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

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Attack weaker groups: Mexican Army's strategy against cartels

Alejandro Sicarios Rio Doce (2-10-2013)

Translated by un vato for Borderland Beat

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Military tactics: attack Chapo Isidro's organization to reduce violence in Sinaloa.

In July, 2012, the National Defense Secretariat (SEDENA) recommended a strategy to then-president Felipe Calderon Hinojosa of attacking the criminal organization led by Isidro "El Chapo" Meza Flores to reduce the levels of violence associated with drug trafficking in Sinaloa.

In a classified document, the study titled "Positions, Incidences and Combat against 'Satellite' Cartels in Mexico," (Posiciones, incidencias y combate de los carteles "satelites" en Mexico) --drafted by Military Intelligence Services -- argues that the small criminal cells which have split from the large drug trafficking cartels are the ones that generate the most violence.

It establishes that the alliance of Chapo Isidro with the Beltran Leyva Cartel, whose zone of influence encompasses northern Sinaloa, some mountainous areas in that state's center and which  has a strong influence in Sonora, "is identified with violent events of major impact and ferocity that have something to do with 75% of the murders committed in Sinaloa."

On the other hand, the military report considers that the Sinaloa Cartel, led by Joaquin El Chapo Guzman and Ismael El Mayo Zambada, had agreed to reduce its violent actions and only act in retaliation against attacks by the enemy organization made up of Isidro Meza and the Beltran Leyvas.

No part of the document proposes any military action against the Sinaloa Cartel, which is mentioned only as a reference.

Without specifying whether or not Calderon Hinojosa and his Security Cabinet considered the Army's proposal, the military thesis considers that in Sinaloa, of the total of 1,900 murders committed in 2011, approximately 1,400 of these are related to the territorial dispute between El Chapo Isidro-Beltran Leyva and Joaquin Guzman-Ismael Zambada.

It points out that in the northern municipalities of Guasave, Ahome, Angostura, Sinaloa and El Fuerte, 92% of the homicides are attributed to the organization whose most visible leader is Isidro Meza,  and were intended to eliminate anything from "dangerous rivals" to distributors and drug retailers who work for the Guzman-Zambada cartel.

The military document maintains the same position with respect to high impact crimes reported in Sinaloa in the first six months of 2012: of the 790 homicides, it attributes  around 600 to the local war that the two groups are waging "with aggravated rivalry."

It is because of the numbers analyzed by tactical sections of SEDENA that it is "suggested" that the war against drug trafficking organizations "focus on 'satellite' cells that operate in different areas of the country, which represent the major violence factor, involving high impact events that accentuate in the citizenry the perception of insecurity."

The offensive

When drawing the organizational chart of the violence generated by drug trafficking in Mexico,  the Intelligence Cabinet of the Mexican Army also classifies the Arellano Felix Cartel as a "weak organization" and, as a consequence, "by becoming a weak organization, it has prompted the penetration of other cartels into the northern part of the country, making greater violence foreseeable in that region due to the dispute over the Arizona-California border zone formerly dominated by the Arellano (organization)."

In the case of Los Zetas, whose zone of influence is the entire Gulf of Mexico, the report makes reference to the fact that "the so-called Gulf Cartel has become a criminal organization in decline, which is vulnerable to atack because of its high degree of dispersion and loss of control, although it is pointed out that the level of violence generated by Los Zetas continued to climb during 2011 and 2012."  

The document regards La Familia Michoacana as another minority organization displaced by the criminal group Los Caballeros Templarios which, in the same way as (happened with) the Isidro Meza organization in Sinaloa, La Familia Michocana reduced its strength but increased its criminal effectiveness.

In the offensive it proposes against what it calls "weak criminal organizations" or "'satellite' criminal organizations" (who orbit around strong cartels), SEDENA proposes the following actions:

1.     Reclassify as cartels criminal cells that gain strength in several regions of the country as a result of their criminal activity.

2.     Include their leaders, their lieutenants and their families in the reports about businesses, financial transactions and other properties linked with drug trafficking.

