Thursday, March 31, 2016

Arturo Beltran Leyva, the life, death of "El Barbas" Part 1

Written by Otis B Fly-Wheel for Borderland Beat

Subject Matter: Arturo Beltran Leyva, El Barbas, El Fantasma, El Botas Blancas, La Muerte
Recommendation: No prior subject matter knowledge required


Born in the cradle of narco's, La Palma ,Badiraguato Sinaloa in December of 1954,though some put his birth day as September 1961. Arutro Beltran Leyva also known by the nicknames, "El Barbas", El Botas Blancas, El Fantasma and La Muerte, he worked with small time poppy growers and learnt his trade from Amado Carrillo Fuentes , and later became known as Jefe de Jefes, boss of bosses. His life was characterized by the extreme violence he visited upon anyone who stood in his way. He was eventually cornered and killed by Mexican Marines with the ELINT intelligence help of the US 7th Special Forces group in Cuernavaca, leading to a power vacuum and the "Hydra Effect".

Big thanks go out to Chivis and BB's friend Narcomics, for the images. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram @narcomicscorp

Reporter: Otis B Fly-Wheel

Marco Arturo Beltran Leyva, at 14 years old still didn't know how to read, his brothers Humberto, Hector, Alfredo, Carlos and Mario Alberto were in the same illiteracy boat. He also had two sisters, Alicia and Gloria who studied at the rural school near to the village where they lived called Tameapa, close to Badiraguato.

They had learnt the skills needed in this area, tending to livestock, ploughing and tilling land, planting, seeding, and cultivation of various crops.

The family were very poor and their mother died half way through the criminal careers of her children. Their father is still alive and is known as "Don Carlos", who named their first son Arturo.

Arturo wanted more from life than was his lot, he couldn't even afford a decent pair of tennis shoes and spent his early years wearing sandals made by his mother.

Taking flight

Arturo decided to leave behind his rural roots and after arguing with his parents who wanted him to stay, left as had many of his friends from surrounding villages and ranches. These friends had offered Arturo work stealing automobiles in Durango. The life of a car thief then could be dangerous and short lived and at 14 years old he learnt how to handle and shoot pistols. He became quite proficient, and like Pablo Acosta who had a similar upbringing, he could hit targets at a distance with ease with a pistol.

It was for that quality alone that his friends used him in automobile robberies, standing guard and shooting at anyone who tried to intervene. This skill at shooting would later elevate him quickly as a hit man for the Guadalajara Cartel, working hand in hand with El Chapo Guzman.

When he left home, with his few belongings and a few pesos in his pocket, he vowed never to return to poverty and decided that he would employ his younger brothers in whatever criminal enterprises that he turned his hand to.

Many people at the time recognized different qualities in the Beltran Leyvas, that they were unusually generous and charitable with other people who they recognized had the same poor upbringing, and like Pablo Acosta and Shorty Lopez in Ojinaga had some altruistic benefactor at their core, despite the horrific violence that they were later to become known for.

It was 1968 when Arturo arrived in Durango and started stealing automobiles with his colleagues in crime, but he was into nothing heavy at that time, and started to acquire money and goods that his life in Badiraguato had denied him.

It is said that at the age of 18 in 1972 he was imprisoned for a few years for automobile theft. Wearing this then typical white boots that led to his nickname " El botas blancas". It was here that he forged his first contacts in the drug trafficking world, who schooled him that automobile theft was for the lowest of the low, and that he should quit it and his current friends and utilize his skills as a pistolero.

He escaped from Durango prison after serving two years, he used his gun proficiency to kill someone during his escape, he then put his trademark white boots on the corpse trying to fool the authorities into thinking that he was dead, so they would not pursue him. This initiative impressed people at the time who were his peers in Durango prison.

After escaping from Durango prison he hid out in the mountains of Durango, it was here that he met Amado Carrillo Fuentes, "El Senor de los Cielos". Hit men that were in the employ of Amado Carrillo Fuentes, had told Amado of this pistolero who hailed from the same part of Sinaloa as himself, and introduced him in person, as my friend with white boots, who Amado decided to nickname "El Botas Blancas" and the nickname stuck.

Destiny and the road ahead


Arturo followed the road ahead of him which he considered his destiny, working for the group of hit men attached to Amado until he could form his own cell of Sicario's that was allied to Amado, who at the time was trafficking marijuana and later cocaine. Arturo worked trafficking drugs through Juarez and Sonora utilizing the borders of these two places.


