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

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Beltrán-Leyva Cartel

The Beltrán-Leyva Cartel (Spanish: Cártel de los Beltrán Leyva) is a Mexican drug cartel and organized crime syndicate founded by the four Beltrán Leyva brothers: Marcos Arturo, Carlos, Alfredo and Héctor.

The cartel is responsible for cocaine transportation and wholesaling, marijuana production and wholesaling, and heroin production and wholesaling, controls numerous drug trafficking corridors, and engages in human smuggling, money laundering, extortion, kidnapping, murder and gun-running. The Beltrán Leyva brothers, who were formerly aligned with the Sinaloa Cartel, are now allies of Los Zetas.

Born in the Sinaloan countryside in the 1960s, the Beltrán Leyva brothers – Marcos Arturo, Carlos, Alfredo and Héctor – worked closely with Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, during decades of smuggling. Sensing a void in the rival Gulf Cartel after Osiel Cárdenas' arrest on March 14, 2003, the Sinaloa Cartel began to move into Gulf Cartel territory. Both gangs have been battling each other in northern Mexican cities since then, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of people including civilians, police and journalists. About 90% of the deaths are of drug traffickers.

In 2004 and 2005, Arturo Beltrán Leyva led powerful groups of assassins to fight for trade routes in northeastern Mexico for the Sinaloa Cartel. Through the use of corruption or intimidation, the Beltrán Leyva Cartel has been able to infiltrate Mexico's political, judicial and police institutions to feed classified information about anti-drug operations, and has even infiltrated the Interpol office in Mexico.

Switch of alliances
The arrest of Alfredo Beltrán Leyva (a.k.a.: El Mochomo) on January 20, 2008, was a huge blow to the Sinaloa Cartel, as he allegedly oversaw large-scale drug-smuggling operations and was a key money launderer for the cartel. In apparent revenge for the arrest of his brother Alfredo, Arturo ordered the assassination of the commissioner of the Federal Police, Édgar Eusebio Millán Gómez, and other top federal officials in the Mexican capital.[ One group of these hit men was captured in a Mexico City house with dozens of assault rifles, pistols, grenade launchers, 30 hand grenades, and bullet-proof jackets bearing the legend FEDA — the Spanish acronym for 'Special Forces of Arturo'. Apparently, the Beltrán Leyva brothers blamed their boss Joaquin "Chapo" Guzmán for their brother's arrest, and ordered the assassination of Guzmán's son, 22 year-old Édgar Guzmán López, which was carried out in a shopping center parking lot by at least 15 gunmen using assault rifles and grenade launchers.

The residual impact of Alfredo’s arrest not only undermined long-term Sinaloa alliances, but resurrected animosities between rival cartel leaders Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán and Arturo’s new allies, the Juárez Cartel, and provided the catalyst behind the bloodshed in Mexico’s most-violent city: Ciudad Juárez. The Beltrán Leyva brothers, and those loyalists who departed the Sinaloa Cartel with them, have allied with Los Zetas, causing an escalation of conflict in strongholds shared uneasily by "old" Sinaloa leaders.

In February 2010, the Beltrán-Leyva Cartel and los Zetas engaged in a violent turf war against the new alliance integrated by the Gulf Cartel, Sinaloa Cartel and La Familia Cartel in the border city of Reynosa, Tamaulipas, rendering some border towns "ghost towns".

Official reports from early 2010 mention a current infighting for the control of the cartel and its territory. One faction is led by liuetenants Édgar Valdez Villarreal and Gerardo Alvarez-Vazquez, while the other is led by Héctor Beltrán Leyva and his lieutenant Sergio Villarreal Barragán. On April 2010 Héctor Beltrán Leyva created a cartel cell or branch in Morelos state named Cartel del Pacífico Sur (English: South Pacific Cartel) best known for having employed a 12-year-old gunman and executioner.

Since February 2010, the major cartels have aligned in two factions, one integrated by the Juárez Cartel, Tijuana Cartel, Los Zetas and the Beltrán-Leyva Cartel; the other faction integrated by the Gulf Cartel, Sinaloa Cartel and La Familia Cartel.

The cartel's assets include:

Dominance over drug and other illegal activities at airports in Mexico, Monterrey, Toluca, Cancún, and Acapulco;

Hotels and restaurants, constructed to launder money, in Cancún, Acapulco, Cozumel, and other resorts;

A working agreement with Los Zetas.

Supply corridors for moving marijuana, heroin, and methamphetamine from the Andes to the Arctic;

Capability to extort, launder money, run guns, smuggle humans, promote prostitution, and carry out kidnappings;

Operations in Mexico City, Chiapas, Guerrero Mexico State, Morelos, Nuevo León, Querétaro, Quintana Roo, Sinaloa, Sonora, and Tamaulipas, as well as in the United States and Canada;

Access to some high-ranking public figures and Army personnel whom they have bribed or intimidated.

The Beltrán Leyva brothers’ Colombian cocaine supplier, Ever Villafane Martínez, was arrested in Morelos in August 2008. Since then, the organization has pursued a relationship with Víctor and Darío Espinoza Valencia of Colombia’s Norte del Valle cartel.

The United States is offering a US$5 million reward for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of Héctor Beltrán Leyva, who now leads the drug cartel.

Alfredo Beltran Leyva

Alfredo Beltrán Leyva was captured on January 20, 2008, Arturo was killed by Mexican Marines in a shoot-out on December 16, 2009. Carlos Beltrán Leyva was captured by the Mexican Federal Police on December 30, 2009, in Culiacán, Sinaloa after showing authorities a fake driver's license. On April 22, 2010, a cartel lieutenant Gerardo Alvarez-Vazquez was captured on the outskirts of Mexico city; the U.S. had been offering a $2 million U.S. bounty for his arrest. Hector's rival, Edgar Valdez Villarreal, was arrested on August 30, 2010 outside Mexico City. On September 12, 2010 Sergio Villarreal Barragán was arrested in the city of Puebla, east of Mexico City. Héctor Beltrán Leyva, is still at large and considered to be the leader of what remains of the cartel.