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

Monday, April 20, 2020

Agua Prieta and Drug Trafficking

By Buggs for Borderland Beat
Source: Many, accumulated from online media through various sources from an extended time. Some information was provided by anonymous sources as is many of the work I publish.

Agua Prieta (AP), a Sonora border city bordering Douglas, Arizona which for its geographical area is a huge port for drug trafficking. Thousands of tons of marijuana, cocaine and heroin have entered this corridor to Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, California, etc. If we go back in time to the 1990s, we find the first drug trafficker in the city of Agua Prieta, the one that started it all in the region was Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera. The natural attraction to the city brought characters like the Beltran Leyva Brothers, who they extended their power and operations in the city. Hector Beltran Leyva's wife, originally from this city, Elena Laborin Archuleta, created a network for the Sinaloa cartel, establishing business relationships that served to smuggle and launder money.

The most powerful family in the city comes out of these relationships, the Paredes Machado family, their leader at that time, Leonel Paredes Peru, who was assassinated together with his brothers in 2004. It is said that from then on, the command fell to Marco Antonio Machado "El M100" who was sentenced to 22 years in prison after being extradited to the United States.

Relevant events and moments.
  • It was on May 4, 2004 when in a restaurant in Agua Prieta three gunmen shot dead Manuel Leobardo Paredes Machado, 43, Leonel Paredes Peru and Maria Del Refugio Paredes Machado. Rodolfo Paredes Machado El R100 resulted injured.
  •  April 26, 2004, the owner of the Agua Prieta restaurant, Jesús Salas Cuevas, was seriously injured in a shooting while driving out of his driveway. Police also suspect a drug trafficking connection in that case. Three days later, the police found Jesús Tomás López Angulo shot dead in an apartment in Agua Prieta. The bullet-riddled body of his associate, José Alfredo Jiménez, was found by police in another apartment that same day. His murders, according to the Agua Prieta police, were part of a settling of scores (ajuste de cuentas) among the drug traffickers.

    It was then when Daniel Manuel Cuadras Zavala, a resident of Agua Prieta who was linked to both drug trafficking and the Paredes family, was shot to death along with his 60-year-old aunt in a restaurant in Caborca, Sonora. His wife that was with him, Maya Garcia, was not hurt.

    The DEA suspects that the organization of Ismael Zambada García, who were strong in Nogales, Sonora, were behind the attack on the restaurant. At that time this family belonged to the Juarez Cartel.

    The drug trafficker known as 2000 was suspected of the murders in the city of Naco, Sonora, where he started the clean-up on the part of the Paredes Machado at the hands of Jose Javier Rascon Ramirez "El Fox" against "El Calichi" in retaliation for the death of the Paredes family.
  • Agua Prieta police chief, Ramón Tacho Verdugo was executed on February 27, 2007. He was shot three times with a 9 mm and 44 caliber weapon. Tacho was killed, along with many others in that wave of violence that included the Cananea and Arizpe massacres, along with the abductions in Imuris and Nogales, with the fearsome “mata policías.” Tacho's death was attributed to the kingpin known El 2000.
  • In November 09, 2007 Is when a person by the name of Sergio Urbano Ramírez Limón, owner of the team Beis Bol Los Vaqueros de Agua Prieta and the La Reforma restaurant. He was shot three times with an AK-47 caliber 7.62 x 39 or as is known in the narco world “cuerno de chivo." The incident happened at about 11:45Am outside the restaurant located on 5th street 21 avenue in AP.
  • In December 4, 2007, the former agent of the public ministry, Gaston Alonso Acosta Toscano, was found in a garbage dump. He was abducted outside his home, Avenida 4, between streets 9 and 10 of AP.
  • June 26, 2008: An element of the municipal police was shot to death inside the cabin of his unit. Another police officer was wounded; there were no detainees. The victim was Adán Santos Escamilla who was shot three times in the chest and died at the scene. The other officer that was injured was Leonel Martínez Anaya who was also shot three times, once on the right forearm, another on the same shoulder blade and on the right buttock, all the rounds did not exit.

    The deceased policeman is the brother of the former Head of the Anti Theft Group, Austreberto Santos Escamilla, who resigned his post after the businessman Sergio Ramírez Limón former owner of the two-time champions of Baseball Vaqueros de Agua Prieta. Santos unexpectedly resigned and it was revealed that it was due to direct threats to his person.

