E Tigre operative turns himself in after manhunt
Martel Valencia-Cortes, has spent his life in the trafficking of humans. Now, his career has come to self imposed end, or maybe just a break, as he turned himself in to authorities, after a months long multi agency manhunt, after he allegedly threw a large rock at a Border Patrol agent, in Jacumba, a known smuggling route, just across the border.
A desolate, remote region, too remote for the social order of modern society to continue. Rape, murder, extortion, kidnapping. 'A Lot of Bodies are buried in the desert" The barren purgatories between Mexico and the US all across the border are subject to few laws, a regression to earlier times, cat and mouse games of dangerous people, intent on their goals, that blur depending on your side. The Border Patrol will detain, ambush, main, even kill in defense of their laws and their goals, as will the smugglers, who lead people and product to the US.
Cortes, fell on the smuggling side. He was an outlaw, not glamorous, but not someone who walked through the freezing terrain himself, with his 'passengers', an expert in the foot paths and routes of the smuggling points, he had been a known smuggler since at least 1999, likely formerly affiliated with elements of Arellano Felix. Federal authorities describe his career, in the black and white prose of law enforcement, 'known foot guide, load vehicle driver, ailen smuggling facilitator', he has 35 apprehensions by the Border Patrol.
Currently, in the employ of Jose Soto Gastelum, 'El Tigre', and other Sinaloa/Arelleno cells, that operate from Tijuana, Tecate to Mexicali. These groups smuggle Brazilians from a contact in Sao Paulo, flown in from Cancun, Chinese, and other immigrants. The price is 25,000, Mexican nationals are charged roughly 5,000. Recently detained former CAF member 'Guero Leches', who worked in Tecate, was one of the cells dedicated to human trafficking.
Cortes was born in Colima, but moved to Tijuana with his family, and lived in Colonia Libertad. It is a family business of human trafficking, that goes back decades. Colonia Libertad is teasingly close to the border, and therefore has been a breeding ground of these types of families. Cortes spent 6 years in notorious Tijuana prison, El Hongo', and was released in 2012. In the United States he faced 25 years for a human trafficking indictment, but pled guilty, and was sentenced to only three years, he was released in September 2015.
A federal source describes him as arrogant and distrusting, never trusting anyone to do the job, which explains his numerous arrests and hands on approach. It may explain why mere months after his sentence was finished, and subsequent deportation to Tijuana, he was again in the Jacumba region, in the slick, dampness after rain desert, leading migrants across the the border. It was a late November night, sun had been down for about an hour, and Cortes was in his element.
A Border Patrol agent closed in on them, as 'The Most Dangerous Game' played under the sky, and Cortes threw a softball sized rock at the agent, according to his arrest warrant. The rock struck the agent in the face, and he fired numerous times from his weapon, afterward. No one was hit, and Cortes and his passengers escaped. A federal warrant was issued, and Cortes, no stranger to running, now felt the pressure of US Marshals, ICE, and other agencies.
Now, he has turned himself in, to face serious charges. Cortes record and criminal history, plus assaulting a federal officer, or even attempted murder, could easily land him a 25 year sentence. Unless he cooperates. Perhaps there is info to be traded on 'El Tigre', if he was close enough, past the proxies, past the radios, and cell phones, and messages passed between emissaries. It's worth nothing that he only served 3 years in his previous trafficking indictment as as well.
It's likely the pressure was too much, and he had been demanded, or just simply cut off from his work by his bosses, who didn't like the heat, a federal arrest warrant for injury to an officer brings. He may have fallen out of favor. Other members of another smuggling group, who shot and killed a Border Patrol agent was sentenced to life in prison, in 2014, for the 2010 killing of Brian Terry, in similar circumstances to Cortes charges.
It's the end of sun drenched desert, glistening stars in the night sky, thousands of dollars blown on banda music in bars in Tijuana, Cortes will be in a small cell in MCC, San Diego, and sentenced to likely a decade or more in some remote federal facility in California. Ironically, the facility will be likely in the same terrain in which he spent his life, though he will only be able to catch a glimpses and scents from the desert....
Sources: LA Times, NBC San Diego, Zeta Tijuana