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on the border line between the US and Mexico

Monday, April 3, 2023

CDG Matamoros Part 5: Shifting Tides

"Itzli" for Borderland Beat 

Continued from Part 4: The Rise of El Contador

"El Contador" had secured the leadership of the Matamoros faction, yet the next two years would be marked by war and shifting tides of power. 

The Death of Many Cárdenas 

On October 8, 2016, less than seven months after José Alfredo “El Contador” Cárdenas Martínez took the leadership of Matamoros, his cousin Manuel “El Many” Cárdenas Medina was killed near his home in a gated community in southern Monterrey, Nuevo León. While “El Many”, who was discussed in Part 2, did not appear to be a particularly important member of the cartel, the fact that he was a younger brother of Mario Alberto “El Betillo” Cárdenas Medina and son of Mario “M1” Cárdenas Guillén made his death particularly notable.

It was reported at the time that “El Many” had moved to Monterrey the year before (which would have been around the time that Ángel Eduardo “El Orejón” Prado Rodríguez, code name “Ciclón 7”, was arrested, as discussed in Part 4), and, under the assumed name Mauricio Pérez Castro, was focused on his businesses, which included car washes and vehicle sales, although he still had a house in Matamoros and was said to travel there frequently.

Within days it was claimed that “El Contador” had ordered the killing of “El Many” and it would appear that he had done so in order to eliminate a potential rival for power. Over time a different explanation would emerge: “El Contador” was having an affair with Daniela Solares Meade, the wife of “El Many”, who was in the vehicle as well as their two children, and had “El Many” killed in order to be with her.

Matamoros Before the Storm

In a sense, “El Contador” disappeared from the radar for the first half of 2017, with it said that he was trying to keep a low profile. It was around this timeframe that rumors emerged that he had the support of Tamaulipas governor Francisco Javier García Cabeza de Vaca, who had taken office on October 1, 2016.

On February 26, 2017 Filiberto “El Fili” Munguía Bravo was reportedly killed in a shootout with the military, though it would be revealed years later that he had faked his death and became an informant. Carlos Fabian "El Cuate" Martínez Pérez, who was often mentioned in association with “El Fili” prior to this, continued to operate within the Matamoros faction and the following year was reportedly in charge of extortion of custom agents at the Los Indios bridge.

Following reports of a government operation in Matamoros, as well as cartel blockades in response, on August 3 of that year, rumors immediately spread that Sergio “Cortez” Ortegón Silva was killed. Days later, it was said that these reports were false and the prevailing rumor was that it was a failed attempt at arresting “El Contador”.

It should be noted that it was around this point in time that new information about “Cortez” ceased, although he would continue to be listed as head of the Matamoros plaza as late as 2019. The fate of “Cortez” remains a mystery, although there are some rumors that he retired at an unspecified point possibly due to health reasons.

Los Metros Before the Storm

Following the conflict between Los Metros and the Matamoros faction, which was covered in Part 3, Juan Manuel “El Toro” Loisa Salinas, code name “M-42” continued as leader of Los Metros and Petronilo “El Panilo” Moreno Flores, code name “M-70”, was designated as head of operations by the beginning of December 2015.

A number of internal changes within Los Metros took place during 2016, with the most notable being Roberto Saavedra “El Chiricuas” Santana Delgado, code name “M-85” being removed as head of the Miguel Alemán plaza, Alberto “El Betillo” Loisa Méndez, a nephew of “El Toro”, being assigned to Camargo and Comales in April and Luis Alberto "El Pelochas" Blanco Flores replacing Daniel “El Choco” León García, code name “M-90”, as head of the Río Bravo in August.

Los Metros War for Succession

Throughout his leadership, there were allegations that “El Toro” escaped operations to arrest him, as well as times that he was detained but bribed his way into being released. That all changed on April 22, 2017, two years after becoming leader of Los Metros; he was killed during an operation to arrest him.

It appears that “El Panilo” took the place of “El Toro” immediately thereafter and it was said that he quickly announced that kidnappings, robbery, and extortion would no longer be tolerated within the cartel. This led “El Pelochas” to force “El Panilo” to step down as leader under threat of death.

