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

Saturday, December 9, 2017

20 Years of Impunity: The Attack on Blancornelas and Zeta

Translated by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from: ZETA

Tijuana BC: November 27, 1997
By: Jesus Blancornelas
Nov 27, 2017

I will never forget it. The suit and tie. Mustache trimmed well. Thick lips. Flattened nose. Brown. Dark brown glasses with silver, yuppie hairstyle. No more than 35 years old. Sitting in the back of the new dark green car. He lowered the electronically controlled window. Pistol in hand, he stuck  out his arm, stiffly. I saw him when he pointed at us and started firing. The outbursts stunned me. The surprise did not give me time to be scared. My dread. Ten minutes before, when leaving home, the usual "we'll see you " to my wife. I climbed into the Explorer truck.

 "Good morning," I said to Valero,  as he opened the door and I climbed into the vehicle."Good morning," Luis replied. His hands were on the wheel. I threw my briefcase into the backseat and the holster with a Beretta gun . I should have carried it in my hand, but I did not expect that precisely that day we would be attacked. 

Valero offered himself kindly as an escort six months before that November 27, 1997 day. When I published something in April I felt the threat of danger, he left his modest but quiet tow truck business to protect me. That morning, as always, he had his loaded gun under his right thigh, at hand. Days before I saw how he fired. We went to the shooting range. He taught me how to fire a gun. How to hold it, stretching the arm, aiming, and teaching me when to pull the trigger. 

Said Luis Valero: "Do it until you feel better."

I liked the feeling of my finger on the trigger and we spent several boxes of cartridges. However, in the ambush, our Explorer ended up with 183 entry impact hits and other exit points. When the well-dressed young man started firing at us, he pointed first to Luis, who instead of pulling his gun slammed on the breaks and quickly reversed. He threw me to the floor of the van while I was stiff watching the killer. "Get DOWN!" he shouted and his saving hand threw me into the hollow under the glove box, where the engine protected me as a shield.

Impelled, I put my head on the left side of the seat. Then I saw Valero drop the wheel and bend towards me. I reached the radio connected to the central ZETA Office and my house. I asked for help. "They are shooting us near the house of the Meñín", a great friend of my son René and esteemed by our family. I saw four, six and I do not remember , up to eight bleeding holes in Luis's chest. Bending over, he still said to me laboriously "careful sir, be careful". A couple of bullets hit my right hand. It was inches from my face. Blood splashed my glasses. Then, crouching over, Luis's head was next to mine. Suddenly I felt as if they had hit me with a club in the back. The sensation suffocated me. My breathing became difficult. I thought that at any moment I would stop breathing. I murmured: "My God, into your hands I entrust my spirit." I thought about my family. Of Luis's family. The newspaper. My colleagues. I could still say to Valero : "Hold on Luis, hold on, they will  come for us now."
The traca-traca ended. A silence I felt like never before. I heard a tire grinding. I assumed that the gunmen were fleeing. I heard a siren in the distance and closer and closer until it stunned me. 

Someone opened the door and shouted: "Hands up! Hands up!". He was a paramedic.  I raised only my left hand. They pulled me out and placed me on a stretcher. I saw a face. "We're going to take you to the Red Cross. Everything will be fine".  I told them that the Hospital del Prado would be closer. I do not remember when I was finally put on the ambulance. My partner Adela Navarro was in the front seat. I didn't hear as she insisted, "GO: to El  Hospital del Prado". 

I didn't feel anything about being unloaded from the ambulance. I only felt the warmth of a strong light on my eyes. Men in white coats told me "try to be quiet" as they tore at my clothes. Suddenly everything went black. I heard voices in the distance. I did not feel pain. I was breathing well. But I could not move. I entered a soundless blackness. Not even where they were to grabbing onto me, nor seeing the bottom. Like floating. Then I got lost. This must be the moment of death.

Then I felt again. I thought I was the same but no. Two days had passed and now they anesthetized me for a second operation. Dr. Luis Pizano and his father explained to me that there was a bullet lodged near my spine and heart. "Everything will be fine. We will not take long. " I saw when they crossed themselves. I took the hand of Dr. María Bernarda Lara to give me her blessing. I started again to see black but I did not lose the light completely. I saw streaks of light  appearing quickly. I thought about my father, what day it was, I remembered the killer's face. I was looking for Luis. I felt that it took about five, ten minutes, when I woke up. 

Later I found out: It had been a five-hour operation. I was delirious, I was throwing up and I was - they told me later - about to die. But thanks to Dr. Villegas, to Dr. Lara, to the care of doctors Juan Medrano and Miguel Ángel Robles, as one doctor said, "they brought  him back when he was already going down to the grave." Of the first operation I remember nothing. They opened me from the navel to the sternum and then down, as if it were a triangle feature to the right side. They restored the destruction inside me with effectiveness and security.

