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

Thursday, February 2, 2023

'Lobo' Valencia Paid $10 million Dollars In Bribes To Garcia Luna In Exchange For Protection And Information

 "Ivan" for Borderland Beat 

In his testimony in the third week of the trial of Genaro Garcia Luna in the United States, Oscar Nava Valencia, alias El Lobo, a former leader of the Milenio Cartel, said he paid Mexico's former Public Security Secretary $10 million in exchange for protection and information about his rivals.

El Lobo is the second drug trafficker to testify that he gave cash to Felipe Calderon's right-hand man during his time as president, according to the New York Times' Alan Feur.

Oscar Valencia told the jury that Arturo Beltrán-Leyva and La Barbie Valdez told him the money was going to García Luna.

He also told the jury that Joaquin El Chapo Guzman told him that Garcia Luna worked with the Sinaloa Cartel.

He added that in 2007, after a massive coca shipment was seized en route to Manzanillo, Colima, Arturo Beltrán invited him to his home in Cuernacaca for a meeting with García Luna; "he said, 'friend, I present you Genaro García Luna,'" he said.

García Luna, he said, helped him by delivering documents showing that the U.S. government had traced cocaine from Colombia.

That was to convince the Colombian suppliers that it was not a security problem on the Mexican side.

He also said that in 2008, when the Beltran Leyva started the war with the Sinaloa Cartel side, he paid Garcia Luna for protection when he was caught in the middle of the war.


Fentanyl Network Operates From Culiacan, Sinaloa And CDMX, Says US

 "Ivan" for Borderland Beat 

U.S. citizens are prohibited from dealing with José Ángel Rivera Zazueta, after the U.S. government identified him as an alleged leader of a drug trafficking organization dedicated to fentanyl trafficking.

Rivera Zazueta is identified as the leader of a drug manufacturing and trafficking organization based in Culiacán, Sinaloa and Mexico City.

Aristegui Noticias reports that, according to the Treasury Department, "this action was closely coordinated with the government of Mexico and would not have been possible without the cooperation and support of the Drug Enforcement Administration."

According to the investigation, Rivera Zazueta's network operates on a global scale with nodes in the United States, Mexico, South and Central America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.

Rivera Zazueta is accused of importing precursor chemicals from China to Mexico, which are then used to manufacture synthetic drugs such as fentanyl, ecstasy, crystal methamphetamine, 2C-B and ketamine.

Rivera Zazueta works with Shanghai Fast-Fine Chemicals, a China-based chemical transportation company "that has shipped various precursor chemicals, often with false labels, to drug trafficking organizations in Mexico for the illicit production of fentanyl," the U.S. government claims.

Additionally, Rivera Zazueta is responsible for the movement of large quantities of cocaine from Colombia to the United States, Spain, Italy, Guatemala, Mexico and other countries in Europe and Central America.

In addition to Rivera Zazueta, the U.S. government sanctioned his associates Nelton Santiso Aguila (Santiso Aguila), a Mexican citizen, along with Guatemalan citizen Jason Antonio Yang Lopez, "for assisting in the procurement and importation of fentanyl precursor chemicals into Mexico for the manufacture of drugs destined for the United States.

All property and interests of these individuals in the United States must be blocked and reported to the Office of Foreign Assets Control.

The regulations prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or persons within the United States involving any property or ownership interest in the property of designated or blocked persons.

If anyone establishes links with these persons they may face civil or criminal penalties.


Midas: A Drug Cartel, a Gold Mine, and a Journalist Abduction (Part 1)

"Redlogarythm" and "HEARST" for Borderland Beat

Leaked intelligence revealed that the drug cartel Nueva Familia Michoacana, who recently had journalists abducted, was taking in over 10 million pesos every month by strong-arming a foreign mining company. 

Their extortion of the gold mine may be continuing to this very day.

A Kid, Like Any Other

At the beginning of December 2022, Alan García Aguilar was unknown to the public. He enjoyed traveling around his home state, posting on social media and studying. He was just a normal, young guy - just like millions of other Mexican citizens. 

American Attempts to Smuggle Cocaine Into Mexico?

"Mica" for

American who gets red custom light busted at the border with cocaine.

Chihuahua Requested The Federal Government To Transfer 70 Highly Dangerous Women

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

Chihuahua has not only requested the transfer of men to federal prisons because they represent a high risk, but has also done the same with women who must have special surveillance measures, among them are leaders of kidnappers, as well as an alleged serial killer, or who have participated in violent crimes such as kidnappings and massacres with the Aztecas gang that operates for the Juarez cartel.

A document in possession of the Ministry of Defense (Sedena) and made public by the Guacamaya hacktivists, reveals that the federal government accepted the transfer of 175 inmates on May 6, 2022, among them 70 women serving sentences for various crimes, such as extortion, femicide, the execution of ministerial police officers, as well as the first woman sentenced to life imprisonment in Mexico.

The document signed by Luis Alfonso Harris Arrondo, state penitentiary authority, and addressed to General Luis Rodríguez Bucio, then commander of the National Guard, states that the Secretariat of Security and Citizen Protection (SSPC) authorized the transfer to the Federal Center for Social Readaptation Number 16, "CPS Femenil Morelos".

