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

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Drug Lord's Death Could Empower Zetas

Picture of the body of Tony Tormenta As released by Blog del Narco.

A day after marines killed a reputed powerful drug lord, dozens of ominous banners apparently hung by rivals appeared Saturday in cities across Mexico’s Gulf coast with messages gloating about his demise.

The signs, hung on pedestrian bridges and other public places but quickly taken down by authorities, reinforced fears that the death of alleged Gulf cartel leader Antonio Ezequiel Cardenas Guillen will further empower the Zetas, a gang of hit men formed more than a decade ago by renegade Mexican soldiers that has become one of Mexico’s most brutal and feared drug gangs.

Former allies of the Gulf cartel, the Zetas went independ’ent earlier this year, unleashing a turf battle along the northeastern border with the United States that has at times reached the level of all-out war.

Drug gangs used vehicles to put up roadblocks Saturday morning in Reynosa, a city across from McAllen, Texas, according to Twitter messages from the Reynosa city government warning citizens to travel with caution. It was unclear if the roadblocks were related to the death of Cardenas Guillen.

Such blockades have become a near-daily gang tactic in northeastern Mexico.

But Friday night, buses and cars were used to block roads and highways in the western city of Morelia — stronghold of La Familia cartel — suggesting that the tactic could be spreading across Mexico. Several vehicles were torched, and one driver was injured when assailants stole his bus to use in the blockades, according to the attorney general’s office of Michoacan state.

The body of top bodyguard to Tony Tormenta; Sergio Antonio Fuentes (known as “El Tyson” or “Escorpion 1”), as released by Blog del Narco.

Cardenas Guillen, known as “Tony Tormenta” or “Tony the Storm,” was killed Friday during a two-hour shootout in an operation that included 150 marines, three helicopters and 17 military vehicles, the Mexican navy said in a statement. Four of his gunmen and three marines also died during the fighting in the city of Matamoros, across from Brownsville, Texas. A local reporter and a soldier were killed in related mayhem.

President Barack Obama called his Mexican counterpart, Felipe Calderon, on Saturday morning to reaffirm U.S. support for Mexico’s efforts to fight the cartels, and express his condolences for the troops killed in the shootouts, according to a White House statement.

Mexican presidential security spokesman Alejandro Poire touted Cardenas Guillen’s downfall as “another meaningful step toward the dismantling of criminal groups.”

The Zetas, apparently, also celebrated.

The banners, which appeared in several cities of northeastern Tamaulipas state, neighboring Veracruz state, and in the resort city of Cancun on the Yucatan Peninsula, crowed: “Once again the destiny of the traitors has been demonstrated, crushing the Gulf traitors.”

They were signed, “Sincerely, the Zetas Unit.”

Veracruz Public Safety Secretary Sergio Lopez said authorities were not yet sure who put up the poorly written and obscure messages, and could not confirm that they were a reaction to the death of Cardenas Guillen.

Francisco Alor, the attorney general of the Caribbean state of Quintana Roo, said several banners appeared in the resort city of Cancun and he expressed concern that violence in the region could spike.

“We have to prevent any surge (in violence) that the others could generate as they move to control territory amid the power vacuum,” Alor told The Associated Press, referring to the Zetas.

Drug war experts warned that the Zetas will strengthen as the Gulf cartel weakens.

“Yes, it’s another major blow to the one of the most significant Mexican drug cartels,” Gary Hale, who retired this year as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and founded the Grupo Savant consulting firm, said of Cardenas Guillen’s death.

“But it also bodes an ominous future for the war-weary civilians living in the northeastern part of Mexico,” he said in an analysis sent to AP. “The ensuing chaos brought on by the loss of Gulf Cartel leadership will give operational, political and psychological strength to the Zetas.”

Even before their split from the Gulf cartel, the Zetas started growing into a powerful gang in their own right. Their reach extends into Central America, where authorities have dismantled Zetas training camps, and their illegal activity ranges from drug trafficking to migrant smuggling, kidnapping and extortion.

Hale warned that the Zetas, in their push to assert dominance over northeastern Mexico, are likely to increase “their traditional organized crime activities such as extortion of businesses of all sorts, kidnappings for ransom, an increase in taxation ... for drugs crossing into the U.S. from Mexico.”

The banners Saturday vowed that “the Zetas will be there” to finish off their rivals and appeared to lament that the Mexican marines “got ahead of us.”

It’s a chilling message if it really did come from the Zetas, an organization believed to have introduced the now-common cartel tactic of beheading rivals. Authorities have blamed the gang for the worst cartel massacre in Mexico’s history: the August slaughter of 72 South and Central American migrants who apparently refused to work for the Zetas.

