Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Monday, September 20, 2021

Michoacán: Terrorist Attacks, The New Strategy Of The CJNG

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

The inhabitants of the region have been left in the middle of the dispute and without police or military assistance.

In its advance to take over the Tierra Caliente region in Michoacán, the CJNG initiated a new strategy: through drones it carries out bombings on rural communities, whose inhabitants flee in terror, leaving large areas used for drug trafficking available. 

The Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) is a king itself owner of the territory of Tierra Caliente, in Michoacán. Aguililla, Coalcomán, Tepalcatepec, among other places, have been the scene of a dispute of more than just a drug trafficking route for weeks.

The objective is total control of the territory and its population, which lives besieged by the constant clashes between the CJNG and Cárteles Unidos, a criminal organization formed by the Nueva Familia Michoacana, the Viagras, he Knights Templar and the Tepalcatepec Cartel.

The inhabitants of the region have been left in the middle of the dispute and without police or military assistance, despite the fact that the Army and the National Guard have facilities near the area.

In its unstoppable expansion through Michoacán territory, CJNG is seizing the communities of the municipality of Tepalcatepec, through constant aerial bombardments carried out with drones that launch powerful explosives on the defenseless rural population.

These terrorist attacks are the innovative advance strategy of the criminal organization, since they cause the inhabitants to flee in fear so that later the armed hitmen enter the empty communities by land, gradually seizing this important drug route located in the so-called Tierra Caliente, adjacent to Jalisco and Colima.

To save their lives, the thousands of expelled residents take refuge mainly in the municipal seat - already practically besieged by the cartel -, emigrate to other states or flee to the northern border with the intention of entering the United States as political asylum seekers, victims of a humanitarian crisis of great proportions.

"Here in Michoacán the conflict is spreading: first it was in Aguililla and now it is in Tepalcatepec, where crime groups have already strangled the population," says the bishop of Apatzingán, Cristóbal Ascencio García, worriedly.

El Mañana

Fresnillo, Zacatecas: Violence Leaves 24 People Dead In 4 Days In Fresnillo

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

On average, six people were killed a day, including women and even mothers. Among the victims are women, children and even a taxi driver. 

The violence has not stopped in El Mineral, in just 4 days 24 people have Ruben killed. In other words, on average of six Fresnillenses have been killed a day since September 15.

Among the shot victims are women and children; although children under 4 and 7 were only injured in an armed attack against a family in the Emiliano Zapata neighborhood.

Armed aggressions have not stopped since Wednesday, the day six dead and one injured person were recorded. While on Thursday there were three dead, including a taxi driver.

The violence continued until Friday, the day on which three armed attacks were recorded, leaving five people dead. In addition, they abandoned human remains in sacks. Which totaled six deaths.

While the most violent day was lived on Saturday, nine dead people were registered, including the father and mother of children under 4 and 7 years old and the body of a woman.

Being the Emiliano Zapata neighborhood where there have been more armed attacks, which have left six victims, including the parents of a family.

The facts in the most violent day

During Saturday morning alone, four armed attacks were recorded, leaving seven people dead and two minors injured by gunfire.

The first was on Frontera Street in the Miguel Hidalgo de Ojuelos community, where they found more than 100 shell casings and three dead men.

The second armed aggression occurred in the Francisco Villa neighborhood at 4 in the morning, when a man was murdered inside his home.

The armed attacks have not ceased since September 15. 

A family is shot

The third armed attack occurred at a home on Víctor Jara Street in the Emiliano Zapata neighborhood, where subjects broke into and attacked a family.

Four people, two adults and two children were shot dead; while the head of household died instantly and Adelina, 56, died, when she was being transferred to a hospital.

Sharol Romina, 7, who had been shot in the buttocks, was injured in this event; while Salvador, 4, had at least three bullet wounds on the body.

Regarding the fourth armed attack, it was in the San José Station community where a man was left dead.

They have located four corpses, most with bullet wounds. 

Two corpses are located

Despite armed aggressions during the early morning, two bodies were found this Saturday afternoon, the first being that of a woman that was accompanied by a criminal message.

The body was found abandoned near the hill known as El Microwave, heading to the landfill.

While the body of a man was found on an premises that served as an LP gas station, located just passing the train tracks to the Los Pardillos community

Around the victim's body they found more than 50 7.62×39 and .223 caliber shells, which are weapons of a large caliber.

This makes clear the violence in which members of organized crime act.

Imagen Zacatecas

Salamanca, Guanajuato: Package Bomb Explodes, Killing Two, Injuring Two - Live Updates

"HEARST" for Borderland Beat

In Salamanca, Guanajuato, a package that was delivered to the restaurant-bar called “Barra 1604” exploded and killed two and injured four.  

Initial reports suggest the two men were the the owner and manager of Barra 1604. El Financiero reports four more were confirmed to have been injured by the explosion, although more injured may be reported as the story develops. 

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Comitán de Domínguez, Chiapas: An Armed Criminal Cell Interrogates An Enemy

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

An armed criminal cell from the state of Chiapas has released a video. For this broadcast the interrogation of a captured enemy reveals the inner workings and illicit dealings of an opposing crime group. 

The names of high ranking military personnel in Mexico. Along with public functionaries, one in a neighboring country are given up. In addition the following films have been deemed safe for all to see. 

Video translation is as follows:

Sicario: Alright, here it goes you son of a bitch.  You’re going to answer every question that I’m about to ask. Who do you work for?

Captive: I work for Beltran Perez Alfaro, Leider López Maldonado aka El Chumi, and Julio Alfa from Sinaloa.

Sicario: What does your boss specialize in?

Captive: He extorts grocery stores, agricultural producers. Just as well he commits the kidnapping of migrants, women and children who they abuse and afterwards ask a ransom for their rescue. 

Sicario: Which authorities protect your boss?

Captive: The Chiapas sub secretary of public security, Francisco Javier Orantes. We give this individual a certain amount of money for the extortions we commit. Along with Guzman Santiago, a major for the 15th Cavalry Regiment in the city of Comitán. He was gifted a truck worth 500,000 pesos. Along with 400,000 in cash. And a .308 machine gun. Just as well Jose Luis Camacho, an infantry Lieutenant for the 15th Cavalry Regiment in Comitán. This individual is in charge of bringing intel along with the pay of soldiers, sergeants, and the officials who are aligned with us. 