In his letter he reiterates the need and urgency of the displacement of these individuals, given that they have a high criminal profile and are linked to high impact events in the state, a situation that undermines the security, governance and stability of the prison in which they are being held.

In our country, there are few cases of women who have stood out in the world of drug trafficking, such as Ivonne Soto Vega, La Pantera, who was an operator for the Arellano Felix brothers' cartel, becoming its main money launderer. Also noteworthy is the case of Delia Patricia Buendía, Ma. Backer, who headed the Neza cartel.

Chihuahua authorities requested a prison change for Karina Rubí Pérez Valtierra, who participated in the homicide of Meiby Oyuki Santaella Camacho and César Amador Estupiñán Ibarra, whose bodies were abandoned in the trunk of a vehicle, in August 2018.

Along with four other people, the woman is under investigation for the massacre of eleven people in the Pradera de los Oasis neighborhood in Ciudad Juarez, who, with the support of other members of the Los Aztecas gang, were tied hand and foot and tortured until they were strangled on the orders of one of their bosses.

Flor Cazarín González, La Madrina, was accused of being the leader of a gang that committed violent assaults and massive property theft in Ciudad Juárez, where her son also operated. She was convicted for the death of two women, but reports indicate that she could be involved in up to 20 and 25 murders. That is, they presume she is a serial killer.

Erika Patricia Alonso Sandoval, La Muñeca, became the first woman to receive a life sentence in Mexico. This was announced by the government of Chihuahua at the time, after finding her responsible for leading a kidnapping gang called Los Mochadedos, a group responsible for the murder of two businessmen.

Iveth Nalleli López Hernández, Kira, received a 21-year prison sentence for killing Miguel Edwin Juárez Palma, along with another person, during an alleged occult ritual.

Lizeth del Carmen Guzmán Agosto, La Foca, was found guilty, along with another person, of the crimes of aggravated homicide and attempted aggravated homicide, to the detriment of three members of the State Investigation Agency (AEI).

Likewise, Dania Idssel Vázquez Ramírez was found responsible for the crime of gender-related homicide and a judge sentenced her to 31 years in prison, after proving her participation in the death of the woman identified as Anabel Montañez López, 33 years old.

La Red Noticias

Monte Escobedo: Four Bodies Found Tortured, They Were Wearing CJNG Caps

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

Four bodies were left on the streets of the town of Monte Escobedo, Zacatecas, all showing signs of torture and wearing caps with letters of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) on their sides.

The bodies were found in the early hours of Wednesday morning, minutes before the new head of the Public Security Secretariat, Arturo Medina Mayoral, was inaugurated in the capital of Zacatecas.

Presumably they were three men and a woman, who were lying in the streets of Monte Escobedo, (where months ago a dog walked with a human head in its mouth).

Preliminary information indicates that the four victims had gunshot wounds; at least two of them were tied with ropes by their hands and feet; all of them were lying face down.

Likewise, three of the victims had caps with letters alluding to the CJNG on them; one of them also had packaged food at his feet and on one side what looked like a caltrop. 

According to Imagen de Zacatecas, a major security operation is being carried out in the area and it is being investigated whether the place where the bodies were found corresponds to the homicide or if they were left there.

The areas where the bodies were found were in the Don Manuelito square, Martinez Lopez street and another one next to the Monte Escobedo library.

So far, the spokesperson for the State Peacebuilding Board hasn’t provided any information on the matter and the latest publication is about the Handover-Reception of the head of the SSP.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

‘This Is Very Dangerous’: If You See Folded Money on the Floor Like This, Do Not Pick It Up—Here’s Why

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

A shocking public service announcement is warning everyone not to pick up folded money that you might find on the floor in public places such as gas stations.

The paper bills could be lethal envelopes carrying deadly fentanyl, which can kill with just one dose.

The Perry County Sheriff’s Office in Tennessee recently found two instances of folded paper bills in gas stations. Inside was a white, powdery substance that tested positive for methamphetamine and fentanyl.

Posting a picture online, the sheriff stated: “This is very dangerous, folks! Please share and educate your children to not pick up the money.

“I personally plan to push for legislation for a bill that would intensify the punishment, if someone is caught using money as a carrying pouch for such poison.”

They added: “It enrages me as a father and the sheriff, that people can act so carelessly and have no regard for others wellbeing, especially a child. I hope we find the ones responsible.”

This potentially deadly find is another symptom of the surge in fentanyl flooding into America from across its southern border in what some analysts are calling an “undeclared war” by China levelled against the United States.

Chemical ingredients shipped in from overseas to Mexico are then processed into fentanyl and smuggled in-country by drug cartels.

Recent months have seen unprecedented volumes of fentanyl seizures. In July, DEA agents seized about 1 million fake pills containing fentanyl in Los Angeles, the largest ever drug seizure in California’s history.

Deaths from the opioid are also reaching new heights. The CDC in November announced that last year’s overdose death toll exceeded 100,000 for the first time ever. In 2020, the yearly number of deaths from fentanyl spiked dramatically to 150 deaths per day in America. Fentanyl has become the leading cause of death for Americans aged 18–45.

Marking a “new paradigm” in America’s opioid crisis, fentanyl distinguishes itself from more “traditional” street drugs—such as crack, heroin, cocaine, and marijuana—as it is capable of killing with one dose. And unlike run-of-the-mill street drugs, fentanyl often assumes the form of pills, fraudulently posing as stamped, regular-looking over-the-counter drugs.