    Days later, another police officer linked to Tacho disappeared. Juan Ramón Esquer Martínez was the name of the active Municipal Police officer who was on his way to work on a morning of March 11 of 2008, when two trucks blocked his way and sicarios carrying long guns abducted him (un levanton). To date, nothing is known of his whereabouts. Santos was friends of the Chief of Police of Agua Prieta, Ramón Tacho Verdugo, who was shot to death just outside his office in the police headquarters in February of 2007.
  • July 01, 2008 Agua Prieta, Sonora.- at around 12pm a pursuit of a man by an armed commando in the streets of the city, resulted in the death of the man after several shots with high power weapons. The State Police confirmed in a bulletin that the victim was Paul Baez Carrillo who had his home in the Pueblo Nuevo neighborhood. His body was laying on the north side of the international highway and 12th avenue. At first glance, at least 12 gun shots on different parts of his body could be seen.

    Officially, it is known that when the State Attorney General's Office inspected the cellular phone of Paul Baez, evidence and links were found with the case of the Commander who shot and killed by an alleged drug trafficker. The Commander also injured an officer from his own corporation along with another thug. All these people were travelling together on board a stolen vehicle. During an argument over financial arrangements in exchange for police protection, he shot all 3 of the people. The Bavispe police commander Obedo Castro Medina shot José Antonio Cuevas Carrera, alias “El Piolo,” who died, as well as Ignacio García Gámez who is injured. In addition he shot an officer of the municipal of the same town that was under his command.
  • October 29, 2008 José Jesús Castro Vázquez was followed to the very doors of his house only to be killed by several gun shots this afternoon in AP. The outstanding trial lawyer was killed as a result of getting hit by more than 15 times with a 9mm caliber weapon. He was shot at point-blank range. The incident happened outside a residential neighborhood between the streets 13th and 14th avenues. The suspects fled on aboard a gray late model Nissan Armada.
  • October 30, 2009. According to a report by the State Investigative Police (PEI), a man was shot to death while traveling aboard his vehicle on 9th and 16th avenue in the downtown area of ​​this city. The victim was identified as Manuel Martínez Villanueva, who was known as "El Ganso." He was shot several times while on board his vehicle.
  • December 9, 2009 Two narco-messages appeared on two blankets (mantas) placed at different points in the city where they call on the groups that presumably maintain control of the plaza to leave innocent people alone. The two white blankets and whose letters were spray painted and signed by members of what could be the emergence of a new criminal organization called "La Gente Nueva" or “The New People.” One of the narcomantas was left in an educational campus located on Federal Highway and 29th Street, while a second one was located in a fence on Calle 6 and Avenida 33. In an attempt not to alarm citizens, elements of Municipal Public Security removed them at the instructions of the director of the police agency.

    With the appearance of these two narco-messages, it was apparent that the wave of violence could spread to this border town. The recent isolated executions in the state of Sonora, could spread all over the city, the writing was in the message of the pending violence. The violence taking place Cananea, was about to move to AP. The narcomantas were put up by José Paulino Vázquez Villagrán, "El Jabalí" who sought to cleanse AP from the people of the Beltran Leyva brothers from the area. The warning was directed towards "El Chapo Trini" and "El Chapo Olivas" uncle and father of the singer Alfredito Olivas. El jabalí went from Nogales to Agua Prieta looking for people of the Beltran Leyva clan.
  • April 27, 2010: With machine gun bursts they executed a drug dealer leader known as "El Pajaro." 
  • On April 28, 2010 at around six fifteen in the morning on the sidewalk of la Reforma and Luis Donaldo Colosio streets, next to the University of Sonora, tied from her hands and feet, as well as her head taped up to her nose, was found Mrs. Clara Elena Laborín Archuleta, wife of Héctor Beltrán Leyva, better known as “El H”. There was a white cardboard left with her saying to the effect "we return you wife as we do not kill women and children."

    Message on the cardboard:"We are going to teach you to be a man and to respect the family, you are a murderer of children." "Here is your wife, for whom you refused to claim, we return her to you safe and sound so you can see and that for us the family is sacred." "We do not kill women or children, we only go for "El Hache" and "El Dos Mil," as well as for several policemen." This message was directed at Héctor Beltrán Leyva, El Hache and Francisco Hernández García, El Dos Mil.

    It was said that the people who fled the scene at high rate of speed after leaving the sign and Clara Elena tied up, made several detonations.

    Mrs. Laborín Archuleta was abducted on April 13, outside her residence on Del Paseo and Juan Navarrete streets, La Alameda subdivision, about 300 meters from the headquarters of the State Preventive Police of Sonora.

