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

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Mining Companies' Rapacity Devastates Entire Villages in Coahuila

Borderland Beat by DD republished  in part from Mexico Voices
Translated from Reforma by Sally Brundage
Background material taken from my notes from stories from LaRazon, Aristegui Noticias, Democrata de Norte Mexico, 24 Hours, Zocalo Saltillo, El Diario de Coahuila
There are hundreds if not thousands of these pozitas (little mines) all over Coahuila

Sabinas is the center of coal mining country in northern Mexico called the carbonifera.  It is a relatively peaceful little city of about 50,000 people and a total population in the municipality (county) of about 60,000.   Cloete is a small village adjacent to the city of Sabinas and is where the Sabinas' city dump (land fill) is located.

For the last decade or so it is believed that the Zeta cartel has been active in coal mining in the area and in the last few years possibly in control of the mining operations there since 2009. 

José Reynol Bermea Castilla, who according to the Attorney General's Office (PGR) is alleged to be the operator for Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, the Z-40, leader of Los Zetas in the illegal exploitation of coal mines in Coahuila, was recorded before a criminal court .  

He was known as the #1 Zeta in Coahuila in charge of coal mining.   It has been reported that illegal coal mining generated between $500,000 to $1,000,000 a week for the Zetas.

He also had ties to the political powers of that time.  The pozitas (little pits or mines) were mostly on government land and the permits for the mining came from the state.  Humberto Moriera was then Governor of the State of Coahuila.  Supposedly there were several small boxes  that Bermea deposited some of the proceeds ("black money") from the all mining concessions that  Humberto and his brother Omar (current Governor of Coahuila) used for "political purposes".

Bermea had supported (and helped finance)  the campaigns of former federal deputies, Melchor Sanchez de la Fuente "The Pocholo" and Hugo Martinez Gonzalez, whom various state and national media crime linked to organized crime who by the way is the father of Irma Vanessa Guerrero Martínez, current wife of Humberto Moreira Valdés.

He was also instrumental in the election of Melchor Sanchez as Mayor of Monclova.

Bermea Castilla appears in several photographs, which are held by the PGR, with Treviño Morales, The Z-40; and with Salvador Martínez Escobedo, Squirrel, arrested in October 2012 and charged with 300 executions.

He was imprisoned in the maximum security prison of Altiplano to await trial. 

He was released under a "incidental amparo" in May of 2014.  In  that case, the federal judge who was located in Chihauha ordered the head of the Marines (who had detained Bermea) and the PGR in Mexico City to furnish evidence within 24 hours showing the justification for his incarceration or he would be released.  No evidence was presented within the 24 hours so he was released.
There is no record or news reports of his involvement with the Zetas after his release.  
 He was assassinated in front of his house at about 7:15AM on Nov. 1, 2014 by 2 gunmen who have not been apprehended. 

To read in detail a story of how the Zetas operate their coal business in Coahuila see the Borderland Beat story from Nov. 1, 2012 written by Havana.

Mining Companies' Rapacity Devastates Entire Villages in Coahuila

                             The Mayor of Sabinas says their deeds are not worth anything
"Most of the neighbors suffer illnesses caused by dust from the pits that
operate day and night and do not let us breathe," say Cloete townspeople.
Photo: Sanjuana Martínez

Cloete, Coahuila - Lidia Salazar Viera shows the property title deed. She owns her land and house, but a few months ago a coal coyote [Mexican slang: middleman, fixer], built a work site in the middle of the town and began flattening everything as he extracted the coal, while claiming to be the "new" owner of the properties of 4,000 villagers.

    MV Note: Cloete is a coal-mining town in the municipality of Sabinas, in the Mexican state of Coahuila. Founded in the late 19th century by William Broderick Cloete, a British mine-owner, it adopted his name after his death in the sinking of the RMS Lusitania in 1915. The 2005 Census reported a population of 3,977 [Wikipedia].

