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

Saturday, April 3, 2021

'An Atmosphere of Terror': The Bloody Rise of Mexico's Top Cartel

"Anonymous" for Borderland Beat

Note: Special thanks to "Anonymous" for sharing this recent story about the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) from The Guardian.

A soldier guards a crime scene in Guadalajara, September 2020. Photograph: Emilio Espejel/The Guardian

It was mid-spring when residents of the wasteland behind Guadalajara’s international airport noticed a dog roaming their community with a strange object in its mouth: a human forearm.

Search teams in the ramshackle neighbourhood of La Piedrera entered a roofless red brick shack flanked by trees decked with bright orange mistletoe. Under several layers of dusky earth they made an even more grotesque discovery.

“There were 26 of them here. We found them wrapped in plastic sheets,” said Guadalupe Aguilar, a local human rights activist, as she stood beside the shallow grave. “And they’d thrown something on them – acid or something – because it hadn’t been long [since their murders] and the bodies were already in a real state of decay.”

Aguilar, 63, said there were dozens of such clandestine burial sites across Jalisco state, a sun-scorched slice of west Mexico that is paying an increasingly nightmarish price for its pivotal role in North America’s multibillion-dollar drug trade.

“This is all about organized crime,” said Aguilar, who spends her life locating and excavating Mexico’s 21st-century killing fields in search of the victims. “Why? Because one person couldn’t do all this on their own.”

Clothes on the floor where 26 bodies were found inside a clandestine burial place. Photograph: Emilio Espejel/The Guardian

Aguilar, whose activism forces her to travel with armed guards, did not specify which group’s killers were responsible for the bloodbath in La Piedrera. A crimson handprint on one of the hovel’s walls provided a chilling reminder of organized crime’s capacity for carnage.

But authorities say the area, like increasing swaths of Latin America’s second largest economy, is controlled by the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación (Jalisco New Generation Cartel), a criminal behemoth now considered Mexico’s most indomitable mafia firm.

Less internationally famous than the Sinaloa cartel of the now jailed Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, the Jalisco organization is notorious at home for displays of ultraviolence and military might that experts say pose a growing threat to Mexico’s nationalist president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

Last June, Jalisco gunmen launched one of the most brazen assaults in decades: a pre-dawn attempt to assassinate Mexico City’s security chief that underlined how López Obrador’s pledges to “pacify” Mexico have gone unfulfilled.

Last month came another reminder of the cartel’s punch: the body of a key defector, El Cholo, was dumped on a park bench in Tlaquepaque, a tourist town near Guadalajara famed for its pottery and mariachis. A white-handled kitchen knife had been used to pin a warning to the black body bag. “El Traicionero,” it read. “The Traitor.”

The security specialist Eduardo Guerrero said authorities north and south of the US border now considered the group a national security threat. “They have huge amounts of money, the latest generation weapons, military-style paramilitary groups and vehicles … and they represent a very severe challenge to the [Mexican] government – above all in small and mid-sized cities where a detachment of 50 cartel operatives can obviously defeat any local police force.”

A police commander speaks to press about a crime scene. Photograph: Emilio Espejel/The Guardian

The official telling traces the Jalisco cartel’s birth to July 2010 when troops killed Ignacio “Nacho” Coronel – the gangster credited with founding Mexico’s methamphetamine trade – in the state capital, Guadalajara. Coronel’s elimination – which the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) called “a crippling blow” to the Sinaloa cartel he represented – caused a local rupture that paved the way for the emergence of a new group taking the name of Mexico’s seventh biggest state.

But one underworld yarn suggests the split actually began three years earlier, in 2007, when one Guadalajara narco spilled a glass of hibiscus tea over a rival during a gathering in the city’s east. The apparently mundane incident reputedly prompted a bloody and bewildering sequence of betrayals, gun battles and massacres which eventually saw one group prevail. That group was led by Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes – or El Mencho as most know him – a former police officer who is now the DEA’s top Mexican target. For his capture it offers a record $10m reward.

Unlike El Chapo, who sought Sean Penn’s help to turn his criminal life into a Hollywood blockbuster, El Mencho prefers the shadows. Few photographs of him exist. His biography, which includes a stint working illegally in the US in the 1980s, is mostly a blur.

El Mencho is thought to live hidden in the mountains of south Jalisco – but when troops tried to capture him there in 2015 it ended badly, with cartel killers shooting down an army helicopter with a rocket launcher.

