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

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Borderland Beat's Top Stories of 2022

Borderland Beat Contributors - Compiled by "Socalj"

2022 was an eventful year in the narco world and border relations between the United States and Mexico. Some of the most talked about stories and events on Borderland Beat include the capture of a legendary kingpin, breakaway cartels, torture videos, and high-level politicians embroiled in scandal. Here is our list of the most viewed stories and important stories that are worth revisiting and following.

Most Viewed Stories of 2022

Deranged Sicarios

The most viewed article in 2022 is also likely to be one of the most disturbing narco-gore videos on Borderland Beat. Graphic images show the levels of sadistic torture and post-death mutilation used to intimidate rivals and boost their cartel profiles.

Watch Video

Capture of Rafael Caro-Quintero

The most widespread news in the drug trafficking world in 2022 was the capture of long-wanted Caborca Cartel kingpin and former Guadalajara Cartel co-founder Rafael Caro-Quintero. He has been on the US Most Wanted list since being released from prison in Mexico in 2013 and has remained on the run since until being captured in the mountains of Sinaloa.

Following the operation, a Semar helicopter crashed accidentally, killing all of the soldiers onboard. The group had just participated in the notable capture.

The story continued with political maneuvering regarding the level of DEA involvement in the arrest. It was first confirmed by the DEA and inside sources, and then denied by both governments. Caro-Quintero's extradition to the US over the kidnapping, torture, and murder of DEA Agent "Kiki" Camarena remains in limbo with judges in Mexico shuffling jurisdiction over the matter. The story also introduced us to Max the Bloodhound that sniffed out the narco.

Los Mezcales Break Away from CJNG Forming Colima Cartel

The announcement of a breakaway cartel in Colima, headed by "La Vaca" came in the form of a long narco manta that also put forth the rumor of the death of "El Mencho", stating he had passed and recent messages were being forged by others. La Vaca's reign was short-lived, after multiple attacks, and an attempted alliance with the Cartel del Noreste (CDN), he was arrested.

Chapiza Attempt to Kill El Ruso

Following the capture, and extradition of "El Chapo," his sons have taken over his share of trafficking routes and territories. These territories are often controlled by subgroups of the different factions of the cartel. Los Chapitos supporters in Sonora have been at war with Los Rusos under the faction of "El Mayo" Zambada. While the feud has not completely turned into an internal war between the main powers; a recent attempt on the life of the founder of Los Rusos by Comando X men resulted in 10 deaths from the shootout including a child. 49 vehicles involved in the fight were abandoned and seized along with 4 arrests.

Narco Blockades Following CJNG Meeting

Narco Blockades are not a new phenomenon in Mexico. Cartel members hijack trucks, buses, and cars to torch and block roadways to prevent their capture. Retaliation also comes into play and in August 2022...multiple states in Mexico were on fire with dozens of trucks, buses, and OXXO stores being set ablaze.

The initial wave in Guanajuato and Jalisco was following a close-call confrontation with the military who attempted to capture two high-level CJNG, regional leaders, during a meeting. El RR and El Apa escaped and the blockades not only prevented their capture but acted as retaliation as well. Ripple effects, both in response to the events and independent of them took place with dozens of blockades and fires in Zacatecas, Tijuana, Juarez, and other areas in the following days.

Notable & Important Stories

Guacamaya Hacker Group Leaks

One of the most important stories that came to light in 2022 paved the way for dozens of additional stories and its revelations even led to attacks on a cartel-linked hospital. An environmental hacking group in South America hacked the militaries of Peru, Colombia, and then Mexico. The documents were then leaked providing insight into military intelligence reports, charts, maps, and statements from SEDENA.