This coal mining town looks devastated, surrounded by pits, strip mines. The enormous bags of coal and waste dumps convey the image of a war zone. The voracity of the coyotes and coal entrepreneurs, coupled with the ongoing corruption of Sabinas municipal authorities have not respected the residential areas.

The family of PRI [Party of the Institutional Revolution] Jesús María Montemayor Garza, former mayor of Sabinas and presumed "owner" of the companies that work through front men, has been devouring the parks, then the roads, then the stream and now it is stripping dozens of families of their houses—families who are living exposed to high levels of contamination given the 24-hour coal mining operations.

Sixty-seven years old, Doña Lidia's respiratory diseases no longer let her live as before. As if that weren't enough, the "mal de pinto" [mottled bad], an infectious [tropical] disease that invades the skin, has begun to show visibly on her face and hands:

    "The majority of my neighbors suffer illnesses from the coal. We don't stop sneezing. The simple dust of the pits that work day and night doesn't let us breathe. There are many asthmatics. Our clothes are always black, and the dishes are dirty. Before the pits were farther away, but now we have them above us, and they aim to get to the houses, because they tell us that there are new property owners. They are leaving open pits everywhere. They don't care about people. They just want the coal."

She has lived here for forty years, so the day when Servando Guerra, the village tradesman and seller of old iron, appeared saying that he was the "owner" of her house and the rest of the land and houses, she was very surprised. In reality, according to the neighbors, the true owner is Jesús María Chuma Montemayor Garza, the former mayor of Sabinas and nephew of Jesús Montemayor Seguy, a former governor of Coahuila, who precisely issued the property title deeds to the people of Cloete.

Ramón Rocha, Doña Lidia's son, whose work is caring for goats, charges:

    "He comes and says that he owns the entire pueblo [village], but he does not show a document, he only says that his property deeds are the good ones, because they are newer and that we all have to abandon our houses and that if we don't, we can expect the consequences. By making the [mine] cuts, they have destroyed the village. They took up the drain pipe, and they polluted the only stream that crosses the village. The cuts have caused ugly cracks in houses."

         DD Note:  I have crossed that little stream many times going to see my father-in-law, a former coal miner who lived in Cloete for many years tending to few goats.  He had quit mining because of black lung disease before the Zetas moved in,   As far as I know his widow and her family still live in the little house backed up to a hill which I am sure has been mined by now.

Gorges and Caves

The sound of the backhoes moving the earth to remove the coal is continuous. In the Cocedores [Cooks] neighborhood, María Matiana Guerrero Mercado, 37, helps to accompany the children to and from the school closest to the village. She has four children and is very worried:

    "We cannot let them go out to play even on the patio of our houses, or in the parks. We are invaded by pits, which were Ramiro Jasso's, who sold them to Servando Guerra, alias La Tawa, the former tradesman from the village, who says that all land starting from the elementary school belongs to him, but we have never seen a document or a blueprint, not even a permit."

The neighbors constantly go to Mayor Lenin Lucio Flores, with the UDC-PAN-PT coalition—whose bodyguard was recently accused of leading a gang of robbers, using official vehicles and operating in the coal-rich region. Faced with the invasion of the coal entrepreneurs, the mayor simply "washes his hands" [of the entire matter].

While she protests with a group of neighbors forming a barricade to prevent the backhoes from invading their houses, Inocencia Trinidad González Solís says:

    "Mayor Lenin Flores is part of the problem. He benefits from the coal business, that's why he does nothing and allows the illegal extraction. The municipality issues permits to work the coal pits day and night."

With a baby in her arms, Esmeralda Saldaña explains the allergies that her children suffer after 13 years of living in this town invaded by the coal mines:

    "Every day we stand here so the pit doesn't move forward."

She relates that her husband, Pedro Martínez, broke his foot after falling into one of the holes left by the extraction of coal. Last month a miner died buried in one of the pits where they work without benefits, safety measures or Social Security [government health program].

Her two sisters and half a dozen children accompany her, some of whom play 'normally' on the edge of a precipice. Verónica Saldaña Ramírez says:

    "First councilman Álvaro Jaime Arellano and Mayor Lenin Flores are complicit with the coal coyotes. They are burrowing under the houses."

