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

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Rincón said he Avoided Lethal Meeting

Borderland Beat
More information from the trial of Rincón Rincón reveals deatils of a lethal meeting: 
Mark Reagan
A special agent stationed in Mexico with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration testified Thursday in the trial of Juan Roberto “Comandante” Rincón Rincón that a team of hit men from a rival Gulf Cartel faction in Reynosa ordered Rincón, his men and Jose Luis “El Wicho” Zúñiga Hernandez to a meeting on a dirt road Oct. 26.

Special Agent Elias Lee Gonzalez testified that Rincón told him during an Oct. 27 interview that he did not go to the 11 a.m. meeting because he thought everyone who showed up would be killed, and that a few of his men who did go were killed.

The night before, Gonzalez said, “Metro-4,” whom he identified as Hector Delgado Santiago, sent a hit man to kill Rogelio Guerra, whose code name was “X18,” and Rincón feared the same fate.
Thursday was the fifth full day of testimony in Rincón’s trial. He is charged with two counts of conspiracy to transport cocaine and marijuana, according to court records.
The Gulf Cartel split into two factions in early September 2011 after the slaying of Samuel “Metro-3” Flores Borrego, the criminal organization’s leader for the Reynosa region. Gonzalez testified that after Rafael “El Junior” Cárdenas Vela was arrested in Port Isabel in October, Mario Cárdenas Guillén became de facto plaza boss of Matamoros.
The friction in the cartel developed, with the Cárdenas family in Matamoros along with Mario “Pelon” Ramirez Treviño and “Metro-4” in Reynosa forming one faction; the other was led by the head of the Gulf Cartel, Jorge Eduardo “El Coss” Costilla Sanchez, Gonzalez testified. Rincón, who was loyal to Costilla, was stuck in the middle at the Rio Bravo plaza, Gonzalez testified.
Rincón was arrested with Zúñiga and three other men about a week after Cárdenas Vela was arrested in Port Isabel. The men were fleeing a gunbattle in Mexico against rival factions from Reynosa and Matamoros that had surrounded them, Homeland Security Investigator Moises Gonzalez testified last week.
“I couldn’t believe these two individuals crossed into the U.S. after (Cárdenas Vela) had been arrested so recently,” Elias Lee Gonzalez testified.
He testified that Rincón told him he had a payroll of $95,000 a week for three groups who worked under him that totaled 90 men. The DEA agent also testified that plazas designate boundaries like city limits.
“Nothing happens within that plaza without them having knowledge from their scouts,” Elias Lee Gonzalez said of plaza bosses, adding that it’s not often that a drug load goes through their territory without their knowledge.

From trial testimony by Rafael “El Junior” Cardenas Vela describes the duties of a plaza boss and lays every key Gulf Cartel player on September 21, 2012:
Rincón trial witness explains duties of Cartel plaza bosses
A witness for federal prosecutors testified that in 2011 he gave Juan Roberto “Comandante” Rincón Rincón and another cartel member 24 hours to get out of Matamoros because they were attracting too much attention from the government and he was going to be the new plaza boss of the city.

Rafael “El Junior” Cardenas Vela, who took the stand Friday in Rincón’s trial, spent much of the day describing the duties of a plaza boss and laying every key Gulf Cartel player, starting in 2002, onto a large white magnetic display board for the jury to see.
Vela said Rincón and Jose Luis “Comandante Wicho” Zuniga Hernandez complied with his demand, but the move wasn’t sanctioned by the Gulf Cartel’s head man at the time, Jorge Eduardo “El Coss” Costilla who was arrested on Sept. 12.

Vela testified that Rincón and Zuniga stole eight armored cars full of money from banks in a one-month period and that it caused a lot of heat from the government. So, he said, he and Samuel “Metro-3” Flores Borrego decided to take control of the situation because a calm plaza is a lucrative plaza.

Borrego was killed near Reynosa in September 2011, and soon the Gulf Cartel split.
Rincón, also known as “Primo” or “X5,” has been charged with two counts of conspiracy to transport cocaine and marijuana, according to court records. Prosecutors allege Rincón had been the Gulf Cartel’s “plaza boss” for Rio Bravo and had overseen the crossing of multi-ton drug shipments to the area. Rincón’s defense has said he is a minor player in the cartel who was in too deep.

Vela, who was convicted March 12 of conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine, testified that starting in 2002, Rincón was one of Costilla’s lieutenants. In 2003, Osiel Cardenas-Guillén, the Gulf Cartel’s original leader, was arrested, which paved the way for Costilla’s leadership, authorities say. As a lieutenant of Costilla’s, Rincón stood to benefit from Costilla’s rise to the stop, Vela testified.

Much of Vela’s testimony Friday described the duties of a plaza boss, including interactions he said he had with Rincón during his time as the plaza boss for San Fernando, 2003 to 2009, and as the plaza boss for Rio Bravo from 2009 to 2011.