With time and a growing reputation, he was introduced to famous traffickers from the Guadalajara Cartel like Caro Quintero, Mayo Zambada, Miguel Felix Gallardo, Don Neto and Pedro Aviles, also Chapo Guzman, El Azul, Balthazar Diaz, Ines Calderon and the Arellano brothers, thanks to the budding friendship he had with Chapo Guzman and Mayo Zambada.

Amado didn't like the fact that Arturo knew and was friendly with the Arellano brothers, later he also came to know Fermin Duarte who has been known to be a long time member of  Mayo Zambadas organization.

It was Arturo that introduced Chapo Guzman to cocaine trafficking, with its greater profits than the marijuana that El Chapo was trafficking. Arturo and Guzman had a link, according to family members, their great grandparents initiated a kinship between to the two families that was defined in the Badiraguato mountains and later led to Arturo marrying a cousin of El Chapo.

This was not surprising in itself as the village where El Chapo grew up, La Tuna, is only ten minutes from La Palma, where Arturo grew up, adding to this El Azul was raised in Huizipa which is only ten minutes from La Tuna and 15 minutes from La Palma.

After working for Amado for roughly four years and building up his portfolio of contacts and profits, he branched out onto his own in the 1980's, and stopped working directly for Amado. At this time during the odd reunion they met as friends, and he bought merchandise from Amado, as did everyone at this time via the transport hub run by Pablo Acosta at Ojinaga for Amado's cocaine shipments from Colombia.

He flew under the radar of the authorities, biding his time and stockpiling his profits, and had already at the age of 22, built a strong team about him, and some would say that he was at this time a capo in his own right.

Moving East


Arturo decided that he should transfer to Monterrey on the other side of the country, which he did with the aid of contacts that he had acquired thanks to some Colombians that he knew in the same region where he had his business. At the start of the 90's he began to develop problems with the Arellano Felix brothers.


At the time Arturo imported little because he was in a war with the AFO that lead to many deaths in Tijuana, Culiacan, Ensenada and other places. Arturo could see nothing good coming out of the war with the AFO as it was hurting his profits, and said that as it was not his problem that Chapo was warring with the Arellano's, he would leave the war taking with him "El Guero Palma" and Mayo Zambada.

Amado practically took the same decision but kept bankrolling Chapo so he could recruit Sicario's and buy weapons to carry on the war with the CAF. This was probably because the AFO had tried on three occasions to kill Amado in Mexico District Federal, Culiacan and Durango.

A person who was very close to Arturo, who today is in the witness protection program revealed that in 1991 Arturo received a call from El Chapo calling for financial support to the tune of 50,000 dollars which would be enough to buy good weapons and the wages of the Sicario's to utilize them.
Arturo agreed to send the money via someone he had in Culiacan.

Arturo kept working on the border at Nuevo Leon. In those days people from Sinaloa stood out in Monterrey due to their dress sense and the strong and pronounced accent. It was then in this place that he met the famous "Cadetes de Linares", Rosendo Cantu, Ramon Ayala and their Bravos del Norte, thanks to parties he had for his birthdays and his employee fiestas.

Arturo was well like by his employees and they called him "Arturo de Culiacan", he paid them fortnightly, and after receiving trailers he would pay them 30,000 dollars when in reality he only agreed to pay them 10,000 per two people that handled the load.

Arturo used Monterrey for a staging post for drugs going north into the USA and weapons coming south from the USA, its strategic location close to the border making it a sensible choice as a logistics hub, his people were also operating at this time in Nuevo Laredo, the preferred crossing point due to the volume of traffic. It was here that he met the smirking polo shirt assassin Edgar Valdez Villarreal "La Barbie".

At this time La Barbie was one of a number of independent traffickers working under the watchful eye of Dionisio Garcia "El Chacho" leader of the "Los Chachos"."Los Chachos" had been working with "Los Negros", a Sicario cell in the employ of El Chapo Guzman, who together were disputing the Nuevo Laredo plaza, as well as other plazas against CDG, He was working under the Milenio Cartel, and had previously worked for the Gulf Cartel but had switched sides on them, and  was hired from the MC by Arturo.

The CDG were mighty pissed at Arturo and demanded that he give up "El Chacho". Arturo promised the CDG that he would try his best to get "El Chacho" and give him over, but he had lots of chances but obviously no motivation to do so as "El Chacho" was supplying him with very valuable information for the  upcoming war between the Sinaloa Federation and the Gulf Cartel and Zetas for control of Nuevo Laredo, Coahuila and Tamaulipas.

