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

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fall from Grace

Piedras Negras: An eyewitness account

He is a minister of a Christian community in a barrio of a major Texas city. His ministry is poor, mostly immigrants from Mexico like himself.

He was in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, on Sunday, August 8, preaching the Word in the rough edged Mundo Nuevo neighborhood when his faith was shaken.

It was early in the afternoon when the disturbance began across the street, several houses away. Three municipal police vehicles were parked in front of a residence, the policemen attempting to arrest someone who had barricaded himself inside.

Screams and threats filled the air as the police returned to their cars, unable to carry out their assignment. Calls on the 2 way radios were made. The neighbors re-entered their homes and porches to escape the searing afternoon sun.

After several minutes a convoy of pickups screeched to a halt next to the police cars, all late model twin cabs, the preferred vehicle of criminal gangs in Northern Mexico.

“Metase pastor, esos son Zetas” he was told (Come inside now pastor those are Zetas).

He was looking out the window as the heavily armed gunmen, some dressed in camouflage and all wearing bulletproof vests, spilled out of the pickups.

The pastor noticed none of the pickups had license plates and the gunmen all carried assault rifles.

The gunman who seemed to be in charge rudely barked orders to the police in a hard voice that travelled through walls. The police vehicles retreated to the intersections at both ends of the block to detour any traffic as the gunmen’s jefe got back in his truck and in reverse rammed through the fence surrounding the house.

Other gunmen broke down a door and came out with two youths who screamed obscenities as they were beaten and thrown into separate vehicles. Their mother cried out for her sons at the doorway, a gun aimed at her head also.

As the pickups drove away the police vehicles with lights flashing took their place in the front and back of the pickups, serving as an escort.

No more than five minutes passed when they all heard several bursts of automatic rifle fire not far from where the abduction had taken place. Then all was silence, even among the worshippers.

The pastor got his people together and immediately drove back across the border to Eagle Pass, Texas.

As he drove home he questioned himself and his faith. How could he have been so shaken with fear from what he saw that he did not go outside and attempt to stop the abduction? Why was he still filled with fear as he related what had occurred that Sunday?

He is now filled with doubts of his response if this were to happen to one of his flock. He will probably not return to Mundo Nuevo.

He could not stop thinking about those policemen and their betrayal to the people of Piedras Negras.

Most of the poorly paid and educated municipal authorities on the Northeast Mexican border states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon and Coahuila are labeled as polizetas or poligolfos.

Polizetas are affiliated with Los Zetas and serve mostly as lookouts, informants and protection for members of that drug cartel.

Poligolfos offer the same services for the Gulf Cartel.

An Email confirmation of the abduction was received from a source in Piedras later that week. “Tell your friend he scares too quickly, it was only Zetas killing Zetas.”

Piedras Negras: Real Estate

Jesus “El Chucho” Romo Lopez’s fall from grace came in April of this year when he lost command of the Piedras Negras plaza at the hands of a rival cartel’s “grupo de limpieza”, or cleaning crew in cartel jargon. These crews are hit squads that descend on an area and ruthlessly eliminate all rivals.

El Chucho Romo, or El Chucho Cardenas Guillen as some residents of Coahuila insist are his true roots, and his closest circle of associates fled Piedras Negras but many loyal followers were not so lucky.

Up to sixty persons involved in drug trafficking or their immediate relatives were disappeared in the April sweeps. The only evidence that remains of their lives are the empty houses that once were their homes. These dot the length of the city.

It is rumored from credible sources that expedited U.S. visas were for sale for the sum of $600,000 each to those who could afford them. In the world that exists on the U.S.-Mexico border, where life is not black or white but measured in different shades of gray, this is entirely believable.

El Chucho Romo now seems poised to return to power in Piedras Negras at the head of a Gulf Cartel grupo de limpieza. Much of Coahuila has been cleansed of the Zetas, who still have strongholds in Torreon and the border cities of Piedras and Ciudad Acuna and those towns just south of the border (Nava, Allende, Morelos, Villa Union and Zaragoza).

Residents of Piedras say that El Chucho left behind five homes. They have remained open and abandoned since. His favorite mansion was destroyed as a statement of vengeance.

Here are images of el Chucho’s palaces, some more humble than others. They are a testament to the rewards that trafficking in poison brings.

First House: Colonia Harold Pape

Second House: Colonia Las Fuentes

Third House: Colonia Roma

Fourth House: Colonia Tecnologico

Fifth House: Mansion in Colonia Las Fuentes


  1. Gerardo:

    ¡Felicidades por todo lo que haces (y hacen tus collegas) para el BB! Cada reportaje les sale, como este, muy bien escrito y detallado; siempre pensando en su audiencia y lo que ellos preguntarian.

    Seguiran llamadome a aqui.


  2. Gracias, AR, Muchas Gracias. Lo que me motiva mas en esta tarea son los comentarios sagaces que Usted y los otros comentaristas inteligentes suben al blog que, como disparos a la marca, derriban pendejadas. Gracias a todos Ustedes.