    From this location, a group of armed men with a high caliber weapons, apparently “cuernos de chivo” and AR-15s, abducted Laborín Archuleta while she was in her vehicle.
  • On November 11, 2010 a commander of the Municipal Police of Agua Prieta was executed at 00:15 on 35th street and First Industrial Avenue of the Ladrilleras II community. The victim was José Marín López Contreras, who served as commander of the Agua Prieta Municipal Police's Immediate Reactionary Group. The commander was killed when he was of duty traveling on board a gray Tahoe vehicle with Arizona license plates, and was hit by a white pick-up vehicle, which was equipped with police style strobes. They then open fire in him killing him instantly.

    During this time people started to hear of R5 of La Gente Nueva (GN). Jesus Gregorio Villanueva Rodriguez "El R5 was the plaza boss of the group. GN was an armed wing of the Sinaloa cartel and made a name of themselves during a confrontation in 2010 in Tubutama between the GN of the Sinaloa cartel against the Beltran Leyva brothers. The first time his name was made public was due to the death of Armando Monge Laborin "El Mandy" who was executed in the parking lot of the Auto Zone in Agua Prieta. His 17-year-old brother Jose Laborin was uninjured in the attack. El Mandy was in charge of the trafficking of cocaine in Cananea, Naco and Agua Prieta. The death of El Mandy was attributed to R5.
  • January 12, 2011 Mexico City.- Elements of the Federal Police managed to arrest Marco Antonio Paredes Machado or Héctor Ariel Rosas Ugalde, identified as the leader of the criminal group "Los Paredes" who also controlled the trafficking of drugs to the United States. He mainly operated in Agua Prieta, Sonora, but to some extend, also in the Federal District.

    As a result of the information received trough the Federal Police Intelligence Center, it was known that since 1986 the criminal group known as "Los Paredes" moved from two to three tons of marijuana monthly to the United States, at the service of the Sinaloa Cartel. The success of Paredes Machado on behalf of CDS allowed him to personally meet Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, Héctor Beltrán Leyva "El H" and at some point even Amado Carrillo Fuentes and Arturo Beltrán Leyva "El Barbas."

    "Los Paredes" are allegedly responsible for the construction of a tunnel that started in the state of Sonora and that connected to Arizona. A tunnel that was secured in 1999 and that according to investigations was used to move at least 20 tons of cocaine that had as its final destination to Tucson and Phoenix.
  • March 21, 2011 The State Investigative Police (PEI) reported that a shooting and attack by an armed group left three people dead and several wounded, in a bar in Agua Prieta.

    The police report indicated that the attack occurred at 11:20pm in the Metropolis Cantina, located in the Centro neighborhood of AP, in front of the international customs department.
  • On June 3, 2011 relatives kept vigil at the Barragán funeral home for Noel Bernardo Ochoa or Joel Estrada Jurado, who had been executed in Agua Prieta. That is when the sicarios arrived, fired a .40 caliber weapon hitting Horacio Ochoa Estrada on the head, who died at the scene. Other people were injured but remained anonymous.
  • July 29, 2011, the operators of the Sinaloa cartel get arrested in the city of Agua Prieta. El Macario was arrested on July 28, 2011 in Agua Prieta, along with José de Jesús García Ruiz, El Mello, after they were seen traveling in a truck. Inside the truck authorities found three long guns, two handguns and 174 thousand pesos in cash. It is rumored that he was detained in the joint operation known as kcs.

    The Paredes family structure was growing and the cartel's lieutenants in Agua Prieta, leader of the sicarios, was Jesus Gregorio Villanueva Rodriguez "El R5," in Moctezuma was Gonzalo "El R8" and in the high Sierra of Bavispe, Bacerac and Huachinera was Tony Kaiser "R10." Also in Agua Prieta, responsible for the drug trafficking was Julio Cesar Lopez Verdugo "El 20"and Armando Moreno "El Mandy."
  • April 9, 2013, Businessman Mario Alberto Sosa "Scorpions" and Rogelio Varela, owner of the Cibeles Salon were executed for selling cocaine without permission from the plaza bosses in AP.

    An internal war breaks out within the Paredes family with the death of Jesus Gregorio Villanueva Rodriguez "El R5" in Hermosillo, Sonora. Julio Cesar Lopez Verdugo "El 20" is identified as the person responsible for the death of R5.
  • January 17, 2014 the war intensifies again with the execution of Armando Moreno "El Mandy." Again Julio Cesar Lopez Verdugo "El 20" is identified as the person responsible.