3.     Infiltrate them to gain an accurate map of their criminal logistics.

4.     Organize the deployment of  troops to strike blows to the nerve centers of small criminal organizations.

5.     Involve federal and state police bodies in operations against the groups that generate the most violence.

6.     Block all kinds of collaboration that they may receive from authorities, police and citizens.

7.     Establish a bi-national Mexico-U.S. system of rewards offered to cooperate in the location and detention of the heads of "secondary drug trafficking cells."  

8.     Request collaboration of international tracking systems so as to locate their operational margins.

Slanted tactic

A week after Felipe Calderon's government received Sedena "recommendation", the Ministry of the Interior (Secretaria de Gobernacion) submitted it for analysis to outside consultants on national security matters, asking for an urgent diagnosis.

The consultants, most of them former officials from the office of the Mexican Attorney General, former police chiefs and former state attorneys general, labeled the military strategy as "highly inadequate" to carry out dismantling operations of numerically and tactically weaker criminal organizations.

"We warned that it involved a slanted strategy that instead of inhibiting indicator of violence, would exacerbate them in the short term. That is the case in Sinaloa, where it can be proven reliably that for each assault against the Chapo Isidro cell, the reaction has been more violence with a greater impact," one of the consultants tells Rio Doce.

The diagnostic analysis noted that the slanted battle against drug trafficking groups or cartels should be substituted with a generalized strategy against drug trafficking and the indistinct consequences that result from that and which placed the country at the center of international criticism because of the number of victims and the overriding sense of terror.

"That's the position we outside consultants adopted: battling a drug trafficking cell or cartel, and making an exception for another criminal organization, is not the function of the Mexican  government which, if it were to fall into such imbalance, would be favoring a criminal faction; the long term cost to security would be terrible," adds the consultant being interviewed.

In reality, he points out, they delivered that observation to President of the Republic and they never knew -- "because it was not our job to know" -- whether the President issued orders to the Army to implement the strategy of combating only the so-called "satellite" criminal organizations.....continues

Classification of cartels

According to the reclassification of criminal organizations involved in drug trafficking that SEDENA performed towards the end of the Calderon administration, these are categorized in the following manner:


Los Zetas
Sinaloa Cartel
Caballeros Templarios
Nueva Generacion
Acapulco Cartel
Millennium Cartel
Gente Nueva (New People)

"Satellite" cells

Los Matazetas
Guadalajara Cartel
El Chapo Isidro-Beltran Leyva
Los Pelones
Los Gueros
La Barredora
Los Aztecas
La Linea

War log book

In an attack attributed to Chapo Isidro Meza Flores, on March 6, 2010, six police officers were murdered when they were transferring a convoy of inmates, in an ambush reported near Guasave.

On July 15, 2010, another 11 state police officers and a civilian died when the bodyguards of then-Secretary of Public Security , Francisco Cordova Celaya, were attacked, also in Guasave.

In May of 2011, Giovanni Salazar Ontiveros, alleged leader of Meza Flores's gunmen, was arrested. As a result of this arrest, the Attorney General released the names of Chapo Isidros principal lieutenants.

On January 30, 2012, three soldiers were killed while pursuing suspected gunmen working for Isidro Meza Flores in downtown Guasave.

On May 2, 2012, Army elements  confronted a Chapo Isidro cell that was staying in a hotel in Estacion Bamoa, with two soldiers and 10 gunmen killed, among these Mario Flores, El Chonte, regarded as one of Meza Flores's lieutenants.  

In July of 2012, Juan Pablo Osuna Lizarraga, El Cien, was killed in an ambush against Ministerial Police agents near Tetamboca, El Fuerte. He was another one of Chapo Isidro's strong men.

In 2012, during Holy Week, there was a confrontation in the Las Glorias resort between Chapo Isidro forces and federal police. They said that Meza Flores escaped during the shootout.

On January 20, 2013, the United States Treasury Department classified Meza Flores and several members of his family as part of a drug trafficking organization.  


  1. Looks again like Chapo really did have SEDENA in his pocket under Calderon's administration. Pretty easy to pave your way through mexico with the help of the military exterminating your rivals. It will be interesting to see now that PRI are back in power if things will be like they used to be in Mexico. Everyone (AFO,Juarez,Golfo/zetas,CDS) had a piece of the pie (which is a HUGE pie) and their peaceful territories. Greed from CDS is what started this whole war.