A bag of assorted pills and prescription drugs dropped off for disposal is displayed during the DEA 20th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day at Watts Healthcare on April 24, 2021, in Los Angeles, California. 

Michael Gray from the Actus Foundation, whose daughter died from fentanyl, told The Epoch Times that drug dealers do intentionally introduce lethal doses onto the streets intending to kill, as such deaths, when reported, serve as advertising; lethal doses attract seasoned users. While non-users might die from such doses, long-term addicts, who have built up a tolerance, seek them out.

The recent public service announcement in Tennessee demonstrates that the crisis extends beyond the border and is nationwide, while making it shockingly clear to what extent dealers are willing to go to pump these drugs into circulation.

The Epoch Times

How The Mexican Army Tracked And Killed A CJNG Cartel Commander

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

A massive trove of leaked files reveals Mexico's military spying on one cartel while seemingly turning a blind eye toward rival groups.

After a hunt that had lasted months, the Mexican army was closing in on an infamous Jalisco New Generation Cartel commander known as El M2. It was late January 2022 in the lawless Tierra Caliente region of Michoacán, where M2 and his gunmen were waging a brutal turf war near the hometown of his cartel’s top boss. This would prove to be the decisive battle.

M2 had prepared for this moment. He’d been paying off local townspeople with a few hundred pesos a week to support the CJNG cause. Soldiers encircled his position, landing in helicopters and bearing down with armored vehicles. M2 issued a command over his organization’s radio network: Ring the church bells.

When the bells tolled in the cathedral in Loma Blanca and several other small towns nearby, citizens that formed the cartel’s “social base” flooded the streets, hurling rocks and obscenities at the soldiers to slow their advance. M2 sent orders over the radio for his gunmen to plant improvised landmines along the highway and nearby roads, destroy the pavement with heavy machinery, and launch drones equipped to drop makeshift bombs from the sky.  

“Anyone who comes around, mátalo a la verga,” he said, using a Spanish vulgarity that roughly translates as “kill the pricks.” “I don’t want anyone to enter. Kill all those fuckers. Whatever happens will happen, soldiers or our rivals, kill them all.”

Exactly what happened next has long been a source of mystery and intrigue, an unfinished chapter in the gruesome real-life telenovela of Mexico’s narco wars. But now, using a trove of emails and classified intelligence reports leaked from the Mexican army, VICE News was able to retrace M2’s final shootout in Michoacán, independently confirming for the first time what transpired and revealing the dramatic aftermath.

Through our reporting, which included an exclusive face-to-face interview with M2—real name: Miguel Ángel Fernández Valencia—a year prior to his death, we have also uncovered new details about his early exploits as drug trafficker in the United States and his cartel’s struggle to seize control of Michoacán.

The documents show how the Mexican military spies on cartel operators, using sophisticated surveillance technology to track their movements and eavesdrop on their conversations. The source materials—dubbed “Guacamaya Leaks”—were obtained by anonymous hackers and shared publicly in September 2022. The Mexican government has not contested the authenticity of the leaked files. The press office of Mexico’s Secretariat of National Defense acknowledged receiving an inquiry from VICE News, but did not address questions about M2 and the situation in Michoacán.

The army leak includes millions of unvetted documents, many of which rely on informants within the cartels or intercepted communications. VICE News fact checked and corroborated the records used for this story wherever possible. 


The documents also reveal new information about the United Cartels, an alliance of criminal groups in Michoacán that has been at war with CJNG for more than three years. Perhaps most troubling, the documents suggest the Mexican army is turning a blind eye to the continued presence of the United Cartels, which now controls the territory once claimed by M2. Dozens of reports reviewed by VICE News show that the Mexican army has extensive knowledge of the United Cartels’ operations and the whereabouts of key leaders, yet seemingly chooses not to act.

“Many of the questions we have about the military strategy [in Michoacán] have not been resolved,” said Catalina Pérez Correa, a professor at Mexico’s Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE), who studies militarization of the drug war. “Are they just looking to manage the violence in some way, such as having organized crime groups not even controlled but simply managed? Or are they really trying to put an end to organized crime?”

In October 2020, VICE News traveled to Michoacán’s Tierra Caliente to report on a cartel war that was raging out of control and wreaking havoc on the local economy. Michoacán exports billions of dollars worth of limes and avocados to the United States, and cartels skim off the top by forcing businesses to pay protection money. The city of El Aguaje, once home to bustling ranches and sprawling lime orchards, became a ghost town full of abandoned houses pockmarked by shootouts that raged for hours in the streets.

With borders that stretch from the Pacific Ocean into the heart of Mexico, Michoacán has long been a hub for drug trafficking. Cartels use the coastline to land speedboats laden with cocaine from Colombia. Precursor chemicals from China flow through large industrial seaports, fueling clandestine fentanyl and meth labs hidden in the rugged mountainous interior. Major highways offer direct access to Mexico City and coveted smuggling routes north toward the U.S. border.

“Since I was a little kid I moved kilos up there,” M2 told us. 

