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

Friday, December 2, 2011

Rival Cartels Take Bloody Drug War to the Heart of the Country

Control of narcotic flow has come down to two gangs with differing tactics.

By Tim Johnson, McClatchy
The Vancouver Sun
 Police stand near a truck with several dead bodies inside last weekend in Guadalajara, where Mexican authorities found 26 dead bodies in three vehicles, along with an ominous message from Los Zetas drug cartel. Photograph by: Alejandro Acosta, Reuters, McClatchy

Mexico's two most powerful criminal gangs are locked in a titanic battle for control of the country's heartland in a struggle that's redrawn Mexico's map of violence.

Violence has dropped along the U.S. border, with Ciudad Juárez, once considered the most violent city in the world, seeing a 35-per-cent drop in homicides this year.

That good news is balanced by bad news in Guadalajara, Culiacán and Veracruz, where the Sinaloa cartel, whose bulwark has always been Mexico's Pacific coast, and the Zetas, a violent gang that originally was created to protect the Gulf cartel along the Gulf of Mexico coast, are locked in a spiralling struggle that's seen each gang invade the other's territory.

The conflict has thrust Guadalajara, an important manufacturing centre of 4.4 million people, into the battlefield. After overcoming a spate of drug violence in the mid-1980s, Guadalajara quieted down, perhaps because the Sinaloa cartel held a monopoly on operations in the surrounding state of Jalisco.

"Here in Jalisco, we've seen this as a distant thing. 'Oh, this is happening over in Michoacán.' It felt like it was far away," said Dante Haro Reyes, a law professor and public security expert at the University of Guadalajara. "Now it feels like it's around the corner."

The wake-up call came at daybreak Nov. 24, when mobsters abandoned three vehicles filled with 26 dead bodies at the iconic bright-yellow Millennium Arches that straddle a Guadalajara thoroughfare. A message on a poster board was signed "Z," a signature of Los Zetas.

"Look how we leave you these dead people," the poster said in part. "We are in your kitchen."

Boasting of their penetration deep into Sinaloa turf, the Zetas claimed to be "the strongest cartel at the national level, the only cartel that doesn't pass information to the gringos," a reference to the son of a Sinaloa boss who claims to have been a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration informant before his 2009 arrest.

Just a day earlier, the Zetas had dealt another blow to Sinaloa, leaving a truck filled with 16 charred bodies in Culiacán, the capital of Sinaloa state, from which the Sinaloa cartel takes its name.

The war between the groups - clearly the alpha dogs of Mexico's underworld - pits not just weapons but also two very different business models and geographic strongholds.

"This is a kind of death struggle, a definitive struggle between the Zetas, who have no remorse and expand constantly, and Sinaloa, which is trying to consolidate itself," said Bruce Bagley, an organized crime and narcotics expert at the University of Miami.

Sinaloa operatives appear to have set off the conflict over the summer, forming a group called "Matazetas," or Zeta Killers, to exterminate Zetas in Veracruz, a Gulf Coast state that's a bottleneck on a key smuggling route. The group went public in a big way at afternoon rush hour on Sept. 20, parking three vehicles packed with dead bodies near an urban underpass. Security agents found 35 victims at the grisly scene, nearly all asphyxiated and partly naked.

The "Zeta Killers" released videos of masked gunmen promising to hunt down Zetas and end their rampant extortion in Veracruz against common people.

Even as they execute plenty of their own rivals, Sinaloa bosses are thought to detest the brutality of the Zetas, which they think brings increased law enforcement pressure on crime groups.

"The Matazetas quite clearly tried to win a kind of public approval and government tolerance. They said, 'Get out of our way and we'll take care of this problem,'" Bagley said.

With the latest Zetas blows against Sinaloa, experts say tit-for-tat violence is taking on its own momentum.

"The theory going around is that this is a battle for total control," Haro Reyes said, adding that reprisals wouldn't take long to occur. "When you get attacked on your own territory, you've got to attack in your rival's territory or you look weak."

Sinaloa and the Zetas have vastly different histories. Smugglers from Sinaloa began packing marijuana northward half a century ago. Today, the Sinaloa cartel's tentacles loop as far as Australia and West Africa, making it the most powerful drug syndicate in Mexico, and perhaps the world. The group, which is also known as The Federation, is loosely organized and more inclined to negotiate with rivals and bribe authorities.

