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

Monday, January 16, 2023

A Beginner's Guide to Southern Sonora

"HEARST" for Borderland Beat

A beginner’s guide for anyone who hasn’t been keeping up with the war between the Caborca Cartel and the Sinaloa Cartel in southern Sonora. 

To see the previous part of this story, A Beginner’s Guide to Mexicali, SLRC, & the Gulf of California, click here

The Region 

There is a region in southern Sonora which acts as a chokehold point for drug smuggling routes heading north, to the US-Mexico border. 

The location of these smuggling routes was gathered through Army (SEDENA) intelligence and recently leaked by the hacker collective Guacamaya. The map Guacamaya leaked can be seen below. 

The Borderland Beat version, highlighting the routes in Sonora, can be seen below. 

The region is contested between the Caborca Cartel and the Chapitos faction of the Sinaloa Cartel. 

The Caborca Cartel is allegedly led by Rodrigo Páez Quintero, alias “El R”, and Adelmo Núñez Molina, alias “Lemo Nuñez”.

According to recent interrogation videos, Ivan Archivaldo Guzman, the son of El Chapo, has chosen two of his top lieutenants to spearhead his campaign to take Obregon and Guaymas. 

One of these lieutenants is Óscar Noel Medina González, alias “El Panu”.  New information about his full name comes from EJE Central

Along with Panu is another high ranking Chapitos lieutenant: Óscar Gabriel Martínez Larios, alias “El Gabito” (Source). The new photo for Gabito comes courtesy of Sonora Informativo

José Luis Yocupicio Castillo, alias “El Luisito”, is alleged to be one of the top Salazar leaders within their organization (Source). He is alleged to be the man that regional Salazar plaza bosses in Puerto Penasco , Caborca, SLRC, and Guaymas report under. 

A Note on Sources

There was a map leaked by Guacamaya which shows the major cartel figures who are warring over Guaymas, according to Army intelligence. 

However, there is a very major and notable omission in the SEDENA map, as it fails to mention the most prominent group in the area, Caborca Cartel’s subgroup La Plaza - a group which leaves multiple signed narco banners in Guaymas every month, with one of their most recent ones featured in this story which proves they are still active in the area. 

The information on the SEDENA map seems to be outdated, but has been included in order to create a holistic picture of the cartel landscape. 

In October 2022, there were banners posted in Guaymas in which the leaders of La Plaza and their Caborca Cartel bosses were named. A banner naming many of the same people appeared in this same region in December 2021, in a story covered in full here and a similar banner calling out Salazar leadership was posted in retaliation later that month.

Huatabampo, Navojoa, & Alamos

The Chapitos Faction in Huatabampo, Navajoa, & Alamos

Huatabampo, Navojoa, and Alamos used to be controlled by CDS Chapitos - Salazar figure Jesús Francisco Sarrazín Lohr, alias “El Pirata”, however, at the end of November 2022, Pirata died due to in a car accident while drag racing. Videos of his funeral were widely shared on social media. 

It isn’t very clear who Pirata’s successor will be. Older reports, from back in 2020, alleged that one of Pirata’s direct reports was Adair Salazar, alias “El Judas”, was acting as plaza boss of Navojoa and Alamos. Its worth noting that El Judas is the son of Alfredo Salazar Ramírez, alias "El Muñeco". 


The Caborca Cartel in Guaymas/Empalme

The most well known group in Guaymas is Caborca Cartel’s La Plaza. The group is led by Francisco Javier Espinoza Camacho, alias “El Picipi”. El Picipi’s head of hitmen and possible second-in-command is Antonio Castro Valenzuela, alias “El Castro”. 

In recent days, two La Plaza lieutenants - one known by the alias “El Huracán” and the other known by the alias “El Lobo” - have been making interrogation videos of captured CDS hitmen. Their identities have yet to be determined. 

La Plaza allegedly reports under Caborca Cartel capos like Jose Gil Caro Quintero, alias “El Pelo Chino”, and the brothers Roy Antonio Soto Quintero, alias “Tony Navidad” and Juan Pablo Quintero Navidad, alias “El 25”. 

El 25 is currently serving time in a federal penitentiary. In October 2022, it was reported that authorities were investigating whether El 25 was still giving out orders and managing his cartel group from inside prison. If you want to read more about these figures, please see this previous story or this previous story

The outdated SEDENA map leaked by Guacamaya names a number of cartel figures from the group Los Alfas. The leader of this group is alleged to be Alfredo Olivas Valenzuela, aliases “El Chapo Alfredo” and "El Alfa 1".

The map also lists out 

Francisco Javier Meraz, alias “El Antena”

Fernando Salmerón Peréz, alias “El Nando” and “El Ladrillero”, however he's believed to mainly operate in Obregón now

Miguel Enrique Aragón Camacho, alias “El Telcel” (who was rumored to have died back in 2018) 

Other sources allege that los Alfas operate in regions more south of Guaymas, such as Bacum. 