Guadalupe Ayala, local human rights activist Guadalupe Aguilar and a bodyguard during the search of a clandestine cemetery. Photograph: Emilio Espejel/The Guardian

“Would I recognize him in a restaurant? No, I don’t think so,” said one underworld observer who asked not to be named. “El Mencho’s leadership is indisputable [but] he’s discreet. He has his bastion of control in the south of Jalisco. Nobody touches him. Nobody messes with him. He’s happy.”

The source claimed El Mencho, thought to be in his mid-50s, was known for being simpático and having a good repertoire of jokes. “But also very explosive,” they added. “Veeeery explosive.”

Few understand the cartel’s powers better than residents of the Sierra de Ahuisculco, a mountain range to Guadalajara’s west where it runs paramilitary-style training camps and secret laboratories that produce vast quantities of synthetic drugs to traffic north to the US. The area’s proximity to two Pacific ports, Manzanillo and Lázaro Cárdenas – through which precursor chemicals are smuggled in from China – has made it a strategic location.

A resident of one small town in the Sierra described how cartel gunmen in black combat gear with the group’s initials stamped on to their bullet-proof vests often swept through its streets in high-end 4x4s, some with mounted machine guns. “You’re afraid to go out at night. You’re afraid to go out with your kids,” complained the resident, who asked not to be named.

A woman holds a portrait of a missing relative. Photograph: Emilio Espejel/The Guardian

Guadalajara has long been one of the most important addresses in the Mexican drug business. Infamous cocaine and marijuana barons lived here during the 1980s. By 2008 US officials considered Jalisco’s capital a methamphetamine hub they called “Chemical City”.

The Sierra de Ahuisculco has also long been a haunt for drug lords, whose high-level political connections allow them to avoid capture and thrive. But in the last six years residents said the violence had become intolerable. “I’ve never lived through a civil war – but I think this is what living through a war must be like,” said one. “You live in fear. You live in uncertainty. I know three or four people who have vanished. Everyone here has lost someone.”

In 2019, 138 bags stuffed with human remains were dumped in a nearby forest. “We see it and we do nothing because we know exactly what will happen if we do,” said another local.

The violence and the cartel’s struggles with rivals have also taken a horrific toll on Jalisco’s capital. Celebrated as one of Mexico’s most dynamic and culturally rich cities, Guadalajara has simultaneously become a place of almost incomprehensible cruelty and grief.

Portraits of missing people are displayed over a table outside the Forensic Medical Service in Guadalajara, Jalisco. Photograph: Emilio Espejel/The Guardian

“We’ve been experiencing tough times because criminal groups have been trying to destabilize our state and create an atmosphere of terror,” Enrique Alfaro, the Jalisco governor, said last month as hundreds of troops arrived, supposedly to combat the violence. A few weeks earlier his 46-year-old predecessor, Aristóteles Sandoval, had been shot dead in a restaurant toilet in a meticulously planned hit many suspected was the work of Jalisco assassins.

Each Wednesday, desperate mothers, wives, sisters and daughters gather outside the city’s forensic institute seeking news of loved ones.

“It’s the sisterhood of pain,” said the group’s 50-year-old leader, Martha Leticia García, as they waited to examine images of body parts unearthed from an ever-growing network of mass graves.

García, whose son César Ulises disappeared in 2017 and has not been found, described the macabre routine of such relatives as they sifted through excavated remains for those they had loved and lost. “You see these things up on the screen and say to yourself: ‘That arm looks sort of familiar, that head.’ It’s just so terrible – the viciousness that we’re seeing in this state,” she said.

Nearby stood Cecilia Flores, 54, whose 28-year-old son, Wilians, was taken in 2019. Four months later officials told her some body parts had been recovered from a notorious torture house called El Mirador. “They found a hand, his torso and forearm. I’m still missing the other hand and his legs,” she said.

Guadalupe Ayala embraces her daughter-in-law Carla Flores Salazar during a protest in Guadalajara. Photograph: Emilio Espejel/The Guardian

The next afternoon grieving mothers gathered at the foot of a monument to the six teenage soldiers who died defending Mexico’s capital from US troops in the mid-19th century. The group marched around the memorial to mourn more recently lost souls, and María Guadalupe Ayala, 47, described the disappearance of her 25-year-old son, Alfredo, in September 2019. Five months later parts of his body were found at El Mirador too.

“Why so much evil in the world?” Ayala wept as she remembered her difficulty in breaking the news to her three-year-old grandson who thought he had been abandoned by his father.

Vast illicit fortunes have been made from the drug conflict tearing Jalisco, and Mexico, apart. But for the Ayalas, and thousands of families like them, the consequences have been cataclysmic.

