Sunday, August 6, 2017

US Federal Agents Flew a Secret Spy Plane to Hunt Drug Cartel Leaders in Mexico

Posted by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from Buzz Feed 

                                   
Neither the US Marshall Service nor the Mexican Government wants to talk about their joint efforts to hunt drug kingpins. BuzzFeed news spotted a US Marshalls spy plane circling the skies around the time of a prominent capture in Sinaloa.

By: Peter Aldous and Karla Zabludovsky
Carlos Alvarez for Zeta
Aug 3, 2017

At 7:50 a.m. on May 1, Mexican marines stopped a vehicle carrying a key player in the bloody war for control of the Sinaloa drug cartel. David López was the chief bodyguard of Dámaso “El Licenciado” López, formerly the right-hand man of the cartel’s then-leader, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. Shortly afterward, while being transported to a federal prosecutor’s office, the bodyguard collapsed and died. His boss was detained in Mexico City the following day.

But the official account of the bodyguard’s capture in Eldorado, Sinaloa, provided to BuzzFeed News by Mexican authorities under a freedom of information request, omitted an important detail. On April 28, and again on the morning of the capture, a small Cessna plane circled above Eldorado, a city of fewer than 25,000 people. The aircraft was operated by the US Marshals Service, and is part of a small fleet of spy planes used to hunt fugitives, in part by tracking their cell phones.




The US has spent about $2.5 billion to help Mexico fight organized crime since 2008. But the Mexican Constitution places limits on the involvement of foreign agents in domestic law enforcement. And when it comes to capturing the most wanted drug lords, the government likes to congratulate itself for its solo efforts.

US involvement in the Mexican government’s policy of “decapitation” — using elite military units to capture or kill cartel kingpins — is controversial in both countries. Arguably, the strategy is escalating Mexico’s drug wars, as rival factions fight for turf each time a leader is removed. Critics of President Enrique Peña Nieto blame his security policies for an alarming surge in violence: June was the deadliest month in 20 years.

Press reports, based on anonymous sources, have suggested that the US Marshals are more deeply entwined in the Mexican military’s counter-drug operations than the agency has acknowledged. But definitive evidence of the Marshals’ involvement in these operations has been hard to obtain.

One of the Marshals’ planes was in the thick of the action during an important capture in Mexico.

El Dorado Area Very Near Culiacan, Right Across the Pond from La Paz BCS
By analyzing flight-tracking data and documents submitted to the US Federal Aviation Administration, BuzzFeed News has now identified aircraft operated by the Marshals and a front company used to conceal them. For the first time, this analysis has confirmed that one of the Marshals’ planes was in the thick of the action during an important capture in Mexico.

Responding to a freedom of information request from BuzzFeed News, the Mexican Navy (which includes the Mexican marines) said it could find no records relating to security operations or searches in which US authorities participated since 2012, when Peña Nieto took office. That included the capture of El Licenciado’s bodyguard.

The Mexican government did not respond to specific questions but said that it conducts all security operations in accordance with the law. The US Marshals declined to comment on its involvement in the bodyguard’s capture.


“The Marshals Service has a long history of cooperation with its law enforcement counterparts in Mexico, providing training in judicial security, witness protection and fugitive investigations,” the Marshals said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. “The agency routinely works with international law enforcement partners to apprehend fugitives abroad.”
                                                 
The US Marshals Service is the oldest federal law enforcement agency, once famed for keeping order across the Wild West. Today, it is a high-tech operation with a small fleet of light aircraft that help hunt for fugitives from justice.

In 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported that these planes use devices that mimic cell phone towers, allowing agents to track fugitives’ phones. That was controversial because such devices would connect, at least temporarily, to the phones of thousands of innocent bystanders, reading their unique ID codes.

Analyzing data from the flight-tracking website Flightradar24, BuzzFeed News identified aircraft registered to a company called Early Detection Alarm Systems that often flew in repeated circles, similar to the paths of the FBI’s spy planes. The company seemed to have no trail of official paperwork other than the aircraft registrations, in which it gave its address as a UPS Store in Spring, Texas. Documents submitted to the FAA reveal that this company is actually a front for the US Marshals.

Circling flight patterns similar to those BuzzFeed News saw over Eldorado preceded a prominent arrest in the US a few months previously.

The tracks shown below culminate in intense circling on Jan. 17, 2017, around Carver Shores in Orlando.