Sicario: Who among the military personnel are bodyguards for Beltran?

Captive: The corporal Rigoberto de Jesus Vargas who recently left the 15th Cavalry Regiment in Comitán. As well as the State Policeman Filiberto Tanziso Tomas. 

Sicario: Which other authorities provide security protection for Beltran?

Captive: The regional commander Reynaldo Coto Moreno. He’s in charge of providing heavily armed Ministerial agents as protection for Beltran from the city of Lázaro Cárdenas to Comitán de Domínguez. 

Sicario: Where did you guys bury the dead from that armed confrontation that took place on July 28, 2021, how many individuals died?

Captive: There was 23 dead. They were from Culiacán, Sinaloa. And some from this region. Armando de Julio Alfa and El Chumis. They were buried within a mine near a cemetery on the road to Tezuala. 

Sicario: Who took care of that problem when the military apprehended the Beltran gunmen in Lazara Cardenas?

Sicario: It was the major Guzman Santiago of the 15th Cavalry Regiment in the city of Comitán. He was given a sum of 200,000 pesos in cash. And the person in charge of receiving that money was the lieutenant Jose Luis Camacho of the 15th Cavalry Regiment in Comitán. 

Sicario: Where was he?

Captive: He was in El Caif that evening. 

Sicario: Why are you guys robbing and extorting citizens?

Captive: Because our boss doesn’t have funds to make the payments. 

Sicario: Who do you guys sell the stolen property to?

Captive: We sell them to the mayor Rudi Gordillo Velazco of Nenton, Guatemala. 

Sicario: Who’s kidnapping citizens and disappearing them here in the city of Comitán…

Loba Indomable

CJNG's El Pantera Arrested in Campeche

"HEARST" for Borderland Beat

Benjamín Mollinedo, alias “El Pantera” , the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación’s (CJNG) regional leader for Tabasco was just arrested by members of the National Guard. El Pantera

El Pantera is believed to be the CJNG plaza boss for the Chontalpa area, which consists of the four municipalities of Huimanguillo, Cárdenas, Comalcalco and Paraíso, all located in western part of Tabasco state.  

Benjamin Mollinedo, alias “El Pantera”

El Pantera was recently arrested on September 16, 2021, in the Framboyanes neighborhood of Ciudad del Carmen in the state of Campeche. Soldiers from the National Guard allegedly arrested El Pantera however bizarrely almost no details are currently available on how he was captured. This mystery surrounding his arrest only further adds to intrigue around Pantera’s criminal career as he is considered a kind of usurper, or a cartel-version of Marcus Brutus to the druglord Julius Cesar that was El Kalimba. 

Saturday, September 18, 2021

$1.8 Million In Drugs Seized, California Trucking Company Accused Of Transporting Drugs For Cartel

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

A California-based trucking company has been the subject of a months-long, multiple agency investigation that has resulted in large drug seizures and multiple arrests.

On Thursday, the Salinas Police Department held a press conference to report on the results of “Operation Black Hawk,” a five-month investigation into the suspected drug trafficking of Salinas-based trucking company Nor Cal Transportation.

According to the Salinas Police Department, Nor Cal “is suspected of operating a drug trafficking organization (DTO) with the specific intent to transport and distribute narcotics between Yuma, Arizona and Salinas, California. 

During the investigations it was determined that, Nor Cal Transportation was directly connected to the Sinaloa Cartel and transporting narcotics in conjunction with Norteno gang leaders.”

Police have issued charges against eight people connected to the drug trafficking scheme. Charges include conspiracy to transport and distribute narcotics, firearms possession, gang enhancements, and conspiracy to commit murder.

Those arrested in connection to the Operation Black Hawk investigation include Everardo Rodriguez Duran, Brian David Duran, Guadalupe Duran, Juan Duran, Uriel Coronel Jesus Miranda Haros, Juan Carlos Magana, and Amaytani Nunez.

On September 9, the Salinas Police Department executed five search warrants and arrested four people. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Yuma executed four search warrants in Somerton and Yuma County, Arizona, and arrested two people.

After multiple warrants served and traffic stops performed during Operation Black Hawk, authorities seized 60 pounds of methamphetamine, 5 pounds of heroin, a pound and a half of cocaine and 25,000 Fentanyl pills. The estimated street value of the seized drugs is $1.8 million.

Police also seized 9 firearms, two bank accounts, a Nor Cal Transportation tractor trailer and approximately $90,000 in cash/cashier’s checks as suspected proceeds from illegal narcotics sales.

According to the Salinas Police Department, more than 170 law enforcement officers from various agencies participated in the execution of multiple search warrants connected to the investigation.

Agencies that assisted in the investigation include:

* California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

* Federal Bureau of Investigation

* California State Parole

* Monterey County Sheriff’s Office

* California Highway Patrol

* Arizona Department of Public Safety

* US Customs and Border Protection

* San Benito County Sheriff’s Office

* San Benito County Probation Department

* Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms

* Yuma County Sheriff’s Office

* Yuma County Narcotics Task Force

* Yuma Police Department


CDN's El Cadete Officially Indicted, New Photo Released

"HEARST" for Borderland Beat

A Mexico City federal judge ruled that Cártel del Noreste’s Martin Rodriguez Barbosa, alias “El Cadete” will have to stand trial for multiple criminal charges.

This ruling came after evidence was presented that allegedly demonstrated Cadete’s involvement in charges of possession of firearms for the exclusive use of the Armed Forces, operations with resources of illicit origin (at the possession level) and crimes against health (or rather drug charges, one charge at the level of possession and one charge at the level of drug trafficking). 

CDN Tropa Del Infierno Hitman Wanted In Fatal Home Invasion In Texas

"HEARST" for Borderland Beat

On September 13, 2021, a Texas border town requested citizens help locate a Cártel del Noreste (CDN) hitman who is suspected in a fatal home invasion in Zapata, Texas. 

