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

Friday, May 7, 2021

Part II: The Private Empire of Tamaulipas Governor García Cabeza de Vaca

"Redlogarythm" for Borderland Beat

For Part I of this series, please click this hyperlink.

Tamaulipas governor Francisco Javier García Cabeza de Vaca

The arrival of the 21th century saw Francisco Javier Garcia Cabeza de Vaca climbing positions inside the National Action Party (PAN) very quickly. As we explained in our last episode, the would-be Governor had a skyrocketing career.

Starting as an ambitious aid of Tamaulipas PAN's leader Gustavo Cárdenas Gutiérrez, Cabeza de Vaca developed a strong friendship with Manuel Bribiesca, President Vicente Fox's stepson, who undoubtedly helped him to be one of the main leaders of the Amigos de Fox association, the group that would bring Fox to the presidency by 2000.

The duties of the still young Cabeza de Vaca were duly rewarded, allowing him to launch his candidacy for the  Chamber of Deputies (Cámara de Diputados), one of the two chambers on which the Mexican Congress is divided. He was assigned to the Second Electoral District, which included the Tamaulipas municipalities of Río Bravo, Valle Hermoso, Matamoros, Méndez, San Fernando, Burgos and Cruillas.

At that time, the clientelist networks and social channels would be at the disposal of Cabeza de Vaca for the first time, and he handled them correctly, being elected as Federal Deputy for the 2000-2003 term.

During these three years, Cabeza de Vaca served in several working groups, including the First Labor Commission and the Treasury and Public Credit Commission. He would also be the secretary of three other Commissions: the ones of Border and Migration Affairs Commission, the Population Commission, and Labor Commission. It was during his time in these institutions that Cabeza de Vaca tasted the essence of real political power for the first time. The membership and leadership of such vital working groups had been his reward for the services provided in Tamaulipas during the 2000 presidential elections, and the now Federal Deputy would ask for more after his mandate had finished in 2003.

What would be the options of a young PAN bureaucrat with strong clientelist networks in the border areas of northern Tamaulipas? Assuming the hunger for power that consumes politicians who face success for the first time, it would be obvious to conclude that after joining the PAN and becoming a successful bureaucrat with privileged access to President Fox, the next step would be to reach even a higher position within Tamaulipas politics. 

In the race for power that every major Mexican politician has joined, there is some sort of political route that can be identified as the "shining path" that any bureaucrat has to follow in order to gain more influence. It usually starts with the young individual joining the ranks of a party as a mid-low member (it was the case of Cabeza de Vaca when he joined the PAN in 1998).

From there, the individual catapults himself to the bureaucracy of the party, most of the times establishing alliances and creating clientelist networks with those who surround him (such is the thing Cabeza de Vaca did when he was introduced to the Fox-Sahagún clan and when he started working as Gustavo Cárdenas Gutiérrez´s right hand).

The path then continues to being nominated as mayor or governor of an important city or state, which becomes his stronghold for future elections. And after that, for the very few chosen ones, comes the Presidency.

That is the path that people like Vicente Fox, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and Enrique Peña Nieto have followed in their routes towards becoming the top politician in the Mexican political system.

Nevertheless, Cabeza de Vaca, who had proved himself as a clever and enthusiastic political strategist that had climbed to the top layers of the PAN's state leadership in less than 4 years, was not prepared to launch his candidacy to the Tamaulipas Governorship yet. Tamaulipas was still under the tight grip of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which dominated the local panorama through strong clientelist networks that had shaped the political avatars of the Mexican government for the past 60 years.

It would be in 2016 that for the first time in the history of Tamaulipas a non-PRI candidate would win the Governorship, and it would be Cabeza de Vaca himself. But for the moment the novel politician had to face reality: he still had not enough power.

So he focused on the next layer of power. A position important enough to meet his demands for higher responsibilities and his relatively unknown predatory capacity. A capacity that would make him and his family incredibly wealth. Cabeza de Vaca's next step would be the mayor position of Reynosa.