That evening, state and local police, working with the Marshals, swarmed an abandoned house in the neighborhood, arresting alleged cop-killer Markeith Loyd. He was on the Marshals’ “15 Most Wanted” list, sought for the murder of his girlfriend and her unborn child in December 2016, and the Jan. 9, 2017, slaying of Debra Clayton, an Orlando police officer who had tried to arrest him in a Walmart parking lot.                                     

These tracks are consistent with the use of a fake cell phone tower from the air, according to Heath Hardman, a lawyer who formerly operated similar devices for the US Marines.

“It seems to me that the square shaped pattern was likely used to systematically search a particular area and ensure coverage,” he told BuzzFeed News by email. “The circular areas, which are generally smaller, likely indicate that the target phone was registered and that a rough location was determined.”

The planes carry surveillance cameras that can record conventional video or infrared night vision.

FAA documents describing alterations to the Marshals’ planes, submitted to verify that they are still safe to fly, mention equipment to follow GPS or radio trackers placed on suspects’ vehicles.

The Marshals declined to comment on its planes’ capabilities. “The US Marshals Service cannot confirm or deny the use of any specific, sensitive equipment and techniques deployed in furtherance of its missions,” the agency said in a statement.

The most technologically advanced of the planes BuzzFeed News identified seems to be the one that later flew over Sinaloa. It carries a device that can transmit video and other data in real time to other members of a network connected by radio signals. Using this device, the aircraft could function as a secure “Wi-Fi in the sky,” helping to coordinate the pursuit of a fugitive by relaying aerial surveillance to agents on the ground.

This plane first showed up over Sinaloa on April 14, beginning a series of flights over the following week in which it headed inland, disappearing from Flightradar24’s tracking as it neared the hills of neighboring Durango state, a major area for heroin production. The plane then headed back to Texas from its temporary base in Baja California Sur, before returning on April 27. A second series of flights focused on Eldorado, around the time of David López’s capture.

Amid escalating violence across much of Mexico, Sinaloa has been especially bloody, as elements of the Sinaloa cartel fought for control following "El Chapo’s" January 2016 arrest. He had escaped from a Mexican jail six months earlier, and is now in a US federal prison, awaiting trial.

Damaso Lopez Nunez, aka "El Licenciado"
Former Close Affiliate W / "El Chapo" Guzman 



El  Licenciado kept a low public profile, in stark contrast to his rivals for control of the cartel, "El Chapo’s" sons, Iván Archivaldo Guzmán and Jesús Alfredo Guzmán. Raised in luxury, these “narco juniors” have turned Sinaloa’s capital, Culiacán, into a racing circuit for their high-performance cars
Their generational clash with El Licenciado’s  old guard has driven a wave of violence. Just days before the US Marshals started flying over Sinaloa in mid-April, three bodies were reportedly dumped on Eldorado from a plane. On June 30, at least 17 suspected gang members were killed in the nearby city of Mazatlán during a confrontation with security forces.

El Licenciado’s capture in Mexico City, authorities said at a press conference, was “the result of investigative work carried out by the security institutions of the Mexican state.” Mexican president , Enrique Peña Nieto congratulated his security cabinet, singling out the Defense Ministry, on Twitter.

 The exact circumstances surrounding the capture remain murky, however. Some reports suggest that El Licenciado was betrayed by a hacker he had hired to discredit El Chapo's sons on social media. It’s unclear whether the capture of the bodyguard in Eldorado provided any information that helped locate his boss.

One week after El Licenciado’s capture, a group of four opposition members from the Mexican Congress requested more information about the capture from Peña Nieto’s administration. “The context of the detention has been characterized by incomplete information and insufficient data,” the request said. “One of the aspects that draws the attention of analysts is the level of involvement of authorities from the United States of America.”

 The involvement in the bodyguard’s capture of a US electronic spy plane, which may have shared data with the Mexican authorities, poses difficult questions for officials in both nations.

US intelligence-sharing in the drug war has previously led to tragic consequences.

In June, ProPublica revealed that the 2011 massacre of many as 300 people in Allende, some 40 miles southwest of Eagle Pass, Texas, happened after an operative in the Zetas cartel handed over trackable cell phone ID codes for two of its kingpins to the US Drug Enforcement Administration.

The agency reportedly shared that information with a notoriously leaky unit of the Mexican federal police. After learning they had been compromised, the Zetas went on the rampage in Allende, which the cartel suspected of harboring snitches.

Electronic surveillance is a particularly sensitive issue in Mexico right now, after the government was found in June to have snooped on prominent journalists, lawyers, and anti-corruption activists by planting spyware on their cell phones.

Peña Nieto’s office did not respond to specific questions about the operation in which the Marshals participated, but offered a general statement.