It began when CDN bosses allegedly contacted and tasked two local Texas men, David Mendez, Jr. and Billardo Alaniz, with transporting two Tropa del Infierno hitmen to the home of someone they planned to execute. Both men evidently agreed and a cross borders execution operation was organized by CDN higher ups. 

David Mendez, Jr. and Billardo Alaniz arrived at the prearranged location on July 22, 2021 and located the two Tropa hitmen who had just crossed over the US Mexico border illegally through Falcon Lake. They picked up the hitmen and drove them to a house located in the Manuel Medina Addition, of the town of Zapata.

Wall Street Journal: CJNG Using Facebook To Publish Execution Videos & Recruit But Facebook Rarely Takes Down Pages

Journalists Justin Scheck, Newley Purnell and Jeff Horwitz published an article in the US news publication the Wall Street Journal on September 16, 2021 which describes, in part, how the Cartel Jalisco New Generation (CJNG) has Facebook accounts which recruit new members and share torture/execution videos, however even when the pages are reported, the pages are rarely ever taken down. 

The following is a selection of some of the relevant excerpts related to cartels, taken directly from the original article which was written by Justin Scheck, Newley Purnell and Jeff Horwitz. 

Sinaloa Cartel's Drug Smuggling Route To Alaska Taken Down By US Authorities

"HEARST" for Borderland Beat

Miguel Báez Guevara photographed in custody.

A Sinaloa Cartel operative was indicted by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) for organizing a network of drug traffickers who smuggled large quantities of narcotics from Mexico to the US state of Alaska. 

The recent DOJ statement and articles detailing the operation offer interesting insight into how logistically a major cartel such as Sinaloa manages to supply drug markets even in very geographically isolated locations, such as Alaska. 

Celaya, Guanajuato: A Dismembered Body Was Left In The Gobernadores Neighborhood

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

Several homicides have been recorded in the area. The body was in plastic bags. 

In the early hours of Friday, in the Gobernadores neighborhood, three black bags with dismembered human remains and a cardboard message attached to it with industrial tape were found.

It was at approximately one in the morning that several calls were made to the 911 system informing the municipal police about bags with human remains, on Severo Castillo Street, in the Gobernadores neighborhood.

The area already known by the authorities due to the various homicides that have been recorded there. Crimes ranging from bagged human remains, burned bodies, corpses wrapped in blankets and killed by firearm. Municipal Police arrived, who corroborated the report and cordoned off the scene.

Later, Criminal Investigation Agents arrived for the initial inquiries. The criminal expert who processes the area, located a cardboard with a message from a criminal group. The Forensic Medical Service gathered the remains that were taken to the Semefo facilities. So far the sex of the person is unknown, the results of the legal autopsy will be expected.

Meanwhile, the Attorney General's Office will carry out the investigations for identity and to clarify the case.

El Sol del Bajío

Friday, September 17, 2021

Major Hit to CAF's El Flaquito, Cabo 89 Arrested, Baja California

"HEARST" for Borderland Beat

The State Attorney General's Office (FGE) arrested Édgar Pérez Villa alias "Cabo 89", a lieutenant of the Cartel de Arellano Felix (CAF) group working under El Flaquito in Baja California. 

Due to prior intelligence work by the FGE, authorities were able to identify and anticipate the movements of Edgar Perez Villa, alias “Cabo 89”, “El Nier”, or “El Cuervo” (The Raven). Cabo 89 was infamously hard to track down to his use of different pseudonyms, which he used to keep a low profile, enabling him to avoid being arrested by the authorities or being identified by a rival cartel group. According to Zeta Tijuana, one of the pseudonyms he employed was “León Emmanuel Castillo”. 

State Security and Investigation Guard (GESI) agents reportedly closed in on Cabo 89 while he was traveling onboard a taxi alongside a woman, identified as Lucía, as well as two minors. 

Zacatecas: Cartel Jalisco Enforcers Mock The Fallen Grupo Flechas Gunmen

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

Within the past few days gunmen for the Cartel Jalisco New Generation have released a succession of videos from within the state of Zacatecas. Each particular propaganda broadcast is being produced in their favor while demonstrating their exploits. 

The narrative that they’re wanting to convey is of them winning while demoralizing their opponents, Grupo Flechas, the armed wing of the Cartel de Sinaloa. 

To conclude a dead Sinaloa operative is lying face down on the tailgate of a pickup with the top of his scalp missing. A sicarios high powered rifle canoed his skull beforehand. 

Warning: Graphic Video

Video translation is as follows:

Sicario #1: We’re gonna gift these dumb asses away. So, that in turn our money is sent to us. We initially thought there was 5 of them. And they actually thought they were slick. Well, we managed to seize an AK-47 along with an AR-15 rifle. Take a look at them. We took care of these guys here. 

Sicario #2: Here lie the Flechas Group gunmen…

Sicario #1: Here lie the Flechas Group gunmen. Look at them. They need to keep sending these type of enforcers our way. So that we can continue destroying them. 


Ordinary People Are Taking The Law Into Their Own Hands To Counter Cartel Threat

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

In the mountain top village of Ayahualtempa in Guerrero state Mexico, children are learning how to use firearms and preparing for an attack by a nearby drug cartel. In our third and final story on the ravages of the cross-border drug trade with Mexico, special correspondent Monica Villamizar and producer Zach Fannin report with support from the Pulitzer Center.

Read the Full Transcript

Judy Woodruff:

Now our third and final story on the ravages of the cross-border drug trade with Mexico.

With the support of the Pulitzer Center, special correspondent Monica Villamizar and producer Zach Fannin traveled to the mountaintop village of Ayahualtempa in Guerrero state, Mexico. They found children learning how to use firearms, preparing for an attack by a nearby cartel.

Monica Villamizar:

After Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador saw images like these of children as young as 6 learning how to shoot, he became enraged.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexican President (through translator):

Children should not be used like this. I am emphatic about that.

Monica Villamizar:

But despite the president's harsh reaction, the Nahua indigenous community are still preparing to defend themselves against a drug cartel known as Los Ardillos, or The Squirrels.

The children are part of what's called a community guard that's made up of 96 adult men and a dozen children who defend this village, Ayahualtempa, where 600 people live.