During his tenure as mayor of Reynosa, Cabeza de Vaca showed his true political nature. His position as the head of a municipal government did not offer the possibility of hiding the traces of his crimes as easily as other political positions would. He had only the municipal police and local administrative personnel under his orders, not the whole structure of a state government that oould potentially help cover-up his doings.

As a result, Cabeza de Vaca was exposed many times when he was mayor of Reynosa. In a federal investigation, authorities had information that Cabeza de Vaca allowed former Gulf Cartel boss Osiel Cardenas Guillen to finance and organized a Children's Day party in a municipal stadium in 2003. He was also unable to hide the rumors that he was once kidnapped by armed men and beaten before being released in the middle of Reynosa's main square (a fact that was covered in the print press, which Borderland Beat consulted, but that was quickly forgotten despite its obvious significance).

Exclusive picture shared to Borderland Beat from 2004 in Reynosa. Cabeza de Vaca's campaign poster can be seen on the right. On the left is the PRI opposition candidate.

The public allegations of complicity with organized crime, corruption, and nepotism that characterized his term (which we will be analyzing in the next paragraphs) helped him earn a reputation as a controversial politician. However, no official charges were ever put forward back when he was mayor.

When did Cabeza de Vaca start planning his campaign for Reynosa's municipal government? We may never know it with certainty, but it must have been during his tenure as Federal Deputy (2000-2003). During these years it is likely that he started networking with the PAN's higher-ups and other political parties to gain support for his campaign.

In Mexico, like in most of the countries in the world, the weakest nodes composing the network of public power is comprised by the local Governments. Due to the relative weakness of the municipal institutions and the ease with which any minimally organized and well funded organization can win a campaign, the mayorships are the very first target of any criminal group.

It does not matter if the organizations trades in drugs, weapons, human beings or just wants to steal public resources through corruption schemes. The municipal governments are the very first link in the process of building criminal governance frames. This is one of the main reasons for the level of violence associated to the Mexican municipal political campaigns.

Tamaulipas was not an exception back in the early 2000s. Between 2000 and 2003, Cabeza de Vaca started developing the networks that would grant him enough power to meet the requisites for running for the mayorship of Reynosa.

But who were these contacts? Who gave them the required political support that any pre-candidate needs for posing as a real and viable alternative? Again, the obscurity of the Mexican political bureaucracy clouds the possibility of stating specific individuals with absolute certainty. Nevertheless, we can infer that it was the Fox-Sahagún clan the one that, for the second time, validated Cabeza de Vaca's aspirations.

There is a rumor that it was Marta Sahagún (Vicente Fox's wife and Mexico's First Lady) the one who made it possible for Cabeza de Vaca to obtain enough political patronage. And in the process the main strategic of the future mayor would be an odd ally: Tomás Yarrington Ruvalcaba.

Former mayor of Matamoros between 1993 and 1995, Tomás Yarrington was back in the early 2000s one of the PRI's most prominent politicians. He won the Governorship of Tamaulipas in 1999 (a position he would maintain until 2004) and since the early 1990s was deeply involved in the criminal underworld of the northern State.

Borderland Beat has written extensively about the life and career of Yarrington, but we should not forget that although he is currently imprisoned in Texas after pleading guilty for money laundering, Yarrington was once one of Mexico's leading political figures. He even tried to run for the presidency in 2006 when the PRI was experiencing bitter divisions due to the reluctance of the party´s barons to accept Roberto Madrazo as a candidate.

There are rumors about some sort of political alliance or relationship between Marta Sahagún and Tomás Yarrington. Although this links have not been officially confirmed, it is very possible that the relationship started through some of the Bribiesca brothers. At the time of the events they were developing a huge business network all over Tamaulipas and it is probable that they contacted Cabeza de Vaca in this way.

The truth is that Tomás Yarrington supported Cabeza de Vaca's campaign for the mayorship of Reynosa. The fact that both men belonged to different parties should not lead us to conclude that there were any differences between them. When political parties are used as platforms for monopolizing power and awarding public resources as gifts in return of favors, the borders between political allegiance become blurred.