The banners promised revenge against “traitors ... from the school of the informant Osiel,” an apparent reference to the slain trafficker’s brother, Osiel Cardenas Guillen, who led the Gulf cartel until his arrest by Mexican authorities in 2003. Osiel was extradited to the United States in 2007 and sentenced to 25 years in prison by a Texas court in February.

Hale said Osiel Cardenas Guillen is rumored to have cooperated with U.S. law enforcement from prison. Several Zetas bosses were killed or arrested in the period between the capo’s extradition to the U.S. and his sentencing, Hale said.

While no definitive link has been made between Osiel Cardenas’ cooperation and the downfall of the Zetas leaders, the Zetas became “increasingly paranoid” and finally split from the Gulf cartel early this year, Hale said.

The downfall of Cardenas Guillen is a potential boon for the Zetas just as they are fighting off an assault from three powerful rivals. Mexican and U.S. officials say the Gulf cartel enlisted the help of the Sinaloa and La Familia gangs earlier this year in their campaign to destroy the Zetas.

“It will be even more difficult to defeat Los Zetas now because the Gulf Cartel — part of the troika (Gulf, Sinaloa, and La Familia) ... has been weakened,” said George Grayson, a Mexico expert at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, who has written books about the Zetas.

Drug Lord's Death Brings Hope, Fear To Mexican City

By John Burnett

Mexican military forces cornered and killed one of the country's top drug lords, Antonio Ezequiel Cardenas Guillen, also known as "Tony Tormenta" or "Tony the Storm," on Friday. The hours-long gun battle in Matamoros paralyzed this border city run by the Gulf Cartel.

All day long, people come here to see the nameless, whitewashed storefront where it's believed the Mexican army and navy killed Cardenas Guillen.

The building's facade is demolished by gaping grenade blasts and bullet holes, and the parking lot is littered with broken glass and pools of blood.

"This was black Friday for Matamoros. We'll never, ever forget Nov. 5," says a woman named Rosa, a downtown professional who was afraid to give her last name, as she surveyed the aftermath of the gun battle.

Nearby, a vendor sells fresh coconut to the curious who stroll past.

"We hope that, with this incident, the violence will calm down for a little while," he says. "We hope. Because you know how fast it can return. It's a hydra with 1,000 heads. If you cut one, another grows. But we hope there's a little time before the new one grows. Matamoros needs peace and tranquility. We are so tired."

Embattled residents cowered inside bathrooms and basements for hours while the gunfire and explosions raged around this city of 400,000.

There were frantic messages on Twitter: "It's hot downtown. Stay away!" YouTube is full of homemade videos that show the mayhem.

Across the border in Brownsville, the gunfights prompted police at the University of Texas to cancel classes and move homecoming activities off campus.

The Mexican navy reported on its website that 660 troops from the navy and army took part in the assault, supported by three helicopters.

Locals witnessed pickup trucks full of camouflage-clad troops tearing through the streets, and helicopters firing on convoys of shiny SUVs, carrying gangsters in sneakers and tactical vests. A headline in one local newspaper labeled it "Eight Hours of Hell."

An Opportunity For A Rival Mafia?

The focus of the military offensive was the Gulf Cartel, which has dominated this valuable drug smuggling corridor for more than 30 years. The crime syndicate is currently embroiled in a turf war with its former enforcers, Los Zetas, now a brutal mafia in its own right.

Some Matamoros residents fear that the ambitious Zetas -- based in the nearby city of Reynosa -- will use the death of Tormenta to muscle into Matamoros and eliminate the weakened Gulf Cartel.

Carlos, who also asked that his last name be omitted, is a lifelong resident.

"What is going to happen with the Zetas?" he asks. "Are they coming down here? Is it gonna be worse? We don't know."

His fear is well-founded.

On Saturday, the Zetas dropped leaflets that urged their Gulf rivals to surrender and issued this warning: "In the upcoming days, there will be more activity. We hope you understand and let us do our job."

'A Very Dangerous And Bloody Man'

Tormenta, a thickset, mustachioed, 48-year-old capo, took over the Gulf Cartel after his brother, Osiel Cardenas, was captured in 2003 and sent to the U.S., where's he currently serving a 25-year prison sentence.

A fearful local newspaper editor says the nickname "Tormenta" was well-earned. "He was explosive, a very dangerous and bloody man."

According to the Mexican government, 10 people were killed in the shootout, including the crime boss, four of his bodyguards, three marines, a soldier and a journalist -- Carlos Alberto Guajardo, who was caught in the crossfire.

On Saturday, his newspaper, El Expreso de Matamoros, ran a front-page editorial lamenting the loss of its reporter and denouncing the "lottery of death" that their city has become.

