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

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Don Alejo: a one man revolution against Mexican cartels

by Chivis Martínez for Borderland Beat
Aside from the moos of hungry cattle, only silence greeted  Mexican Marines as they pulled up to the front house of   Rancho San José.  With guns drawn in a ready fire position, they exited their vehicles and directly spotted four bodies in the front yard.  A perimeter inspection revealed two more bodies.

AK47 shell casings and fragments were scattered on the ground, scores of bullet impacts had defaced the ranch house walls on all sides of the concrete exterior.  Grenades had blown through multiple areas of walls leaving large gaping holes.
There was not a doubt in the minds of the Marines, that what occurred was an intense, violent battle, between the gunmen dead in the home’s exterior, against those yet to be discovered in its interior.

The smell of gun fire still hung in the air as they opened the front door, and rushed in, weapons still drawn, as they spread out and began their in each of the four rooms.
Windows were barricaded with wood, with guns propped against openings to the outside.

Floors were littered with dozens of spent cartridges, interior walls pitted with bullet holes and grenade fragments.
It was in the bathroom that they came upon the lone person in the interior, an elderly man, lying on the tile floor.  The man was dead, with a hunting rifle resting at each side of his corpse.

Marines looked at each other in disbelief as the realization sank in; the man had taken down six narcos, alone…. with hunting guns.  Later the man would be identified as the proprietor of the ranch, Don Alejo Garza Tamez.
Don Alejo
After Galileo’s recantation, his pupil Andrea laments “Pity the country that has no hero,” to which comes the somber retort, “Pity the country that needs a hero.”  For it is the platform for mass action….

It is said that at this time Mexico is in desperate need of heroes, that apathy has permeated   Mexican society of today.  Possibly that explains why, when a man demonstrated to Mexicans how heroes live, and heroes die, that the hero would be a man of yesterday’s generation.  The generation of our fathers, and grandfathers, when those who lived with honor, valor and virtue, were not exceptions to the rule.   Living life by examples set by generations past, ethical standards that were never questioned.   
At 9 AM on Friday November 13, 2010, a group of strangers arrived at the ranch of 77 year old Don Alejo Garza Tamez, it was a typical day,  Don Alejo  was at his ranch,  working his land with his ranch hands.  As it turned out, the strangers were there not so much to speak to Don Alejo, rather to deliver an order.  The strangers were narcos, from an organized criminal group, used to getting what they need or want, by any means necessary, but typically means are not necessary, a request is all that is needed. 

What they want on this November day is Don Alejo’s Rancho San José.  A ranch logistically perfect for their business of trafficking drugs into the United States.  They left a demand with Don Alejo, they wanted his property and would be back in 24 hours for him to sign over the property.  Don Alejo gave them a quick answer, he was not giving up his ranch, and he would be waiting for them.
Don Alejo’s “San Jose Ranch” was in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, 15k from Ciudad Victoria, and adjacent to Lake Padilla.   He and his brother Rodolfo purchased a large land parcel, which they split; Rodolfo’s half bordered the Corona River.

Ranching and the woods were both embedded in the heart of Don Alejo.  Fishing and hunting were his favorite pastimes as a child in Allende, Nuevo Leon.

The city of Allende sits at the south east tip of the state, about 50 miles from Monterrey, sitting at the foothills of the Sierra Madre. 

His father owned a small sawmill, consequently, when Don Alejo was a young child his father taught him to how to operate the machinery and mill wood, which he along with his brothers, would sell mostly in the city of Monterrey. 
Growing up in Ciudad Allende provides a massive adventure playground to explore, hunt and fish. Allende known as the orange and honey capital of Mexico, is adjacent to the mosaic landscape of the Sierra Madre, with its forests, grutas (caves) with cave rivers reaching 100 miles in length, ancient Indian wall “paintings” in shearing canyons framing Cerro de la Silla (saddle mountain) its 12K plus altitude, lakes and water systems that cascade over hundreds of waterfalls.