Exclusive picture shared with Borderland Beat, depicting the moment when Cabeza de Vaca was sworn in as Reynosa mayor in late 2004.

There are several evidences about Yarrington's support for Cabeza de Vaca. The most credible one is a document elaborated by the Specialized Attorney's Office for Organized Crime (SIEDO) in 2009. The investigation, titled PGR/SIEDO/UEIDCS/012/2009, includes testimonies from a protected witness with the codename "Ángeles", who spoke about Cabeza de Vaca's organized crime links and his ties to Yarrington.

The real identity of Ángeles was Antonio Peña Arguelles. A former fayuquero (smuggler of used American clothes and goods), Peña Arguelles started working as financial operator for the Gulf Cartel in Nuevo Laredo between 2002 and 2004. At some point Antonio and his brother, Alfonso, started working as money launderers for Los Zetas, acting as the link connecting the criminal groups with certain layers of Tamaulipas' political elites. They handled large quantities of money in exchange of protection for their employers.

One of these political leaders was, of course, Governor Tomás Yarrington. The Peña Arguelles brothers handled large quantities of cash for the Governor's clique, and at some point started acting as Yarrington's front-men, buying houses, properties and vehicles whose real owner was Yarrington.

By what Antonio Peña Arguelles declares in his 2009 SIEDO statement, he also served as conduit for funneling money for Yarrington's political mischiefs. In the first page the financial operator narrates how at some point in September 2004, Yarrington cited him in Ciudad Victoria and asked him to help finance opposition candidate Cabeza de Vaca for mayor of Reynosa with drug money.

He argued that Yarrington and Cabeza de Vaca were good friends and that he was personally interested in his political victory because he had broken ties with the PRI's candidate Humberto Valdez Richaud.

Peña Arguelles goes on telling how Yarrington said he would be in charge of granting Cabeza de Vaca enough votes to win the elections. Yarrington then reportedly phone called Cabeza de Vaca personally, and explained to him how Peña Arguelles would be in charge of giving him money, according to the pre-established plan they both had developed.

The next day, Peña Arguelles traveled to Reynosa. When he arrived he established contact through a Nextel device with Héctor Manuel Saucedo Gamboa AKA El Caris, brother of Gregorio Saucedo Gamboa AKA Metro 2 or El Caramuela, who back then was the plaza boss for the Gulf Cartel.

A former State Police agent, Gregorio had been in the criminal underworld for years, and reportedly had links that dated back to the legendary Gulf Cartel kingpin Juan Garcia Abrego. Borderland Beat was able to confirm through print archives that Gregorio was suspected of organized crime involvement since before Los Zetas were formed. He was also very close to Arturo Pedroza Aguirre, Commander of the now-extinct Federal Judicial Police in Tamaulipas. Pedroza had links with Osiel Cárdenas Guillén.

El Caris cited Peña Arguelles in a parking lot at the Soriana shopping mall where they discussed Yarrington's plan. Peña Arguelles explained that Yarrington would support Cabeza de Vaca with votes while the Gulf Cartel provided money for the electoral campaign, with Peña Arguelles acting as the nexus between the three parties: the Governor, the Gulf Cartel, and Cabeza de Vaca. Once in power, Cabeza de Vaca would be controlled by Yarrington, who could very easily put the mayor to the service of the Gulf Cartel.

El Caris told Peña Arguelles that he would consider the options with his brother Gregorio, and that they would contact him when they were ready. Peña Arguelles went to the Holiday Inn Hotel and that same night he received a call from El Caris who said that Gregorio had approved Yarrington's plan.

Next day at noon, Peña Arguelles received a call from El Caris, who told him to wait at the hotel. Two hours later, El Caris phone called Peña Arguelles again and told him that he was waiting at the parking lot. Peña Arguelles entered into a silver Ford Lobo where El Caris gave him a cardboard bag containing US$500,000 in cash.

