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

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

The Jalisco New Generation Cartel Advances Steadily In Guatemala

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

The operations of this cartel in Central America didn’t begin with a Big Bang like those of the Zetas in March 2008: a massacre of 11 people in Guatemala. The Jalisco New Generation Cartel appeared with skirmishes on the border with Mexico in 2021. 

The Guatemalan Drug Prosecutor's Office began investigating the structure four years ago, although the Guatemalan Police didn’t accept until last December that this Mexican group already operates in its National territory. Now there are even soldiers arrested for supposedly working for the criminal organization.

Last December, the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel (CJNG) showed that it had its feet firmly planted in Guatemala: 12 people were captured, a structure that, according to the Public, Interior and Defense ministries, worked at the service of that Mexican cartel. for the transfer of cocaine in the country since at least 2018, when they began to track them down. The CJNG is no longer a rumor that comes down from the border with Mexico. It is a fact in Guatemala.

Among the detainees, three soldiers stand out: Aviation Major Carlos Enrique Durán Cáceres; Second Captain of War Material Ángel Eliberto Vargas Urízar, and Infantry Lieutenant Walter Vinicio Contreras Munguía. These captures indicate that the CJNG co-opted authorities in the country in a relatively short time, after emerging from a fracture in the Sinaloa Cartel in 2010, and gaining strength in Mexico in 2015. Currently, its leader, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, alias El Mencho is the most wanted criminal in Mexico, and one of the most wanted by the United States. 

He began his criminal career nearly 40 years ago, when he spent the second half of the 1980s in California, and in Texas, where he served time for heroin trafficking. In the 1990s he was employed as a municipal police officer in Jalisco, to end the decade as a drug trafficker and triggerman for the Milenio Cartel, later transformed into the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel, according to Michael Vigil, a former DEA (United States Drug Enforcement Agency) agent. By 2010, this new cartel was already in the making.

Meanwhile, two months ago and as a result of the arrests, the CJNG went from demonstrating in isolated events on the border with Mexico, denied by the Guatemalan authorities, to having confirmed operations in seven departments of the country and soldiers at their service.

Weapons seized in an operation by the Guatemalan Drug Prosecutor's Office. The operation dismantled a network operated between the Guatemalan military and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG). 

The CJNG operates in Central America, especially in Guatemala, where it has had a base for a long time, and also Honduras, according to Vigil, who retired from the DEA almost two decades ago, when El Mencho already had at least 15 years of a criminal career, and sat the foundations of the CJNG. There is no information available about the presence of the cartel in other Central American countries. However, Vigil, who has followed the evolution of drug trafficking as an analyst, affirms that this cartel operates on all continents, except Antarctica, only because there is no infrastructure. Although he warns that it is difficult for it to control a country completely, he explains that it expanded rapidly considering that the CJNG was formed some 20 years after the Sinaloa Cartel.

"Jalisco began to expand rapidly using violence," says the former DEA agent. “Its central base is Jalisco, but it works in 28 of the 32 states of Mexico. From Veracruz he began to move to different countries, because he learned a lot from the relationships he developed in Colombia, where "El Mencho" adopted the tactics of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). In Mexico, the security forces are very afraid of him,” explains Vigil.

In the first week of this month, the CJNG began a fight against a group that split in the State of Colima, on the Pacific coast of central Mexico. As a result of the shootings and the more than ten murders, the main university and schools closed classes.

In 2019, a year after the Drug Prosecutor's Office began investigating the structure of the cartel in Guatemala, the CJNG appeared in the mouth of an unexpected actor: Mario Estrada, the presidential candidate of the then Unión del Cambio Nacional party. Estrada was recorded at a meeting with what he believed to be members of the Sinaloa Cartel, but they turned out to be undercover Guatemalan police officers working with the DEA.

The candidate offered them the green light to deal drugs in exchange for $12 million for his campaign. During the conversation, Estrada alleged that he had been approached by the Jalisco New Generation Cartel with the same interests. The then presidential candidate was captured in April of that year in Miami and later a New York court sentenced him to 15 years in prison for drug trafficking, without the prosecutor's office in this city or the DEA disclosing whether his mention of the CJNG was proven.

Little did they know that, by then, the cartel was already in Guatemala, with the possibility, according to Vigil, of investing much of the trillions of dollars it earns from drug trafficking in paying bribes to politicians and members of the security forces, as it points out the case of the three soldiers detained last December. The CJNG handles so much money that El Mencho's wife, Rosalinda González Valencia, who was arrested for money laundering last November in Jalisco, used 73 companies in Mexico for transactions since at least 2016.

Carlos Enrique Durán Cáceres was arrested during the "Criminal Triangle" operation that involved members of the Guatemalan air force with the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.