She says that complaints filed with authorities of Civil Protection, the National Water Commission, Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources have been useless, because nobody stops the coal entrepreneurs. The coyotes and coal entrepreneurs extract the mineral with complete impunity, which they then sell to Promedi, the state-owned company administered by Governor Rubén Moreira, then they process it in Grupo México's washing plant.

The advance of the backhoes seems imminent, and miner Matías Zamora approaches on a motorcycle. He left the mine to come here to defend his house, which is next on the coal predators' list. His face is covered with coal dust, and the whites of his eyes shine on this cold morning, 3-degree Celsius [37-degrees Fahrenheit].

He relates that the "front man" wants to forcibly buy his house and pay him much less than the assessed value:

    "I am asking 800,000 pesos [US$53,289] for my two houses, but he wants to give me 30,000 pesos [US$1,998], because he says that it's a rustic area. The only thing we have is possession of the land, but they want to pay what gives them profit."

He has five children, and he shows both the cracks in his house caused by the mining cuts and the cracks in the earth that are now opening due to the caves they are constructing a few meters from the patio of his house. While showing the damages, he easily plunges an iron bar into the earth, all the while complaining:

    "They've already burrowed under the patio. They tunneled below and took out the coal. Our land is being sunk, and they are making the big bucks."

His wife, Norma Saldaña, 31, interrupts him and says that a few days ago, they threatened to kill him and tried to kidnap him to force him to sell their properties:

    "We haven't been able to sleep for several months, because they work around the clock. Nobody stops them. The land is sinking. Using just a wheelbarrow, we carry out tons of earth thrown into the courtyard to prevent our house from falling down."

At the request of the neighbors, the investigating agent from the Public Ministry [prosecutors, investigative police], Liliana Magaly Reyes Pizarro made an appearance, but like the other municipal, state and federal authorities of various agencies, she came, took notes and did nothing to stop the coal entrepreneurs.


The affected neighbors have joined the Pasta de Conchos Family Organization [, which is supporting them, and they have already filed a complaint with Ildefonso Guajardo, Economy Secretary, to require that:

    All mining concession titles located within the village be suspended until the legitimacy of the coal mining and of the assumed landowners is determined;
    Environmental damage caused "under the gaze" of the authorities of the municipality of Sabinas be repaired; and
    Damage to roads, drainage and houses be repaired.

Cristina Auerbach, director of the organization, has decided to open an office in Cloete and remain on permanent guard against threats from the coal predators:

    "The families are in a state of absolute helplessness. Authorities, companies with their lawyers and Mayor Lenin Flores have told them that their property title deeds are worthless, and that they cannot say anything because before Los Zetas handled everything, and now everything is already legal, but there is a systematic violation of the rights of more than 4,000 people who don't have anyone to complain to, because the government does not want to receive the complaints."

According to an independent investigation, the allegedly illegal pits located in the village are registered to these coal companies: Taso Grandeco, Minera La Coquette, Minera del Norte, Orlando García Macías, Jesús Elpidio Aranda Valdez and Sabinas Ecological Mineral Company.

Auerbach tours the pits of Cloete and writes down all the irregularities committed by the municipal, state and federal governments in collusion with the coyotes and coal entrepreneurs:

    "The authorities do not act against the dispossession with the argument that coal comes first before the families. They go from atrocity to atrocity. They extract coal at the expense of people's lives. In the coal region, there is a vacuum of State [authority]. Here they only value the interests of the companies and front men for the mining companies that are getting the houses to extract coal. It is perverse and illegal."