His story began in Michoacán, in the tiny town of La Peña Colorada. He was one of 14 brothers from a region with few economic prospects other than hard agricultural labor or drugs. He migrated to the U.S., living in California, Utah, and Idaho, where court records show he was charged in May 2006 with meth trafficking.

Local police in Bellevue, Idaho, tried to make a traffic stop and he took off in his Mercury Sable, ramming a cop car before eventually being caught with over four ounces of crystal. He’d crossed the border illegally after previously being deported, which led to federal charges that sent him to prison until the end of 2014.


By the time M2 was deported back to Mexico again, he spoke fluent English and had developed an appreciation for Bob Marley and Santana, which he learned to play on the guitar in prison. A talented norteño singer himself, soon he would be the subject of drug ballads or narcocorridos written about his exploits as a ruthless enforcer for the CJNG’s supreme leader, El Mencho. 

El Mencho, born Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, has a $10 million bounty on his head from the U.S. government. He was born in a small town near El Aguaje, along Michoacán’s border with his stronghold in the neighboring state of Jalisco. In late 2019, he deployed a small army of sicarios, led by M2, to wrest control of the Tierra Caliente away from the United Cartels.

To meet M2 for an interview, VICE News had to criss-cross disputed cartel territory, ultimately arriving at a makeshift checkpoint on the highway southwest of El Aguaje. CJNG men dressed like commandos, with camouflage, body armor, and automatic weapons, stopped our vehicle and checked our press credentials before allowing us to proceed. 

M2 arrived in a black Ford Raptor pickup truck, modified with armor plating and bulletproof glass in the windows. The massive barrel of a Barrett .50 caliber sniper rifle—a weapon capable of taking down a military helicopter—poked through a gunport cut into the front windshield. A half-dozen other armored pickup trucks full of gunmen completed his entourage.

M2 was tall and wiry, with a chiseled face framed by a ballistic helmet, dark tinted glasses, and a bushy goatee. Beneath his bulletproof vest, he wore a polo shirt with a garish blue and white pattern, tucked into jeans cinched with a large gold and silver belt buckle. When he smiled, his front teeth glimmered with gold caps. He was armed with a FN SCAR rifle, the same model used by U.S. special forces, with a grenade launcher mounted under the barrel and extra grenades strapped to his chest. On his hip was a Colt pistol with “M2” in gold on the handle.

We met in the morning, but he ordered one of his men to fetch a six-pack from the only store in town, cracking a Corona Light as he sat down for the interview, which took place inside of a cemetery next to the grave of a fallen CJNG fighter.

At the time, M2 asked to remain anonymous, identifying himself as “simply a commander here in the Michoacán region.” Because his words can no longer be used against him in court, and because of the significance of his death, we are now confirming his identity as a source.

He claimed the CJNG was different from other cartels, focusing only on drug trafficking and not preying on locals.

“Nobody can say that we’re doing kidnapping, robberies, or extortion,” M2 said. “This is not our line of work. We are drug traffickers. We produce, export, and sell drugs. That’s how our ‘papa’ [El Mencho] makes money. That’s our business. We absolutely do not depend on extortion, kidnapping, protection rackets—none of that.”


The CJNG does, however, have a documented history of engaging in all of those criminal activities. Although it’s possible M2 operated by his own code, he was undoubtedly sowing terror across the Tierra Caliente. Displaced people from Michoacán describe forced recruitment of young men by CJNG, with those who refused to join beaten, murdered, or disappeared. 

The United Cartels were even worse, M2 alleged, and he claimed state authorities were supporting his rivals. 

“They are coming after me and pushing me out of places to accommodate our enemies,” he said. “We are people of laws. And we are people who agree we need a government. But we are not in agreement with the behavior of this government in our state.”

M2 offered no proof to back up his claims. But he also seemed to sense the writing on the wall, one way or the other.

“The government is the one who will decide when they want this to end,” he said. “When the government does their work, when the government does what it’s supposed to do, this will end and things will get better.”

With M2 and the United Cartels at war, the situation in the Tierra Caliente spiraled out of control—and Mexico’s army started paying attention. Leaked files show a document dated Jan. 24, 2021, with an overview of the military’s “Aguililla Agenda,” detailing cartel movements in the area and the military units responsible for those territories.

By August 2021, military reports show growing concern about the CJNG continuing to make advances near the city of Tepalcatepec, controlled by a United Cartels leader named Juan José Farías Alvares, alias “El Abuelo.” A leaked report from Aug. 30 describes how United Cartel members “are expecting the advance of armed CJNG cells.”

El Abuelo’s people were overheard spotting a convoy of 15 CJNG vehicles, including “a monster,” essentially a homemade tank made by equipping a heavy truck with thick armor plates.


The next month, M2 and his gunmen took over Loma Blanca, which would become the site of his last stand, and a handful of other small towns. The army eavesdropped as some of El Abuelo’s men and supporters “contemplated abandoning Tepalcatepec with their families” and fleeing to another town controlled by the United Cartels about 50 miles away.

There’s evidence CJNG’s top leadership understood the cartel could not fight a war on two fronts against both the United Cartels and the Mexican army. In November 2021, army reports show, M2 was overheard telling his lieutenants that “El Patrón” had given instructions not to attack military personnel: “It should be avoided at all costs and don’t mention these orders over our radio frequencies.”