In Ciudad Allende, is the beautiful Rio Ramos.  Ancient Pines and Oaks surround and line the river that runs through the city.  Ramos is where young Don Alejo most frequented to fish, where he would catch catfish, crappie and bass.  When Alejo was not working the lumber mill, it was fishing, hunting, and exploring the mountains of the Sierra Madre.
As a young hunter Don Alejo became sharply familiar with firearms, both long guns and small arms. He had collected guns since his childhood, and he had a reputation for an eagle eye and steady grip, which he put to use hunting deer and geese.  He never tired of his childhood pastime and as an adult he co-founded the ‘Dr. Maria Manuel Silva Hunting, Shooting and Fishing Club in Allende, Nuevo Leon’.  Mexico’s constitution provides its citizens the right to bear arms, however it imposes caliber restrictions, to handguns at .380 or less and shotguns or rifles at .22. 

There are exceptions, but those exceptions are severally restricted to those living in rural areas for hunting and target or silhouette shooting.  Don Alejo passes the rigid requirements, which includes character references of six non related persons, with good standing in their respective communities.  This allowed him to include slightly higher caliber weapons in his collection, but not anything comparable to an assault weapon.
The family lumber business was so successful it allowed expansion into lumber supply retail outlets, in Allende and Montemorelos.  The stores were named “El Salto” homage to El Salto, Durango where they acquired the raw product.

It was a wonderful life; success gained by sweat and hard work, not by gift or by “taking” property not rightfully theirs.

One can only imagine what Don Alejo thought about the new generation of Mexicans.  Those who satisfy desires by taking, who traffic drugs, kill, extort, kidnap and terrorize to attain their brand of success.  Those of the new generation, the malevolent 1% holding Mexicans hostage to their rule, who violate with impunity, whose philosophy shuns honest work, finding it far easier to entrap citizens by fear, for personal gain.
Don Alejo and his brother most likely could not have imagined that their choice of land, chosen thirty six years ago because of its ideal location for hunting and fishing, it would also become strategically prime location for the malevolent ones to conduct their business, some three decades later. 

Don Alejo’s land is situated on the outskirts of Ciudad Victoria, a city in the turbulent Mexican state of Tamaulipas.  Ranchers in this region were under constant threat and attack.  Don Alejo’s San Jose Ranch was one of the more than five thousand ranches that dot the landscape of Tamaulipas.  His land sat adjacent to the main highway with rural roads where one could bypass main roads for clandestine passage from the south to the north border.  
Cartels target ranches with these roads, roads not unlike the one Miguel Treviño was travelling on outside Sabinas, Coahuila, when he was recently arrested.  They “evict” ranchers, and convert ranches to “narco safe houses”, camps and killing fields.

Zetas split from CDG
In 2010 the state of Tamaulipas was exploding with violence in pockets all over the state.  The year began with Los Zetas Cartel rancorous split from Cartel del Golfo (CDG). 

The fracture was not a shock to drug war watchers, who had taken note of the discord between the enforcer group, and their former ally.  Trouble ensued after the capture of Osiel Cárdenas Guillén, the premier leader of CDG.
To understand the relationship between Los Zetas and CDG one should reflect back to the arrest of former premier leader of CDG, Juan García Ábrego in 1996, thereafter CDG was troubled by tentative leadership at the helm of the then powerful cartel. 

After a couple of failures, Osiel took control, along with his close friend Salvador Gómez Herrera aka El Chava, they became co-leaders. It was Osiel’s who decided to form an enforcer group comprised of the best Mexico had to offer.  Osiel had become acquainted with a member of the prestigious Special Forces agency GAFE, his name, Arturo Guzmán Decena.  It was Guzmán Osiel spoke to regarding the formation of an enforcer group.  Guzmán defected from the military and formed the group known as Los Zetas.  Guzmán was known by his moniker “Z-1”.

In a diabolical move, Osiel named Chava as the padrino (Godfather) of his daughter.  In the Mexican culture, being asked to stand as a padrino is a great honor bestowed on those closest to the parents of the child.
Though Chavo and Osiel shared a close relationship, by Osiel selecting Chavo as his daughter’s padrino, this must have given Chavo a false sense of security and compromised his typical cautiousness, allowing him to lower his guard.

Two stories abound of the exact circumstances, but at the end of either version, Chavo was in the front seat of a vehicle with Osiel when Z1, sitting in the back seat, delivered the coup de grâce to the back of Chavo’s head, killing him instantly.
Osiel was now the sole leader of CDG and earned the nickname “Mata Amigos”, (Friend Killer) the year was 1999.
Z1 had proven his loyalty to Osiel, but the partnership did not have longevity, it was cut short on November 22, 2002.  Again, there are multiple historical accounts of what transpired, but fact holds with all accounts; Z1 was killed by the Mexican Army in Matamoros, Tamaulipas.