In comparison, the Zetas are upstarts. A militia formed by former Mexican special forces commandos recruited to protect the Gulf Cartel, the Zetas broke away early last year. Unlike the Sinaloa crime group, which sticks largely to drug trafficking, the Zetas branched into extortion, kidnapping, human smuggling and the sale of pirated goods.

Brutality and beheadings have become their hallmark.

Only a year or two ago, Mexico had half a dozen significant crime groups, including the Tijuana, Juarez, Beltran Leyva and La Familia Michoacana cartels. Security forces have crippled some of those groups through arrests and killings, while others have splintered, leaving remnants to struggle for allies.

One of those fragmentations occurred in Guadalajara after the slaying of Sinaloa boss Ignacio Coronel on July 29, 2010. Some of his enforcers have allied with another group, Milenio, and moved under the umbrella of Los Zetas.

If the Zetas win control of Jalisco state, their territory would bisect Mexico, stretching from Tamaulipas along the Gulf Coast through San Luis Potosi and into Jalisco, giving them access to Manzanillo, the nation's busiest port.

While body dumps are becoming common in central Mexico, residents of Ciudad Juárez, where homicides have dropped this year, are finding unusual periods of calm. For 65 hours over Nov. 19 to 21, Juarez tallied no homicides at all, the longest such period in three years.

"There are clear signs of Ciudad Juárez's recovery," Gov. Cesar Duarte of Chihuahua state said last week. "Instead of streets congested with security forces, we have restaurants congested with clients."

To be sure, Ciudad Juárez has tallied 1,832 killings so far this year, an unacceptable rate of about 5.5 homicides per day. But the trend line heartens residents.

Ciudad Juárez's police chief, Julian Leyzaola, a former army lieutenant colonel who gained notoriety for tough tactics in quelling crime in Tijuana in an earlier posting there, notes that the drop in murders coincides with his arrival in March.

There may be other reasons, however.

The Sinaloa Cartel appears to have reached a settlement with one-time rival cartels in Tijuana and Juarez, negotiating a 60-40 split in drug trafficking profits, "with Sinaloa taking the lion's share," Bagley said.

The agreements may explain why Ciudad Juárez and border areas to the west all the way to Tijuana on the Pacific coast have seen violence drop, he said.


  1. If a city becomes non violent its because chapos taking over??? Hahaha,thats funny a 60 to 40 hahah yea you guys think Vicente Carillo Fuentes would ever allow this???Obviously just speculations to make it seem like Juarez is quiet because chapo took over,but in my opinion NCDJ has kicked out Gente Nueva,in other words the ones kidnapping,stealing killing women in Juarez.Vicente Carillo himself is too much for El Chapo,in the last four years its been proven.

  2. 6:15 in your opinion? Lol you are speculating aswell i mean come with facts and proof

  3. I think the only reason why it calmed down was because they had finally had some serious Law Enforcement going on. should be an example to the rest of Mexico.

  4. Haha and there it goes,he just admitted to all that nonsence about 60 to 40 being straight SPECULATIONS,haha all by adding "aswell".@8:38am idiot. So who won/or is wining between Vicente Carillo and El Chapo people might ask??? Its Obvious,the proof has been around since the war between CDS vs CDJ started...

    .One Example im going to point out, wheres el "JL"(Carillo Fuentes main lugarteniente in Juarez and the whole state of Chihuahua) and wheres Noel "El Flaco" Salguiero(Chapo Guzmans main lugarteniente for the fight over Juarez)?????

    Its obvious whos winning El flaco Salguiero captured/arrested and El JL nowhere to be found.

  5. @6:15 Talk to all the business owners and they would tell you different. It was la linea who started doing all of that in order to stay alive...

  6. Well i bett you'll stick your head in fire ..if i told you that you can see hell ... At the mean time your to stupid to realize that you got a demon coming out your ass saying ..holy miss moly me a live 1

  7. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.... My guess, nobody is liking the zetas. Give the other cartels some wiggle room let them fight the zetas for the govt . They can call in the govts when they need the big toys/weapons . We can not arm these people any of them .

  8. ladies and germs its showtime

  9. @ 1:23 "El JL nowhere to be found " cause he is hidding or dead maybe? OR do you have info of his wereabouts?? Or are you just rooting for Carrillo? So is Carrillo too much for El Chapo? Is there some underground match we are not aware of? If you have any links please be kind to post them, thank you.