    1. El extranjero you're right before chapo and CDS.. Culos De Sinaloa came along Mexico was at peace.. chapo OS the reason why Mexico is in the shit hole its in..

  2. Wow Gente Nueva is a cartel? ? Haha thats funny.

    Also Hector Beltran Leyva has been in the game almost as long as his cousin Chapo and rival Mayo,and el Viceroy so i doubt he receives orders from an ex car washer Z 40.

    So what im trying to say is people think that BL revolves around Zetas but the truth is Hector and his brother el mochomo are the ones with the big bucks, they are the ones giving orders.Chapo Isidro was left in charge by whose orders?, yup, you guessed it, el mochomo still calling the shots along with his brother el H, who doesnt mind giving the attention to the Zetas.

  3. Part of the mexican army and federal police and even the c.i.a are all partners of el chapo guzman there all part of the sinaloa cartel. Its no wonder why they are going after chapo isidro recently named a threat to Joaquin guzman in sinaloa. Although it is true that mesa flores is the one thats really heating up the plaza in sinaloa he needs to get killed so murders could decrease in that state.

  4. There will always be cartels its better to get rid of the trouble makers

  5. Alejando cabrera sarabia was caught in culichi. He was durango's boss for CDS! Attn. P@RR@ND3RO!

  6. this makes sense when someone is in control everything calms least here were i live chapo controls and theres no kidnapping no stealing no extortion...everyone walks straight and i respect that...sure there will be innocent people getting caught in between its happend but drug trafficking will never be wiped out unless the u.s.a makes drugs legal... the drug war is wack... no one can ever make somoene do or not do something... the govt should realize this....legalize and control the best choice... just my opinion fellas....

    1. You think that by making drugs legal the cartels wont stop they will kust find something else to traff

    2. Another Chapo nuthugger & butt kisser...All bastard drug cartels murder, kidnap, extort, rape & terrorize the common public...Don't try to justify a particular drug cartel as being good people.

  7. When your police and army attack some cartels, while completely ignoring others, then your system of law and order is already shot to he**. And this applies to all countries - not just Mexico.

    For the common people ... I weep.

  8. I bet all yu snitchaloa nut huggers are happy to hear this att gente enfadada

    1. Quit your fucking whining Damn!! You sound like a little bitch. Only a dumb ass punk kid would say some dumb shut like snitchaloa, what the Fuck are we in middle school? Lol. Your probably from some that shut hole called juarez or some other ducked up little town all butthurt because there hero the juarez cartel or the zetas got stomped by El Chapo.

    2. Fight with balls? Every cartel has killers you fucking tool. El Chapo not only has balls he has a fucking brain you dumb fucking sheep. He runs his buisness and scraps when nessasery. Why lose soldiers when you can have others do your dirty work? Makes no sence to weaken your cells by just ordering them to there deaths. I guess if you have a endless number of poor people willing to die for a few pesos or force some migrants to do crimes for you then you can afford to say you have balls lol.

    3. 9:31am Son let me tell you something , Chapo can't even handle sinaloa, how the fuck is gonna handle the rest of the country?? He's the reason why Mexico is in the hole that it is.. all you people who think chapo is superman, listen to way to much corridos.. if chapo didn't have the military babysitting him, the arellanos, jjuarez , zetas or even chapito isidro wwould of destroyed chapo guzman... I don't know why you little monkeys get mad when they talk shit about that snitch.. its not like u fucking know him personally.. FUCK CHAPO ,CDS ,ZETAS ,GOLFO ETC.. you wanna have real pride join the military serve you're country with pride.. Anyways more than half of you people yapping you're lips about cartels don't even live on Mexico.. people who live in Mexico don't care no cartel , because they're going through hell over there.. SO STOP LISTENING TO CORRIDOS AND SNORTING THAT COKE..