In retaliation, Osiel ordered the abduction and execution of four members of the Office of the General Prosecutor in January 2003, outside Reynosa, Tamaulipas.
When the Zetas second-in-command, Rogelio González Pizaña (aka Z2), was captured in October 2004, Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano (aka Z3) ascended to the premier leadership role. Within four months after the death of Z1, the Mexican military captured Osiel on 14 March 2003.

The arrest of Osiel  was the turning point in the relationship between Zetas and CDG. 
Although Osiel proved to be a competent leader, respected by his membership and his enforcer group what was not known at that time, was how poor a businessman Osiel would be proven to be, and at the time of his arrest he was having difficulty paying his border traffickers.

Succeeding Osiel’s arrest the dynamics of Zetas role with CDG changed dramatically. 

In place of a subservient role, they became synonymous to CDG, and began the process of independence.  Rather than rushing a complete break from CDG, they first cultivated control of territories and plazas belonging to CDG, by developing loyalties among authorities, agencies, and Politians, who for the most part were corrupt and in bed with organized crime.  This is how they were able to claim places such as Veracruz and Coahuila at the time of the split.
CDGs troubles with Zetas was complicated by the fact Osiel was unable to replace his position with competent leadership, infighting and continual discord with Zetas weakened the cartel and placed Zetas in good position to make the break in a station of power.

After the 2007 extradition of  CDG leader Osiel Cardenas Guillen, Eduardo Costilla Sanchez, "El Coss", took charge of the Gulf cartel along with Ezequiel Cárdenas Guillen, aka Tony Tormenta, and  Los Zetas were led by Heriberto Lazcano and Miguel Treviño Morales.

The two groups created an agreement that would allow both to work on the same routes independently but  defend the territory as if it were a single organization, while each maintaining  their own leadership.

Lazcano and Treviño became increasingly wary of CDG leadership, suspecting they were in a conspiracy to weaken the Zetas.  It came to a head when El Coss sent assassins to Reynosa to kill Victor Peña Mendoza, "Concord 3", the chief of finance for the Zetas, and close friend of Miguel Treviño.  Treviño demanded Coss hand over the killer or the consequences would be war.  Coss’ noncompliance was the nail in the coffin of the alliance between the cartels, and snapped the tension that had taken hold for over two years.  This was mid January, 2010.

The split caused fighting over Tamaulipas plazas, and the corrupt heads of  municipalities and state agencies were forced to choose their loyalty between the two cartels.  

Infighting within the CDG cartel severally complicated and harmed the cartel. The two CDG factions, Metros and Los Rojos, became embroiled in battle after the death of Samuel Flores Borrego (at left), said killer of Concord 3. 

(note: Metros' loyal to the Cárdenas family, Rojos to Coss)
All of this played out at an unprecedented scale of violence.  Terror in the streets and across the rural roads of Tamaulipas, as the eyes of the world were fixated on Juarez, the devil came to Tamaulipas and no one seemed to be watching.

Part two: will include; Tamps violence 2010, The Rancho San José show  down, and The aftermath


  1. Arriva los valientes de verdad.

  2. Thank you Chivis.

  3. sorry guys but that is not decena that guy is the flunder captured in chiapas along with other zetas

  4. Hey Chivis there was a huge shootout in Matamoros Ciclones from Matamoros against Metros from Reynosa.VxT reported that Ciclones are kidnaping family members of the Metros that live in Matamoros.Its going to get ugly in Matamoros and Reynosa could one of these groups make an alliance wit the Z so they gain more power in the plaza? My best guess can be the Ciclones doing an aliance o peace treaty with the Z maaaaybe..

    Saludos Buela

  5. 10:03
    you know I have three photos of three guys and I always get confused on which is him.

    let me post another. let me know

  6. thank you! I have the post in draft, looking around for info. it will be up later.

  7. If Mexico had more "Real" men like the Hero Don Aljeo, it would be a better place. Viva Do Aljeo and death to the queer midget Juquian Guzman!!