Although the Guatemalan Drug Prosecutor's Office began to track the CJNG in this country until 2018, the strong signs that it was operating in Guatemala appeared until 2021. There was not just one revealing event, with a Big Bang effect, like when the Zetas stormed Guatemala and killed 11 people to announce it in 2008.

In June of last year, the first reports emerged of men carrying assault rifles, covered with balaclavas, and observed in at least two municipalities in Huehuetenango (339 kilometers northwest of the capital). Between July and September, there were at least three shootings on the border, adjacent to Chiapas, Mexico, and La Mesilla (in Huehuetenango, Guatemala) sides. Two of the cases involved at least one vehicle with Guatemalan plates.

The events associated with the Jalisco New Generation Cartel last year also included armed attacks on short-haul transport, and the circulation on social networks of videos of subjects armed with assault rifles and balaclavas, identifying themselves as members of the CJNG, and threatening those who got in their way. The message was also replicated in voice recordings, of subjects with a Mexican accent, sent via WhatsApp from unknown numbers to private accounts and journalists on the Guatemalan border.

In a video from September 2021, the caller accuses several police officers of stealing a drug shipment in May of that year, in Raxruhá, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, and gives them a deadline to return it, in exchange for not killing them. That month, the Ministry of the Interior and the MP announced that they would investigate the incident. Five months later they have not disclosed information about it.

For "El Mencho" and his organization, threatening policemen is nothing new. “A recording circulated in which he scolds a police officer in Mexico over the phone for setting up an operation,” says Vigil. "He orders him to get people out of the area if they don't want to die, and then you hear the policeman reply, 'yes sir... I'm taking them out right now... yes, sir.'" The former DEA agent, who was also the former director of international operations for this agency, says that the CJNG is the strongest rival of the Sinaloa Cartel, leaving other minor cartels behind, and that is why its presence in Central America is not extraordinary.

The captures of last December, in Guatemala, indicate that this cartel had influence far beyond the border with Mexico. The International Center for Investigation of Analysis against Maritime Drug Trafficking, based in Colombia, which cites information from the Ministry of Defense in Guatemala, indicated last August that the CJNG operates mainly in northern Guatemala. However, judging by the locations of the operations of the Drug Prosecutor's Office in 2021 to capture a cartel structure, it is clear that the area where the cartel operates is much broader: Alta Verapaz, 270 kilometers east of Mexico. ; in Escuintla, 340 kilometers from the border, in the south of the country, and in Quetzaltenango, 168 kilometers from the border to the south-west of Guatemala, among other departments. A month before the arrests, authorities seized 200 packages of cocaine in connection with this group in Quetzaltenango.

Quick co-option of authorities

The support of the military is not a new resource for organized crime in Guatemala, but the Jalisco New Generation Cartel obtained it quickly in contrast to other groups such as the Zetas, who also had ties to some military or former officers ten years ago. This was also demonstrated by Juan Ortiz López, alias Chamalé, a member of the Sinaloa Cartel, when after his capture in March 2011, he telephoned the then Minister of Defense, Abraham Valenzuela.

The officers arrested last December, for example, were directly or indirectly related to the tracking of aircraft flights that transported cocaine from the CJNG to Guatemala, and that landed in Petén (north of the country) or in Retalhuleu (department on the Pacific coast). ). Both departments were the main destination of drug flights between 2019 and 2021. According to the MP, the captured soldiers were in charge of delaying aircraft location operations so that the traffickers could flee with the drugs before the authorities intercepted them.

Three weeks before the captures, Major Durán Cáceres, one of those captured, was photographed showing President Alejandro Giammattei a drone recently acquired by the Guatemalan Air Force for anti-narcotics operations. After the arrests, the photographs of both disappeared from all official government sites. So familiar was Durán to the structure that it even had a designated nickname: “Tambito de Leche”. Others had more movie-like nicknames such as "Botudo", "Beba", or "La Jefa", according to information from the Public Ministry.

The MP revealed that some of the 12 arrested in December were dedicated to locating clandestine landing strips for the cartel, hiring crews of workers to unload the drug and block the passage of the authorities, in addition to threatening and attacking those who tried to inform on the structure. The arrests occurred in a year when most of the seized cocaine was transported by sea, and a small number, by air, but also when the annual seizure dropped to 10 tons from 13, registered in 2020, according to the National Civilian Police data.

A bullet-riddled wall with the initials of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) criminal group at the entrance to the community of Aguililla, state of Michoacán, Mexico, on April 23, 2021. - The municipality of Aguililla is being threatened due to the confrontation between the CJNG and the Familia Michoacana (now called Los Viagras).

Unusual identification

The last times that the Prosecutor's Office or the Ministry of the Interior officially identified an international drug trafficking structure in Guatemala, they spoke of the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas, between 2012 and 2013, when both structures began to weaken as a result of the capture or death of their bosses in Mexico. What changed now?