M2 was not pleased. The army listened as he told an associate: “How is this going to work? We’re going to stay ready to shoot the fuckers in green.” 

Nevertheless, he obeyed orders and instructed his men, who had been using drones to drop improvised explosives, to stand down against the military in order to avoid “el pedo más grande,” literally meaning “the biggest fart” or loosely to cause a stink in CJNG territory.

The strategy seemed to work until the afternoon of Jan. 29 2022, two days before his 41st birthday, when M2 received an urgent report over the radio: The army had invaded El Aguaje and landed a helicopter on a nearby hilltop. Two other choppers were circling the area. M2 gave the orders to ring the church bells and deploy the roadside bombs, but it was too late. He was surrounded.

Grainy video footage filmed in Loma Blanca that circulated online after the shootout showed townspeople wielding sticks confronting army soldiers in full battle gear, shouting angrily and blocking the troops from advancing. A helicopter flies low overhead and gunfire can be heard in the background. Two soldiers were hospitalized with injuries, along with several civilians.


M2’s last stand occurred near Loma Blanca’s cemetery. According to a leaked military report, he was “shot in the chest” and took off running. Without their leader, the CJNG gunmen scattered in all directions. Amid the chaos, M2 disappeared. Nobody was sure what had happened to him, and leaked army reports show the CJNG leadership demanding answers from his deputies in Loma Blanca. Cartel members visited morgues in several nearby towns in search of his body.

M2’s wife and another romantic partner were kept in the dark, the reports show, even as the women pressed the cartel’s leadership for answers. With CJNG losing control of the area, a senior cartel boss arranged to have M2’s wife and kids moved to a more secure location. His other lover received a few possessions left at his home.

Still, nobody knew for sure whether he was dead or in hiding.

On Feb. 6, the army found a corpse “in an advanced state of decomposition” in a field near the scene of the shootout in Loma Blanca. The clothes matched the “cowboy” style worn by M2. Gruesome photos of the body leaked almost immediately, and days later the state prosecutor’s office in Michoacán issued a statement declaring M2 officially dead. 

But in Mexico’s underworld there is a long and bizarre history of cartel leaders—including El Mencho—returning from the grave months or years after being presumed killed. Conspiracy theories spread online that M2 planted a fake body and has been hiding out ever since. Around the one-year anniversary of his death this week, the rumors sprung up again. One photo showed M2 looking ready for a night on the town, wearing a scarf and designer hat with a phone pressed to his ear.


José Ulises Lara Gracián, a veteran of Michoacán’s cartel wars who now lives in the U.S. and covers the conflict online, operating as the “Unidad de Inteligencia Ciudadana,” or Citizen’s Intelligence Unit, told VICE News that M2 is still alive. Lara claimed to have spoken to M2 since his purported death, but offered little in the way of supporting evidence. An interview M2 gave to Lara prior to the Loma Blanca shootout confirmed several biographical details, including that he was related to El Mencho by marriage and the nephew of another prominent trafficker nicknamed El Animal.    

“I think the government knows where I am all the time,” M2 told Lara in the fall of 2021. “I have no one to hide from nor am I doing things to bow my head before anyone.”

VICE News reviewed the corpse images and found several similarities from our interview with him, including gold-capped front teeth and a collection of bracelets and talismans around his wrists. 


M2’s close relatives visited the morgue in Michoacán’s state capital, the army noted, and identified his remains based on scars and distinctive skin marks. The body was taken to neighboring Jalisco and buried in a small town’s cemetery. Photos purportedly showing the grave draped in flowers have also circulated online this week.

After M2’s body was found, army reports say his “chief of operations” summoned the bodyguards who had fled the shootout. They were executed “because they should have protected him.” 

A CJNG source, who was active in Michoacán around the time of these events, confirmed to VICE News that the bodyguards were indeed killed, but offered no comment on M2’s death: "There's nothing more to say,” the source said. “He's dead and there's nothing else to talk about" 

The army overheard someone in El Aguaje tell M2’s widow that the cartel “was planning to leave, because M2 was the only one putting up a fight.” They listened as El Abuelo’s people monitored the CJNG retreat, observing “armed cells” marching into the hills toward Jalisco at dawn.


In the following days, the Mexican army swept into El Aguaje and the surrounding areas. The high-profile operation received international press attention, portrayed as the Mexican government restoring order and ridding Michoacán of CJNG. Journalists were allowed to enter El Mencho’s hometown, and the army released photos of minesweepers removing improvised explosives left behind along the roads. 

The mayor of Aguililla, once part of M2’s fiefdom, was gunned down in broad daylight a few weeks after holding a ceremony to celebrate the army bringing an end to the cartel war.

And in the year since, the Jalisco cartel has crept back into Michoacán. Just two weeks ago, CJNG members were blamed for an attack that killed three members of the indigenous Nahua community in Santa María Ostula, which has its own citizen-led police force to prevent the cartel from taking over their natural-resource rich lands. Another community leader in the nearby town of Aquila vanished on Jan. 14, along with a prominent environmental lawyer. 

Beyond the return of CJNG, the Mexican army appears to tolerate the continued presence of the United Cartels. The leaked files show extensive monitoring of El Abuelo and his ally El Gordo, a leader of Los Viagras. While such surveillance was the prelude to the operation that killed M2, the United Cartels seemingly operate with impunity. Intelligence reports suggest the locations and day-to-day operations of Abuelo and Gordo are not a mystery for the Mexican army. The only question is why they have yet to take action.