“El Pelochas” once had the code name “L-28”, as he, like Juan Francisco “El 98” Carrizales Lara, was once a member of Los Lobos/Grupo L under the command of Héctor Manuel “El Karis” Sauceda Gamboa. He was arrested fleeing to the United States in July 2010, having been caught up in the split between Los Zetas and the CDG, and would become fairly well known for crying in court. In time he was released and joined Los Metros and modified his original code name to “M-28”.

Upon forcing “El Panillo” to step down, “El Pelochas” took over the leadership of Los Metros with the backing of “El Betillo” and a number of high ranking members of Los Metros. However, “El Panilo” quickly chose to dispute leadership with “El Pelochas”, with the support of several members of Los Metros, most notably “El Choco”, Juan Miguel “El Miguelito” Lizardi Castro, code name “M-56”, and “El Chiricuas”.

Additionally, he was said to have the support of Eduardo “El Negro” Flores Borrego, code name “Gama 3”, who, as discussed in Part 3, had previously left Los Metros to join the Matamoros faction.

Los Escorpiones

Antonio “Tony Tormenta” Ezequiel Cárdenas Guillén, the former leader of the CDG discussed in Part 1, was credited for forming an armed wing within the cartel known as Los Escorpiones, under the command of Sergio Antonio “El Tyson” Fuentes, code name “Escorpión 1”. Los Escorpiones also provided security for “Tony Tormenta” during his leadership and several were killed in the military operation that killed “Tony Tormenta”, including “El Tyson”. Thereafter, it was thought that Los Escorpiones were disbanded.

In August 2017 Los Escorpiones reappeared and announced their return in a video directed to the people of Reynosa and Río Bravo on the 11th of that month. While it was said that Los Escrorpiones were awaiting a leader to reactivate, it remains unclear who this individual should be identified as. 

"El Contador" would appear to be the most logical fit and the fact that it was around this time he would be ascribed the aliases "El Escorpión" or "Escorpión 1" seems to reinforce this, although there are some sources that claim that Ezequiel "El Junior" Cárdenas Rivera, son of "Tony Tormenta", founded the new Los Escorpiones .

Regardless, it appears that the primary purpose of Los Escorpiones being reformed was to fight against Los Metros, quite possibly under the command of Óscar Antonio “La Droga” López Sandoval, code name "Ciclón 89".

The Alleged Death of El Panilo

For months, the war between “El Pelochas” and “El Panilo”/Los Escorpiones continued, ravaging Reynosa and Río Bravo. Over time “El Pelochas” would blame “El Contador” for the war, claiming that Matamoros was at fault and intended to seize territory from Los Metros. 

In a strange twist, “El Panilo” was reported to have been killed during a meeting with his allies “El Miguelito”, “El Choco”, and “El Chiricuas” on January 23, 2018 which prompted Los Escorpiones to  vow revenge

Yet the death of “El Panilo” was false, he continued to operate in the background and any particular split between him and his allies does not appear to have taken place, in fact “El Miguelito” and possibly “El Chiricuas” would go on to fully defect to the Matamoros faction. To this day the motivation for the fake death of “El Panilo” is debatable, but it appears the primary motivation was to lessen attention placed on him by authorities. 

The Death of Betito

With the alleged death of “El Panilo”, “El Pelochas” must have felt that things were going his way, yet that all changed in the days to come. On January 27, 2018, “El Betillo'' was killed in a shootout with the military. It was also rumored that his wife, who was a daughter of “El Pelochas”, was killed as well in the shootout.

Around the same time it was rumored that “El Pelochas” was shot, although it appears this occurred in a separate incident. Thus, “El Pelochas” was left without his son-in-law “El Betillo”, who was his principal ally, and seemed increasingly absent thereafter as he recovered from his wounds.

The Second Arrest of El Contador

On February 19, 2018, two months after the fake death of “El Panilo” and less than a month after the death of “El Betito”, “El Contador” was arrested by the military in the San Francisco neighborhood of Matamoros. 