Spanish original
By Sanjuana Martínez


  1. Follow the money

  2. O that's just horrible.Those poor people and no one to help them.

  3. Again with the bullshit of criminals helping other bitches get into the seats of power, so they can keep doing their criminal activities without getting it. In those towns why can't the persons just take out those crooks with one shot in the papaya? maybe one from their own communities would do a better job than others from other places that go to those towns just to steal and to protect the others giving them a piece of their wrongdoings. Instead of helping they do more harm not just to the persons but to the land with all the pollution

    1. Mexican government narco-mierdocracia delegates unto their chosen the operation for their favorite sons protection and benefit, in their tit for tat, slave labor, prostitution and drug trafficking creeps in as icing on the cake...
      --how do you think bertie boy moreira got himself a white blond beautiful ho' for a wife?
      --after kicking out the charro leaders of the miners union, the PAN government allowed the faster privatization of mining without interference, and illegal mining to fill orders of their chinese clients, on acquired railroad corporations privatized under zedillo to move coke trains full of coca to the US for their American partners...

    2. 3:14 Now you sound more understandable. I tend to agree with everything you said. If only you could write clearer (like this) all the time, but many of your responses sound like you are ranting and raving with people tending to not read your statements. .

  4. The Mexican government has allowed these companies to come in and strip the land of much of its resources. Now is the time for at least 100,000 citizens or more to march to the presidents palace and keep up a sustained protest. I mean daily until you get the response you want.

    1. What have protests ever accomplished but awareness of the obvious

  5. Why haven't u guys had any story's of zacatecas ! It's been a war zone lately Zetas vs cdg

  6. DD...This is a compelling article. The “Mexico Voices” blog is a very good site for learning about what’s happening in Mexico and the Spanish to English translations are “excellent.”

    Thanks much

  7. When all is lost ,get a gun an start with the mayor.

  8. Nothing mew, the mining companies are Doing that in sonora, Michoacan, Guerrero, basicly all over Mexico. Mexicans seling their natural resources , soon mexico will be stripped to the core. Its just going to be a big empty hole. Pendejos!! Real

  9. If you go to google maps you can see some of the open mines. Some Mexican coal companies are trying so hard to get permits to mine on land they own in Texas. Example Dos Republicas in Eagle Pass, Tx. And the way they are trying to fuck that community is ridiculus. The politics on the border mirror those of mexico. and in the U.S , like mexico, they pick and choose to expose what is convenient for their cause and that shit is force fed to us as truth.

  10. Mexico slides further into complete anarchy. Pobrecitos!

  11. Google satillite view the town. Looks like a cancer.

  12. DD, you live around there, and drive around there and never saw anything to report???
    (Sindicato Nacional de los Trabajadores Mineros Metalurgicos Siderurgicos y Similares de la Republca Mexicana) full of charro leaders for many years under secretary general Napoleon Gomez Sada was corrupted slowly, but inexorably, until his son Napoleon Gomez Urrutia was forced to run to Canada, with the union money...
    --el PRI sustained itself with state's governorships corruption, drug trafficking and all kind of criminal enterprise, in cahoots with PAN, now that Gomez Urrutia is back he does nothing against his coahuila friends or foes, because he is even more of a charro leader of the miners union than his daddy...
    --And there is no politician or professional people, like engineers, lawyers, accountants, in mexico that can do anything but bend over and fuck mexico and its people, or else...
    --but nature will take its course, it is all getting hot and ready to explode all over, the flying shit is running out of gas and bullshit...

  13. That's the way we do things in Mexico "likeit or LeaveIt"

  14. @2:34 we have left mexico, but we won't leave it alone...
    "Your" president el "pompadour" pena nieto has been peddling his ass all over the world trying to clean mexico's nalgas for investors to come and give him millions of dollars in kickbacks for stealing something more from mexico, and you come and fuck it all for him, again...
    --mexico's politics of graft, greed, murder , genocide, anti environment and corruption, are illegal and crimes against humanity, drug trafficking, money laundering, torture, and disappearance of persons are also bad practices that may lead to somebody getting hanged...even if the feel they were only doing their patriotic duty...

  15. It is so sad to drive by and see how much everything has changed it appears as if it had never been a small town now with all the POCITOS literally EVERYWHERE I am from a town very close by and is just sad sad sad you should take a trip to Minas de Barroteran...js


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