Mexican law allows some indigenous communities to establish their own police forces. So, children over 12 can have real guns, but all of the very small ones have toy guns. And the reason is, it gets them used to the idea that they have to defend themselves.

This self-defense group is filling the void left by the state. There are no armed Mexican security forces nearby to protect the besieged town. There is no medical facility, and no financial aid has been provided to these villagers so they can weather the crisis that has isolated them from the outside world.

After decades of growing poppy plants, the raw material for heroin, this impoverished agricultural community stopped growing the illegal crop in 2015, cutting off all transactions with the local cartels and their intermediaries, fearing a takeover from the increasingly powerful and violent group.

In November of 2019, as the cartel gained more power, the murder rate started steadily increasing. In the past few months, nine people have been killed in this village and 34 others were slain in surrounding towns.

The villagers believe the violence is a deadly message from the cartel that wants to take over this drug corridor and tax local businesses as a form of extortion.

Today, this picturesque town has still not been invaded and occupied by the cartel, but the security situation is so bad, locals can't travel to the nearby farmers market. The local school shut down because it sits in a cartel-controlled area just past this chain that serves as a demarcation barrier.

Bernardino Sanchez, Nahua Indigenous Leader (through translator):

We the farmers, our job is to work the land. But, since there's no security, well, we feel obligated to take up arms, prepare the kids, because we don't know when or at what hour they are going to kill us.

So, if we don't prepare the kids, soon, they won't be able to defend themselves. The advantage that we have is that we prepare the community police for each shot they take, so they don't miss, that we don't waste bullets, because we don't have resources to purchase ammunition.

Monica Villamizar:

Every time the leader, Bernardino Sanchez, is out on patrol, his bodyguards follow him; 13-year-old Miguel is the youngest armed guard in the village. He says he misses school, and splits his time between herding goats and weapons training, preparing for a possible cartel invasion.

Miguel, 13 Years Old (through translator): They have attacked our families, they have kidnapped us, they have killed us. Since then, I have grabbed a weapon.

Monica Villamizar:

Do you think it's normal that a kid your age is armed and has a rifle?

Miguel (through translator):

No, but I use it to defend my village.

Monica Villamizar:

This man, who preferred to keep his identity anonymous, says his brother, a community police commander, was murdered by the cartel.

Afterwards, this community wrote a letter to the Mexican government asking for help, but it fell on deaf ears. Now he has a warning.

Man (through translator):

The government needs to listen. We are defending ourselves, yes, not because we like to carry weapons or because we want to kill. So long as our enemies don't provoke us, all is OK. But if they provoke us, who knows what will happen to us?

Yes, I know they will kill us, but they will also die, so that's all.

Monica Villamizar:

Citizens taking up arms to defend themselves from cartels is nothing new here in the states of Guerrero and neighboring Michoacan.

The last civilian uprising in 2012 made the region one of the most volatile in the country.

Writer Ioan Grillo explains that the militia movement is complicated.

Ioan Grillo, Author, "El Narco: Inside Mexico's Criminal Insurgency": With this self-defense movement, you then had very different things that was outside of indigenous communities, which is all kinds of groups of people creating armed squads.

Some of them are genuine and really defend their community. Some of them are mixed, to look a bit dubious, that they might be defending the community, but there are suspect people. And some of them are full-on drug trafficking organizations that are using the autodefensas, self-defense, America to just to do their other activities.

Monica Villamizar:

With this new uprising well under way, it's unclear if local militias like this one will help decrease or increase Mexico's sky-high homicide rate of 34,000 murders last year, many of which were drug-related.

And just over the border from Mexico in Southern Arizona, these men are part of a training session given by the Arizona Border Recon. The group calls themselves an intelligence-gathering operation, but they're armed to interdict and capture. Their leader is this man, Tim Foley.

Tim Foley, Founder, Arizona Border Recon:

We love our country. We have taken an oath. Most of us were in the military or law enforcement. And we took an oath to defend the country. And it doesn't end when you get out. It's a lifelong oath.

Monica Villamizar:

Tim Foley traveled to the Capitol on January 6. Foley didn't enter the building, but says he doesn't think the violence was initiated by Trump supporters.

Tim Foley:

We were there, I would say, 45 minutes before Trump even ended his speech. And there were instigators already there harassing the police, and tear gas was already being shot. And I got gassed five times that day.

Monica Villamizar:

This training is preparing Recon members for a hypothetical attack by smugglers illegally crossing into the U.S.

Do you guys train with live ammo?

Tim Foley:

No. It's a safety thing. We do carry rounds with us and we do have sidearms that are loaded just in case.

Monica Villamizar:

Foley says he finances his militia through paid training and speaking engagements.

The Recon also conducts armed patrols using loaded AR-15s, pistols, and shotguns, on one of the routes where drugs are smuggled on foot for the Sinaloa cartel. This militia patrols the area because they say the government has failed to.

Groups of men crossing this public desert by foot with backpacks can be seen in footage that Foley captured on his hidden cameras. Foley calls them dope mules.

Tim Foley:

The dope mules nowadays, they're packs. They're bigger. They're camouflaged, but every cubic centimeter in that pack is full. And, basically, it's fentanyl, meth, heroin, cocaine.

Monica Villamizar:

Foley's cameras caught this man with an automatic weapon. And just over the border inside Mexico, one of Foley's drones captured this man pointing his gun at the camera.

Foley believes he's a cartel lookout who feeds information to mules on foot. Foley says the Recon is in the business of combating the cartels' delivery service.

Tim Foley:

Like any business, they have delivery schedules and everything else. So, when we come out, what we do is, we try to mess up their logistics.

If we can get in front of them and deter them from coming in that way, and they have to move to go, say, two miles, but if were sitting there also, then they have to move again. So they are burning up their food and logistics. So, that way, it makes it harder and harder for them, and they're not keeping their delivery schedule.

So you're going to get some upset customers.

Monica Villamizar:

Foley has stopped groups that he believed were illegally crossing into the U.S. He says he gives the border crossers water and immediately notifies the Border Patrol.

It's nonetheless an armed private citizen taking law enforcement duties. So far, he hasn't gotten into a shoot-out.