When I had the use of reason again, I asked for Luis. They said he was in another room or asleep. That they could not move him, nor me either. I asked to speak with him on the phone and they answered yes but would not tell me when. Twenty days in hospital I did not see newspapers or television. One night before leaving the hospital my wife said to me alone: ​​"Luis died. By doctors' orders, we could not tell you before. " I cried of courage, of sadness, of impotence. Seeing in those days the suffering of my family, I assumed that it was greater than his. I prayed for him. I still do. I am so thankful for all that I have left of life.

In all those days and months later, my fellow editors and reporters worked so long and hard and  to my surprise they identified the ten gunmen who ambushed us. The National Human Rights Commission conducted an excellent investigation and analysis. 

In March 1998 they sent a recommendation to the State Substitute Governor, Alejandro González Alcocer. The document indicated they were investigating the former Attorney General José Luis Anaya and his agents. The case was requested to be persued  civilly and criminally. The State Comptroller requested more data. The PGR had the case. In time they do not clarify anything. In May I asked for information. No response. 

Everyone knew who and  how many were involved in the ambush. It was not a secret who ordered it done. I do not think they were incapable of capturing them. Its not that they are afraid. They are the one and the same.

One More of a long list of threats against Zeta
The Aggressors: Some Exonerated, Others Never Prosecuted:
By: Luis Carlos Sainz/ Zeta

From that 27th day of November 1997 until  today, twenty  years later, none of hitmen  who tried to assassinate journalist J. Jesus Blancornelas and killed his bodyguard Luis Valero Elizalde,  received one criminal charge for  such despicable action . Only one of the gunmen  was under criminal process and was absolved in a final judgment  between 2013 and 2015.

Impunity had consummated the  finality of  that  year with Marcos  Arturo Quiñones  Sánchez, "El Pato", a gangster who ran the  neighborhood of Barrio Logan in  San Diego and a criminal that  served the Arellano Felix brothers. He was released from CERESO # 8 in Los Mochis, Sinaloa; where he had arrived from the Altiplano penitentiary , after recieving a sentence of 11 years,  ten months and 15 days in prison for organized crime involvement.

Today, the only prisoner related to the ambush still imprisoned  is  Alfredo Araujo Avila, " Popeye"; who was involved in the infamous shooting on May  24, 1993 at the Guadalajara airport in which Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas  Ocampo and six other people died.

 Although the case of  Blancornelas was mentioned no charges were brought against him.  Recently, "Popeye" had complained  against the refusal to  grant him early release benefits.

Others implicated in the attempted murder of the director and  co founder of ZETA ,  Jesús Blancornelas  and the confirmed homicide of  Luis Valero, included the brothers Benjamin, Ramon and Javier  Arellano Felix,  who were identified as the masterminds,  were not even  called into  account.

Marcos  Quinones was one of  the assassins recruited  by  the cell leader and personal friend  of  Arellanos,  David Barrón Corona, "El CH",  who led  the operation to take down the unabashed journalist , who in 1985 opened the eyes of Baja Californianos by making visible the existence of the  organized crime in their state.  

On the morning of November 27, 1997, the Ford Explorer was attacked by at least ten men with large caliber rifles as Jesus Blancornelas with  Valero Elizalde at the wheel made their daily drive. Minutes before, they had left Blancornelas's house  to go to  the Zeta offices, the weekly newspaper which was founded in 1980 in Tijuana.

The ambush took place at the corner of  Chula Vista and San Francisco streets . Two squads of gunmen openly fanned out around the vehicle and opened fire. Luis  guarded his boss on the floor of the vehicle, but  the assassins bullets took his life . He had tried to put the Explorer into reverse in an attempt to escape ,  but that was impossible.

Badly injured,  with four bullets lodged in his body, Jesus  Blancornelas stayed on the floor of his Ford Explorer. The head of the gunmen of CAF,  Barron Corona, " El CH"  tried to reach the journalist  to finish him off ,  but one of his own gunmen let off a wild shot which hit the curb , fragmenting and shrapnel was  imbedded  in one of  Barrón's eyes, who  bled out  quickly and died.

Nov 27, 1997 
In the wake of gunfire and death,  the criminals fled  abandoning their leader. When he recovered consciousness in the hospital,   Blancornelas was able to identify some of his agresores, including the deceased Barrón Corona, Fabian Martinez Gonzalez , "El Tiburon" and Marcos Arturo  Quiñones, "El Pato".

Also recognized were other criminal actors; various gang members from Barrio Logan of  San Diego, among them: Michael Anthony Harvee "El Pee Wee", Isaac Guevara Hernandez "El Zigzag",  Antonio Peña Huerta and / or Adelaido Reyes "El Lalo", and José Alberto Márquez Esqueda "El Bat",  in addition to Alfredo Araujo Avila " El Popeye".