  9. Interesting notes...thanks for posting. I'm somewhat surprised to see the focus be almost solely on the security/mil focus of the fight. While it is obvious that it is of primary importance, there were no other supporting/reinforcing actions noted. I say this because there does not seem to be any soft approaches being made to subvert any local support given to these that would cause locals to either provide intelligence related information to the authorities so the groups can be further targeted, or to take up an overt stand against the criminal activities of smaller cells. What I'm trying to get at is that there appears to be a lack of a 'whole of government' approach to the problem, by improving local governance, law enforcement and economic conditions in areas facing this persistent threat.... Cheers

  10. The Problem in Mexico starts with the idiot of a President that corruptively stole office..
    Enrrique Peña Nieto is a joke..

  11. gente nueva a cartel? yea rite those guys have been reduced to a hand full of coked up street gang bangers. los aztecas are way bigger in numbers and power than gn. anyways this strategy by the sedena has already been proven a failure, remember when calderon sent 5000+ soldiers to juarez to remove la linea. the violence sky rocketed in juarez while the army was there, til they eventually left, and la linea stayed in control of juarez.

    1. G.N. way bigger R5 and los Salazar groups leading the way

    2. jiarez cartel is stronger than those fools stop trying to mack chapos asshole

  12. Attacking weaker groups my ass!!! something is seriously wrong if thats the strategy used,the government has the armed forces...why cant they not go to state by state and clean it outright of corruption and cartels whether big or small.

  13. It wouldnt be A shit hole if the usa wasnt full of druggies someone has to get paid$$$

  14. Dumbass by choice or birth thats the real question?

    Ay yo soy mexicano pero me creo gabacho hahaha como hay gente

  15. Yea yea yea blah blah blah marshal law coming soon just because these Americans are to stubborn to decriminalize drugs. its not a crime just easy profit who's involved in that game filled with stick up men hustlers politicians generals you name it. now everyone is considered a terrorist alllll because a plant and some powder is made all criminal like.

  16. February 12, 2013 at 9:34 PM
    "Mexican by birth, American by choice"
    Right on hermano,you got sense.
    This article says""We warned that it involved a slanted strategy,may be put into action"it seems pretty clear they were looking for different solutions and this was just one of them.One that wasn't put into operation,judging from what we see.

  17. No matter how you slice it, it comes up , peanuts. How about reeling in corruption? Remember that zeta cross thing? It should be a Government Cross of sorts blocking the free range of cartels and contraband. Acts of violence should bring a directly proportionate law enforcement response. When rivals are found to be heating up a 'plaza' from another area, they should be eliminated completely by the government. The strategy described in the story could allow the major cartels to commit atraocities without government persicution. If it is used as a kick off to a more comprehensive strategy then it could help. PRI, don't get in to bed with the cartels, you'll eventually wake up with a horses head next to you.

  18. @9:31am he got a point though....Snitchaloa!!!

    You could be next...

  19. If you go back three years and prior northern Sinaloa was not a hotbed of violence until this clown isidro starting causing trouble. I actually like the Govt's strategy to go after these smaller guys to get them out of the picture.

  20. Think Tank
    try the comment again without the last comment

  21. "Anonymous said...

    It wouldnt be A shit hole if the usa wasnt full of druggies someone has to get paid$$$
    February 12, 2013 at 10:29 PM "

    You realize mexican cartels traffic and produce the shitty drugs right?(shittiest weed,meth and dont even get me started to that shit that is not even heroin "black tar") Canada also traffics a lot of drugs and i dont hear any "cartels" over there.

    Also, what about the whole pharmaceutical black market? most of the drugs sold in the streets right now are pharmaceutical opiates so no direct money to the fucking cartels...

  22. when did chapo ever stomp the zetas? how many times he try takin NL.....?...and failed,maybe this time aye.(u sound nutthuggerish)

  23. Slap in the face. What & how much more corruption you need to see. chapo is a coward hiding behind military and all you Cds nuthuggers cheering them on. Without the military chapo would' ve been done.

    1. He who has more power and money controls it all, even the military so stop being a hater. If your idols have so much webos how come they can't control the military? No money no power that's why. Simple logic shit for brains.

  24. @February14, 8:42AM....Your Chapo nut hugging stupid comment just proves that the Mexican so called military are not a real army but a bunch of mercenaries for hire and your Mexican politicians are whores for sale...Feel sorry for the common Mexican public...Shame on you to write about Mexico in such poor and pathetic condition but that's the truth and all Mexican drug cartels are a cancer that is killing Mexico.


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