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on the border line between the US and Mexico

Monday, April 10, 2023

Dismembered Body Left with Sign Warning Gov to Stay out of Coming War, San Carlos, Sonora

"HEARST" and "Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat 

Cartel hitmen left the dismembered human remains of two men at the entrance to San Carlos, Sonora, a popular beach town during a peak time for foreign tourism. 

Warning: Very graphic images below this point.

The Dismembered Remains and Narco Sign

At approximately 2:00 pm on April 6, 2023, the emergency phone line received a call which reported the discovery of an ice cooler with human remains at the main entrance to San Carlos. The caller noticed the ice chest as they were walking towards an entrance to a beach, according to Expreso

Tribuna newspaper writes that the initial caller may have told the dispatcher that they witnessed the ice chest being thrown out of a moving vehicle. 

The cooler was found on Tetakawi Boulevard, near the Buenos Aire neighborhood. Municipal police officers were dispatched to the area and they confirmed the report. They were soon joined on scene by soldiers from the National Guard and officers from the State Police.

The remains appeared to belong to two males, according to Tribuna. A later post by Sonora Informativo alleges it was actually 4 males. 

The dark green ice cooler was accompanied by a narco message sign with a message scrawled on cardboard.

The message reads as follows, as translated by Sol Prendido: 

This message is for the government. Don’t fucking get involved in this matter. If you do you will end up fucking yourself. The purge is about to begin. 
This is for the State and Municipal government personnel. Don’t get involved or choose sides. Because you will end up dying.  

The cartel group likely selected the date, time of day, and dump site location based on creating the maximum visibility to foreign tourists. 

Now, the group doesn’t directly gain anything from scaring tourists, but the move leverages the government’s and local industry's vested interest in maintaining foreign tourism. 

State Police quickly put out a statement on their Twitter account, three hours after the discovery, saying: 

Authorities from the three levels of government immediately responded to a report of a dead man, at the entrance to Guaymas. He was allegedly executed in a possible settling of scores between antagonistic criminal groups. 

The State Police, Army, Navy and Municipal Police operations continue to patrol the area to preserve the tranquility of vacationers. The State Attorney General’s Office will release further information as the investigation progresses.

The Cartel Landscape of the Area

The most well known group in the San Carlos and Guaymas area 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”. 

Two of their lieutenants, who go by the aliases “El Huracán” and “El Lobo” have been known to post videos interrogating rival cartel hitmen. The specific identities of El Huracán (The Hurricane) and El Lobo (The Wolf) 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 however in October 2022, it was reported that authorities were investigating the possibility of El 25 still giving out orders to his cartel group from inside prison. If you want to read more about Pelo Chino, Tony Navidad or El 25, please see this previous story or this previous story

La Plaza’s control over the Guaymas area is contested by the Salazars crime family, who are associated with the Chapitos faction of the Sinaloa Cartel. Two of their major leaders in the southern part of Sonora are José Luis Yocupicio Castillo, alias “El Luisito” and Jesús Adahír Salazar del Villar, alias “El Azteca".

Who Left the Message 

The narco message, as far as we can see, is unsigned. So, who wrote it? The local cartel news Facebook group Sonora Informativo claims it was La Plaza, however they fail to cite their reason for believing this. Whether they have insider knowledge of the case or if they simply have a favored cartel group is unclear. 

Now, the narco message left with the remains was a warning against getting involved meant for “the government”, likely referring to both police officers and soldiers in the area. It stands to reason that the author of the message belongs to whichever of the two groups (La Plaza or Los Salazars) has less influence over local government forces.

But which group is that? Well, for years La Plaza has claimed that Salazars bribe local Marines into acting as their ally, such as this July 2020 banner

There were even accusations that a local Marine captain who became the new Guaymas police director in August 2019 was on Salazar payroll. 

In December 2021, a banner accused the state’s Attorney General and a leader of a law enforcement task force of working for los Salazars. 

That being said, in February 2022, a former congressman was abducted from Guaymas and said, while being interrogated, that he was working to aid La Plaza. 

In June 2022, a banner was placed in nearby Empalme, Sonora, which accused specific units of the Marines, as well the Public Security Director, of carrying out executions on behalf of La Plaza. 

In October 2022, Salazars claimed La Plaza figure El Castro was actively serving as a Marine, all while moonlighting as the second in command of the cartel group. 