Arturo Quinones "El Pato" was  arrested on April 24, 2003 in Tijuana. Months later, José Alberto Esqueda "El Bat" was apprehended. In March 2007, he was extradited along with a score of hired assassins to the US. Years later, Alfredo Araujo "El Popeye" was apprehended.

The Judicial Powers and enforcement of justice for Mexicans is to give an authority the responsibility of opening an investigative case, shelve it, then sweep it under the rug, so to speak, just to have impunity reign over many cases of everyday lives in the country.


  1. Sweeping under the rug any investigative work seems to be a common practice in Mexico.Moreover, where corruption is so embedded in Mexico’s government and municipalities.
    With money as the sole culprit for such atrocities. Executions of prominent citizens and fine journalists are president at an alarming rate.
    Raising the questions of a judiciary system which has no intentions of resolution.Furthermore, accountability for its meekly investigative procedures.

    He is lucky to have survived such an attempt.
    A glimpse of the reality which many face to expose and report. A hazardous profession where self sacrifice to ones dedication to society is evident.

    Nice story BB.
    Question is? How many others like him that we are not aware of? Never reported? Better yet, swept under the rug?


    1. There is many more. Impunity and complicity work like gloves and hands....One grabs the hot protects it....I dont see anything short of a revolution by the populus changing conditions in Mexico. I still say Trump needs to finance his wars,so if I were Mexican DTO'S,....I'd be worried. They supposedly let a hundred plus US agents in to get that polygamist, chimo, crankhead. Just a 1st step. US Special Ops will be honing their skills in Mexico soon. Not supporting that...just see it coming. Trump wants that money.

    2. @ Granderojo
      I can agree with the never ending frustration and disappointment. Moreover, the imperativeness to curtail the drug epidemic and its cronies. Whether government / political / municipal officials who engage in such.
      However, what I do foresee is a Mexican government officially giving amnesty to those drug lords. A political issue which has gained concerns and momentum from many.
      A country where political trust and ties have withered to a low among our 2 countries.
      An issue of grave proportions.
      Do not see any US special ops gaining access. Especially in a country where it’s income relies on drug trafficking. Past and present apprehensions is all show and nothing more.
      One thing is clearly evident, like that of the Kiki camarena where the obstruction of justice was being applied to those responsible. I can foresee a closure of borders, or restrictions being implemented. This before any military operations take place.
      Why engage with an ally who demonstrates unwillingness and untrustworthiness!

      Just an observation.

  2. With all those gunmen you are one lucky guy to have made Mexico what dictates wether they prosecute or not? Who pays the higher bribes? Who you know?...but then why did they get chapo?...he was paying right?

  3. David Barron was also know as Popeye! Marquez was not from Logan heights, he was from del sol.

    1. OK, thanks, I did not want to take too much liberty with the Zeta reporting.

  4. Last i heard Bat was still calling shots from the feds. And 12:54 you are correct he was from Del Sol and David was called Popeye

  5. These subjects will only live in peace when exterminated.

  6. Blancornelas, damn did he have a way of telling a story. Thanks for the memories.

  7. Every time I see the photo of David Barron againt that fence next to his AK all that comes to my mind is the word KARMA.

    1. That AK is called Shotgun. Pump shotgun.

  8. I have pictures of David Barron Corona as a young guy in Logan. I also have pictures of him dead on the table after the autopsy. You can clearly see the Y cut on his body and tattoos.

    1. He was not from Logan but from Del Sol.

    2. Anon 10:28 my cousins and brother grew up with David in Logan Heights. Marquez is the one from Del Sol. I even know where he lived before moving to Tijuana. His mother still lives there.

    3. Who gives a shit?

    4. 3:30 will you like false information or the right information. If you don’t give a shit keep on walking bud.

    5. 12:32
      You're correct, my bad.

    6. You still got those photos?

  9. Jesus Blancornelas was areal brave man. He did many stories on the Arellano Felix cartel. Even when his life was in danger.

    1. Bravery cost his friend his life, and him his health, and it cost his family.
      peepol, don't be so brave, keep yourself anonymous, but if you can't, we will keep a special place of respect for you.

    2. More that 4 or maybe just 4 people from Zeta Tijuana were killed for doing their jobs there. Still he refused to be pushed around. That’s brave.

  10. Blancornelas R.I.P.y friend ... cancer accomplished what el CAF couldn’t in their hey day.

  11. in the end adela fuck the sons of blancornelas leaving them out of the zeta weekly paper maybe she needs to be investigated for ilicit money transfers


Comments are moderated, refer to policy for more information.
Envía fotos, vídeos, notas, enlaces o información
Todo 100% Anónimo;