“The details of the strategies and operations carried out by the institutions that make up the security cabinet are reserved so as to not compromise their effectiveness and the integrity of those who carry them out,” it read. “All the actions, including the ones that are carried out with international cooperation, are carried out with strict adherence to the law.” ●

48 comments:

  1. Great job yaqui. Any news on This bodyguard?

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    Replies
    1. It said he's dead

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    2. I dont belive he died of a Heart attack when captured like in goodfellas. I think too much EIT like in the Black sites

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    3. 8:33 enhaneed Torture Interrogations, you are right sir international cooperating forces move aside for the special contractors and engage in "no see, no hear no say anything technologies" and do their jobs in peace without witnesses.
      Then when the cat gets out of the bag THEY DENIE EVERYTHING.

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  2. The Allende estimated count of victims is not "up to 300"
    Some reports put it as "from 300 to 500 hundred and possibly more" and even ble the presidente municipal and his police, the mexican army, the military zone commander, the state governmen among the Zetas accomplices and enablers, but not a si gle suspect has been found d or interrogated by the sagacious mexican government, its investigators or its "institutions" which all look more like houses of prostitution

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  3. 300 r 500 is nothing there r 1000's and 1000's of tthese bad people
    It is never ending

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    1. 4:47 the Cuaguila government still says it was only about 29 victims, because their "reporte official" says so, and they will e en show it to you.
      The mexican government "Verdades Historicas" ven pura chingada, we better hold on to "whatever", but the 43 disappeared that were in reality 5o counting the 7 bodies left behind counted for.more trouble for epn and co than the 300 000 or more killed and disappeared on this US/mexico war agains the innocent unarmed mexicans to rob them of any property and patrimony and get paid handsome wages for it in the process...

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  4. Haven't they learned from el chapo. Don't turn on the phones

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    Replies
    1. you have to talk to ppl at some poiint

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    2. America's biggest giniras can't control one 71 year old octogenarian baby about his big mouth and twitter habits, good luck with las chapetas, eso si, las chapetas tienen una nalga en la pinchi carcel cada una por andar ahi de calientes.
      Ya sus viejas han de andar buscando novio con todas las nalgas en el internet.

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    3. No, he flew in movie stars to " interview " him.
      That was plain dumb.

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  5. Marshal. One L.

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  6. Everybody knows about the building near Olas Alta's covered in satellite antennas so why the hell wouldn't we believe they are flying over too? When they can in for Mayo 3 years ago there were Hispanic North Americans that came off that bird too.

    Here is the fact; America and Britain has some of the biggest old money families in the world from war profiteering and/or opium smuggling to china. To gain anonymity behind this massive wealth they've corporatized the profiteering since the 20th century. The US seeks chaos, conflict, anywhere there are resources to be exploited or sufficient cash to fund the war. Anyone whose been on either side, or like many on both sides knows without doubt the accuracy of this. It would have been better for Mexico to keep order within the narco biz but order would cost the sale of hundreds of thousands of weapons and millions of rounds.

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    1. Old Money...yes and The earth is flat.....

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    2. You can use phones but dont fuck it up with failed opsec and dont forget to pay the PRI/PAN putos

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    3. The Rothschild Family while not American, is probably the richest and most powerful family. Does anyone here think the Rothschild family may have a hand in Drug Trafficking?

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    4. Huh? Shows us the facts? What were you smoking or sniffing? At this stage ,there are hundreds of Chinese and Russian billionaires. It's a Global economy now that us manipulated by super computers.The old money dried up,it's all about digital currencies.

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    5. 8:24 You make no point but 5:57 did and knows what their talking about. The Astoria, Forbes, Samuel Wadsworth Russell, the grandfather of Franklin Delano Roosevelt - Warren Delano, Thomas Handasyd Perkins etc etc. now they are billionaires financed by dope and the list is even longer for American arms dealers.

      5:57; By Olas Altas are you referring to Mazatlán?

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    6. 12:47 It is accepted as fact by historians that the Rothschild banking family were not only the largest financiers of the East Indian Company, but with their ties and influence to the British Royal Court also the largest advocates of the 1856 East Indian Company funded Opium War. Further to 5:57's point, there is not one single banking family known to historians that has profited more from the proliferation of war. And further advancing 5:57's argument the family's wealth and financing activities is hidden behind thousands of shell companies, trusts, and other legal entities which hide both the beneficiaries and directors directing the firms activities. However there is one major stake the Rothchilds are well known to posses and that is of HSBC bank. HSBC bank has been tied, tried and convincted to laundering billions over the past 20 years and not one person has served time for these activities. Also, as a frequent traveler to Mexico I can say that HSBC (literally capitalized from the Opium War) possesses more bank branches in Mexico than any Mexican owned bank. So yes 12:47; someone here is familiar with history and well aware that the Rothschild made their fortunes from both financing drug distribution and the feeding of addiction, as well as the funding of both sides of virtually every war since the 1760s.

