late capo Ignacio Nacho Coronel. In 2013  the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the Treasury Department of the United States placed her father,  Ines Coronel Barrera, father in law of the leader of the Sinaloa cartel, on the kingpin list.
Coronel Barreras(in foto at right)as arrested in Sonora on May 1, 2013.  He was taken without a shot, but displayed his displeasure by a bombardment of cursing that continued for what was described as incessant.  While writing his body and jerking his head, he continued the "Chi ... ma ...” barrage.
August 2011, Emma, a U.S. citizen, gave birth to twin girls in the Antelope Valley of Los Angeles.
Emma is the third wife of El Chapo Guzman and niece of Nacho Coronel Villarreal, who was killed by the military in Zapopan, Jalisco, in July 2010.
As for the twin daughters, depending on which report one accepts, either they were at the condo at the time of arrest, sleeping, or one was at the condo, or neither at the condo.
In the video showing footage of the condo interior, one can clearly see at least one portable crib in the second bedroom.
portable crib revealed in condo interior video

Autodefensas Leader Dr. Mireles returns to Michoacán

Chivis Martinez for Borderland Beat

Dr. Manuel Mireles, founder of the autodefensas in Michoacán, has returned to his city of Tepalcatepec this morning shortly before 9 AM.  He has arrived to the city, will meet with autodefensas coordinators and attend the autodefensas anniversary celebration that will be held at 9PM this evening.
Yesterday Dr Mireles released a 9 minutes video, in which he appeared much healthier, determined and strong. 

He also sounded much like the person people came to admire for his leadership before the January 4th plane accident that left him partially paralyzed and critically injured. 
Last week he completed his 4 week intermediary therapy and on Thursday he underwent an extensive evaluation to determine if therapy would continue.  It was determined that he will continue the therapy for another 2 weeks.

His chief complaint has been the discomfort due to 44 screws securing his facial bones, to aid recovery of the facial skeletal trauma sustained in the plane crash.  Two weeks ago they were able to begin the process of screw removal and removed 4 screws at that time.
In the video he stresses the need to continue the fight against organized crime, until the cartel is dismantled and leaders captured.  He also says that the government structures must also be cleaned or corruption or the mode of death and impunity will continue.
“A year ago we took up in arms, my congratulations to my colleagues, today should be  a day of dignity, let us feel proud of having started this fight, we are an example of courage and dignity”
Dr. Mireles said autodefensas  groups have achieved cleared Templarios from at least 20 municipalities in Michoacán . He mentioned the communities of La Ruana, Buenavista, outspoken criticism Coalcomán, Hawk, Aquila, Chinicuila, Coahuayana, Tancítaro, Los Reyes, Peribán, Churumuco, La Huacana, San Juan Nuevo, Ario de Rosales, Apatzingán Parácuaro, New Italy, Lombardy, Tocumbo and Yurécuaro plus tenure Calzontzin in Uruapan.
 "In the villages we've cleaned, now disappeared;  kidnappings payment of tax (extortion piso) , rapes of  women and executions," he continued, "We will advance to support the people who have been violated and humiliated. And continue to insist that corrupt government institutions and partner of organized crime to be cleaned so that people can gradually regain confidence in the government. "
Update: At 2PM Central time the newspaper "Reforma" reported: José Manuel Mireles, former spokesman for Michoacán Autodefensas Union , leads a meeting this afternoon with members of the armed group in the Municipality of Tepalcatepec. No press allowed.
This is the meeting that I have already reported of  in this post, Dr Mireles informed me of his schedule via email late last night. 
What I have not written about, is about an accord drawn by members and various leaders, of which I have a copy, that consists of 6 points of action.
The highlights of the agreement would have Papa Smurf removed from spokesman and leadership.  Dr Mireles would once again be in position.

Point 1 of the document:
"We  separate ourselves from the self-defence forces and make them the knowledge of those who are in the fight and those who are our allies: Aquila, Coalcomán, Aguililla, Chila, chila Naranjo, La aguaje, Apatzingán with its leader father Goyo, a part of Tepeque and La Ruana, are the only allies and hopefully soon in the next few days, the return of Dr Mireles."( last week Padre Goyo announced "Dr Mireles will come back very soon-just as this document alludes to)

The reasoning, according to the document, was a grievance against the practice of  allowing “reformed former cartel” members into the autodefensas union, which is against the initial premise of the group. 