Peña Arguelles returned to his room and called Cabeza de Vaca and told him that they had to meet for Yarrington's plan. Cabeza de Vaca said that he could be anywhere in an hour. An hour later, both men met at the restaurant of the hotel. Cabeza de Vaca came with a second man who was introduced to Peña Arguelles as  his brother José Manuel. Peña Arguelles handed the bag containing half a millions dollars to Cabeza de Vaca, stating that it was the contribution from the Gulf Cartel for his campaign. Cabeza de Vaca told him that he would be at their total disposal before leaving the restaurant. 

Peña Arguelles called Yarrington and told him that everything had taken place according to his plan.

Cabeza de Vaca won the elections the next month, and took control of Reynosa's  townhall on January 1, 2005. But it would not be the end of his partnership  with Peña Arguelles.

According to his own testimony, Cabeza de Vaca was invited to Peña Arguelles's ranch El Reforme in December 2004. Cabeza de Vaca arrived in a convoy with his bodyguards and his family. He told Peña Arguelles that he was an enthusiast of the white-tailed deer hunt, every other Christmas he was given free access to Peña Arguelles's facilities to hunt.

At some point in January 2005 (Cabeza de Vaca's first month as mayor), he cited Peña Arguelles at the La Mansión del Prado restaurant where he told him that he was completely at the Gulf Cartel's service. So Gregorio Saucedo Gamboa facilitated him a list of personnel at the Municipal Security Directorate who should be moved to strategic positions or that should not be bothered at all. Cabeza de Vaca replied saying that he would take care of all that. Thus, during the following months, Peña Arguelles passed down several orders from the Gulf Cartel's leadership to Cabeza de Vaca, who reportedly followed them thoroughly. 

Finally, Peña Arguelles stated that on February 2005, he was cited with El Caris in a Reynosa-based restaurant called La Fogata. Cabeza de Vaca was also called there and spoke to El Caris for about 15 minutes, the investigation details say.

Organizational chart of the links between Cabeza de Vaca, other politicians, and the Gulf Cartel leaders in Reynosa.

Peña Arguelles's testimonies offer a clear insight into how Cabeza de Vaca financed his campaign for the mayorship of Reynosa. Nevertheless, we should not interpret this seemingly smooth relationship between the mayor and the Gulf Cartel as an explicit collaboration.

According to several events that surrounded Cabeza de Vaca's first days as mayor, he had some issues with the Gulf Cartel. And such issues would lead to the death of at least one person.

Cabeza de Vaca was elected on November 2004. But according to what Peña Arguelles said, the elections had been decided beforehand. The political ability of Yarrington and the enormous resources of traditional votes that the PRI were put to work in Cabeza de Vaca's benefit, who won with 79,976 votes against the 53,770 of the PRI.

Interestingly enough, although the PAN won in Reynosa, it only won three more municipalities (Aldama, Valle Hermoso, and Xicoténcatl) from a total of 43. Although the PRI still massive dominance over Tamaulipas, the city of Reynosa had fallen into the hands of the PAN. How had it been possible? The testimony of Peña Arguelles offers a great explanation.

As the culmination of this chain of events seven years later, on May 30, 2012, several narcomantas (narcobanners) appeared in certain areas of Reynosa displaying Cabeza de Vaca's mugshot during the McAllen incident of 1986, and photos of Antonio Peña Arguelles, Manuel Bribiesca Sahagún, and Tomás Yarrington. The accused Cabeza de Vaca, who at the time was a Senator, of exactly the same thing we have explained previously. 

The text of the banner read:

"We are more than 132. Cabeza de Vaca says I am 132, but in fact they are more than 132 the gangsters that have supported him. Like the Sahagún brothers, or like his political godfather Tomás Yarrington and Antonio Peña Arguelles who made him mayor. And how to forget Toño Barba, Alfredo Cerda AKA El Paya and Alberto Gómez AKA La Chona, his accopmlices in his beginnings as criminals. Mexicans, the law has to be impartial"

At the time the mantas were interpreted as threats coming from a sector of the PRI opposed both to Yarrington and Cabeza de Vaca, but it is worth noting that when this manta was made, Peña Arguelles's were not public information. The fact that the manta included information from a tsetimony that was not public at the time is telling.


