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

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Guanajuato Narcos: CJNG's El Zermeño and El Barbas, CSRL's Karen Yepez & El Cañas

 "HEARST" for Borderland Beat

The normally violent state of Guanajuato has been heating up over the last two months to a feverish tension.

The multiple- person homicides in Guanajuato, which are perpetrated by either the Cartel de Santa Rosa Lima (CSRL) or the Cartel Jalisco Nuevo Generacion (CJNG) regularly make the headlines but what often goes unreported are the names of the current leadership of each group. 

The following story is a first attempt at delving into just some of many of those names.

The CSRL Side

Possible Current Boss of the CSRL, Conduit for Marro’s Orders from Jail

Karen Lizbeth Yépez Ortiz 

Karen (sometimes spelled Karem) is one of El Marro’s sisters, as can be seen in the family chart shown below. 

In January 2020, news broke that Karen had been shot down on her wedding day and her cartel-member husband-to-be was abducted by Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG) gunmen. Prominent Mexican news sources such as La Silla Rota and El Imparcial, as well as local news sources such as Libertad bajo Palabra covered Karen’s death. 

Many English news sites, such as the Daily Mail and The Sun, subsequently covered the story and Karen’s alleged death. Borderland Beat covered the story as well, also reporting her alleged death. 

The CJNG later released a video stating that they were not targeting the bride or groom but were intended to kill El Marro, who was in attendance at the ceremony, however he allegedly fled the area before they could reach him. 

In August 2020, it was widely reported by sources such as El Universal and The Yucatan Times that Karen had acted as a financial operator for the Cartel de Santa Rosa Lima (CSRL) when El Marro headed the group.  

Well, it appears that Karen did not die in the wedding attack. In September 2022, a banner was hung in nine different municipalities of Guanajuato. For full details on this banner, please see this previous story

The banner alleged that the recent assassination of the Celaya mayor’s son was ordered out of “the same prison where that filthy dude Marro is being held, and the attack itself was organized by his sister Karen.” 

This September 2022 banner was allegedly posted by the Sinaloa Cartel (CDS) and signed by “Fantasma Z”. Later posts on social media (as seen below) claimed that the banner was not actually from CDS, but was instead created by CJNG regional leader Santiago Quiroz Zermeño, aliases “Zermeño” and “El Chago”. 

A message allegedly from El Marro himself (as seen below), although completely unconfirmed, alleged the same. Others allege that Marro is currently not communicating with the outside and the message merely comes from the current CSRL figures. 

Plaza Boss of the municipality of Santa Rosa de La Lima 

El Juanelo

Juan Manuel [Surname Unknown]

According to social media rumors, he began his criminal career selling cocaine he bought from Los Zetas at a punto, or drug sales point/shop, in Acambaro, Guanajuato. His sales location was near the Blanco River. 

In 2008, he was strong-armed into finding another cocaine supplier and he expanded the number of drug sales points he controlled. He then worked under El Marro during his tenure as leader of the CSRL. At one point he was arrested and he went to prison in Celaya for four years. Now, Juanelo is evidently out of prison and he continues to work for the CSRL. 

Social media rumors allege he reports to Marro’s sister Karen and that he is the current plaza boss of La Lima. They also allege that he also has men operating in the municipalities of Acambaro and Salvatierra. He allegedly has an alliance with some of the Carteles Unidos groups. 

El Cañas 

A social media post meant to expose CSRL leaders, alleges that one of Karen’s direct reports is a man who goes by the alias El Cañas. They claim he extorts businesses in Villagran, Juventino, Cortazar and Celaya. 

They also claim he is involved in livestock theft from local ranchers. They claim he was the one who ordered the death of the Celaya mayor’s son, which seems to conflict with reports that Marro ordered it from prison and Karen organized the logistics of it. (Source)

They say he is also involved in kidnapping for ransom in Santa Rosa, Los Angeles, Torrecillas, El Guera and El Chinaco.They also claim a man with the alias “El Mala”, alleged picture below, works with El Cañas on these kidnapping schemes. (Source)  

The CJNG Side

Plaza Boss of San Francisco del Rincón

El Zermeño 

Santiago Quiroz Zermeño

In April 2017, a bus driving through the Guanjuato municipality of San Francisco del Rincón was forced to stop by a number of armed CSRL hitmen. The hitmen abducted certain passengers from the bus and shot at others. Their shots killed 2 minors and one adult, as well as injuring a 9 year old boy. 

Later, the state police and state Attorney General’s Office announced Zermeño was suspected of being one of the attackers. Zermeño was one of four men featured on a wanted poster which named the suspects, which can be seen below. 

Later, in 2018, was believed to have organized an attack at a palenque, or rooster fighting arena, in La Purísima del Rincón which left 9 people dead and 11 injured. Shortly after the attack, Zermeño was arrested

At some point, Zermeño left (or betrayed, depending on your source) the CSRL and joined up with the CJNG. He is believed to be working under CJNG Guanajuato leaders such as Ricardo Luis Ruiz Velazco, alias “El RR”, and Nabor Cárdenas, alias “El Navo”. (Source) During his time with the CSRL, most news publications alleged his alias was “El Chago”. After his switch to the CJNG, he is most often referred to as simply “Zermeño”. 

Following his switch, Zermeño is believed to have become the CJNG plaza boss for the municipality of San Francisco del Rincón. 

In April 2022, Zermeño was arrested for illegal firearm possession in San Francisco, but he may have been quietly released because narco messages speak about Zermeño as if he is a free man. 

During the last three months or so, Zermeño has been named and threatened in CSRL narco messages at least a dozen of times. He is seemingly the main target of the CSRL aggression. 