But organized crime has so terrorized newsrooms across northern Mexico that the article didn't make a single mention of the Gulf Cartel or its dead leader. [National Public Radio]


  1. What the hell is up with all the blood on there faces, seems like someone just smeared blood all over them. Looks like Tormenta took a head shot and a few to the body, but El Tyson looks clean all over except his face. Crazy and earie!

  2. I have a question about Osiel Cardenas. Why does he have an old prison id number? Has he done time before here in the US? Sorry if this has been answered before. Rumour is that he was already working for the US before he took over the Gulf Cartel.

  3. Some Matamoros residents fear that the ambitious Zetas -- based in the nearby city of Reynosa -- will use the death of Tormenta to muscle into Matamoros and eliminate the weakened Gulf Cartel.
    Did I miss something or what??? since when did M3 let Reynosa fall to the Z's???? I'm assuming the person who wrote this has inaccurate information.

  4. Loosing TT is not as much of a big deal as loosing all the solders that didn't make it onto the press release.

    The zeta stench will reach us. But what will be important is how strongly M3 and the CDG respond to any initial attempts into Mats, Reynosa and the strip of border territory that CDG has claimed over the last 8-10 months. We (the populous) cannot afford for the zetas to gain too much momentum over any one cdg loss.

    Zetas are in no position to fight, anyways. Those bastards are just skittish buzzards looking for scraps, puro pajaro nalgon.

    ...dejalos kue se konfien... ...kue le echen todas las fajitas al azador. Akui esperamos a esas putas con su Chrismas...


  6. Capo, the Mexican military and various Mexican police have a long history of 'prepping their victims up before the photo shoots they allow (hand out to) for the press.

    'Capo said...
    What the hell is up with all the blood on there faces, seems like someone just smeared blood all over them."


  7. Anon 8:57

    Speaking for myself I haven't heard of, or read any rumors that Osiel ever co-operated with the Feds before he was arrested. Afterwords, he definitely sang like he was going for a Grammy.

    There was a rumor that La Barbie was working with the Feds two years before he was captured, we translated an article that made this claim.

    Perhaps you are thinking of that.

    As far as this article goes...I've been thinking a lot about whether there is such a thing as a "good" narco. A lot of folks on this blog seem to be of the opinion TT was a close to it as any Narco can get.

    I will say this, I don't cherish the thought that the CDG's downfall means that the Z will garner strength and territory.

    Quite frankly I don't know any of these people and am merely speculating, but give me people that respect the family and common decency when conducting the messy business of narcotics: the Z and Juarez cartels seems to have absolutely no morals whatsoever.

  8. One of my cousins was just dropped of in Matamoros just yesterday! Sadly he was deported from a West Coast state in the US. He is a good kid just made the wrong choice and broke the law. But the thing is he isn't a hard criminal but none the less made the wrong choice and paid his dues then got deported. But I asked myself yesterday when I learned that he was deported to Matomoros, why in the world are they dropping off these people in the worst spots in Mexico. Out of the choices they had, to drop him off in Matamoros. The worst spot you can leave somebody at one of the worst borders. Where there is a war between CDG and ZETAS. My god, I was thrown back. My cousin sadly has all his immediate family here in the states including myself. He had no one there to pick him up or anything. Was with no money, until he found refuge at a immigrant house they offer to immigrants traveling. Thank god there is still people there that offered him a hand. He is now safely in Chihuahua where we are from. But thing is, when I was talking to him yesterday, he mentioned he was being offered a place to stay thru a guy he met at a bus stop. I told him don't expect anything from anyone who might look shady as they are recruiting people and most of the time they will obligate you to work for them. Thank god he listened and didn't make any moves till we sent him money and got on a bus to where he needed to go. What people don't understand is that the US is not helping deporting people back into these hot spots. The gangs are recruiting people as soon as they seem arrive in Mexico. There should just be a different system to it all and not drop them off like cattle awaiting a new owner. I am not calling anything but not a good call on the system of deportation. My cousin is from Chihuahua they should have dropped him off in Juarez which makes all the sense in the world. A little off subject but something to ponder...

  9. Well its just the way the Americans rather deal with the illegals, put them in the spot where they know they wont come back to the US to abuse of it, its a lesson they need to learn when you violate the American Laws. You are given chances to live here and people abuse of it, so yeah, its wrong to deport them to that area(especially now that the state is going to pieces),the American system has worked that way for many years.. but the further they get you, the higher the struggle is for you and chances are you make it or not...If people dont care about violating the laws acting like criminals here in the US..then the United States of America could care less, too. We are in the land of FREEDOM..but doesnt mean you confuse its kindness for weakness...US should not tolerate that type of behavior. It is being stepped all over and spit on, so basically you deserve what you get for not appreciating the land your are given a privilage to live in. This is a beutiful country and we have too many haters hating already, as if it needs more pressure...