"The investigation revealed the connection," said Gerson Alegría, head of the Drug Prosecutor's Office, regarding the joint investigations carried out with authorities from other countries. The prosecutor did not offer more details, but from the December captures it is inferred that, at least, there was coordination with Mexico and Colombia. The cocaine is produced in that South American country, although some of the flights take off from clandestine runways in Venezuela, according to the MP.

Despite the fact that accomplices of the CJNG were waiting in Petén and Retalhuleu for air shipments from South America, in Colombia there is still no concrete evidence that this cartel has links with cocaine producers, according to Ricardo Vargas Meza, Sociologist and Associate Researcher for the Viso Mutop Corporation and the Transnational Institute.

"My perception is that they have constant work on the ground, although there is no conclusive evidence," says Vargas. The exit of the FARC from the territories that it previously controlled (a retreat that was part of the peace accords with the Government of Colombia), and where they supplied base or coca paste for Mexican buyers, among others, forced this coverage to be covered to guarantee the shipment of the drugs. The Colombian expert points out that the Sinaloa Cartel is unofficially mentioned and, recently, also the CJNG, although without conclusive evidence. However, the link between "El Mencho" Oseguera and the FARC that Vigil mentions could explain the cartel's role in the production.

The Guatemala-Honduras connection

Five months after the signals from the CJNG in Guatemala, similar events are reported in Honduras: a video denouncing a tumbe (drug theft) in connection with the air transfer in Olancho, a department that borders Nicaragua. The voice, with a Mexican accent, identifies the subjects filmed as members of the CJNG. As in another video that circulated in Guatemala, they all carry assault rifles and promise revenge at the end of certain terms, which expired without any reprisal. It is unknown if because the drug was returned or because it was just a threat.

In Guatemala, the mayor of Nentón, Huehuetenango, Rudy Gordillo Velasco, defended himself before the press after, in a video about the drug theft in Raxruhá, an unidentified interlocutor accused him of buying the stolen drug. The mayor denied his involvement, but there is also doubt about the authenticity of the video because the interlocutors speak with a Guatemalan accent, when in other videos and voice recordings the accent of the interlocutors is Mexican.

In Honduras, in the video related to Olancho, the caller claims stolen drugs from a third party, whom he identifies as the person who received drug planes in the name of “Tony Hernández (sentenced to life in prison in the US for drug trafficking), brother of the former president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández (requested for extradition by the US for drug trafficking and already captured).”

The Honduran police, meanwhile, do not officially confirm the presence of the CJNG in their country. In another video, the caller (with a Honduran accent) threatens a subject located in El Paraíso, Copán, for insulting a member of the cartel, and announces "we are coming down through Petén, Guatemala." Petén is one of the places where the Guatemalan military arrested in December tried to divert the attention of other authorities for the landing of planes with CJNG drugs.

In the videos circulating on private social network accounts, and which the Honduran press has replied to, the interlocutors never openly refer to the cocaine, but rather to "the things" or to the stolen "cargo", but they clarify that it belongs to "Mr. Mencho" or that the offense was against "the people of Don Mencho."

The Guatemalan Antinarcotics Force seized a ton of cocaine on December 15, 2021 in Sayaxché, Petén.

Route similarity

At least one of the CJNG transfer routes is similar to one used by the Zetas between 2011 and 2013, and which, according to a Guatemalan military source, involved landings in northern Honduras, and the transfer by land to Izabal, from where they took the cocaine to Alta Verapaz, and then for a brief step to Quiché to enter Chiapas, Mexico.

In the case of the CJNG, the MP carried out operations in the departments of Guatemala, Sacatepéquez and Quetzaltenango (center and west), Alta Verapaz (north) and Escuintla (south), which covered part of the land routes after the landings in Petén ( north) and Retalhuleu (south of the country).

The Prosecutor's Office does not mention Izabal, although in 2021 it was the third department that reported the most seizures of cocaine after Petén and Retalhuleu (in a total national seizure of 10 tons), as well as at least one landing of the 17 last year (of of which 15 occurred in Petén and one more, in Retalhuleu).

In the case of Izabal, the transfer occurred mainly in the municipality of Livingston, adjacent to Belize, and on the Atlantic coast. On May 31, the Police seized another 46 kilos of cocaine in a small plane that crashed at the El Pilar farm, in the Cocales Chocón village, in that municipality. Three weeks earlier, the forced eviction in the Q'eqchi' Arameo community had been reported, where men armed with assault rifles and balaclavas expelled families and also burned their homes, according to press reports. The Peasant Unity Committee (CUC) said in a statement that the armed men also forced seven members of the community to sign an eviction agreement.