The Chapitos Faction in Guaymas/Empalme

The recent banner naming out Salazar operators points to Jesús Adahír Salazar del Villar, alias “El Azteca" and Luis Alfonso Encinas Bejarano, aliases "El Narizón” and “Venadito". Both are covered more in depth in this previous article

The outdated SEDENA map alleges that the Salazar lieutenants in Guaymas who report under El Luisito are Pedro César Mendoza Rivas, alias “El Pedrin”, and Oswaldo Velázquez Durán, alias “El Gussi”.

El Gussi is believed to be about 37 years old in the year 2022. He was previously arrested in Empalme in December 2013. At the time of his arrest he was described as the head of hitmen for a CDS group and a number of homicides were allegedly carried out on his orders. (Source, Source, Source

We know El Gussi has remained active in the region up until 2019 because he was named in a narco banner placed in Obregon in 2019, which was covered in old Facebook posts and Valor articles. (Source, Source

The photo for El Gussi that is used on that banner can be found in a higher resolution in this old 2014 article from InfoNogales.  

Recently, hitmen who work under a man known as “El Durán'' participated in the Comando X hit on El Ruso. One of El Gussi’s last names is Durán, so it's possible that “El Durán'' is one of his aliases. That being said, it's much more common for aliases to derive from the paternal last name of a person, rather than the maternal last name. He’s associated with the deceased Fernando Delgadillo Hermosillo , alias El Milko. (Source


The Chapitos Faction in Obregón

As mentioned earlier, a recent interrogation revealed that Ivan Archivaldo Guzman assigned two of his top lieutenants to take the city of Obregon for him. 

The two lieutenants are Óscar Noel Medina González, alias “El Panu”, and Óscar Gabriel  Martínez Larios, alias “El Gabito”. They reportedly stay within the state of Sinaloa and give orders from afar to their hitmen.

According to the interrogation, one of their leaders on the ground in Sonora is Germán Romero. He is the stepson of the old CDS figure Jonathan Salas Avilés, alias “El Fantasma”, who has two possible identities.

The Caborca Cartel in Obregón

According to Sonora Informativo, a group of Caborca Cartel - Los Alfas members operate within Obregon. This group is led by Fernando Salmerón Peréz, aliases “El Nando”, “El Wacho”, and “El Ladrillero”. 

One of Nando’s high ranking men is his nephew Carlos Salmerón Pérez, alias “El 20”. Their head of hitmen is reportedly Omar Alejandro Sayuela Torres, alias “El Mou”. 

Sources: Hyperlinked within article


  1. Ivan Archivaldo Guzman es el jefe de jefes.
    El Panu will cleanse Sonora.
    Gente Nueva y Commamdo X a las ordenes

    1. @6:15 it was hilarious when Ivan was on his knees

    2. His brothers and him were on their knees, a few days later the guys who held them up were on their knees and released them.

    3. Las 4 letras tenian cagando a los chapillos en Vallarta se acuerdan de ese episodio

    4. @8.48 lol, then they went down to the river for a nice long swim.

    5. 8:48 & 11:27 🤣🤣🤣 siendo de esa zona, esos compas terminaron en el rio por algo muy diferente, los que arrodillaron a los chapititos se estan riendo se ustedes en estos momentos 😂😂😂

    6. They were not CJNG they were Beltranes and Damasos

    7. I heard it was CJNG over a shipment of dope

    8. 4:58 Yep, plus they were kidnapping and chargin floor

    9. Panu and Gabito are not even war type leaders. Hence, they operate from afar. Gabito eats at El Tana once a week next to Potrerillos on the 15th 10 min north of El Rosario. Has a big ranch in El Zopilote, Agua Verde to hide from his extorting since that is all he does. His wife is hideous. Drives around Rosario un a new Mercedes SUV but when Guardia and Marina are present they drive an old Jetta.

    10. 10:02pm Gabito saco a los mazatlecos haha

  2. Imagine if all these groups got on the same page and recreated a working federation again.

    1. It would be safer but that won't happen because these wars got to personal

    2. 7:27 it had already happened but guess who broke all those trates? If you know a little bit you should know who pretty much started all the wars

    3. Los chapos traidores como siempre... pero así como vendió a cientos o miles de personas, así lo vendieron a él y están vendiendo a sus hijos

  3. Replies
    1. As usual, Hearst exhibiting some fantastic journalism skills. This is quite informative and comprehensive.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Oh no I'm at a dead end job. 😂

    2. La costa Nostra boss arrested in Italy

    3. Socalj is working on it. Thanks for the tip.

  5. El picipi was killed a couple days ago in Guadalajara

    1. 8:27:
      Thanks for the update. He killed a couple of young kids in an arson. He won't be missed.