It was a short lived blow to the Matamoros faction. Two days later, a federal judge ordered “El Contador” be released following his legal team providing video evidence that proved that he had been detained inside his home, which, combined with the lack of a warrant, made the judge consider his arrest to be illegal.

El Flaco Sierra

While “El Pelochas” faded from the spotlight, the war between Los Metros and “El Panilo”/Los Ciclones continued. By May 2018 a new individual emerged in Río Bravo: Luis Miguel “El Flaco Sierra” González Mercado, code name “M-205”. It was alleged that “El Flaco Sierra” was being backed by a then mysterious figure known as “El Primito” from Camargo, who, apparently, was filling the void left by “El Pelochas”.

“El Flaco Sierra” waged a bloody campaign in Río Bravo and quickly came to the attention of authorities. In mid-June 2018 the Tamaulipas state government issued a most wanted list, with nine individuals appearing; a reward of 1.5 million pesos was offered for “El Flaco Sierra”. Two weeks later, “El Falco Sierra” was arrested in Reynosa.

The Fall of El Pelochas

Also appearing on the most wanted list of June 2018 was “El Pelochas”, with a 2 million peso reward. On August 30, 2018 “El Pelochas” was arrested in the southern part of Monterrey, Nuevo León, ending his leadership of Los Metros a year and a half after he took power.

The Arrest of El Panilo

Following the initial reports that “El Panilo” had been killed in January 2018, it did not take long for word to spread that “El Panilo” was still alive and his appearance on the most wanted list of June 2018 seemed to confirm the rumors that he had faked his death.

On October 19, 2018, “El Panilo” was arrested in an operation conducted in Matamoros by the Mexican military. The war for the leadership of Los Metros had ended with both rivals imprisoned, yet fighting between Los Metros and Matamoros would continue.

Continued in Part 6: The War Within


  1. Love these series.. thank you Team BB! 🦉

  2. Great intel and information, interesting facts thanks for the daily updates borderlandbeat (Sol prendido)

    1. Tres Dos Equis for the Scream Team of Narco News! 🦉

  3. CDG giving up their secret recipe for making menudo.

  4. What else is new?

  5. Would that guy pelochas.still be smiling in his mugshot if he was a US prison?

  6. These guys are stupid they should be at peace with their own territory and protect their border towns from outside bigger groups who might to go in because the border in that area is a goldmine of a corridor.

    1. They are currently at peace 🦂🦂🦂🦂

    2. Yeah, they called a truce a while back. As a matter a fact, this one guy I know from Reynosa said that there's Escorpiones in Reynosa now. That they be in one half of Reynosa, and the Metros in the other. Don't know what he meant by that nor if his info is accurate, but he said they're there. But from the biweekly report that the sedena put out, they arrested 5 CJNG members in Reynosa this month, so don't know how tjat works.

    3. What s Jalisco doing in Reynosa? Why did CDG let them in? They need to be stopped at the gates of town or they will take over so Reynosa and Matamoros need to unite and Jalisco is greedy they have their corridor by California why do they need south Texas bunch of greedy bastards.

  7. Great post Itzli!
    The dead photo of El Betillo was big news and not normally released back then.

    What happened to Flaco Sierra?

    1. I swear the only thing left to top my happiness of seeing both you (Mica) and Itzli here is our old friend MX!


      MX where are you!!?

    2. 3:26 different name now but he's still here

    3. @534 — I just saw!

      Hail Morogris!!!

  8. Really good to read thank you!

  9. I remember reading about these events as they happened here on BB, I never found out what happened to Gama 3 hopefully next one explains that

  10. Great job Itztli. Keep it coming. It's much appreciated. Don't know if you're aware, but not only is the Matamoros and Metros truce holding up, but there's Escorpiones and Ciclones in Reynosa now. From my understanding el Primito and el Kena worked something out and they were allowed in. What I've heard is that they're in La Zenith, Juarez, Almendros, Balcones, and La Joya districts. And the Metros are in the rest. Thought I'd let you know since you're working on this masterpiece of a series. You be good amd suerte on the expedotion

  11. How come in betito's death photo, the tattoo is on the right side of his chest, but when he's alive and kickin', it's on his left side?
    Something smells fishy..🦎


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