Members of the United Cartels sometimes call themselves the “Pueblos Unidos,” conjuring an image of townspeople banding together to defend against El Mencho’s invaders from the neighboring state. In years past the Michoacán state government provided arms and police uniforms to these so-called autodefensas, including El Gordo of Los Viagras.

VICE News obtained video footage from inside a medical clinic of three men who claim to have been wounded by gunshots during the Loma Blanca melee. One of the men alleges the army had arrived to help the CJNG’s rivals.

“It's the fucking government that is supposedly taking care of the people, right?” the man says. “And it's shooting at us civilians. Why are they shooting us? Instead of defending the people, they bring those dogs from the United Cartels.”

There have been several recent cases involving alleged corruption by high-ranking Mexican security officials. Around the time of our interview with M2, in October 2020, the U.S. arrested (and later released under pressure from Mexico) Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos, a former defense secretary who was accused of taking cartel payoffs—a case Mexican authorities chose not to pursue. Mexico’s former secretary of public security, Genaro García Luna, is currently on trial in New York after pleading innocent to allegedly taking hundreds of millions in cartel bribes.

Pérez Correa, the CIDE security researcher, pointed to the 2014 Ayotzinapa case, which involved the mass kidnapping of 43 college students training to become teachers. The investigation into the crime revealed links between a local drug cartel, police, and the military, including officials who have since been arrested and charged with ordering the students to be murdered and disappeared.

“It really is the whole state that is participating,” Pérez Correa said. “It is very difficult to think of a policy that is going to reduce organized crime when you have sectors of the army, sectors of the police, that do not really allow you to make a distinction between authorities and criminals.”

Even M2, who surely benefitted from CJNG bribery, bemoaned pervasive corruption prior to his death. He told us he had four sons, and it was his dream for them to one day be able to feel safe in his homeland. For over 15 years, Mexico’s military has been deployed to fight in Michoacán’s cartel wars. Perhaps in another decade or so, he said, there would finally be peace.

“I’d like to bring them here and be able to walk around these places without having to bring armed people with me or carry a gun myself,” he said. “That’s what I want, I want that in 15 years Michoacán could be a place governed by a legitimate government, a government that knows what it has to do and delivers on its promises.”

The last intelligence report on M2 is dated Feb. 10, 2022, and it says control of his “armed cell” had fallen to his deputy. The gunmen had last been seen heading into the mountains around Aguililla, El Mencho’s home municipality.

The army would keep watching, but now they had one less target: “Therefore, monitoring is concluded for Miguel Ángel Fernández Valencia alias M2.”


Message Attributed to "RR" of the CJNG Hung in Colima

Before dawn on Tuesday, January 31, 2023 a banner was hung on a pedestrian bridge in the small town of Loma de Juárez, just south of the city of Colima.

Venustiano Carranza, CDMX: Security Cameras Record Two Men Dispose Of A Female Corpse

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

Video translation is as follows:

It is 10:51 p.m. on Saturday, January 28 in the Venustiano Carranza neighborhood. A camera records the moment when a white car parks near the Progresista community drainage canal in the eastern part of the capital. Other vehicles are circulating but still two individuals pull a box out of the trunk. Inside is the lifeless body of a young woman.

A passerby passes a few meters away but goes back the way he came. One of the subjects drags the box down the street. He leaves it for a few moments while he approaches the trunk for his accomplice to give him a bag. The man places the bag on top of the box and again drags it to a dumpster. The other one watches as he comes and goes, apparently talking on the phone and waiting for the other individual. 

When the one who dragged the box returns, he closes the trunk and climbs into the passenger side and the car drives off. Later the body of the victim between 25 and 30 years of age was found in this vacant lot that was used as a garbage dump. She had bruises, knife wounds, and signs of asphyxiation.

Figures from the Executive Secretary of the National Public Security System indicate that 2022 closed with a little more than 900 femicides in the country. 135 committed in the State of Mexico. And 74 in the capital. This case captured on video is currently being investigated by the prosecutor's office, which just on Monday boasted a 54 percent increase in alleged femicides brought to trial. At this time the suspects of the white care have not been arrested.


Ioan Grillo - Cartel Wars & The Fentanyl Crisis

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

Cartels, drugs, money, corruption—author and award winning journalist Ioan Grillo has seen it all in his twenty-plus years' of covering Latin America. In this episode, we cover the unprecedented violence that broke out in the city of Culiacán after Mexican authorities recaptured Sinaloa cartel leader Ovidio Guzmán, son of "El Chapo."

Grillo breaks down the inner workings of Mexico's most notorious cartels, their recruitment strategies and growing turf wars. We cover the issues with the US / Mexico border and how fentanyl has revolutionized the drug business while wreaking havoc throughout the country. We'll discuss the question—Should cartels be designated as terrorist organizations? The answer isn't as simple as you might think.

Shawn Ryan Show

Accused Sinaloa Cartel Top Operative Felipe Cabrera Sarabia Trying To Avoid More Jail Time

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

Felipe Cabrera Sarabia, known as 'the Engineer,' is accused of being a top operative at the Sinaloa drug cartel and is drawing up plans to get out of prison.