The beginnings of Cabeza de Vaca in Reynosa's townhall were as murky as his career to the mayorship. It began with a death: the murder of his security service manager.

Rene Izaguirre Rodriguez joined the Policía Judicial Federal (PJF) between the 1970s and the 1980s. As member of the PJF he was awarded not only a gun and a plaque, but the license to investigate, detain, steal, and murder whoever they wanted. This degree of impunity was facilitated by the fact that he was Guillermo González Calderoni's brother-in-law. González Calderoni is probably known as one of Mexico's most corrupted cops.

Once one of the main officials of the PJF, Calderoni was the mastermind behind the estability of the Guadalajara Cartel during the 1980s. As a main advisor of former Attorney General Javier Coello Trejo, it was him who protected Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo for so long, although in the end he had to hand him to the authorities. It was also Calderoni the one who captured or eliminated drug barons all over the northern border during the 1980s and early 1990s.

In 1993 he was accused of corruption and left Mexico for the US, where apparently he collaborated with the authorities and became an extremely successful businessmen, creating an empire over the fayuca (used clothes) business in South Texas.

Nevertheless, when he started making strange moves, like accusing former President Carlos Salinas de Gortari and his brother Raul of being the masterminds behind some of Mexico's most notorious killings (such as the murders of presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio and two advisors of left wing politician Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas), his fate was sealed.

On February the 5th 2003, a hitman shot him in the head in a gas station in McAllen, Texas.

Rene Izaguirre Rodriguez became one of Calderoni´s protégés. Izaguirre was appointed as member of the Grupo Palma, a special team inside the PJF in charge of handling "delicate" cases.

As other special groups of the PJF (such as the Grupo Tiburón, for example), the Grupo Palma was nothing more than a squad of thugs that protected certain drug trafficking groups, extorted some other and neutralized the rest. At some point during the 1990s, René Izaguirre Rodríguez left the PJF and became a police officer in Nuevo León. From there his path crossed with Cabeza de Vaca.

Exclusive image obtained by Borderland Beat depecting members of the now-extinct Palma Group (Grupo Palma) of the Federal Judicial Police. René Izaguirre Rodríguez is the one in the left side, wearing a cap. The other have been identified (from left to right) as Ignacio Licea, Licenciado Quijas and Osvaldo Rosas Cortés 

The first time Rene Izaguirre was ever linked to Cabeza de Vaca was when he was assigned as head of security during his political campaign in late 2004. We may never know how he was introduced to Cabeza de Vaca. To say that it had been González Calderoni himself would be too much. He had been killed more than a year earlier, and at that time Cabeza de Vaca still was a Federal Deputy in Mexico City. The most probable explanation is that someone from the criminal underworld introduced the two.

As any political candidate, Cabeza de Vaca made promises. He said he would erase the dark memories of the PRI times, bringing a new era of progress and prosperity for the people of Reynosa.

On January 2, 2005, during the celebration of the Police Day, he publicly stated that "the only commanding voice is the voice of the mayor, and I will not negotiate with [cartels]!"

A few months before, according to Peña Arguelles, he had been negotiating face to face with the Gulf Cartel for their economic support.

However, when he was mayor, Cabeza de Vaca sometimes took decisions without the cartel's approval. One of his very first moves as mayor was to announce that his security chief, René Izaguirre, would be nominated as Reynosa's Public Security Operative Director, a post that oversees the municipal police and security services of the city.

Between December 30-31, 2004, René Izaguirre Rodríguez, who had not even accepted the nomination, vanished into thin air. Cabeza de Vaca publicly admitted he had been kidnapped by a cell of armed men. According to sources published at the time, the municipal government knew who the kidnappers were and maintained negotiations with them. But Cabeza de Vaca threw out any opportunity to safe his colleague when he gave his speech against negotiating with cartels. This virtually signed Izaguirre's death penalty.