In particular Juan José Farías, alias El Abuelo”, who had/has know ties to organized crime and who has become an integral member of the autodefensas movement, since the accident of Dr Mireles. 
Prior to the accident the Committee of Human Rights could find no abuses by the autodefensas group, and no complaints, not true with federal, state and municipal agencies.
However, since the accident, there have been complaints from citizens of abuses and coercion by autodefensas, such as illegal entry into private homes, and heavy pressure on citizens to join the group and take up arms.  This is not widespread, but it has created a shift to uneasiness among the people and supporters of the union. 
There is question of how Papa Smurf was appointed spokesman, Hipolito Mora, who works closely and appears supportive to Smurf, says he was never a part of a vote, and does not know how or who appointed Smurf to the position.
It is frightening, that a leader would accept a decision, without asking questions, or requiring a vote, as stipulated in the rules of the union, any decision must be ratified through a vote of leaders and coordinators of all the communities.  This was not done, leaving an impression that there is an element of intimidation occurring within the group.
The following is point 4:
"Mr Estanislao Beltran better known as Papa Smurf ceases to be our spokesman, because the leader represents other interests that do not concern our fight, he is spokesman for, and essentially  helpful  to Jose Alvarado, alias “El Burrillo”, las Viagras, “El Americano”, Beto tragabalas, Rafael Sanchez Moreno alias “El Pollo”, and all the former Templarios that he has welcomed and giving refuge to."
Since the document was released spokesman Papa Smurf addressed it, by dismissing it and calling it false. 
Whatever the case, false, not yet ratified or wishful thinking, there are serious problems and division within the group.  Which in my opinion is exactly what both the government and Templarios hoped for.
This is an evolving story, one that has been gaining importance for a month, I will keep you posted as much as I am able to.
Chivis note: personal information was obtained directly from Dr Mireles....

Video: Chapo's Culiacán Escape Tunnels

Chivis Martínez for Borderland Beat

Below is a video released by the Mexican government depicting the subterranean tunnel system discovered in Culiacán, on the 19th,  in a near miss capture of Chapo Guzman.  The tunnels linked seven homes together underground, in a network of tunnels, stairs and storm drains. 
The utilization of storm drains provided an exhaust system for the underground system that was used for the  transportation of  people and contraband to the structures above.  Above structures were built as homes but were used both for housing and warehousing. 
It was at the home of Chapo's former wife, Griselda Lopez Perez, that authorities executed a raid, and a near miss of capturing Chapo.  Heavy steel doors delayed entry to the home and allowed enough time for the Sinaloa Cartel leader to escape.  In his rush, a bathtub  escape hatch was left askew, drawing the attention of the Mexican navy at the scene.  It was then they opened the lid and discovered stairs leading to the underground system. 
Chapo is known for his genius in designing and constructing subterranean tunnels and labs. 
In 2013, his former wife Griselda, made a media tour after being placed on the Chapo kingpin list by the United States.  She was indignant and professed the innocence of herself and that of her children. Lopez declared she knew nothing of Chapo or his whereabouts and had not seen him for years.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

El Chapos sons communicate through Twitter, "awaiting orders"

Chivis Martínez for Borderland Beat
Do not deny that I cried, men also mourn what we love most,
God bless you father.”
On  twitter accounts, allegedly belonging  to  Ivan Achicaldo and Alfredo Guzman, sons of El Chapo, the two  expressed their thoughts regarding the apprehension of their father, along with a couple of promises to settle accounts with those who are responsible for his capture. 
Both indicate that they are waiting  for "orders".
The Twitter pages found  at @ IvanArchivaldo and @ _AlfredoGuzman_  Chapo's sons express their anger, grief, and their eagerness for revenge.
Perhaps an apology from them to their father is in order, since authorities gleaned photographs and information from their social networks pages  to assist in the capture.
@ _AlfredoGuzman_ has published the following messages:
“This is not the end”
“My father has not perished, the Guzman era is just beginning”
“I just want to communicate that we are not losers, the cartel is my father’s and will always be. GUZMAN LOERA FOREVER”
“and we are children of the Chapo, not like those fucking accounts that boast, we are humble like my father”
“For my father, whatever will be, will be but no one is going to help as my father helped, I'm going to hold accountable  those who should and will pay .”
“The word is always the word, you should learn it because it is worth more than a signature.”
“Do not deny that I cried, also men mourn what we love most, God bless you father.”
‘One does not appreciate what you have until you don't have it”

 @IvanArchivaldo has published the following messages:
“Awaiting orders, a big hug to my father” (retweeted by Alfredo)
“My father's words... "He who is not brave enough to take risks, is not going to achieve anything in life” (( @ElChap0Guzman)
@ElChap0Guzman the twitter page reportedly belonging to Chapo,
On this page there is a mix of tweets, from the romantic, the poetic, animal and child advocacy,  he laughs at Miley Cyrus and refers to the hanged alleged Zetas in Nuevo Laredo as "piñatas".
In one  tweet, he posts a graphic foto of a bullfighter as he is having his eye gorged  by the bull's  horn, in a complete impalement of the eye socket. 

His  tweet refers to it as “Karma”. 
In another he depicts a foto of a La Tuna "welcome" sign, he writes how "at ease" he is while at his ranch. 
One tweet was a photograph of a child "orange vendor".  Chapo's caption:
 "When he was a child he had no limits. He who perseveres, achieves" Chapo himself  was an orange vendor as a child.  (click any image to enlarge)