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

Monday, April 10, 2023

CDG Matamoros Part 6: The War Within

"Itzli" for Borderland Beat. 

In a year marked by notable arrests, the Matamoros faction plunges itself into civil war.

Continued from Part 5: Shifting Tides

Inside the Fraction

A report from February 2019 gave a bit of insight into the structure of the Matamoros faction at the time. Sergio “Cortez” Ortegón Silva, rightly or wrongly, was still said to be head of plaza in Matamoros. Heriberto “El Bazán” Bazán Rodríguez, who appeared on a most wanted list in June 2018, was head of plaza in Ciudad Victoria.

An individual only known by his alias, “El Caballero”, was listed as head of plaza in Valle Hermoso, apparently taking the place of Eduardo “El Negro” Flores Borrego. However, there is reason to believe that “El Negro”, who also went by the alias “El Negrito”, was still active, as he appears to be referenced in a Grupo Escorpion message from March 2019 as well as a Los Metros video from December 2019.

Carlos Osvaldo “Carlitos Whiskies” González Escobar, code name “Pantera 7”, was listed as head of Nuevo Progreso, although he was reportedly killed in January 2019 as the Matamoros faction clashed with the military over several days.

An online list from October 2018 would include other individuals worth noting, in particular prominent members of Los Ciclones Evaristo “El Vaquero” Cruz Sánchez, code name “Ciclón 46” and Óscar Antonio “La Droga” López Sandoval, code name “Ciclón 89”. 

On that list Juan Miguel “El Miguelito” Lizardi Castro, code name “M-56”, is listed as a member of Los Escorpiones in Reynosa and, assuming this information is correct, Río Bravo was taken over by the Matamoros faction sometime in 2018, with Edgar “El Maestrín” Valladares Hernández placed as head of plaza. Both of these individuals would be referenced in a banner placed by Los Metros in Reynosa in December 2019.

The Third Arrest of El Contador

On March 3, 2019 José Alfredo “El Contador” Cárdenas Martínez was once again arrested, this time by the Fiscalía General de la República (FGR) in the capital city of San Luis Potosí. 

With “El Contador” imprisoned, his right hand man, “El Vaquero”, took his place as leader of the Matamoros faction, though over time rumors spread that “El Contador” continued to control the cartel from prison.

The Reemergence of El Betillo

When “El Contador” rose to power in March 2016, as covered in Part 4, it apparently came at the expense of Mario Alberto “El Betillo” Cárdenas Medina, who was said to have been leader of the Matamoros faction prior to that. Thereafter, “El Betillo”, also known as “El Betito”, “El Beto”, “El Patrón”, and “El Güero” disappeared from the cartel landscape for the most part and was only mentioned in passing when he was rumored to have vowed revenge for the death of his brother Manuel “El Many” Cárdenas Medina, covered in Part 5

By the beginning of 2019, if not sooner, “El Betillo” was living in Mexico City, although he continued to have operations in Tamaulipas. According to government officials, “he did everything by telephone”; using code words, he coordinated the trafficking of drugs, weapons, and illegal immigrants with his subordinates in Tamaulipas, as well as ordering kidnappings. Likewise, he maintained a line of communication with his imprisoned father, Mario “M1” Cárdenas Guillén, through a lawyer. 

Ciclones vs. Escorpiones 

With the arrest of “El Contador”, “El Betillo” apparently saw an opportunity to return to power; three weeks later news spread that Los Ciclones and Los Escorpiones were fighting each other for power. The reality was not quite that simple, however, as there was not a definitive dividing with each group on opposite sides of each other during the conflict, as it is implied. 

On one side of the power struggle was “El Betillo”, who was said to have been backed by Los Ciclones, which, granted, may have been the primary base of his support. However, he did have support within Los Escorpiones. Likewise, “El Vaquero” was on the opposite side of the war for power, yet he was a member of Los Ciclones, although, as representative of “El Contador”, it would appear the bulk of Los Escorpiones supported him. Taking this into account, a more accurate description of this conflict would be followers of “El Betillo” versus loyalists of “El Contador” and “El Vaquero”.