    Armando "El Mandy" Moreno, a businessman and athlete from Sonora, was shot to death along with two other people in Agua Prieta. Armed men aboard a vehicle began to attack the truck in which Armando Moreno was traveling. The persecution started on 6th Street, but on Avenida 33, the truck flipped over due to high speed. The armed individuals got out of their vehicles and began shooting at Armando Moreno and the two people that were travelling with him.
  • January 18, 2014 after the preparations for Mandy's funeral, the first bursts of gunfire are heard in the bloody shootout in the plaza between the groups Gente Nueva and Comando X.

    An armed confrontation between rival criminal groups "vying for the plaza" leaves four people dead and three more injured. There were damage to houses and vehicles from the rounds and fire in the border town of Agua Prieta.

    It sounded like a war, the the city is not big and from all direction you could hear rapid gunfire from high-caliber weapons. "Occasional people could hear explosions that sounded like grenades or bazookas," said one witness to the incident, while another added "They are criminal gangs vying for the plaza, it all started with the murder of "El Mandy" Moreno," whom the Aguapretenses (people from Agua Prieta) identify as the head of the plaza that was executed along with two other men.

    It was around 1:00AM when blasts from machine guns were fired at an apartment complex located on Calle 7 and Avenida 4 in Colonia Centro, where some of the victims laid dead and other were injured, including two women who were transported to the hospital seeking medical attention.

    According to witnesses who heard the confrontation, the shooting lasted for more than 30 minutes, more than five homes were damaged along with the vehicles parked in driveways. Gates of luxury residential homes were ripped so that the sicarios could entered the complex to find their rivals.

    Dead bodies continued to appear in funeral homes and dumped in garbage cans.

    This started the cleansing ( limpiensa) of Agua Prieta against the people of Julio Cesar Lopez Verdugo "El 20." Abductions and many houses, shops and restaurants were destroyed and looted.
  • On March 5, 2014, new shootings from commandos of "El 20" in Agua Prieta took place on Avenida 18 and lasted for around 30 minutes. This incident resulted in four people arrested, and houses and cars damaged by gunfire.
  • On March 11, 2014, there is an attempted to execute El Cholo Samaniego at the Sushi Gong restaurant.

    The war ended with the death of Julio Cesar López Verdugo "El 20" in Nogales on May 27, 2014. He was executed with three gunshots from a 9mm handgun fired by an allegedly skilled sicario. Two other people with "El 20" were also killed.
From here on several sicarios advanced in the cartel structure after this internal war. Javier Rascon "El Fox," Martin Torres "El Chupon," Adrian Cardian, Gabriel Meza "El 21," Leonel Toscano "El tigre." There were some internal battles with "El 4" against "El 51 or El Niño." This ended with the death of "El 4 at the hands of the faithful "El R8."

The Paredes family was restructured again, with the arrest of Marco Antonio Machado, his son Marco Antonio Paredes "El Junior" took command. Responsible for direct operations was Martin Siqueiros "El Tin Tin," boss of the Plaza and "El L100 or panchon," leader of the sicarios in Agua Prieta. Supported by other smaller cells in the city was Javier Rascon "El Fox," and his gunmen "El Rambo," "Metro 8," Leonel toscano "El tigre," Martin Torres "El Chupon" together with Gildardo Nieblas "El Gil or El G3," the Delta group, La Gente de Walter, the group of Los 30, Freddy Calles "El Tolteca," etc...

Again, a war has the plaza of Agua Prieta in check, it imploded on May 2019 after Martin Siqueiros gave the order to clean up the area of ​​the people of Freddy Calle "El Tolteca," Gildardo Nieblas "El Gil o "El G3." The deaths of Javier Rascon El Fox, Cardian in Naco, the death of El Raton boss of the plaza in Naco and the death of Martin Torres El Chupon makes it possible for violence to continue. There is talk of treasons and new alliances that threaten the peace of Agua Prieta. Conboys are again seen on the streets.


  1. The paredes with the backing of cds intruded the Madera plaza with people of el Jaguar war with la linea

    1. Linea is mowing down these Paredes guys in Chihuahua. They should really just stay in Sonora for their own good.

    2. Very nice story!

  2. Damm good article, Buggs. Thanks for your work and effort 👍.

    1. Double THUMBS UP ! Bugggggggs, be the man !

  3. Los Paredes or not they carry the CDS flag meaning they mean nothing without the backing of these.
    Even with this backing they are still getting their asses kicked in Chihuahua by La Linea.