And so it was. 48 hours later, the corpse of René Izaguirre Rodríguez appeared at one side of the Reynosa-Matamoros highway, near the town of General Bravo in the State of Nuevo León. His body bore sign of torture as well as six gunshot wounds.

Rene Izaguirre Rodriguez dead, lying next to the Reynosa-Matamoros highway

What caused the murder of René Izaguirre? It´s not possible to guess it with complete certainty, but the truth must lie behind the negotiations and complex shifts of power inside Reynosa's townhall when Cabeza de Vaca and his people entered into the Government. The new mayor altered the delicate equilibrium achieved between the Gulf Cartel and the previous administration.

We must acknowledge that Reynosa was anything but safe for police chiefs. Two previous commanders had been killed. The first, Juan Angel Cabrera Leal, Coordinator of Municipal Public Security was killed on February 22, 2000. Slightly three years later, on March 26, 2003, Reynosa's Transit Subdirector Miguel Ángel Chávez Cantú was gunned down inside his own car.

The coincidence of the kidnapping (24 hours before Cabeza de Vaca assumed office) and the speech he made on February 2 must have been linked to some sort of disagreement between him and Gulf Cartel leaders.

According to Peña Arguelles's testimony, Cabeza de Vaca met with him and received a list of public positions that the cartel did not want for him to touch. This must have happened before the murder of René Izaguirre. So in the end we can conclude that whatever resevations Cabeza de Vaca had about letting the Gulf Cartel infiltrate his government, in the end he complied with the criminal group's desires.

The relationship between the Cabeza de Vaca clan and René Izaguirre has always been clouded by the distance of time and the thousands of deaths came years later with Mexico's drug war.

On January 2, 2016, the Mexican newsmagazine Proceso published a letter from Cabeza de Vaca where he confronted a series of allegations made by some journalists amid his campaign for the Governorship. Among other things, he denied to have any businesses with the Bribiesca brothers. He also alleged that his relationship with Rene Izaguirre had been very brief. He said that Izaguirre was not his chief of security. He said he helped with coordinating his campaign, but nothing more.

Nevertheless, Cabeza de Vaca never explained why he appointed Izaguirre as Reynosa's Public Security Operative Director if he claimed he only knew him for a short period of time.

He also didn´t explain a very sinister event. Until the death of René Izaguirre, Cabeza de Vaca's brother José Manuel had been living in a humble house between the Calle 10 and Fuente de Trevi Streets, in Las Fuentes neighborhood in Reynosa. A few months after Izaguirre's murder, José Manuel bought his house, a luxurious mansion located at the 321 of Bulevar Las Leonas, in Las Leonas neighborhood. The house was worth about $800,000.

A humble house developer, José Manuel had been until then an average businessman who made a living without earning too much money. But the same year that his brother became the mayor of Reynosa, he bought a gigantic house for an astonishing price. A price that he clearly could not afford with his salary.

Several further acts of Cabeza de Vaca also do not match with his allegations of not knowing Izaguirre directly. If he did not know him, then why did he appointed his son, René Javier Izaguirre Guerra, as his personal assistant during 2019, when he was Governor of Tamaulipas? Also, if he did not know René Izaguirre, why did he appointed René's brother, Luís (who would be detained with another brother called Carlos leading a kidnapping ring in 2009) as Reynosa's Director of Health and Alcoholic beverages in 2005?

The evidence is clear. García Cabeza de Vaca knew René Izaguirre very well. He knew him so well that he appointed him as his chief of security, and when the Gulf Cartel saw how their candidate was making his own choices inside the ranks of the townhall they kidnapped René as a way of pressuring him. When he did not answer properly they killed his former security chief as a way of damaging him. That is why Cabeza de Vaca had to look after some of René's relatives such as his son and his brother.