“Every night I can’t sleep, thinking about what they did to him,” she sobbed. “I go to sleep and wake up asking myself the same question: ‘How much did you suffer?’”

Source: The Guardian


  1. "Latin America's second largest economy.." Mexico is a North American country.

  2. Animo Sicarios!
    Somebody betrayed Nacho Coronel.

    El SR "King Del Crystal" was a powerful capo. He was a close friend of El SR Chapo and El SR MZ. El patron Chapo's wife was his niece which means there was also blood ties.
    Look who benefited with his death and you will find out who betrayed him .

    1. Actually he was getting so powerfull and was about to jump chapo and mayo as the most powerfull drug lord and chapo didnt like that so he snitched on him, everybody in jalisco liked nacho cause he kept everything in control, but like i said chapo bettayed him because nacho was getting really powerfull, after chapo betrayed him chapo tryed to take over nachos bussiness by making mata zetas once mata zetas figured out who betrayed nacho they broke all ties with chapo knowing they would get snitched on as well and thats how we got cjng, the most powerfull cartel in mexico y si lea duele pongase vacelina🐓🐓🐓

    2. @9:48 así es, PROCESO público una edición dónde explicaba el poder que tenía la mafia en Jalisco y que ya se podría considerarlo su propio cartel, al poco tiempo tumbaron a ICV y a MCC.

    3. @6:30 y @9:48 Lo que está en proceso pero de extinción son las fangirls como ustedes dos.

  3. That Baby Killer Cartel needs to be wiped out, before it gets more out of hand. Yet it continues to grow, since the government of obrador has no huevos to combat the issue. Furthermore they have durasno the dumbest security Chief, all he offers is dumb comments that make no since.

  4. Quick question? Is the TJ cartel still active and ran by the Arellano family?

    1. TJ runs by peoples loyal to this family..and the boss is Flaco!

  5. “But one underworld yarn suggests the split actually began three years earlier, in 2007, when one Guadalajara narco spilled a glass of hibiscus tea over a rival during a gathering in the city’s east. The apparently mundane incident reputedly prompted a bloody and bewildering sequence of betrayals, gun battles and massacres which eventually saw one group prevail. That group was led by Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes – or El Mencho as most know him – a former police officer who is now the DEA’s top Mexican target. For his capture it offers a record $10m reward.“

    What incident might this be? Anybody know the story behind it and who it involved? Especially since it happened in 2007 and Nacho was still alive.

  6. Where are all the cartel cheerleaders (faggot dick suckers) at? Praising allegiance to a bunch of losers. Very soon Mexico will be liberated from you scum.

  7. CJNG are something special, not another Zetas for sure!

  8. CAF is comeback amd take control again in Tijuana and BC

  9. There some guy write that ndrangheta make the cartels look like a amateurs😁, but he forget to mention that they're even not the most powerful group in Europe!

  10. Damn. Cjng stories back to back. All up on the organization nutts.

  11. The dead are most likely cholos work. Since he was openly killing innocents to gain national attention.

    PURO C.J.N.G

  12. The CJNG was operating in the early 2000s in the east of Jalisco in CD Guzman, Tamazula, especially Tecalitlan, 4 caminos area but never had a specific name to them. I remember growing up as a kid in a rancho near the area, I knew cartels operated but for the most part they were all independent. One example of this is that the people of the Teca faction don’t go to Tamazula and vise versa. They all operated independently but the beef started when the LFM began to come into the state. When that happened in the mid to late 2000s the groups had to pick a side, either you’re with the raza or your with LFM. Many lands were confiscated by the local cartel because the empresarios picked LFM over the locals. When Nacho died is when things really heated up for a bit, the connections were in a way lessened. That’s exactly when the emergence of CJNG came into play. They got everyone together in big meetings and people had to pick sides again, mostly all the local plaza bosses sided with the new generation, the ones that didn’t go executed because they weren’t the majority in the area. To this day todo el sur de Jalisco operates as independent but they fly the CJNG flag. The rules stayed the same from back in the days, the name is all that changed. One thing is for sure is that as much as those independent tentacles want to be seen as independent like the old days, Los Menchos pull the strings now.

    1. Yup one of my primos got disapeared for siding with LFM and to this day we havent heard or seen anything about him, most likely got the acid treatment, but hey thats what happens when working for any drug organization, in teca we take it like it is, we dont cry and make up stories about our families been saints, it is what it is

    2. Wouldn't these be MILENIO y Los AC since they were more towards that region?


  14. Amlo is going to do absolutely nothing about the cartels. Cartels are safe.


    Un comando de presuntos sicarios con las cejas depiladas y pantalones ajustados atacó con bombas molotov una gasolinera y una pensión de vehículos, en el municipio de Tangamandapio.