An accused top operative for the Sinaloa drug cartel, that still controls a majority of cocaine and heroin sold in Chicago, is drawing up legal plans to get out of prison.

Felipe Cabrera Sarabia is also known as the "Engineer," a nickname he supposedly got because of his knack for engineering covert drug routes using planes, trains, trucks and even submarines.

The I-Team has learned that even as Chicago prosecutors continue to file secret sealed motions in the lingering El Chapo case, the "Engineer" is working on legal plans to get out of prison.

But the 51-year-old's bid for freedom may involve more brain power than fire power.

Sarabia claims to be a cattle rancher and not a cocaine kingpin, but according to prosecutors in a plea deal cut 10 days ago he was "an organizer or leader of criminal activity that involved five or more participants."

That means when he is sentenced in early July at the Dirksen Federal courthouse, the government will ask for enhanced punishment and will paint Sarabia as a leader and organizer of El Chapo's Sinaloa structure, which would make him eligible for more time in prison.

Sarabia has already been locked up in for 11-and-a-half years, serving time at the MCC in Chicago and possibly other prisons elsewhere.

According to the plea deal, Sarabia will fight the enhancement, claiming he was a soldier following El Chapo's orders and not a lieutenant making decisions.

If he can prove that he was no boss, Sarabia would probably be released for time served, which is what his defense team would typically ask for in this situation.

As El Chapo's men continue to fall or be pursued as fugitives, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman himself remains locked up, serving a life sentence at the SuperMax prison in Colorado.

El Chapo was convicted in New York and remains under indictment in Chicago, but will likely never be prosecuted in Illinois because he's already serving a life sentence.

The "Engineer" and his attorneys are expected to make their case for leniency at a July 7 sentencing hearing in Chicago.

Meanwhile, the mammoth El Chapo drug conspiracy case continues to chug along. The guts of the investigation go back to 2008, and indictments began in 2009. This will remain an open and active case until El Chapo's second in command, Ismael " El Mayo" Garcia, is arrested or dead.

El Mayo has been a fugitive for 14 years, ever since Chicago prosecutors named him in the sweeping charges.


Tuesday, January 31, 2023

The Jalisco New Generation Cartel Denies Trafficking Fentanyl

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

A video has been disseminated online for Mexican and American authorities from the Jalisco New Generation Cartel. 

The 12 man team of armed enforcers stand in silence as their spokesman narrates before the camera the message that best fits an image specifically aimed for. 

That appearance is one of a cartel that doesn't dabble in the trafficking of fentanyl. 

Video translation is as follows:

Hello, good morning or good afternoon to all citizens and to all those from abroad. By this communiqué I want to let you know that I have not sent any drugs to the United States. 

Much less set up laboratories or sent fentanyl. I have forbidden fentanyl within my enterprise. Your country is full of drugs. And I don't think you need ours. I have a lot of respect for those who handle fentanyl. 

On my end, I'm not sending that poison to the United States. I don't send it to any other part of the world either. My cartel is the most respectful, strongest, and powerful. 

I only ask the Mexican and American authorities to look around and see that everyone wants to pass themselves off as CJNG. Today, it's the strongest and most powerful cartel. Yours truly, CJNG

Mexico Investigates Origin of 47 Weapons Confiscated From Ovidio Guzmán's Bedroom

"Mica" for

Mexico Investigates Origin of 47 Weapons Confiscated From Ovidio Guzmán

Ovidio Guzmán had 47 weapons in his room.

Improvised Armored Fighting Vehicles (IAFVs) In Service For Cartels

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

The redesigned vehicles with handcrafted armor in the service of organized crime, commonly called "monsters", which are used in the states with the highest rates of violence due to territorial disputes between drug trafficking cartels, have not gone out of fashion since their appearance a little over a decade ago, as evidenced by the number of units with these characteristics secured by the Mexican Army.

According to data from the Ministry of National Defense (Sedena), from January 1, 2018 to June 28, 2022, a total of 66 "monsters", reconstructed with the most diverse and peculiar shapes, were secured by the Army in at least nine states of the Republic: from pick-up trucks, SUVs or Jeeps, to heavy trucks and tanks that serve criminals to protect themselves from adversaries or to attack targets.

Of course, the "monsters" secured by the Army are fewer than those located by elements of the Secretariat of the Navy, some state police or the Criminal Investigation Agency, which together add up to hundreds of automobiles that are conditioned with thick plates of mild steel more than one inch thick. There is nothing to do with commercial automotive armor, whose steel is specially imported from Sweden, but whose control by the authorities induces criminals to look for a less aesthetic protection; very heavy, but effective.

The vehicles with handmade armor are more used by criminal organizations that have confrontations in more open, cross-country scenarios, as evidenced by the statistics of seizures. The state of Tamaulipas, a pioneer in the manufacture and use of this type of units, in the last four years and six months has seized 42 "monsters"; followed by Michoacán, with seven; Sonora, six; Jalisco, five; Guanajuato, two; and Chihuahua, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa and Zacatecas, with one in each entity.