Customs and Border Protection would like Foley and his men to stand down. They provided this written statement: "CBP does not endorse or support any private group or organization from taking matters into their own hands, as it could have disastrous personal and public safety consequences."

Mark Napier was the elected Republican sheriff of Pima County, where Foley conducts his patrols, from 2016 until last year. Today, Napier works for the neighboring Cochise County Sheriff's Department.

Mark Napier, Former Pima County, Arizona, Sheriff:

How do you determine who a good guy and a bad guy is when people are carrying rifles and they are all cammied up? I am not interested in armed militia out there playing soldier of fortune. I think that's problematic.

Monica Villamizar:

However, Sheriff David Hathaway, a Spanish-speaking elected Democrat of neighboring Santa Cruz County, points out that, since Arizona is an open-carry state, conducting training programs and patrols is not against the law.

David Hathaway, Santa Cruz County, Arizona, Sheriff:

As sheriff, in my position, as long as they're not violating the laws, as long as they're not assaulting somebody, intimidating somebody, threatening somebody, they are free to go on public lands. There is a lot of public government-owned land in Arizona.

Monica Villamizar:

Tim Foley says he's been called a racist, but he points out that members of the recon are Latino.

Hugo, Arizona Border Recon:

If we see somebody crossing, we will just notify the Border Patrol.

Monica Villamizar:

Hugo owns a taxi service on the East Coast of the United States and spends his free time with the Recon. He didn't want to tell us his last name, due to fear of reprisals.


I was born in Uruguay, and I first came to this country as an exchange student. A few years later, I became a U.S. citizen.

Monica Villamizar:

Foley concedes, more drug mules get around him than the Recon can stop, but given the deadliness of fentanyl and other drugs, he's still dedicated to the pursuit.

Tim Foley:

The way I look at it, every little bit helps. That load I stopped might have saved two people. That load I stopped might have saved one. I can walk away. When I look in the mirror and go, what didn't we try to stop?

Monica Villamizar:

For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Monica Villamizar in Pima County, Arizona.

CDS El Mayo Troops Show Support for El Rodo's Independent Cartel in Nuevo León

"HEARST" and "Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

In a video uploaded to twitter on September 16, 2021, hitmen from a Sinaloa Cartel group loyal to Ismael Zambada García, alias “El Mayo”, express their support for the independent cartel group leader El Rodó in Nuevo León. 

The hitmen in the video say the following, as translated by Sol Prendido:

Tepalcatepec, Michoacán: Self Defense Groups Along With Military Recover Bodies Of Citizen’s Kidnapped And Killed By CJNG

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

Video translation is as follows:

Female Victim: From my family members, my husband, my father, and my brother. The only one who saved himself from all this was my son. Because he ran away from all this and hid himself. While he was hiding he played dead. He managed to see what all was happening, everything that was done against them. They were physically assaulted, they shot them, and they beheaded them. 

Newscaster: The following events occurred near the Michoacán and Jalisco state lines. These 3 men were part of a group of 5 individuals who were assassinated by the Cartel Jalisco. Furthermore, 3 individuals have been reported as injured. 

Today the armed conflict continues within the area. Military helicopters flew above the village of La Estanzuela. At the same time the armed confrontations on the ground have remained. 

The bodies of the 5 individuals executed were recovered by the Self Defense Groups. 

Gunman #1: Don’t fire at them because if you do they are able to locate where that round came from. If you happen to have a confirmed target take him down with one round and leave it like that. That’s the job El Durango, our sniper, specializes in. 

Gunman #2: Ok.  

Gunman #1: Wait until those dumb asses start firing first. And then proceed to take one of them out. 

Male #1: Take a look at this here. This is our companions who were missing. They were beheaded by the Cartel Jalisco New Generation. These are our friends from the city of Tepeque. These are our missing friends. They were beheaded by the CJNG. 

Male #2: Have courage my friends. You didn’t die in vain. We are the absolute mob of our townspeople. 

Ciro Gómez Leyva

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Coahuila: Armed Confrontation Between Military Forces And Civilians Leaves 9 Dead

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

Video translation is as follows:

The violence in the country just doesn’t stop. This afternoon the government of Coahuila reported that in a security operation between soldiers and state forces of the state. These are state forces, obviously they belong to the state

9 armed people were killed. In addition, 10 weapons and 2 vehicles were seized, one of those vehicles was armored. This occurred after an attack on police officers who were traveling on the Anáhuac Colombia highway at 3 in the afternoon.

The aggressors decided to flee. But the State Police notified the Army of the events, which deployed their elements. They eventually found the attackers. Then a confrontation began in which 9 people were killed. Some of the aggressors managed to flee. Thus the situation in the state of Coahuila.


Zacatecas: Grupo Guerrero Interrogate 3 Grupo Flechas Operatives

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

A new video from the Mexican underworld has just surfaced online. For this broadcast the armed criminal cell Grupo Guerrero, of the Cartel Jalisco New Generation are interrogating 3 men. 

The captured males are operatives from Grupo Flechas, the armed wing of the Cartel de Sinaloa currently fighting in the state of Zacatecas. 

The following 2 films have been deemed safe for all to see. In addition, within the questioning captive #3 is lead to believe he’s being freed. It’s unknown at this time if this man was actually released .

Video translation is as follows video #1:

Sicario: Where are you from?

Captive #1: I am from Chalchihuites, Zacatecas. 

Sicario: Who were you working for?

Captive #1: I was working for MZ (Mayo Zambada). 

Sicario: How much were you being paid?

Captive #1: 8000 pesos. 

Sicario: Who captured you?

Captive #1: I was captured by Grupo Guerrero. Cartel Jalisco New Generation. 

Sicario: What all would you like for Operation Flechas to know, along with the rest of the pieces of shit on that side?

Captive #1: Well, they don’t pay well sir, they don’t pay well at all. It’s not a good idea to even work for them. They don’t have enough funds to pay us, we were paid with smoke. They never could pay us. And that’s just not a good thing. They never gave us food to eat. Everything was just bad. 

Sicario #2: What all would you like to let the gunmen in Durango know, the ones who are working for Grupo Flechas and Grupo MZ?