Main Article, Hospital Burned, Sinaloa State Police, El Marro Controlling from Prison, Corrupt Mayors, State Officials, More Culiacanazo

"La Barbie" Not in US Prison Custody

Borderland Beat broke one of the most talked about stories of the year with the revelation of American-born cartel leader Edgar Valdez-Villarreal, better known as "La Barbie," no longer being shown as in prison custody on the BOP Inmate Locator. Speculation, denials, and responses abounded with the US State Department and Mexican President AMLO wanting notification of any release as he is wanted in Mexico. Possible reasons for his status change include his cooperation with US authorities in the past and possibly against former Mexican official Genaro Garcia-Luna, whose trial begins next month. Luna has recently been reported to have threatened other witnesses in his trial so "La Barbie's" protection while in US custody makes sense.

Rumors of El Mencho's Death

With the announcement of the split from the CJNG and Los Mezcales in Colima also came an increase in rumors of the unseen death of El Mencho. Mencho, who has not been seen for years has been suspected of poor health and receiving regular treatments in a private hospital in Jalisco. The manta and further online messages claimed his death had already occurred and recent messages in his name were not from him. No confirmation, either way, has occurred so it is possible the rumors were an attempt to undermine the leader and gain support for the breakaway group.

CSRL vs CJNG War in Guanajuato

The war between "El Marro's" people of the Cartel del Santa Rosa Lima and the CJNG in Guanajuato has only intensified following his arrest. Recently, large-scale attacks on affiliated businesses and bars have resulted in massacres. One of the targeted leaders was killed following a shootout with authorities but the war still rages on.

Jesuit Priests Killed in Church by "El Chueco" During Killing Spree

Some crimes capture not only national but international attention and outcry. One such crime was the deaths of two priests by a former parishioner. But their deaths were not a personal vendetta but a result of the kidnapping and killings following a baseball game when one of the victims went to hide in the church.

The resulting manhunt for "El Chueco" has seen several of his relatives and men being captured and criticism from the Catholic Church over the killings and response by the Mexican government.

Case of the Missing Marines/DEA Leak

A story that involves Mexican Senators, future Governors, missing Marine bodyguards, and leaked DEA documents sounds like a far-fetched B-movie but it nearly fell through the cracks of news outlets as it first unfolded. It was not until leaked cables sharing intel and banking transactions with the DEA mentioned a mystery meeting between politicians and a narco financier connected to the Cartel del Noreste. A photo of the luncheon was provided showing the politicians accused of receiving bribes from the cartel operator, who has since been reported missing.

Also missing, and adding a layer of intrigue and claims of coverup is a pair of Mexican Marines that were assigned (or not assigned, depending on who is asked) to protect and escort one of the Senators on his trip and the meeting. Despite this possible foul play, Governor-elect Americo Villarreal, who attended the meeting was sworn in in October 2022. The former governor fled days earlier to the US to avoid an upcoming arrest warrant.

What was the most important story or article from Borderland Beat this past year? Share your pick and why in the comments.

2022. Year of the Sicario Monkey.


  1. Cjng meeting and ended in blockades was the craziest for me. At the same time it was happening in tj Zac juarez which is also hot right now with cereso 3 breakouts

  2. Con la muerte de monkey sicario, ahora el govierno mexicano puede respirar tranquilo.

  3. QEPD Changuito Sicario!
    We are the absolute mob of el Changuito !

  4. Thanks BORDERLAND BEAT!!!! Happy 2023!! Out with the old, in with the new.

    I'm looking forward to reading more stories, translated into the American language. Thanks gals and guys!

    Thanks to all the commenters who post here too! Happy New Year !!

    I look forward to hearing you rant and rave about your favorite and least favorite drug cartels and how it's all American Citizens' fault that they buy fake pills laced with fentanyl, fake cocaine, and fake meth and fake heroin........ if nobody bought and ate the fake drugs then the Chupitos wouldn't be so rich and powerful

  5. CJNG VS CJNG (pajarros de la sierra or whatever) killing all those people at funeral in michoacan was pretty big also

  6. The best of 2022, was the Rafa Caro Quintero’s dyed hair.


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