  10. looks like el chapo wins again 60 40 sounds pretty good

  11. 2:04 oh yeah im sure La linea whose main buisness depends on Juarez and mainly operate in Juarez would increase (significantly) killing women,extorting killing innocents for no reason(maybe the arrival of Chapos killers into Juarez had something to do with this),its obvious its Gente Nueva blaming it on La linea,to heat things up,Chapos Cartel is no different,and theres no underground match its been the home team Vicente Carillo Fuentes in Juarez and the challenger El Chapo and El Mayo sending people from Culiacan but failed to take Juarez from the Carillo Fuentes family,which Chapo used to work for, but is now trying to kill.

    Thats the reason why the CDS killed the niece of Vicente Carillo because they cant reach El Viceroy,and now El Viceroy is attacking back but this time in Culiacan with support from other cartels.*** You guys are completely ignorant if you think,believe,or even consider that Chapos arrival to Juarez with almost complete backing by felipe calderon and his Federales saved lives in Juarez and made any sort of improvements in the safety,security aspect of normal citizens who work to support their family and themselves honorably and not by drug trafficking or illegal activities.Its obvious Chapo since the beginning had no chance of taking Juarez aslong as the Carillo Fuentes are around,(chapo and mayos and even the Beltran Leyvas former bosses).

  12. The drop in the murder rate is a direct result of Chapo pulling the majority of his manpower from Juarez, in Juarez this is known fact. By manpower I mean the core of Gente Nueva, not the small time enforcement pawns, Mexicles and Artistas Asesinos, who are getting picked off here and there.
    There is no evidence either way that there is a profit sharing scheme in Juarez like described in this article. One thing that I do know is that Gente Nueva has gotten beaten back into southern Chihuahua because the incumbent Juarez Cartel was not eliminated during the 6 year term of Calderon and now the State government of Duarte has to prepare for a changing panorama in the nation that will eventually usher in the PRI into rule again and if Chapo is still alive or free when a transition of power occurs he WILL be forced to negotiate and not to his benefit.

  13. @ 2:04 Well la linea, and their bed buddies Los Zetas do extort, rape, murder innocents,and kidnap. I don't think El Chapo worked for Carrillo Fuentes but along with them.Felix Gallardo split up the plazas.

  14. @12:56 So you are just speculating obviously in a biased manner , hoping your Idols La Linea and CJNG are still running the show. They had to ask for help from CAF ( no longer with them) Beltranes,The scum of scum Los Zetas, some cholo click Los Aztecas cause la linea could not handle it and did not. So know that El Chapo is exporting through Juarez it is not as bad as when they wanted to charge "piso". Then when they no longer wanted them running through that border, it was bad. Now it is way chill so no mater what the reason at least it is less violent.

  15. December 4, 2011 4:49 PM You are correct,Guzman worked for Felix Gallardo & so did Carrillo Fuentes,as a matter of fact,it was Carrillo who along with Calderoni killed Pablo Acosta Villareal AKA El Zorro de Ojinaga to take over the juarez plaza...but Carrillo went to prison on weapons charges & didnt make the scene ntil the early 90s.And he was terrified of the CAF!


  17. first and foremost the AFL is on the balls of it's ASS what with all the OG's in Jail and a
    youg kid left to run it; of coarse a 40% peice
    is better than No peice. I doubt that Sinaloa is
    giving 40% probably more like 30%, since all the product comes from them. That split was offered many times before and they always wanted 1/2 because they figuired it was their
    birth right VIA their Uncle that they inherited
    TJ. So now that the Kid has really No Firepower
    and needs the dinero he's going to agree to almost any percent as long as he can stay alive
    and have a good income. Remember he has a Federal warrant in both Mexico and the states so
    rock the boat and he can stay out of site! As far as Juarez and "El Viceroy" Carrillo, well he's also not stupid, most of his real hardass
    sicarios are dead or in jail, he's made millions
    and doesn't want the limelight either. So if you were him and your being paid a good percentage on whats traveling through your plaza
    why not? As long as the "Shot Callers" are Happy
    then everything go's smooth but we all know that their (Sinaloa) going to be paying tax for
    long just as soon as they decide to quit paying
    Duty; the Shit will start all over again.

  18. al of you rooting for cds..make me laugh!!!!facts..5 years..i said...5 years and the sinaloa cartel got kicked the hel out of juarez!!!!!!!!!!!!hahahhahhah...we dont see gn anywhere,and the stupid asses of mexicles and aa that got left behind ncj continues to kil by one....facts...5 years!!!!!!haha


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