  8. en mexico no pasa nada llevamos mas de un lostro, se acabaron,la frontera, llena de narcos, don alejo un hero no reconocido por los gobiernos que vendieron TAMAULIPAS y lo siguen vendiendo ,cavazos lerma, hoy senador, yarrington rubalcaba , eugenio hernandez, y TODOS los presidentes municipales de la frontera empleados del CDG Y ZETAS

  9. If the zetas were already thinking and starting to manuever their independence from CDG since oziels original arrest(2003) why wait so damn long to actually SPLIT from them(2010)?i know the story said strategic reasons but SEVEN long years??????

    1. The zetas were still employees,no dope to move,no money,no contacts to rip off,no territory,not ready,and as it turns out even when ready,they were not really ready.
      The business of ripping off ends for the fastest of the hot shots getting ripped up themselves.
      But the dogfather, Manuel Cavazos Lerma the former governor of tamaulipas,federal Senator,and traveling merchant of El price is still all there,a common denominator of the zetas and golfos,PROTECTED by Pena Norton himself against prosecution...

  10. 11:09
    If you don't know what happened in those 7 years it would seem like that, but this is setting the stage for 2010 and Don Alejo, not about Zetas and CDG. There are readers who are new to the Mexican drugwar and I wanted them to know enough so when the next part concentrates on the violence they will know what precipitated what happened.

    Osiel's arrest began the change in Zetas status, not the split. they first became synonymous, then worked for territory using terrorism etc. it was a a process. They were smart not to split to soon. They would have been weaker than CDG in every aspect.

  11. Now He is a Real Hero, I have a lot of respect for Don Alejo and his family. He give his life for his country. Mexico needs a real leader, a Madero or a Zapata. Come on Mexico take your country back, a 77 year old man give his life for Mexico. God Bless Don Alejo and his family.

  12. I pray that Don Alejo did not die in vain. It would be disheartening to let the property fall in to the hands of the POS narco cartels. If the rats do desend on this property, let it be the place that they are cut down by the bullets of justice before they face their eternal fate in hell. Shame on the authorities if they don't follow up on this tragedy.

    1. 6:27 "the authorities"gave their blessings to the zetas from the start,with no other enticement than money,it will be up to the people as always totaled their asses on the fires of rebelion.the honor of picking up the standard of a fallen comrade will be the people's.the government is too busy picking up fallen standards,like selling what is left of worth in Mexico, like pemex and protecting each otherz brokeback arzez...

  13. Hi Chivis , thanks for this article , I originally made the comment in the " communitarian police article " as long as the spirit of don alejo resides in the communitarian police " , you replied and said you would post an article on him. Also glad you are getting better after your recent medical treatment.
    I have read your articles for several years now on BB and you are my favourite writer here. I also read the forum post on wishing you well for your treatment , and I have to say after seeing your picture, you are incredibly beautiful , I never imagined that as well as a beautiful mind , you would be a fox xx hehe from england

  14. Illegal drugs = drug war (death, blood, hate and terror)
    Legalization = no drug war (no death, no blood, no hate and no terror)

    Yes, with legalization those who choose to consume drugs today will be able to continue doings so without collateral damage to innocent and honorable men like Don Alejo.

    L E G A L I Z E I T !!!!

  15. Hola England! Thank you very much, good idea. I thought I knew much about the man, but as you will see in part 2 he lived his life on principle and helping others.

    My surgery was postponed, it will be tomorrow, thank you for your well wishes. Paz, Chivis

  16. I began following the cartel war in late 2010 it seemed like each day brought another ghastly story from Tamaulipas here on BB and other blogs. But I was a little lost in the dynamics of it all, I am very appreciative of you being so considerate to those of us who are a little lost at times. Question: What was the big issue between metros and rojos? A big thanks from Canada.

  17. Chivis

    thank you!!
    A great piece of writing about a truly great man.
    I am looking forward to the second installment of this article.

  18. good luck with your surgery! I suppose that means we must wait for part 2?