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    7. 3:04; There is no old money? Lol. Ok, not even going to address that b/c you can do your own research...and the billionaires you speak of in China and especially Russia are a product of the largest natural resource theft and purchases with fake IOUs and bribes to government officials that has ever transpired. Supercomputers?? Lol - the US has the most powerful computers in the world.

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    8. No wonder the wonderful world there is right now thanks to bastards who started centuries ahead of the rest. World pollution, Global Warming, Overpopulation? What's next? Trump becoming the owner of mexico? LOL

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    9. Or worst the dictator? LOL

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    10. It is so refreshing to read intelligent, relevant and accurate thoughts as opposed to the ignorant pointless "what are you smoking", "the earth is flat", so-and-so cartel can kick your cartels ass type of idiocy! Thank you 5:57, 5:39, 2:59, 3:08 and the rest of you ...get an education!

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    11. Question here is who stole all of the wealth created from petroleum in venezuela? Those idiots are on the brink of starting a civil war all because of what.

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  7. One would think that in this day and age, folks would know to stay away from things such as cell phones and other communication equipment if you are wanted by the law. It is naive to think that any type of encryption aviable to the general public is not hacked or hackable by the law.

    The reason why unibommer was caught only after his brother gave him up, is because he did not use any kind of electronics and/or electric devices in his life. He did not have even a radio in his cabin.

    It may make life a lot more difficult but you are off the map.

    Dont get me wrong, I am not for criminals but it makes one think why they do such things knowing that it is like a red flag in the eyes of the ones tracking your moves.

    Anyways, just my .02 cents.

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    Replies
    1. Why do they even put this type of info out there for everybody to see? It's like telling fugitives not to go to certain areas because some bounty hunters are going to be there waithing for their ass.

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    2. Yo por eso ya no escribo nada en BB.

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  8. Man I love waking up to bb on a Monday morning hit that perico with my morning cup of joe while reading fresh new articles .
    Thanks BB chiva keep up the good work

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  9. Stinger or Javalin that spyplane down.

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    Replies
    1. Javelin is anti-armor.

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  10. Not only do the Marshal's use spy planes they also use covert spy drones with similar technology, to hunt down the biggest and baddest capos aka chapo and mencho. The law says if your not doing anything illegal the governments won't listen in, but if u live in the desert and you need 50 trees disposed of, or u need to buy 5,000 kilos of dog food, but don't own a dog they're probably going to be knocking on your door very soon. It's simple if ur doing dirt and want to stay free, stay off the phones and away from technology.

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  11. Replies
    1. 10:12 abusado bato, la Ya qué ya está apartada y ya le tengo su Casita de puras pallets nuevas de la gualmar.

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    2. 4:39 you're welcome, wife #5, don't tell Chivis...

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  12. All narco bosses go down while a little piper cub flies in circles above them. That's that griengo techno🕵🏻

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  13. Trickery works best when no one is paying attention. - Sol Prendido

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    1. 2:09PM

      Then it is no longer a "trick" but spying.

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  14. The the time fugitives read this article they are already pin pointed

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  15. Funny everyone wants to stop the chaos, yet it is important to report the secret efforts to do so. What's wrong with this picture? Hmmm Why bother? Let the cartels succeed.

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  16. Wait! Collapsed and died? That's kind of vague.Am I the only one who's eye brows went up at that one?

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  17. Nice post Mica.

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  18. StingRay, same as the fish is the name of the equipment federal police are using to pick up cell calls. It's made by Harris Corp USA. Only a fool would talk on cell phones.

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    Replies
    1. 7:57 but here you are, Johnny Rococó

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  19. gotta start using the palomas for communication

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  20. This is the same equipment the san diego police department uses to catch people.

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  21. If the United States CIA wants you they will eventually find you. No one can hide from United States. Saddam, Bin Laden, Gaddafi all went down with US help, hell even Pablo was caught with U.S. help. The U.S. can make many mistakes and still win a cartel boss can't make any mistakes or they will be killed or captured. What good is a small fortune if you have to live your life looking over your shoulder.

    ReplyDelete

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