Captive #2: I would like for the enforcers out of Durango to know that it’s best they don’t come to here. The state of Zacatecas already has its owner. The Mayo Zambada gunmen are not the owners here. Regardless if they’re being told that they’re winning and that Zacatecas belongs to them, don’t get caught up in these lies. You’re all better off uniting with the Cartel Jalisco. 

Sicario #2: Fool, what name are you known by?

Captive #2: They call me El Kobaski. 

Sicario #2: Why were you captured fool?

Captive #2: I was caught because those sons of bitches from Cartel de Sinaloa of the Operation MZ, the Flechas Group left me to fend for myself. 

Sicario #2: Don’t they have the fucking balls to come and rescue you?

Captive #2: No, those fools are a bunch of cowards. 

Video translation is as follows for video #2:

Captive #3:…I never did receive support from these guys. I was left to fend for myself….Lord Mencho gave me another opportunity to live. And I’m proud to belong to the 4 letters cartel now. 

Sicario #2: This goes for all those dumb asses the Grupo Flechas, the Operation MZ. We’re no longer going to pardon the lives of any MZ sons of bitches. You couldn’t keep your word and you couldn’t respect our truce. You jerk off sons of fucking bitches. The state of Zacatecas has an owner. That’s the saying here. And it belongs to Grupo Guerrero. 

Sicarios in unison scream: Cartel Jalisco New Generation!


Tepalcatepec, Michoacán: The United Cartels In Armed Engagement Against Cartel Jalisco Gunmen

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

A new video from the Mexican underworld has just surfaced online. For this broadcast gunmen for Juan José Farías Álvarez aka ‘El Abuelo’ find themselves under attack in an armed confrontation.

Within the conflict 2 enforcers for Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes aka ‘El Mencho’ have fallen dead during this engagement. 

The following film aside from being shaky in nature. Just as well contains the words of enforcers encouraging each other to remove their enemies head. 

At 16 seconds into this video the CJNG emblem can be seen across the dead mans chest. In addition the video concludes before the mutilation begins. 

Video translation is as follows:

Sicario #1: No, I need for you to take care of this matter. 

Sicario #2: Ok. 

Sicario #1: Look at this here. Be careful guys. Go ahead and cut this son of a bitches fucking head off. Mencho, take a look at this here you faggot

Sicario #3: Thats that guy I shot the fuck down.

La Voz del Pueblo

Celaya, Guanajuato: Cartel Santa Rosa de Lima Leaves A Dismembered Corpse

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

A dismembered corpse was abandoned in the Los Olivos neighborhood this Wednesday.

It was on Los Olivos Avenue that neighbors detected two packages, covered with black plastic bags and wrapped with gray tape, accompanied by a "narco message."

After the report to the 9-1-1 emergency line, elements of the Municipal Police went to the site where they confirmed the existence of the body near a palm tree, a couple of blocks from the facilities of the family medicine unit of the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS).

The area was cordoned off so that the staff of the Regional Prosecutor's Office could carry out their intervention work and the subsequent recovery of the remains for transfer to the facilities of the Forensic Medical Service (SEMEFO).

Although it’s being speculated that the body belonged to a woman, no authority has confirmed this fact. The official report from the authority on justice is still pending. 

Narco message reads as follows:

This was my fate for selling sheep and ranches that didn’t belong to me. The state of Guanajuato belongs to Lord Marro. Be ready you sons of fucking bitches. Meet us head on for that armed confrontation you fucking sellout assassins of innocent civilians. Come and get this dick. We’re coming after all you cheap fucks. Sincerely, CSRDL (Cartel Santa Rosa de Lima)

Valor por Tamaulipas

Portland, Oregon: Leader Of Mexican Drug Trafficking Ring Gets 8 Years Prison

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

The leader of a Mexican-based heroin trafficking ring that distributed the drug to cells operating in and around Portland and in southwestern Washington was sentenced Monday to just over eight years in federal prison.

Paul Alberto Guillen, 27, is the last of 24 defendants sentenced from the ring, and was the organizer based in Mexico who occasionally traveled to Portland, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

The federal wiretap investigation started with federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents focused on one Portland dealer selling heroin and oxycodone pills from his home, according to prosecutors.

Investigators identified his supply source in 2014 and began a more comprehensive investigation. Guillen oversaw the weekly distribution of heroin from Nayarit, Mexico, and north to Portland with the help of three cousins, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Edmonds.

They distributed between 5 to 10 pounds of heroin weekly to the Portland area.

In late December 2014, agents seized seven pounds of heroin and more than $50,000 in cash during a stop of Guillen’s cousin Alexis Guillen-Robles, after he was seen picking up money in Vancouver, Washington, from another cousin Christopher Guillen-Robles, according to the prosecutor.

Guillen pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Guillen’s lawyer Sohaye Lee said Guillen’s father was a significant drug dealer, and the drug trade was normalized for him.

Guillen apologized in court.

ap news

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Chihuahua, CHIH: Double Kidnapping Express Goes Down Without Interference

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

An armed criminal cell kidnaps two men and flees along the dark Cuauhtémoc road

Traveling at night on the Cuauhtémoc road can be a matter of life or death.

Tonight two travelers were kidnapped by an armed criminal cell of bandits.

The two individuals kidnapped were leaving a liquor store in the western exit of the Chihuahua capital.

The gunmen intercepted the Dodge Ram truck in which they were traveling and put them into another vehicle. They fled towards the city of Cuauhtémoc.

Their whereabouts are currently unknown at this time. 

La Polaka

Nuevo Casas Grandes, Chihuahua: North Zone Prosecutor's Office Investigates Homicide Of Military Officer

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

The Office of the Attorney General of the Northern Zone State, reported that the corresponding investigations were initiated to clarify the death of the First Captain of the Ministerial Military Police, Andrés AC, who died during a vehicle review operation by the Secretariat of National Defense in Nuevo Casas Grandes.

According to the initial investigations and the data provided by the person from the National Defense to the ministerial authorities, the events occurred at dawn on Monday, September 13, on Durango Street, at the intersection with Benito Juárez Avenue.