Loz Zetas eventually kidnapped "El Chacho" from Monterrey and interrogated, tortured and killed him . This presented La Barbie with the opportunity to replace "El Chacho" working for Arturo in Nuevo Laredo.

Arturo met him at a clandestine  meeting when Arturo and his allies were discussing the best way to take the Nuevo Laredo plaza and major parts of Tamaulipas from the CDG, the Sinaloa Cartel leadership had given their blessing for an all out offensive, to be led by El Chapo and Arturo.

Even at a young age Arturo was widely known as a powerful Capo in his own right, with connections to everyone important in drug trafficking at that time in Mexico. Some of those relations went south on him like the Arellano Felix brothers, and later El Chapo Guzman.

Thanks to some ideas proposed by El Barbie at this meeting, Arturo proposed that El Barbie come and work for him, Arturo saw in Villarreal a kindred spirit who was both young, and brave , had some grasp of the business side of drug trafficking, and was willing to kill anyone with prejudice at a moments notice on Arturo's orders.

CDG put a price on the head of La Barbie and sent a four man team to kill him from Los Zetas. La Barbie was warmed of the incoming raid and intercepted the men, kidnapping them and taking them to a safe house in Acapulco. The video of their interrogation and subsequent murder was released to a Texas news agency and released.



This set a dangerous new precedent in the upward spiralling violence that was about to break out under Felipe Calderons administration. After this video made its way onto social medial, the subsequent years have seen the release of ever more ghastly execution videos, which has had the desired effect in some ways but has been counter productive in others, much more counter productive.

Barbie took control of the local hit men under Arturo and set forth to wreak as much damage on CDG/Zetas as he could with the resources he had. This had become personal for La Barbie and he was just about the most wanted man in Mexico. He could have set a world record at the time for the amount of people that wanted to kill him. This attention started to rub off onto Arturo, who thought that perhaps he could rise to the top and become Jefe de Jefes.

The Beltran Leyva brothers were at this time the bodyguards and security chiefs of the personal protection detail of the heads of the Sinaloa Cartel including Amado Carrillo Fuentes "El Senor de Los Cielos". Arturo had at his disposal the "Fuerzas Especiales de Arturo". The now familiar team of hit men in the same manner as Los Antrax, Los Linces, Fuerzas Especiales de Los Damaso, all cartels have them.


They come armed with the latest weaponry and tactical clothing,this haul was taken along with 11 hit men from "FEDA". These men would later become synonymous with the breakup of Beltran Leyva brothers from the Sinaloa Cartel, though earlier events had already set the ball rolling.

In 1992, Hector "El Guero" Palma worked with Arturo and El Chapo on transit of drugs and a year later El Chapo was arrested and imprisoned in Puente Grande prison in Jalisco. Arturo and El Guero, fronted their side of the business while Chapo was in prison. Just a few years later "El Guero" was also arrested. This left Arturo to run this side of the Sinaloa Cartel with El Mayo Zambada running the other.

The Sinaloa Cartel came up with a plan to storm the front gates of Puente Grande prison with a vehicle mounted 20mm cannon and attack the prison and free El Chapo. Arturo saw this as a suicide mission and wanted nothing to do with it, allegedly. This marked the start of an era of growing mistrust between the Sinaloa Cartel and Arturo Beltran Leyvas organization, that would later fracture.

The Colombian Connection, Guerrero, Morelos and Mexico City

In 1995 Arturto found a new opportunity to allow him to transit drugs direct from Colombia, so he moved his operational base to Guerrero. He utilized the coast of Guerrero to receive drug deliveries direct from Colombian ports, or better still loads from Chiapas that came from Colombia.

As Arturo had been handling shipments for some while, he had a connection he trusted in the Norte de Valle Cartel based in Cali, Luis Calle Serna.


Their agreement was that Serna would supply cocaine in fast boats carrying 2.5 tonnes of cocaine, priced at $14,000 a kilo. Larger sea going vessels would carry between six to ten tonnes, and narco subs would carry between seven or eight tonnes.

A sub captured from the Norte de Valle Cartel
These drug deliveries would leave from two cities on Colombia's Pacific Coast: Tumaco in Narino and Buenaventura, (otis: I've always wanted to go to the last destination, to see Las Brujitas de San Cipriano). The shipments travelled the five hundred miles by sea to either Acapulco or Huatulco, where members of Arturo's crew would take collection.

Watch out for part 2 coming soon!