It would be reported that on March 30, 2019 “El Betillo” met with Víctor Manuel “El Meme Loco” Vázquez Mireles at the Los Arcos restaurant in the San Jerónimo section of Mexico City. “El Meme Loco” had been a close associate of Osiel Cárdenas Guillén prior to being arrested on March 28, 2003. He was released from prison at an unspecified time and it appears that “El Betillo” approached him as a potential ally in his war against “El Vaquero”, although it is not fully clear what decision “El Meme Loco” made.

The Arrest of El Betillo

According to later reports, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of the United States sent the Mexican government information about “El Contador” and “El Betillo” on March 22, 2019, including phone numbers that they had been using. A week later, on March 29, the Fiscalía General de la República (FGR) was able to locate “El Betillo” based on information obtained by tapping into a phone call made on one of those numbers, although it would later be rumored that the phone number was actually given to the government by “El Contador”.

Regardless, from that point forward the Mexican government began tracking “El Betillo” and arrested him in the Naucalpan municipality of the state of México on June 30, 2019.

Cartel del Golfo Nueva Era

The so called war between Los Ciclones and Los Escorpiones did not end with the arrest of “El Betillo”, however. Just as “El Vaquero” represented the imprisoned “El Contador”, the forces of “El Betillo” continued under the command of Raúl “El Loco” García Martínez, code name “Escorpión 2”.

The criminal career of “Escorpión 2” dates back to at least 2005, at which point he was arrested and was reported to be working under Antonio “Tony Tormenta” Ezequiel Cárdenas Guillén. It is quite possible that he was a member of the original group of Los Escorpiones, though there is a lack of information to verify this theory and he may have merely been a member of the reactivated Los Escorpiones that emerged in 2017, as discussed in Part 5.

Regardless, the war between “Escorpión 2” and “El Vaquero” continued, garnering additional attention in early August 2019 when several pictures of young women who were allegedly part of a group known as Los Marucheros, working under “Escorpión 2”, appeared online.

Shortly thereafter, on August 8, 2019, banners were hung in Matamoros signed by “Cartel del Golfo Nueva Era and Allies Escorpión 2”, offering a $1 million reward for “El Vaquero”, dead or alive. 

San Fernando

An hour and a half drive south of Matamoros lies the city of San Fernando, Tamaulipas. During the leadership of Osiel Cárdenas Guillén, the head of plaza was his nephew, Rafael “El Junior” Cárdenas Vela and it fell under the control of Los Zetas following their split from the Cártel del Golfo (CDG, Gulf Cartel) in January 2010, as discussed in Part 1.

San Fernando would become infamous as it was the site of a Los Zetas massacre of 72 migrants in August 2010. Among those blamed for this event was Martiniano de Jesús “El Pata de Queso” Jaramillo Silva, a high ranking member of Los Zetas who controlled the San Fernando region and would go on to join the Zetas Vieja Escuela (ZVE, Old School Zetas), discussed in Part 2, bringing his territory along with him.

“El Pata de Queso” was arrested in November 2017 and died of kidney failure three days later. Thereafter, leadership passed to his second-in-command, Hugo “El Ganso” Sánchez García and he was arrested July 7, 2019, less than two years after taking control of the San Fernando Plaza.

El Chuy Sierra

Following the arrest of “El Ganso”, Carlos Roel “Chuy 7”, Collazo Rodríguez, also known as “Chuy Sierra”, became leader in the San Fernando region and in August 2019 it was said that he controlled not only San Fernando, but the coastal town of Carboneras, several small towns near San Fernando, and the city of China, in the neighboring state of Nuevo León, with Humberto Alejandro “El Pawa” Uribe Mendoza as his head of operations.

Around that same time in August, it was alleged that “Chuy 7” was aligned with Los Metros, which at first glance seemed unlikely as ZVE was aligned with the Matamoros faction. However, when one takes into account that “Chuy 7” came to power when both “El Contador” and “El Betillo” were in jail, coupled with the uncertainty caused by the conflict between “Escorpión 2” and “El Vaquero”, it becomes logically possible that he chose to become a semi-independent cell within the ZVE, pursuing different alliances.