In fact, in states such as Sonora and Zacatecas, this type of vehicle is a novelty since the dispute for control of various regions in their territories has increased. In Sonora, their incorporation into the civil war between criminal clans is due to the confrontation between the Sinaloa Cartel and the Caborca Cartel with its allies from the Beltrán Leyva organization, Los Mazatlecos and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG). In Zacatecas, the fight between the Sinaloa and Jalisco groups has also employed them.

The "monsters" do not replace the commercial armored vehicles, which are also used by drug traffickers, since in the same period of time, the Sedena has secured 564 of these units, which are mainly used by leaders of criminal cells, while heavy vehicles perform special tasks and their occupants are hired killers of the troops. Tamaulipas is also the leader in armored vehicles, with 277 units secured, followed by Michoacán, with 81; Sonora, 62; Sinaloa, 24; Jalisco, 22; Guerrero, 21; and Guanajuato, 19.


After the confrontation and the narco-blockades that took place on the night of August 9, 2022 in the states of Jalisco, elements of the Mexican Army killed a presumed hitman, detained five more, and seized, in addition to weapons, ammunition and magazines, seven vehicles, among them a truck of the so-called "monsters" with armor plating. The owners of the truck were members of the CJNG, of the elite group "Los Deltas", commanded by Ricardo Ruiz Velasco "El Doble R" or "El Tripa".

The military were not even surprised by the discovery, as they have noticed how their location has increased recently, as in the same state of Jalisco, where National Guard agents did it on April 13, also in 2022, when they secured one of those vehicles, inside the box of a trailer, loaded with approximately two thousand projectiles for firearms, in the municipality of Jamay, bordering with Michoacán. Individuals around the tractor-trailer fled in different directions.

On June 11, members of the National Guard deployed in the state of Sonora also secured a dump truck style vehicle with homemade armor, abandoned on a dirt road between the communities of Atil and Magdalena de Kino. The unit contained 222 cartridges of various calibers, 71 caltrops and several firearm magazines. No one was arrested during the operation.

On July 1, in the municipality of Zapopan, Jalisco, armed individuals broke into a company dedicated to automotive armoring, located on the popular López Mateos Avenue, to take away two young employees, aged 26 and 33. The families of the armorers held demonstrations to demand their return home, and almost a week later, their release was announced, without further details, as they arrived home by their own means. The motive for the kidnapping was never clarified.

The Secretary of National Defense destroyed, in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, 23 vehicles with "monstrous" armor; 13 of them, related to criminal records. Meanwhile, a day later, the Attorney General's Office and the Ministry of Public Security of that entity informed that in the period from 2019 to 2022, 257 vehicles with handmade armor have been secured, seized and destroyed, more than those obtained by the military alone.

On August 2, 2022, the Attorney General's Office (FGR) seized five armored vehicles, in addition to two pickup trucks, hidden among avocado orchards on the dirt road to the community of Las Carmelitas, in Uruapan, Michoacan, and marked with the acronym of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación). Inside the vehicles, 60 cartridges for assault rifles, five ballistic helmets, 47 magazine holders, two ballistic vests and various items of clothing with the letters CJNG were found.


The use of the "monsters" dates back to the end of the first decade of the new millennium. They first appeared in Tamaulipas and were soon replicated in Michoacán and Jalisco. Its inventors were Los Zetas, the armed group formed by Army deserters that initially acted as the enforcement arm of the Gulf Cartel, but when it split, it fought against its former leaders and advanced territorially in Michoacan, without being able to incursion from that state to Jalisco, nor did they manage to do so in the state of Zacatecas.

Due to the regulation that exists for companies dedicated to automotive armoring, members of organized crime have been able to acquire armored units from the factory or have had their vehicles armored through people with no criminal record, but they have not been able to do the same with the "monstrous", so called because of their unaesthetic and even crude finishes due to the use of mild or laminated steel that carries a heavy load on the trucks.

People who somehow worked in the automotive armoring industry have decided to work for organized crime after finding themselves unemployed or attracted by better salaries. These armorers require knowledge of industrial engineering, mechanics, mechatronics or technical careers related to the automotive world, as they must know about machines and tools, welding, manufacturing processes to correctly assemble the steel plates, overlap them and not leave ballistic gaps.

In April 2017, the Mexican Association of Automotive Armorers (AMBA) announced that it would offer up to 50 thousand job openings to Mexican migrants returning to or deported from the United States. The AMBA stated that the jobs offered would be in the fields of private security, automotive armoring, transportation of valuables, logistics, executive protection, consulting and alarm monitoring, among others. The associates' plants are located in the State of Mexico, Nuevo Leon and Mexico City. The outcome of the project was never known, although it is known that there were layoffs in this sector due to the pandemic.

In addition to the armorers who are recruited by the drug cartels, there is a significant number of illegal companies that are not registered or regulated before the tax and security authorities; those that offer their services through the internet, social networks or some other platforms, although they do not have the opportunity to acquire invoiced materials, including certified ballistic steel, which is special and is only sold to duly established and supervised armorers.

Despite not being equipped with the best quality materials, not having an aesthetic automotive appearance and not being as light in weight as possible (as is the case with commercially armored units), the "monsters" are very expensive for those who have them manufactured, either by mounting the structure on a chassis or by modifying the original characteristics of an automobile, since their price generally exceeds one million Mexican pesos.

Zeta Tijuana