  6. I thought El Mayo was the Sinaloa cartel and Los Chapitos are theEl Cartel Del Pacifico?

    1. January 16, 2023 at 10:19 AM los que hicieron CDS fueron el guero palma y chapo. El mayo se incorporo despues. Es solo diferente nombre

    2. The Sinaloa cartel used to be called the Pacific Cartel.

    3. 1:20 chaparito
      No mad si pone El tiempo ..10:19
      Que Payaso.

  7. I love your breakdowns with multiple sources. You should put together a book eventually, like a mini BB Encyclopedia, or an A-Z, except everything changes so fast.

  8. No one criminal organisation in the world is strong like the Mexican Cartels

  9. Replies
    1. Ne imajino que muy guapo si es hermosillo

    2. I started working on Hermosillo but I have concerns that what I found is out dated so I am not going to make a post on it. Here is what I wrote:

      Hermosillo Northern Zone
      -Victor Manuel Ibarra, alias "El Vaquero"
      -El Amaro

      Hermosillo Western Zone
      -La Negra

      Hermosillo Southern Zone Executions
      -Gasparín Salazar "El Negro"
      -Moisés "El Moi"
      -José Manuel Gaxiola González "El Huarache"

      Hermosillo Southern Zone Drugs
      -Ramon Martin Borboa
      -Martin Gaxiola Almada

      According to Sonora Informativo, the top tier guys from Los Brenan were sent to Obregon in order to aid in the Chapitos effort to take the city (in 2019? 2020?).

      Los Brenan left two of their top lieutenants to run Hermosillo in their absence.

      They left their lieutenant Victor Manuel Ibarra, alias “El Vaquero”, as the man in charge of the city.

      Their other lieutenant, Germán Hiram Robles Mata, alias “El Guero Germán”, was instructed to be Vaquero’s second-in-command.

      It's worth noting that El Guero Germán comes from an infamous set of brothers who are called los hermanos Robles Mata, which includes his brothers Luis Robles Mata and Lino Alejandro Robles Mata .

      Now, El Guero Germán was intended to be the right hand man of El Vaquero however things did not go quite as planned. Rumors allege that Vaquero would order a hit on a target in Hermosillo and leave it up to Guero Germán to organize the logistics of the hit, however, Guero Germán would rarely follow through and carry out the hits that Vaquero had ordered.

      Eventually, Vaquero became so frustrated with Guero Germán that he left Los Brenan and began working instead with Pedro Gutiérrez, the brother-in-law of Alfredo Salazar.

      Pedro Gutiérrez reportedly manages all of Alfredo Salazar’s accounts and properties.

      Also, Heraclio Vargas Garay, aliases “El Accord” “El Aco” “El Acord” may be involved


    3. Thank you 👍 Hearst

    4. Comparatively, especially if you look at murder rates per 100,000 people, Hermosillo isn't nearly as bad as Guaymas/Obregon/Empalme. Doesn't *feel* as bad, if that makes sense. Spent time in all these places.

  10. Adelmo Núñez Molina “ el 01 “puede con los chapitos el solo pa los que no saben . Lleva años partiéndole la madre a los Salazares ese si es de guerra y viene con escuela ah y no lo anda anunciando a todo mundo no anda de presumido y altanero como los chapitos , y sin cobrar cuotas . Pa los que no sabían .

  11. A lot of the Guacamaya leaks are outdated. I appreciate you guys updating everything and giving it context from multiple sources.

  12. Badass report Hearst. Probably one of the best pieces of real and accurate info about the topic available online

  13. So los alfas and chapo alfredo took over the group that was led by el chapo trini before his death in Guadalajara? I wondered what happened to that cell in obregon after he was hit bc they used to move major weight independantly.

  14. Awesome report… but I don’t understand how SEDENA can map the routes so efficiently, yet are unable to do a damn thing about it?? Lol

    1. The game of cat and mouse. It's kind of hard to plan an operation and succeed when loose lips sink ships.

  15. Sonora territory of caro quintero mi chavalon el pelo Chino esta al million con los tires eslabones

    1. Caro Quintero??? de donde sacas esas mmdas?

    2. gigio from nogales is the real boss of sonora.... but he is not interested in the south of sonora

    3. 519 This guy knows. Pero he has support from Mayo, Isidro and Quintero.

    4. 9:35 ni pudieron los Gigos, los Demonios, Malas Manas y Barradora y ni con la ayuda del govierno contra los Cazadores y Deltas

  16. Hearst, this is incredibly helpful! As somebody who is interested in some of the lesser known groups (less powerful or written about?) I get overwhelmed and am clueless as to what is/has transpired. Phenomenal , and many thanks🚀


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