A Rumored Alliance

A month later, amidst a rumor that Los Metros were providing financial support to “Chuy Sierra”, it was alleged, without explanation, that “Escorpión 2” was a commander under them. A similar accusation was made in October, when photos of “El Pawa” were published online and it was said that he was the “principal collaborator of Chuy 7 and of the filthy Raúl Escorpión 2”. Days later, it would be alleged that “Escorpión 2” was supporting the return of Norberto “El Caballito” Cruz Comparan as head of plaza in El Mezquital, as “El Betillo” had ordered. 

Fading from View

In the time after October 2019, references to “Escorpión 2”, Cartel del Golfo Nueva Era, and the conflict against “El Vaquero” ended abruptly, without explanation, with one exception, a brief mention in April 2021 that a close associate of “Escorpión 2”, Wilberto Michel “El Willy” Cervantes Dorantes, had been killed at an unspecified time during the war.

The death of “El Willy”, who may have worked alongside “Ciclón 7” (Ángel Eduardo “El Orejón” Prado Rodríguez) previously, cannot be placed within this framework, but it can be inferred from him being mentioned that it was a significant blow to “Escorpión 2” and it likely took place sometime in 2019. 

Regardless, it seems that the war between “Escorpión 2” and “El Vaquero” ended in 2019 for unknown reasons, be it “Escorpión 2” abandoning the effort when he relocated to San Fernando, a truce being reached, or the fighting becoming such  low level and/or a stalemate that its continuation became unnoteworthy. Thereafter, “Escorpión 2” faded away while “El Vaquero” would continue on as leader of the Matamoros faction in the place of “El Contador”.

The CDG in Nuevo León 

While the Cártel del Golfo (CDG, Gulf Cartel) was born in Matamoros and thrived in Tamaulipas, as covered in Part 1, the neighboring state of Nuevo León has been deeply intertwined with its history, in particular the Monterrey metropolitan area and along Highway 40, which connects it to Reynosa via the towns of Cadereyta Jiménez, China, and General Bravo.

It has generally been thought that the Monterrey area has been controlled by various cartels and factions. However, a lack of information, coupled with the majority of articles referring to the CDG without specifying a faction, has created a level of uncertainty. 

Matamoros Faction in Monterrey

The presence that Los Zetas had in Nuevo León was fractured with their evolution to the Cártel del Noreste (CDN, Northeast Cartel) in 2015 and the split of Zetas Vieja Escuela (ZVE, Old School Zetas) in 2016, as discussed in Part 4. An arrest in the Monterey area in October 2016 was one of the early pieces of proof that the Matamoros faction and ZVE had entered into an alliance.

The Matamoros faction was directly present in the Monterrey metropolitan area by May 2017 at the latest, when Edgar Iván “El Garo” Silva Guevara was arrested, at which time he was described as being in charge of the operations of the CDG in the municipalities of Apodaca, García, and Santa Catarina. This can readily be inferred based on the mention of his previous arrest that same month, during which he was described as being the head of a ZVE cell.

Another instance of the Matamoros faction being present in Monterrey is the August 2018 arrest of Héctor Adrián “La Yegua” Lucio Benavides, who was described as the leader of a Los Ciclones cell, which definitively places him within the Matamoros faction.

Thereafter, we can see instances of messages being directed against the Matamoros faction. For instance, a CDN message in Nuevo León from November 2018 directed towards “El Cartel de el Golfo y Vieja Escuela” can be taken as referencing the Matamoros faction and Zetas Vieja Escuela, as does a CDN message against “los Golfas de Matamoros” from February 2019.

A message signed by the CDG in March 2019 that was left in the municipality of Guadalupe, part of the Monterrey metropolitan area, can not be clearly identified as being from the Matamoros faction but may very well be so based upon timing and location. Likewise, banners hung by the CJNG (Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación) in Apodaca, San Nicolás, Escobedo, and Monterrey in June 2019 are arguably targeting the Matamoros faction, though definitive proof is lacking.

Sinaloa Cartel in Monterrey

It should be noted that by August 2019, during the waning days of the war within the Matamoros faction, covered in Part 6, rumors emerged that a truce had been made between Matamoros and the Cártel de Sinaloa (CDS, Sinaloa Cartel), part of which would allow the CDS to operate within Nuevo León, although it is unclear if the alleged truce was with “Escorpión 2” or “El Vaquero”.