Zermeño's Girlfriend and Collaborator


Currently, social media posts meant to expose Zermeño allege that his current girlfriend is a woman named Fernanda, who claims to be a nutritionist. They allege her house is used as a safehouse for the CJNG and that she has been known to collect extortion fees from businesses on behalf of the CJNG. 

They go on to say she participates in kidnapping for ransom schemes by giving CJNG members the names and addresses of her clientele from her nutritionist business. They also allege that she had another woman who worked at her office kidnapped and killed after the woman tried to warn somebody about Fernanda giving out client’s information. 

A man who goes by the alias "El Barbas" reportedly works with Zermeño in the CJNG. He is often mentioned in narco messages but there are very few other details. 

Barbas's real name is currently unknown. One possibility for his identity is Juan Refugio who was arrested in February 2021. Reports at the time alleged he was a head of hitmen for the CSRL. In this possibility, Barbas world have left the CSRL for the CJNG much like Zermeño. That being said, when photos of the current Barbas and Juan Refugio are put next to each other, it appears they are different men. 

Of note, there is another CJNG "El Barbas" (real name William Rivera), who works under Grupo X in the state of Michoacán. This Barbas is believed to be unrelated to the one operating in Guanajuato. (Source, Source

Sources: BB Article by Redlog, La Silla Rota, Libertad bajo Palabra, CJNG Video, El Imparcial, Daily Mail, The Sun, Borderland Beat, El Universal, The Yucatan Times, Valor por Tamaulipas


  1. No one country in the world have worse and dangerous organized crime scene than in Mexico! A real mess

    1. Thats your opinion, but there are dangerous countries than Mexico. And the US have thousands of gangs, so, dont be a hater... ☺

    2. No country on the world have such amount of drug abuse, and such rate of homelessness. Thats a mess.

    3. 12:19 always amazed at people trying to pretend Mexico is OK and other places are worse. I dont know of any other countries where criminals regularly cut peoples heads off, assassinate government workers almost daily and commit acts of cannibalism and torture and entire regions are controlled by criminal gangs. Not even in Africa or Iraq or Afghanistan. The Mexican level of criminal control and barbarity is off the charts

    4. 2:04 Well said. Mostly every President in Mexico, is there mainly to see how much, in bribes he can pocket, in order to live a lavish lifestyle, once out of office, in the meantime they are the puppet of the cartels. Do you think he cares about what happens to it's citizens?

    5. 8:33 Yes, and guess whos winning next elections?

    6. 2:04 Not ok, but clearly better. Cutting heads happens daily in Haiti, Brazil, Honduras, Syria, Irak, half countries in Africa, looks like you never attended to your geography classes in high school. And when it comes to charts don’t think you would understand them. Understandable you don’t like Mexico, but don’t spread lies when lack of arguments is obvious.

  2. #CJNG in the USA controls all East Coast and much of the Midwest’s drug pipelines and is little more than a glorified street gang, spraying graphiti all over the jail cell bathrooms, holding cells, and public schools.

    #CDS is a mixture of old men, white nazis, and teenagers - mainly American white citizens who like fentanyl and heroin. They are stronger in Arizona, New Mexico, parts of Atlanta and LA than CJNG.

    These are anecdotal observations made by Americans and thought I would share here.

    The “Cartel” in America is really 7 different DTOs lumped into one by media and politics.

    The “Cartel” in Mexici is usually the Mexican Government, Military, Police, and many many mafia families working together to manufacture and transport mierda.

    In Mexici the “Cartel” is like the New World Order


    1. 11:36 Interesting observation, but must tell. CJNG provides dope to the groups that controls, not necessarily CJNG controlling by themselves. Same with CDS.

      Not sure if mentioning Mexican authorities and ignoring your own gangs and corruption is correct.

      Fix internal problems and stop blaming others, that would be a smart move.

    2. 11:36 I don't think a particular cartel controls a particular coast,most cartels but mainly cds n cjng have presence in East n west coast north to south

    3. Some of the comments on here are strange to say the least?

    4. 2:40 And yours is an example.

  3. Well done Hearst. This clears up some confusion I had about Zermeño, and how he surfaced in the last few months.

  4. El cartel del Karen

  5. Very good article on what’s happening in the state of Guanajuato

  6. Zermeño is running his own group and may have been recently captured after all those multiple mantas mentioned he was being supported by CDS.
    He is alleged to be the individual who made the video with the white Nissan where females are dressed as sicarias. Maybe his new rivals CSRDL recognized his voice in the video.
    My opinion is he went independent or is receiving support from someone that doesn't back CSRDL, in the two messages attributed to Marros nowhere do they mention CJNG and we know they have no qualms about publicly burning or disrespecting them.

    1. Interesting thoughts. I'll keep it in mind.

  7. I liked this story. It was well done. I don't know why it's getting so few comments.

    1. Hearst is a goer alright.It would make sense also that the sister Karen would have a definite reason for continuing the fight against CJNG IN this personal bitter war ?

  8. The GTO crew has been giving these guys hell

    1. The GTO crew been committing the mayority of massacres in GTO. GTO crew split & those were the ones CSRDL started hunting in the past 2 years. CSRDL has la Fiscalias support that’s why they gave CJNG a fight for the plazas, but not no more la fiscalia is helping Zermeno fight CSRDL & Jalisco. Zermeno group is made up of (ex cjng, ex CSRDL & current CDS)

    2. Damn civil war all over the place

    3. Your on to something since last summer in salvatierra cjng and csrdl heavy hitters have been falling left and right like el kommander, pakillo, a guy with last name Ortega and supposedly Nacho El Mayor just recently, last one real close to Gordo Paz and Marro


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