Sources: State Police Official Statement, Nacion 321, Expreso, Tribuna, Calvarie Locus, El Sol de Hermosillo, Radar Sonora, Whats Up San Carlos, Sonora Informativo, Alejandro Mneta, Frontera RC


  1. Blockades in Nayarit marinas trying take el Jardinero

  2. Pretty ballsy timing considering the ice chest was placed just one day after a very public announcement of "Operation Semana Santa":

    San Carlos is the spring break/Semana Santa destination for all of Sonora. Here is a video recorded Friday night, the entire main drag in town is like this on Thurs - Sun:

    Only one way in and out of town. At one point they announced they were going to install license plate readers on a "security arch"....not sure what the status of the arch is right now.

    San Carlos is about a 10 minute drive from Guaymas, about a 30 minute drive to Empalme, and about 1 hour 45 mins to Obregon or Hermosillo. Large but shrinking ex-pat community as wealthy Mexicans have started buying up the city. Lots of snowbirds, but quite a few year round residents as well.

    Oh, how I miss lazy afternoons at the Soggy Peso.

    1. Semana Santa is huge Mexican holiday and party in all beach towns in Mexico where Nationals drive in primarily from the interior to the playas. Mazatlan is full of Durango and verywhere between Mazatlan and Culiacán, and this is similar with every beach town in Mexico from Guaymas, San Blas, PV from GDL, CDMX and all over GTO (especially Leon). It’s amazing Semana Santas in Mexico don’t see more violence throughout all the beach cities in Mexico and I’ve been watching all the narcos party in Mazatlan for 20 years and amazed there is so little terrorist acts at a time when so many people can observe (but local media do their best to hide).

    2. San Carlos is whack! Puerto Peñasco seems to be another prime tourist destination for Sonora

  3. Good article Hearst. I wonder if these messages ever work? Violence is typically understood to attract, not deter gov attention. Long paper idea there I guess

    1. El Huevo lol this Cartel telling the government to stay out, boy they got balls.

  4. I visited San Carlos a few times. The locals said the population was 70% foreigners and 30% nationals. Very beautiful Marina and a lot of mansions.

  5. It is a great article. San Carlos and Semana Santa is a big driver of the local economy, so there is more follow through on security promises than with many other places. AMLO visited there about a month ago on an unofficial visit.

    1. Fully agree with semana santa, kids in vacation and the streets full with familias spending or making some pesos. many foreigners to milk. There is so much money beside the drug trade to made, its sad to see this first hand.
      Keep on with your work.

    2. 11:28 i easily spend about 2000 usd a week on my vacation in Mexico thats on the conservative side one person. Airbnb, meals, day trips but no booze... so yes mexico is missing out on tourist dollars.

  6. Something going on in San blas Nayarit

    1. Yea the police took 1200 pounds of coke from CJNG and they wanted it back

  7. Great article with lots of information, awesome job!

  8. Hearst, as always great article. Real quick, the sign only warns state and municipal government. Soldiers would fall under federal correct? And your article states that that's la Plazas turff. The sign speaks of a limpia indicating out with the old and in with the new. So that would mean it's Salazar/Chapiza who left the sign don't you think?

    1. You’re right. The sign references just state and municipal forces. Most of the accusations against La Plaza focus on them influencing federal forces whereas the claims against Salazars are for influencing municipal, state, and federal positions. By this logic, you’d think La Plaza was the most likely to have written the message.

      My understanding of “limpia” is that it can also refer to an internal cleansing. Such as killing off local drug dealers who were working independently, or secretly buying from CDS, or killing local police officers taking bribes from CDS.

      In general though, I think you’re right to say that the use of “limpia” makes it more likely that it was Salazars who penned the message. Which then conflicts with the earlier point about federal forces.

  9. Cds has like 50 corridos claiming that sonora is theirs and the only city that they run is navojoa which is the poorest of the whole state

    1. Sonora has ALWAYS been CDS! From slrc to agua prieta

    2. Most of those corridos were made during the time that CDS did run most if not ALL of Sonora … back when Beltran Leyvas were still clicked up with Mayo and Chapo they undeniably without a doubt controlled every square inch of Sonora for years and years

    3. @4:50 stay quite you obviously know absolutely nothing of sonora

  10. I would say whoever it is means business and the government should take heed. Very effective. I totally see why they do this sick deranged crap. It works. Cause if I was a cop I wouldn’t mess with the cartel. Any of them no way. I’m sorry I don’t think a job is worth me ending up in a cooler slung out on the road like trash thrown out your window riding down the road. America needs to see more of this. To show us what the cost on that side looks like. It’s sickening and sad. These guys got slaughtered just to send a message. No mention of any transgressions of the bodies. Just taunting security forces. Pray for Mexico.

  11. They mean business. Not all postering holding guns yelling like some tweaked out sicarios. But telling the government to stay pity their way. Meaning they know exactly who they’re addressing. The security forces know who wrote this. You can believe that. It’s not some random trying to take or heat plaza.


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