When Vela was appointed plaza boss for San Fernando, the first thing he did was take control of the area by visiting the police, the mayor, the newspapers, the traffic police, the television stations, the criminals and paying them all off or making sure they understood that they worked for him, he testified.

When it was time to move cocaine, Vela testified he would tell the police to remain in there office and not come out until he called them. But getting cocaine to San Fernando was tricky, he said, because of a government checkpoint south of San Fernando. The cocaine would come from Tampico, Vela testified.

If the cartel couldn’t get the cocaine through the checkpoint or around the checkpoint on dirt roads — because of soldiers in the brush — planes were used to bring the cocaine in at 500 kilos per load, Vela testified. Each plane would be filled with suitcases that could hold 20 kilos apiece, Vela testified, saying that when the planes landed he and roughly 10 men would arrive at various landing strips they made with tractors and quickly unload the drugs and take them to a warehouse in San Fernando where Vela said he had an office.

Once in San Fernando, plaza bosses from the border would travel to the city in large convoys of armed men, Vela testified. He added that armed cartel members would be stationed the length of the highway leading into the city to check cars to make sure there were no military or rival cartel members trying to come into San Fernando.

In addition to plaza bosses coming to San Fernando to pick up the cocaine, Costillo’s lieutenants, including Rincón, would arrive at the warehouse to count the cocaine packages and do inventory before shipping it out, Vela testified. He said some days it took a whole day and night to count all the cocaine.

And then, when the Gulf Cartel was sure the highway was safe, the plaza bosses and Costillo’s lieutenants would head to the border with the cocaine, Vela testified.

In 2009, Vela was promoted to plaza boss of Rio Bravo, a much more lucrative post, he testified. In Rio Bravo, he testified that he took control of the plaza the same way he took charge of San Fernando. However, while a border plaza is more lucrative, it’s also more violent, Vela said.

In Rio Bravo, Vela said marijuana was smuggled across the river and cocaine would be smuggled across bridges. Vela testified that to get cocaine across the bridge at Progreso or Donna, he would bribe a U.S. Border Patrol agent. But smuggling people was also part of Vela’s responsibility and they had to go across the river but be kept separate from the marijuana, he testified.

One half of the river in his plaza was used to smuggle people and the other half was used to smuggle marijuana and Vela testified that the two weren’t mixed, particularly because it was easier for Border Patrol to catch undocumented immigrants than people smuggling marijuana.

Rincón was plaza boss at Rio Bravo for roughly a month before he was captured with Zuniga south of Santa Maria on the afternoon of Oct. 26 after fleeing a gunfight, prosecutors say. Vela testified that drug trafficking was a plaza boss responsibility. Vela was arrested on Oct. 20 in Port Isabel.

Rincón and Zuniga fled to the U.S. on Oct. 26 because they refused to join a new faction of the Gulf Cartel that was going to take control from Rincón’s longtime ally, Costilla, according to the prosecution.

According to a federal investigator’s testimony Thursday, “Metro-4,” whose real name is unknown, put the message out and Vela delivered it.


  1. Great article. informative. love hearing how these guys work

  2. awsome bb your the reason i stop my family from going to Mexico for vacation its a hell hole butt your team are great reporters

  3. Yeah, I too love to hear how these guys do business and get all the women; unlike us losers who sit here day in and day out with no life of our own except fantasizing about the life as a drug dealer. Chale! I wish I could have nice cars and kill people that I sell drugs to. My high school diploma doesn't look too good right about now stuck here on this computer addicted to narco news.

    1. Aye joven listen and listen for real. This life is no good we are dying and killing our brothers fathers mothers and children for no reason. The first time you smell the death you never forget it the dreams the torment the constantly being scared but having to pretend your crazy to not be killed by your own for being weak. Can't visit your family because if they find out where they live and either police or enemies will kill them even your daughter you can't watch your innocent daughter grow up hold her kiss her or love her. You can't go to the funeral because they are waiting for you. I thought like you 14 years ago and now I'm walking dead no life money that can't be spent children that don't know me parents who hate me and have to move like criminals to be safe because I wanted to feel like badass please I beg you mijo go to school make your parents proud have a family you don't need money to be happy that's what I have learned the hard way

  4. Borderlant Beat is my crack.

  5. "I wish I could have nice cars and kill people that I sell drugs to. My high school diploma doesn't look too good right about now stuck here on this computer addicted to narco news"
    Brother are you bein real or sarcastic?
    You jokin or tryna be funny?Just wanna know if you bein real or talkin tough,or being"ironic"

  6. @ September 30, 2012 4:42 PM
    I can dig it brah,really i can.But which way are you talkin about?Know what i mean?

  7. This is kind of confusing. First I thought the Metros were based in Matamoros and the Rojos were based in Reynosa? But beyond that let
    me understand this. Rojos are of course loyal to the old line of Osiel Cárdenas Guillén where as the Metros are aligned with Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sánchez who has of course has been arrested. But yet this M-4, Hector Delgado, obviously of the Metros was aligning himself with with the Rojos attempting to kill people in his fellow Metro faction?


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