  19. my pleasure entirely maam , and im quite willing to read over the translated articles , and correct the English before you or others post here. Not that I see much that needs doing , but the odd phrase doesn't translate in English well . But im happy to offer my time Chivis , from england

  20. The reason the split was extended over time was because of the Zeta's lack of Colombian connections... They didn't have international contacts until they allied with Arturo BL after his split and war with Shorty. Once they had allied with him, he gave them the door to taking over most of Monterrey as well as the full infrastructure to become a international narco trafficking organization rather than an enforcer and extortion group. This pissed off CDG enough to think about aligning with CDS even after the invasion of Nuevo Laredo in 2004 after Osiel was gone and they thought CDG would fall apart like they did after Abrego went down. This was the storm brewing, the Archduke Francis Ferdinand moment was Concord 3... The fight over Monterrey was at least partly the center of the battle as CDG, Zetas, and BLO all had strongholds there, Zetas alliance with Arturo gave them both the opportunity to take most of Monterrey and become international narco's in their own right. Concord 3 just was the match that sparked the pool of gasoline

  21. ese si es decena z1

  22. A pic of chivis????? I've been waiting years to see one.. Where doi go



  24. And that is not a picture of Arturo Guzman Decena you have there. I can verify that with 100% certainty. Z1 had a much leaner face, even when he got a (little) older. It is certainly interesting how much disinformation there is out there...For instance most accounts have Z2 as Rogelio Gonzalez Pizana, usually presented in a close up photo where he looks to be quite a fat man (kind of strange given he was a top GAFE, the Tip of the Spear of the Mexican Army in the 1990's if you will, even if it was years later)... I have seen elite Mexican and American Marines up close, active and retired, and I would rarely describe one as "fat", maybe the Mexican military has come a long way since the mid to late 90's, who knows...Anyways, he was cornered in Matamoros shortly after the demise of Z1, and tried to flee while throwing grenades out of his Volkswagon Passat... But then there is also another man that has been referred to as Zeta Dos, an Alejandro Lucio Morales Betancourt, who some sources say was captured in 2001 (almost a year before the death of Z1 and two years before the capture of Osiel) and is currently in the WITSEC program in the United States. Some believe this is the famous "Geraldine" protected witness from so many federal documents and that he could have been a key factor in the above death and capture, and maybe even Lazcano's death years later. He certainly would have known El Lazca's inner circle well, including El Perro, allegedly one of Z3's original close protection team leaders, who was not killed at that baseball field in Progreso... Now given that CDG and the Zeta's didn't replace Z1 when he died, it would seem strange that they replaced Z2, and then did not replace the second Z2...There is so much the world will never know...

  25. 11:23am
    i don't know where you are getting your info from, but most is highly inaccurate. Looks like wikipedia information as well as your probably referring to the incorrect photo they post. He never "got older" he was 26 when he was killed.

    As for Lazca He was certainly killed at "that baseball filed" as I live in Sabinas and am related to the funeral home family by marriage. The ones "forced at gunpoint" to transfer the body out of Sabinas for 40. This is not a joke, stop trolling with your bullshit.

  26. 4:42: I am not judging here but I am assuming English is your second language and although it is very good you still might miss some of the eccentricities of it...I am not sure that you understood my sarcasm in quoting when I said a "little" older... Somebody at 26 is physically a "little" older than someone who is 18, when he was training in the military and before he broke his operational cherry in Chiapas, pretty brutally... But even though he had a short life, for someone who lived the experiences that Arturo did I would bet that he aged about 200 years in the few that he did have. Again, not being literal here. And I can assure sure you I do not get my information from Wikipedia. I also have no doubt that Lazcano did die at that baseball field. I was talking about the guy who had always led Z3's close protection(bodyguard) teams, Pedro Vazquez Torres, El Perro... Lazca had multiple rings of security (meaning physical close protection, institutional ((local police, maybe, probably, more), and signals(communications)) that failed him greatly that day, and the only way that possibly could have happened is if the last (Mr. PVT) was the corrupting force causing failure from the inside, most influential ring. The only way all this could have happened (the way it went down) was if someone very close to him betrayed him, just like Arturo BL and his shoes...Z3 was too smart to get double crossed by Z40, he insulated himself enough and had different operational and security infrastructures, and U.S. Intelligence and Law Enforcement (especially Federal) can be very persuasive if they want to be ...By the way I think the guy on the Z1 Wikipedia is Morales Betancourt. Anybody else that reads this knows? And I read this blog regularly because I find the comments of the on the ground informed locals to be fascinating... Sorry, but you just don't sound like one of them... Sometimes it is most difficult to see something when it is right in front of you...

  27. Ummmm... Where is part two? I've been looking for it on the site and there's nothing


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