  10. America is the land of opportunity and no one is dissputing that. My cousin did pay his dues and he could have not been deported and it was up to the courts to decide his fate along with INS of which he humbly accepted. He was deported for not being legal which was not his fault, he more American than American. He has lived in the states for more than 15 years and he is only 28. His parents made the call to bring him to the states. It's sad but he was always a productive citizen trying to provide for his family but made a bad choice. We all understand that this is the most oppurtune country and it is the land of oppurtunity but nothing is given here. I come from a family of immigrants from Mexico who have survived here in the states and educated ourselves. Life gives you options and opportunities and you need to grasp them as they arrive to prosper but just made no sense to send any deporties not just my cousin to these hot spots. It's a known fact that " La Linea " in Juarez also recruits gunmen and pushers right off the deport bus in Juarez...Dirty recruiting but it puts these people in tough situations. When your hungry and broke your mind plays tricks on you and these people turn to the wrong direction. But it is what it is.....

  11. @2:38 pm
    well put and very true

    Many of us are a patriotic bunch have ancestors who fought or died to protect our freedom. We are disgusted to see cowards flee their country, rather than stay and fight for their rights. The USA is a generous country, but it's people will not be insulted by those who break the laws or who try to bring the thuggery across the border. The door is going to slam shut some day and soon. The last election proved that americans have had enough and are demanding the US government close the border. UNITE, stand up to the pendejos who choose to ruin your country, all for their own greed. Snitch out your neighbors, your friends, your relatives because you owe a better future to your children and grandchildren.

  12. Reynosa is not zetacuaches controlled!!! TT has two sons, Ezequiel jr., and jorge, they picked up Jorge and his mom, his mom lives in Moros and parties all the time, im not sure about if they did killed him. I would party with them all the time in Moros. I was in the same building with TT about 8 times the past year. well mannered man!!! he forgave my mistake and gave me a place to live. CALDERON YOU FKD UP, NOW THE ZETAS WILL TRY TO COME IN. MATAMOROS WAS PEACEFUL UNDER TT. 30,000 DEATHS UNDER YOUR ADM., CANT WAIT FOR THE NEXT PRESIDENT, TO MAKE A DEAL WITH CARTELS. RIP TT.

  13. Your right, keep the thugs and criminals from crossing but don't judge everyone in that category. Many people who have crossed illegal are beautiful human beings just looking for a better opportunity in the land we call America. Because they broke the law does not mean they aren't GODS children either. You can't judge until your in the same situation. For the people who do cross legal I praise but not all are blessed with those opportunities. For the good looking to provide for themselves and others in a productive manner I say god bless you.... On this day Veterans day I say thank you to all who have fought and made this country a wonderful place. For that America is truely the land of opportunity but a land of proud immigrants, let's not forget that...Everyone comes from somewhere else...Wether your ancestors did legally or illegaly we are in different times with different situations... Let us be judged by the productive things we bring to make America a better place..

  14. VALLE HERMOSO, Mex. - Late Wednesday night, citizens in northern Tamaulipas received the following message purportedly from the Gulf Cartel:

    "This is a notice to the border of Tamaulipas. Do not get in our way. We will begin to take away civilians' cars starting tomorrow November 11. If you don't want something to happen to you do not step out of your homes. Be careful, this is a second warning to the citizens of Matamoros, Reynosa, Rio Bravo and especially Valle Hermoso. The war is just starting. We will avenge the death of our chief. We will not stop until they are eliminated. We are not the enemy."

  15. Damn. They are gearing up for a clash with the Zeta's,/Marines, why are they taking cars over there though? The usual practice is stealing them on the US side and bringing them to Mexico. They should be paying them at least, some of these people have so little, and have suffered a lot because of all this, while these guys are using 50,000 luxury cars like tanks.

  16. the fukn army needs to get the fuck away and let the CDG work killin the pinches ramera calderon is backing the Z it is plain to see...before the goddam Z hung the banners in monterrey and moved in, monterrey was peaceful...was great ...viete la infierno por siempre todo culeros con el Z ...antes calderon the Z obeyed ...when calderon came in they become some bigtime shit

  17. oh my F%$^ing god when will they stop the shootings and drug dealings?!?!?! people keep dieing cause of this S#@$.

  18. Amazing, the Z carte will stop at nothing, and the reality is that nothing is being done. Simply because either the authorities are with them or terrified of them. I pay my respects for the innocent lives that have been taking and the lives of the brave men who did their part and tried to do something. It's disgusting what the cartels are capable of doing.


Comments are moderated, refer to policy for more information.
Envía fotos, vídeos, notas, enlaces o información
Todo 100% Anónimo;