  4. Animo Sicarios
    Que en paz descanse el R5 ,saludos al R8 y el R10 .
    El 20 was killed by a "9mm handgun fired by a SKILLED SICARIO" pues paque les digo si ya se la saben .

    1. Alv 006 has body count

    2. 😂😂😂 pa que cobijas si ya sabanas verdad mi compa sicario 006. Animó

  5. Does the Quintero’s play a role in all this?

    1. Yes 3:17 hes the main reason this is going on

    2. Los Caro Quinteros have been in that State since the 70's. Miguel Caro Quintero ran that state for his brother when he was free and in prison. Member all the audios left about a "meeting" to see if there would be peace? Caro Quintero.

    3. The original C.D.S that didn't betray, snitch and cooperate with the ABC's como los fanfarrones

    4. Manlio Fabio Beltrones, has been in since he was a teenaged PRIISTA who grew in power and influence by sitting at the knees of ferns do Gutierrez barrios. Founder of DFS and former mexican army captain.
      Before them it was the Cartel de los APSON, but alvaro Obregon and Putarco Elias Calles consolidated Sonoran political power after murdering Pancho Villa and all the real heros of the mexican revolution,
      Total power begets total corruption.

  6. Cjng going for agua prieta and all sonora they already took over sinaloa
    Cjng ass lover

    1. No in sonora there is a big infight as in culiacan and as of right now linea took chihuahua back no need for cjng to get involved right now once cds splits cjng will back one of the sides and later take everything like they did in tj

    2. 4:38 CDS groupies are so bitter these days with their FAVORITE cartel getting weaker and weaker by the day.. It's clear wich cartel they HATE on. 😆
      Reminds me when the Patriots were at their peak and every 🏈 fan HATED the Patriots and Tom Brady..
      Arriva Sonora, DURANGO, CHIHUAHUA y sinaloa pleves!!!

    3. CJNG is involved in Chihuahua, they support La Linea & NCDJ with resources to fight CDS

    4. Cjng has no say in northern states of mex!!! Stop with the bullshit, only baja california has some cjng cells in operation. Read the papers and do the research!!!

    5. Como que casi todos aquí deberían de trabajar para la DEA... Que buena información tienen

  7. Interesting / informative article.
    Once again u out do yourself.

    Great job

  8. AP will not be taken by CJNG, too much power and conectas w/ RCQ/MZ orgs. Maybe a bloodshed but in the end it’ll be Northern Region OGs in charge of it all. Very well aligned in the US side of the house too, and it’s not a cheap plaza to buy. Great article provided here, I’d like to see more pics of these people

    1. @7:33 Why would CJNG want AP? They don't have a lot gente there or en el otro lado. AZ has un chingo de Chinolas chambeando que se van a entender con sus paisanos y también les sueltan la merca, los conocen y si no pagan o se vuelven jotos al ser torcidos pues tarde que temprano la pagan. Got to think critically

      Pliny the Younger TIPA

  9. I wonder if the problem in CLN will make one of the people involved change the team they're on and seek the protection of...and close that route and change the power balance of Western Sonora?

  10. Para quitarle la plaza a los paredes Esta bien pelada esa familia tiene mucho power pinches pendejos los que creen que el cjng Esta en Sonora jajak imbeciles

    1. Asta mas imbeciles ellos que se estan matando solos todo por ratas nimodo el cjng nomas va a esperar que uno de los dos lados pierda y bolas se va a poder meter fasil, pero que se queden con su agua prieta cjng ya tiene tijuana la entrada mas grande de usa para que quieren agua prieta? Ahi que se sigan matando los del cdratas

  11. As usual, Buggs is to be praised for writing a very interesting account of a very complex, factual story. Since I am not familiar with the area or the players, it seems like the same useless bloodbath and betrayal that has repeated itself in Mexico for decades. I was educated in Mexico before any of this bs started. I came to love the country and it's people so my heart breaks...again, when I read an account such as this.

  12. The killing of El Pajarro in 2010 is on YouTube. Search it.

  13. Rumor was Tomas Rascon aka Tito Torbellino was related to Javier Rascon aka Kalili/ Fox. Torbellino was big in AP too.

    1. Why you think only sang bout salazares and ppl from Ap (paredes)

  14. Excellent article!

  15. dancing on that dusty border fence high way very good cerveza


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