  3. What is the Corrolation between the "Narco Wars"
    and the implementing of "Shock Doctrine" and Disaster Capitalism" in all of this"
    while the population, the media and everyone is
    so preoccupied with this, what is really going on? anyone?

  4. Its absolutley amazing,everybody in Piedras sees and know who the dirty people are a priest sees absolute corruption so do all the people with himand nothing happens. Surley there is a secure way to communicate in Mexaco,I realize no 911,no crimestoppers, no local police, but somhow there must be a method to enlist the public in a secure method of gathering criminal intelligence and creating an agency to act on it, A AGENCY THAT WILL ACT ON IT.

  5. Gerardo, ditto on the fine job you are doing along with the other BB reporters. Please keep up the good work, just remember some of us really look depend on these posts and without you guys, I don't think there is another English blog as extensive as BB!

  6. I agree with Anonymous; I think you guys are doing a great job with this blog. I love reading about this kind of information and being informed on the subject. It's amazing to me how clueless the vast majority of the US public is about the "situation" in Mexico. Most only have a vague idea that a "bad drug war is going on".

  7. Gerardo @ 10:18:

    Ah, bueno... Entonces me comprometo a seguir haciendolo. Claro, con aticipo me disculpo si aveces me pongo como si yo fuera Perry White del Daily Planet. ¿Si, Clark?

    en Mi Matamoros Querido.

  8. Caulquiera que mira actos desagradables de guerra y como la brutalidad de ejecucion de personas envolucradas en el narco trafico, va ha ser traumatizada como los soldadados que sufren el syndrome posterior de trauma, por lo menos uno al dia se suicida despues de terminar su cargo en Irak y Afganistan. Entonces no me estrana que un Pastor de Iglesia se aiga sentido incapacitado por hacer nada. Quizas los jovenes sacados de su casa envolucrados en el narco trafico lo merecian.

  9. It is thru the images that are submitted to the BB reporters that we read, we see the collective actions of letting people know of the gruesome realities and remnants of the poison industry narcotic trade leaves.

    It is thru the abilities of putting in to words the images this perfect war leaves behind that reporters like Gerardo help put context for us to better understand what happens to our neighbors to the South. The images and comments we see ,hear and forward forever will open our eyes to a better understanding.

    It is the HOPE that with this information,we see conclusive actions in detering these activities and fight for a better society from our trenches. Thank you for posting this information to the world.....Gerardo.

  10. So happen to the story and photo of the killing of El Sonrics in Monterrey? Was it not him?

    Death photos of Nacho now abundant on blogs

  11. anonymous 10:30 pm

    Although it has been highly rumored that El Sonrics IS dead, it has not been confirmed by authorities.

    According to Twitter, There were shootouts and narco-bloqueos all over Mty and surrounding areas this evening (starting around 8:00 pm).

    It is said to have been caused by a shootout in southern Mty between rival gangs. At this time 3 are reported dead, 1 injured from the initial shootout.

  12. Why have these homes not been siezed by the govt??

  13. I hate living in this country (Mexico) with a passion. My other option is to break up my family. So what is one to do in such circumstance. I only live in Piedras because my spouce was deported. Now our kids are treated as immigrants and don't have the rights they should even though they are American citizens. Why would the US make me choose between my rights and my family? Well, that's life as we know it. You're offered crap or shit... now pick!

  14. I don't know about the American or Mexican systems in the country for these circumstances that you stated here. I'm not from either the U.S or Mexico, but I personally think they cannot make you choose between your rights and your family. If you hate living in Mexico, then relocate somewhere you feel you don't hate again. Your spouse is no longer living in Mexico? Perhaps you ought to think of moving to somewhere else closer to your spouse? I don't know about this, but if your kids' deported father or mother is an American citizen, they ought to be considered as a legal dual citizenship(American and Mexican, or another country) - it depends on where they were born and the citizenships of their parents. Maybe, I was wrong about this since I don't know much about the legals and systems for immigration between the U.S and Mexico.

  15. Stop american drug addiction and crime will stop

  16. Recientemente estuve de vacaciones y en todo el camino..Los polecias , los federales, y incluso el aduana nos robaban dinero...Los Zetas tambien nos quisieron robar la camioneta pero gracias a Dios ,se nos occurio sacar aseguranza en la frontera..Si nos quitaron dinero ..Pero lo que mas me da coraje es la impotencia de no poder defendernos.. Todos los perros tenian a mi esposo a punto de pistola jugandole a el trigger..Si , la verdad queda traumada de lo que pasamos...Es muy triste porque nuestras familias en Mexico viven con miedo..Y creo que solo es el comienzo...Porfavor ayuden a nuestra gente que no se pueden defender, no pueden hablar porque estan amenasados..Dios Porfavor protejalos...


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