They stated that the SEDENA elements were carrying out intelligence work and when they were preparing to search a vehicle, they were attacked with gunfire by civilians, resulting in an element fallen in the line of duty. As well as two detainees, who were consigned to the disposition of the Attorney General of the Republic.

After the events, the vehicle in which the civilians were traveling was seized: an orange and gray Hummer, without license plates; they also seized a Volkswagen Vento vehicle and a black Chevy Suburban, without license plates.

The processing of the scene was carried out by the Expert Services staff of this Prosecutor's Office.

El Heraldo de Chihuahua

The Day The Gulf Cartel And Los Zetas Stained Mexico's Independence Party With Blood

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

Thirteen years after the narco-attacks, no one has been held responsible for the 8 dead who stained the Mexican national holiday with blood

The Gulf Cartel and it's then armed wing, Los Zetas were accused of being behind one of the bloodiest attacks where they painted red the celebration of Mexico's Independence on Wednesday, September 15, 2008 in Morelia, capital of the state of Michoacán in Mexico.

That night Mexicans witnessed what is considered one of the first narco terrorist attacks. The then governor Leonel Godoy gave for the first time the "Cry of Independence" in the historic center of Morelia. At the end of the stirring speech, two explosions rocked the area.

One was in the Melchor Ocampo townsquare, next to the Cathedral of Morelia and in front of the Government Palace of Michoacán. The other at the intersection of Francisco I Avenue. Madero and Andrés Quintana Roo Street, next to Merced Parish. The toll was eight dead and more than 100 injured.

Soon after that occurred, narco-blankets signed by the La Familia Michoacana Cartel (LFM) and Los Zetas appeared, they both distanced themselves from the explosions.

Days later, the then Attorney General's Office (PGR) presented three subjects identified as responsible for throwing the grenades.

It was Juan Carlos, Julio Cesar and Alfredo "N" who confessed to the authorities that they had participated in the attack.

According to investigations, protected witnesses pointed them out as members of the Gulf Cartel, which in turn depended on Los Zetas.

However, journalist José Reveles in his book "The blackest stories of drug trafficking, impunity and corruption in Mexico", published in April 2009, pointed out that the capture of the three detainees was after an "anonymous call" that placed them in a building in the municipality of Apatzingán and that when the authorities arrived at the place, they found three subjects handcuffed,

The couples of the three detainees claimed that they were "kidnapped" days after the attack. They even all filed a complaint about the disappearance of their husbands.

Similarly, more than 30 witnesses indicated that the three detainees were several miles away on the day of the attacks, in the municipality of Lázaro Cárdenas. Thus, 13 years after the attacks there is no certainty which cartel was behind them, since those arrested for what happened have already been already released.

La Opinión

La Opinión

A Secret Look At A Mexican Cartel’s Low-Tech, Multimillion-Dollar Fentanyl Operation

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

Tonight, we begin a three-part look at the production — and devastating effects — of the drug fentanyl. Illicit use of the synthetic opioid painkiller has ravaged the United States, with Mexican drug cartels now seeing huge profits. With the support of the Pulitzer Center, from Sinaloa State, in Mexico, special correspondent Monica Villamizar and videographer Zach Fannin report.

Read the Full Transcript

* Judy Woodruff:
Tonight, we begin a three-part look at the production, and devastating of effects of the drug fentanyl.
Illicit use of the synthetic opioid painkiller has ravaged the United States, and Mexican drug cartels now see huge profits, and an addicted market for the drug.
With the support of the Pulitzer Center, from Sinaloa state in Mexico, special correspondent Monica Villamizar and videographer Zach Fannin report.

* Monica Villamizar:
A handful of dirt is thrown into the wind to gauge the way its blowing. It's important work, because one gust in the wrong direction and any mistake in this delicate process could lead to death.

* Pedro, Fentanyl Cook (through translator):
Your life is at stake. An experienced cook knows to look at the direction of the wind, and to turn around when the wind turns, and he knows that this is vital. There are people who get sick. This process starts very toxic, but the toxicity fades.

* An expert knows, towards the end, you can get close to the pot. If the toxicity was high at that point, you could not even get near to empty the pot. That is when the black goat is made.

* Monica Villamizar:
Heroin is usually called black goat, but these drugmakers aren't using poppy plants as their raw materials. Instead, they start with this synthetic powder, which is cooked over an open flame. The drug is called fentanyl.

* And we're at the heart of the industry inside the Western Mexican state of Sinaloa. We have been given rare access to one of the Sinaloa cartel's fentanyl labs. It's quite ingenious, because they have set it up in the middle of those cows. And because there are so many police operations right now in the area, the cows provide a perfect cover.

* Now, we have been advised to wear a respirator and goggles because fentanyl is very, very toxic. And many of these cooks have died just by inhaling it.
These cooks work without protective equipment. And they believe in a myth here that drinking beer will disable the high that comes along with being close to the heated substance.

* This man, who we are calling Pedro, is one of the first links in a chain that sends fentanyl from Mexico to the United States. This package of fentanyl, which is sold as a competitor to heroin, weighs 11 pounds and sells for $15,000 in Sinaloa's capital, Culiacan.

* The further the product travels, the more valuable it gets. By the time it arrives in America, 11 pounds could sell for $100,000. Fentanyl has proven to be a diabolical game-changer for the cartels. It's inexpensive. It can be mixed into drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine and other opiates.

* Pedro (through translator):
Right now, as fentanyl is stronger than anything, a little fentanyl can make 11 pounds of black goat, and it is stronger than the poppy flower. That's why people gave up on heroin, it's way cheaper with fentanyl.

* Monica Villamizar:
So many people are dying of fentanyl overdose. So, do you feel somehow responsible, since what they are consuming is made here?

* Pedro (through translator):
Well, it is something that the one who consumes decides on his own. Drugs are bad and addictive. Consumers are aware that the effect doesn't last long, but they cannot go without it. Although they know that it is wrong, it is addictive.

* Monica Villamizar:
Have you had any of your friends die making it?

* Pedro (through translator):
So many died for a few pesos. We all like money. There are people who aspire to have better things, but the big money is not made by us. It's made by others. Many workers have no other job. It's a hustle.