Exclusive picture shared with Borderland Beat from 2004. Cabeza de Vaca was accused by political rivals of being appointed through a dedazo, a term used in Mexico's political lexicon when saying that someone was chosen (with a finger, or dedo) as the political successor. The context of the term often denotes authoritarianism. This term was widely used in the old PRI regime, which ruled Mexico for over 70 years.

Another event during Cabeza de Vaca's first year as mayor reflects the uneasy relationship between the politician and the Gulf Cartel. Apparently at some point during the las tdays of 2005, Cabeza de Vaca was kidnapped by armed men. Journalist David Romero Ceyde was at the time the only one publishing a version of the story, which alleged that Cabeza de Vaca was thrown in the middle of Reynosa's main square.

On January 6th 2006, El Norte newspaper published an article titled: Asegura Alcalde sufrir "levantón" [slang for "kidnapping", but literal meaning can also mean a "lift"). The main body of the text said: 

The mayor of Reynosa recognized that after it had been rumored that he had suffered a "levantón" (kidnapping) . The only thing that had been "levantado" (lifted) had been his popularity.

Francisco Javier García Cabeza de Vaca, PAN mayor from Reynosa, assured that he had suffered a "levantón" but not by the mafia but of ratings due to the rumors of the anticampaign designed against him. Days after one of his brothers-in-law had suffered a car accident in the road to San Fernando, in columns and notes of some journals it was published, without citing the sources, that in these events the mayor had been kidnapped and suffered a "levantón" by organized crime.

'I want to tell you, that I suffered a "levantón", but not of the kind that you imagine, but a "levantón" of my rating with these rumor campaigns" he ironically said after concluding the Day of the Police. He directly accused the General Subsecretary of Government, Ricardo Gamundi, of being the promoter of such rumors and of a political strategy against him that pretends to discredit him for the elections of July 2, 2006. He pointed out that he isn't even considering the possibility of being candidate for the Senate and asked his political rivals to calm down.

Borderland Beat consulted print archives across Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon and was not able to confirm the kidnapping being reported by other newspapers, but we acknowledge that it could have been perfectly possible in a city where the previous mayor, the PRI member Serapio Cantú Barragán, suffered a similar treatment. On January 2003, during the previous instances to the capture of Osiel Cárdenas Guillén, then mayor of Reynosa was stopped in the middle of the city by a commando of armed men. When he tried to explain who he was he was forced to lie on the ground and then was "tableado" (beaten with a wooden stick, or "tabla").

In conclusion, after 5 years of an astonishing political career, Cabeza de Vaca had achieved another goal in his rise to power inside the PAN oligarchy. From a relatively important party bureaucrat with connections with the family of the President, he had managed to cultivate the friendship of both a PRI Governor (Tomás Yarrington) and a criminal organization (the Gulf Cartel).

With their aid he had been able to win the mayorship of Reynosa, one of Tamaulipas' most important cities. His next step would be to establish a deep network of accomplices inside and outside the townhall to which he would direct hundreds of millions of pesos in public contracts.

Such money would then be funneled through a series of companies created even before his election as mayor in November 2004.

The cards were on the table, it was the time for the next move: the sack of Reynosa.

Note: The author wants to thank Borderland Beat contributor "MX" for supplying documents, information, and exclusive images for this report.


  1. This dude is definitely dirty!

  2. great report red. comes to show that Cabeza de Vaca is pretty important in this underworld game. ties to Fox clan, Yarrington, and Gulf Cartel reynosa folks... i wonder how many more are like that...

    1. don't forget Calderoni. that guy goes as back as Felix Gallardo and Juan Garcia Abrego.

  3. Any info on Gregorio Gamboa ? He was arrested, but was he sentenced ?

    1. If I remember correctly, he died in custody of some kind of cancer

  4. What a piece of shit

  5. I’m loving these, can’t wait for part 3

  6. 🇲🇽 is at WAR within itself and CROOKED governors in EVERY STATE JUST worry ABOUT getting RICH 💰
    Pieces of SH!T


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