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

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Killing kingpins adds to mayhem

By McClatchy Tribune
Arizona Daily Wildcat

The body of Arturo Beltran Leyva, killed by government forces in December 2009

Last week's killing of the top drug lord in the Gulf Cartel marked the second takedown of a major capo in Mexico in a little over two months.

And it raised a question: Why doesn't Mexico kill or capture more of the top narcotics cartel barons destabilizing the country?

In law enforcement circles, this is known as the "kingpin strategy," the aim being to decapitate major narcotics syndicates battling one another and threatening the state.

Experts in Mexico and the United States say the strategy also has a real downside. The costs are illustrated by what has happened in Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville in Texas, since the killing last Friday of Gulf Cartel leader Antonio Cardenas Guillen.

Rather than calming Matamoros, Cardenas' death may unleash a power struggle among underlings within the Gulf Cartel, a top Mexican security official has warned.

"In the short term, this will certainly create instability inside criminal organizations," Alejandro Poire, the spokesman for the National Security Council, told the Televisa network.

Bomb threats apparently linked to Cardenas' death forced the closure Monday of hundreds of schools and the evacuation of a hospital in Matamoros.

Still, the killing of Cardenas, coming a little more than two months after the capture of Edgar Villarreal Valdez, a drug lord known as "La Barbie," gave a palpable boost to President Felipe Calderon, whose popularity has sagged over the nearly 30,000 deaths in the drug war since he came to office in late 2006.

With the death of the Gulf Cartel leader, "the state is sending the message to these groups and to society that it will use all its firepower to go after them … That's a valuable message," said Sigrid Arzt, a former top security adviser to Calderon.

Some U.S. experts caution that there will be more bloodshed when drug barons are neutralized. As cartels break apart, counter-drug agents will struggle to track the numerous underlings fighting to emerge as chief.

"When we did ‘kingpin' in Colombia, it atomized the drug trade. It does hurt them. But is it a strategic blow? I don't think so," said a former senior U.S. intelligence official speaking on condition of anonymity in a recent interview in Washington because his new employer did not authorize him to speak publicly.

A scholar on narcotics trafficking groups, Bruce M. Bagley of the University of Miami, called the kingpin strategy "absolutely a good thing."

He noted killing kingpins could add to the number of targets.

"There's a kind of tradeoff," he said. "It's harder to get these guys, and many of them are lower level, so even if you get them you don't get the distribution network because they are so atomized."


  1. good video of the narco blocks in Matamoros on the 5th. Soldiers seen at a gas station. Don't know if they were buying or stealing gas to fuel up or just simply asking the people inside to get down for their own protection. Is that a shield under the chopper pilot to help protect him from returning gun-fire?

  2. footage of Tormenta's office from inside.

  3. Check this video of the trucks crashing as a sicario flees taking fire.

  4. here are the results of a short survey concerning potential American involvement in Mexico's drug war


    it has just started so there are just a few responses...but it is interesting....

    so far 100 percent of responders support American intervention

  5. Not only is the military taking out the cartel leaders but at the same time they are making huge busts, thousands of tons of weed, thousands of kilos of coke, hundreds of pounds of meth. Several dozen high volume tunnels have been shut down. Progress is being made and they are hurting. They need to be hit harder, especially now.

  6. lol they took down tony tormenta and arturo beltran because they knew alot of corrupted officials, so things wont get leaked; just take them out.


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