While the legitimacy of the truce can be debated, the CDS, who controlled the Torreón, Coahuila metropolitan area, a mere 210 miles west, were reported being present in Nuevo León in October 2019 and a fentanyl drug lab found in García in June 2019 may have belonged to the CDS, but this is purely speculation.

Continued in Part 7: Shadows of El Contador


  1. Who is the girl in the first picture? Where is that at?

    1. Good question and unfortunately I don't have an answer. The pic is allegedly one of Los Marucheros:

      For each article in this series I try to do a general pic that came out in that timeframe and that one in particular had a certain vibe that I thought fit great.

    2. Those sexy stockings 😍 make her look hot

  2. Once again you shine Itzli. This has nothing to do with this part (part 6) of your narrative, but, atleast to me, is newsworthy. From my understanding Los Escorpiones and Ciclones are operating in Reynosa. From what I heard they're in the districts of La Zenith, Juarez, Almendros, Balcones and La Joya. Supposedly La Kena and Primito came to an agreement and they were let in in those sectors. I don't know if you would want to look into this, but I would think you would want to taking your series into account. I'm hoping the last part brings us to the present day in what's going on, and this is definitely present day. Keep up the great work and thank you for your work. It is much appreciated

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to share this information. I agree, this is newsworthy and something I was not aware of but will definitely incorporate into my future work. If I may ask, do you have any idea how long this has been going on? I have an idea or two, but timing would be helpful.

    2. Z-74 is Wero74 from ZVE. That’s not Pata de Queso. Wero74 is leader of ZVE and has been since Bravo’s arrest. He was pata de queso boss and worked directly for Lazcano and Paisano. He would handle all of Paisano business. He was arrested in United States in 2011 and released some time later. Joined ZVE CDG Matamoros and has been active since in Cd Victoria being protected by politicians. CDN has made several videos about him being protected by politicians

    3. I'll look into this, my understanding has been that Wero74 is an alias that Pata de Queso used, at leas that's what several articles have claimed. I will definitely do more research and see what I can come up with.

    4. There is videos of CDN after pata queso died where they captured one of wero74 worker and killed him in cd victoria. They talk about him there.

    5. Always thought Omar Lormendez El Pita was boss of the ZVE and Bravo 1 as head of sicario's until his arrest. A break down of the structure and foundation of the ZVE would be be cool

    6. ZVE had actually like 10 bosses with Rex, Pita, Tlapa as senior counsel per se. Bravo 1 was in charge of Tamaulipas. After Rex was captured in Mty. The ZVE faction of Tamaulipas mainly based in Victoria blamed Bravo and Rojo Jr for his arrest. Shaggy, Wero74 , Arqui, Barbie, Nico, and politicians splintered in different groups in victoria. Shaggy was killed in allende, Arqui was arrested and released. Barbie was arrested and Wro74 was also but released. He was arrested for like 4 hrs. Paid money and released a couple Christmas back. It’s was on the blogs of victoria. Most ZVE now work independently just with the name. Some have gone back to CDN. Wero is said to be CDN again but it’s hard to believe since 42 killed his wife back in 2014. He’s the last one remaining from zetas from Lazcano days. Him tomate who is CDG metros now. Bola who just came out, Tory, Abdon, Conta. Not too many zetas left. These are new generations. Tlapa and Pita are down south doing their own thing.

    7. Cheers for the feedback that's great information

    8. Itzli, not sure how long Escorpiones/Ciclones have been in Reynosa now, but it seems like a couple months at most. But it gots me wondering if Matamoros also established a truce with CJNG. Or if the Metros broke theirs off. A couple weeks ago , a month at most, they announced the arrest of 6 CJNG members in Reynosa. Maybe they were turned in. Just speculation, cause I don't know what's really going on with that part.

    9. @itzli Guero74 Z74 is the same person. He’s like 35-40yr old.

  3. Raul garcia looks like a mexican uncle rico

  4. Awesome work and gracias to the BB crew for their work.

  5. Hector Adrián Lucio Benavides La Yegua got killed days after being arrested in jug,stabbed up think it was ?

    1. Yes, you are exactly right, I probably should have included that detail.

    2. He got liked in Tampico if not mistaking?

  6. Great post as always. More information on the structure of Los Gamma's and El negrito flores would be cool


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