There is no official information that reveals the reason for the eviction, although it occurred in an area that is a drug corridor. On September 5, the authorities reported the seizure of a thousand kilos of cocaine, five assault rifles, 300 rounds of ammunition, satellite phones, a global positioning system (GPS), among other objects near the Toquelá village in Livingston. The spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, Colonel Rubén Téllez Cabrera, and the Ministry of the Interior reported that the shipment came from Belize, a few kilometers from Toquelá, where the traffickers moved the drug by boat on the Sarstún River.

On September 9, the authorities seized 25 kilos on a ship from Colombia that arrived at Puerto Santo Tomás de Castilla, in Izabal. Except for the port, the seizure sites are close to the CA-13 highway that leads from Izabal to Petén, and also to the Northern Transversal Strip, which leads from Izabal to Alta Verapaz, up to Huehuetenango and the border with Mexico, places where the presence of the CJNG has been reported.

Prosecutor Alegría explained that the use of drug trafficking routes by one cartel or another is not cut short. He says there are too many to be able to identify how many are used by each group. "In Guatemala, the transfer structures are not oriented towards a particular cartel," explains the prosecutor, who affirms that these organizations work in a kind of outsourcing for several cartels at the same time, although he could not guarantee that the structures that they traffic for the Sinaloa Cartel they also do for the CJNG.

The Jalisco New Generation Cartel works without much conflict where the Sinaloa Cartel also operates, which already has established routes. It is in conflict where there are minor cartels, which it dominates because they do not have the resources for long-term sustained confrontations. "While Mencho cares little about violence, Sinaloa is more focused on drug distribution," explains Vigil. “Ismael ‘El Mayo’ Zambada (successor to Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán at the helm of Sinaloa) is more cunning than any capo and he knows that violence and conflict are not good for business.”

In reality, so much cocaine is being trafficked, particularly to Petén, that the structures are more busy dealing than fighting routes. Only between 2019 and the first quarter of 2021, and only considering the cocaine seized (an estimate of between 10% and 30% of what is trafficked), an average of one kilo of cocaine entered Petén every two hours and with a diversity of owners. This feature means that the maps of transfer territories in Guatemala now have blurred borders.

The trafficking groups in Guatemala are small in power in contrast to the Mexican ones, but they are no less key for that, since at least 90% of the cocaine seized in the United States passes through Guatemalan territory, according to the American State Department for at least five years.

Apart from the expansion of routes and co-optation of authorities, Vigil predicts that, to the extent that the CJNG encounters opposition and becomes involved in armed conflicts, the price of cocaine could rise in Central America because the cost of transporting it through a more violent territory will increase. (In Guatemala, depending on the degree of purity, and the place of sale, the price per kilo ranges between $8,000 and $12,000). This prediction of an increase in violence has not yet been fulfilled in Guatemala, except for the armed events on the border with Mexico in the second half of 2021. In Guatemala, the co-optation of authorities guarantees drug traffickers to traffic without conflict, which is what that, according to the authorities, they were trying to guarantee in Petén and Retalhuleu the Guatemalan soldiers who were captured in December.

El Faro


  1. El Señor de Los Roosters is alive in Guatemala?

    "Mira bien, hijo de tu puta madre- Soy “Mencho”, wey. Relaja a tu puta gente a la verga, soy Mencho, wey. Relaja a toda tu partida, si no, te voy a partir tu madre a ti y a toda tu bola de perros. Te tengo identificados 20 weyes. Hasta a tus putos perros te voy a matar si no te relajas, wey. ¿Cómo ves?"

    I have this recording as my 6:00 am alarm ! let me tell you my productivity has increased thank you Señor De Los Roosters

  2. It’s crazy let be not posting most post because profanity and they let this clown post same bad over and over with same kind explicit profanity in Spanish smh some favoritism in this wack ass forum

    1. Who dat crying like a bitch in here? Lmfao.

    2. Unkown stop being a crybaby ��.

    3. Sol remember those days a few weeks ago he was crying he wanted Chivis back, now he is crying about some else lol.

  3. @ 11:38.
    "morros que se ve que les gusta la masacuata"

  4. In the Netherlands is safe amigo's..we have coffeeshops,red light districts from Amsterdam to Antwerp

  5. Gentleman, forgive me for not liking guns and camouflage...
    Is that a diamond ring-anillo de diamantes my eyes lasered in on (pic1) are a girl's best amigo.

    Canadian girl💋

    1. Ese girl I m the vato local zoot suiter, come see me, give you ride on my low rider.

    2. 742 I don't think she likes zoot suiters. Lol

  6. Luv u guys sooo much....@11:47pm brilliant deduction...I had my ring doubts but didn't know what else it could be. @11:02am You da Boss cuz + yes I'm clean living/no zoot... @7:42pm thank u for the invite nonetheless.

    Canadian girl💋


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