    El ataque fue perpetrado por la gente de Luis Enrique Barragán Chávez y Alfonso Fernández Magallan "Poncho La Quiringua", bando contrario a la nueva generación que en el pasado también formaron parte de la misma organización criminal.

    Conocidos como la gente de los reyes o "Los depilados" por su afición a sacarse la ceja y otros gustos delicados, el gobierno del estado de Michoacan a resultado complaciente con la actividad de este bando delictivo que suma a sus acciones el incendio de empacadoras de aguacate y secuestró de empresarios y funcionarios públicos, delitos que no son investigados al contar con apoyo de la misma fiscalía local a su servicio.

    De los hechos el día de hoy y de acuerdo con la agencia estatal de seguridad, el ataque fue perpetrado alrededor de las 06:00 horas, en la gasolinera ubicada sobre la carretera Los Reyes-Jacona, a la altura del poblado de Tarecuato.

    El grupo de sicarios con cejas depiladas arrojó bombas molotov contra las máquinas despachadoras de combustible, así como contra vehículos de una pensión ubicada a un costado de la estación de servicio.

    Bomberos de diversas corporaciones y policías estatales acudieron al lugar, donde aparte de los severos daños a la gasolinera, ocho camionetas y camiones de carga quedaron reducidos a cenizas en la pensión.

    Apenas, el pasado jueves al medio día, el dueño de la gasolinera fue asesinado a balazos por la misma organización que se presumen comunitarios informaron fuentes locales, varios asesinatos y secuestros se han cometido tan solo por qué Los Barragán Chávez acusan a los habitantes de ser integrantes del CJNG sin más pruebas que chismes de sus sicarios.

    Los Cejas depiladas también son parte de la alianza de Carteles Unidos en Michoacan que en esta región comanda Iván García Salgado alias El Ratón, un narcotraficante de alto perfil vinculado a la Nueva Familia Michoacana

    Attacks like these get 0% coverage, but dont let it be a monstro of CJNG getting towed, it'll make national headlines.

  16. Tea is sipped. Not spilled. Is the significance of the tea trade not common to you. Do you know in which part of the world tea leaves and by who they are picked? You have just been tea bagged. So that you know. I turn leaf.

  17. ...but Enrique El Pelón Alfaro cabeza de nalgas spent the ftate of Jalisco security budget in COVID19 Medicines thay do not exist, (even got the state HEAVILY in debt), paid Billions of peisos to pharmaceutical companies that do not exist anymore, and paid loret de moolah and brozo for propaganda and BS...
    IN 70s CHILE, after creating domestic terrorism of state the Christian Democrats got robbed by the military who instituted their pinochet dictatorship, after dozens thousands of innocent people got kidnapped, tortured, dismembered and disappeared, many times after confessing their crimes under torture, other times for refusing to confess, and the ceilinals never got caught, only the "intelectual" authors at the tip, but neber their American instructors and instigators like Klaus Barbie and henry Kissinger.
    No innocent civilian or criminal drug trafficking communist chilean has ever been convicted of the chilean nightmare, or the uruguayan, bolivian, argentinianetc etc etc...
    Same will happen in Mexico, the State and federal police and their accomplice politicians and military KNOW THAT PERFECLY, many of their mandos have even been trained by SCHOOL OF THE AMERICAS and their replacement WHISCOM or at the original sinner Ecòle de Paris in "counterinsurgency" like the Mexican Gendarmeria whose graduates are making waves, namely arturo lopez bazan in Zacatecas.
    Do not let them blame a bunch of ignorant "cartel narcomaruchaneros" it is the greedy state government, and their federal enablers, and it is not that government got overcome by criminals but that government became too powerful and greedy thanks to PRI, PAN, PRD, PVEM, PES, MC...AND BS


  19. A lot of Zeta dropouts joined CJNG

  20. Who is The Guardian?
    Thriving off "Crime in Mexico" reports has become the way to a meal ticket for some who expect to benefit from taking "governability" from the degenerate mexicans as a way to business.
    Those reporters never find a person in charge they can blame or accuse of shady deals or impotency pr corruption, WHY?
    WE COULD EXPECT BETTER FROM the guardian, not so from the governor or his state police mercenaries

  21. Ahora sientence y lloren cdsnitches 🤣


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