* Monica Villamizar:
Many in the region are self-taught chemists working in a low-tech multimillion-dollar operation. These men used to be farmers until their home state became the stronghold of the powerful Sinaloa cartel, once run by this man, Joaquin Guzman, nicknamed El Chapo.

* He's now serving a life sentence in an American prison.
Writer Ioan Grillo explains that fentanyl and synthetics are easier to produce than crop-based drugs like heroin or cocaine.

* Ioan Grillo, Author, "El Narco: Inside Mexico's Criminal Insurgency": You don't have to care about protecting those from military. You just buy some precursors, you mix it up in a lab, and you have got your drug.

* So the profit margins are massive on synthetic drugs. Also, you can do this anywhere. So this has really changed the geography of organized crime as well. We can find labs all over the country. You can see labs for synthetic drugs on the outskirts of Mexico City. You can see labs right on the border with the United States.

* Monica Villamizar:
With El Chapo serving life, his three sons, known as the Chapitos, or Little Chapos, were left to run the criminal empire.

* Back in 2019, the Mexican military arrested one of them, but was forced to let him go, after the Sinaloa cartel barricaded the city of Culiacan and overpowered the soldiers.

* Ioan Grillo:
Mexico has a dysfunctional justice system.
And it not only means that criminals can get away with murder, and you have some states where you have a 98 percent impunity for murder, which means the cartels develop this power as the alternative version of offering security.

* Monica Villamizar:
We reached out to Mexico's Department of Justice, but we were not granted an interview. Some of Mexico's biggest drug bosses were from Sinaloa state.

* The capital city, Culiacan, remains a safe space for criminal families to live in peace. This is not an upscale neighborhood. It's actually a cartel cemetery in Culiacan and a reminder of the deadly cost of the illicit drug business. Many who lie inside these tombs were once top players.

* Their final resting places are equipped with party rooms, security systems, surveillance cameras, and air conditioning. The drug business has generated so much violence that there is a cult of death here. Its icon is Santa Muerte, or Saint Death.
Saturnino Losoya takes care of this shrine in Sinaloa state.

* Saturnino Losoya, Sinaloa Shrine Guardian (through translator):
Some people say that they are afraid of her. That is why some don't get near here.

* I have never been afraid of death, I know that I am going to die one day, and she is going to take care of me. I know she will take me away, but I don't know where to.

* Monica Villamizar:
Sinaloa is also home to narcos that manufacture fentanyl pills inside homemade labs that are run by chemists, like this man. He says he is always alert, as too much exposure to fentanyl, even in pill form, can be deadly.

* The chemist says he makes 150,000 pills on a good day, which are worth about $90,000 in Sinaloa. The same pills can fetch about 10 or 20 times that price when they hit the streets of America. The pills are marked M30, M20 and M10.

* Man (through translator):
M30 carries 30 milligrams of fentanyl. The other has 10 milligrams. Some inferior pills aren't clearly marked, but these are the good ones, the M30.

* Monica Villamizar:
A few years back, he made OxyContin pills, another opioid painkiller. But, today, he only makes fentanyl, which is much stronger and deadlier.
Since fentanyl is added into almost every drug in the illicit market, it helps explain the cost of over 90,000 overdose deaths last year in the United States.

* The cartel chemist says the spike in overdose deaths is the fault of local dealers in America who change the original dosage.

* Man (through translator):
Look, it has been known that there are many problems in the U.S. People are dying. What happens is that people take our product and they put more stuff into it. Then they modify it.

* Our formula does not kill. But if you change the product, then there can be a big problem.

* Monica Villamizar:
The pills are wrapped in carbon paper and tape. The tape protects them from sniffing dogs. The paper hides them from X-ray machines.
Before they are exported, they are tested. A pill that has the right amount of active ingredient has a faint smell of popcorn. 

* The chemist gave us a peek at how they hide drugs in the back of cars that are sent north to America.
I ask them if this car will cross the border or if the drugs will be transferred to another vehicle.

* Man (through translator):
Sometimes. It depends. It depends on movement across the route.

* Monica Villamizar:
The chemist tells us we have to leave. The presence of our camera risks his operation.

* According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the vast majority of fentanyl goes into the U.S. through legal ports of entry, in vehicles. Nobody knows how much fentanyl in both gel and pill form is successfully crossing the Southern border.

* But as long as there is demand, chemists and illicit cooks like these men will keep up the supply.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Monica Villamizar in Culiacan, Sinaloa,

* Judy Woodruff:
Just stunning to have that access.
And, tomorrow, we look at the price of addiction in Arizona in lives and livelihoods, as fentanyl streams across the border.

Fresnillo, Zacatecas: Grupo Guerrero Of Cartel Jalisco Capture Grupo Flechas Gunmen

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

A new video from the Mexican underworld has just surfaced online. For this broadcast hitmen from Grupo Guerrero of the Cartel Jalisco New Generation have captured 2 alleged operatives belonging to Grupo Flechas, an armed wing of the Cartel de Sinaloa. 

The following film contains the very graphic desecration of two men. A menacing communique filled with impending doom is being spoken. While the removal of fingers and eyes takes place. 

2 enforcers perform their blasphemous acts simultaneously with the use of tree pruners, a 4 inch switchblade, and a spoon. The low painful moans of the handcuffed captives sitting on the ground can be heard load and clear. 

Warning: Graphic Video

Video translation is as follows:

Sicario #1: This goes out to all those sons of bitches who support MZ (Mayo Zambada). You sons of bitches pieces of shit couldn’t keep your word. I’m going to return your gunmen to you in little pieces you son of a bitch. 

Sicario #2: We’re coming after you sons of bitches who belong to Grupo Flechas. 

Sicario #1: We’re coming after you Caballero. 

Sicario #2: Keep sending more men such as these…

Sicario #3: Pick up your hands. Move forward a bit. (Sicario #3 with the tree pruners is trying to get a better vantage point for the removal of the remaining captives fingers)

Sicario #2: The state of Zacatecas has a name. And it’s: the 4 letters cartel. 

Sicario #1: I already have you located within all of Fresnillo you dumb ass. We’re on our way towards Durango. Just as well we also have a mob within the state of Durango. We are the absolute 4 letters mob you fucks.