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

Monday, May 1, 2023

CDG Matamoros Part 9: The Unexpected Path

"Itzli" for Borderland Beat. 

June to October 2021: The fallout of overstepping in the conflict with Los Metros leads to an unexpected twist and in the months thereafter the Matamoros faction suffers multiple deaths and notable arrests.

Continued from Part 8: The Drums of War

The Fallout from Reynosa

The fallout from the Matamoros faction’s attack on Reynosa on June 19, 2021 was immediate as news spread and outrage grew. That very same day, Francisco “Paquito” Martínez Ramírez and Juan Miguel “El Miguelito” Lizardi Castro, former members of Los Metros who had defected to the Matamoros faction, as discussed in Part 3, Part 5, and Part 6, as well as José Humberto “Casco 1” Escalante Soto, were said to be responsible for the attack.

Four of the attackers had been arrested and days later video of one of these individuals appeared online in which he stated that he worked for Edgar “El Maestrín” Valladares Hernández, the head of plaza in Río Bravo, discussed in Part 6, and that the killings were done in order to “heat up the plaza” of Reynosa.

On June 26, 2021, one week after the attack, Jorge Iván “La Vaca” Cárdenas Martínez and seven other individuals were arrested in Río Bravo, bringing the total number of people arrested for the attack to 25. Authorities would present “La Vaca” as head of plaza in Río Bravo, yet one of the other arrested individuals would state that the attack was done on orders of “El Maestrín”. In all likelihood “La Vaca” was given up by the Matamoros faction in an attempt to calm down the outrage. 

Despite the arrest of “La Vaca”, the fallout from the attack on Reynosa continued. Pope Francis would condemn the events and United States government personnel in Reynosa were restricted from field operations. José Alfredo “El Contador” Cárdenas Martínez, leader of the Matamoros faction, and Óscar Antonio “La Droga” López Sandoval, formerly “Ciclón 89”, who was long associated with the war against Los Metros, were under the spotlight as they were increasingly held responsible for the attacks.

The Truce of Peace

Before dawn on July 26, 2021 banners were placed throughout the state of Tamaulipas, including Matamoros, Reynosa, Río Bravo, San Fernando, Méndez, Burgos, Díaz Ordaz, Camargo, and Valle Hermoso, as well as Matehuala and Villa de la Paz in San Luis Potosí announcing that a “truce of peace” had been reached on July 19, exactly one month after the attack on Reynosa.

The banner, which also stated that “strengthening the union of our plazas” would take place, was signed by the leaders of the Cártel del Golfo: “SC-XIX Grupo Scorpion”, “Primito Grupo Metros”, and “Tampico Grupo Rojo”, three individuals that can be easily identified. 

The first signer, “SC-XIX Grupo Scorpion”, is José Alberto “La Kena” García Vilano, who had modified his original code name “Ciclón 19” to “SC”, likely an abbreviation of “Scorpion” and 19 stylized in Roman numerals. “La Kena” represented the Matamoros faction and Los Escorpiones, which was presented as “Grupo Scorpion”, in place of “El Contador”, possibly in an effort to deflect attention away from the true leader of the faction.

The second signer, “Primito Grupo Metros”, is a clear reference to César “El Primito” Morfín Morfín, leader of Los Metros, who was discussed in Part 7

The final signer, “Tampico Grupo Rojo”, can be identified with the CDG del Sur faction, also known as Los Rojos, based out of Tampico, led by Héctor Crescencio “R3” de León Fonseca.

While other factions of the CDG existed at the time, for instance the Centro faction and Hidalgo faction, as well as allied groups such as ZVE, their absence from the banner made their status in the truce unclear. Nevertheless, the banner was significant, as it represented the three most powerful factions of the CDG and an end to the longstanding conflict between Los Metros and the Matamoros faction.

Looming in the background of the truce were rumors that the governor of Tamaulipas, Francisco García Cabeza de Vaca, had played a part in brokering the truce and had pledged to help enforce the ceasefire between the former rival factions.

A Price for Peace

About 24 hours after the banners announcing the truce started appearing, “El Maestrín” was found dead inside a vehicle east of Reynosa; it appeared that he had been tortured before he was killed. Of the several individuals that were said to have been ultimately responsible for the attack on Reynosa, “El Maestrín” was the most frequently mentioned and the prevailing rumor was that Los Metros demanded that he be killed as part of their agreement to enter a truce with the Matamoros faction.

An additional rumor emerging at that time was that the leader of Los Metros,“El Primito”, had also pledged to kill members of his faction as well, specifically “M27”, “M22” and “Gama 16”. Additionally, several other individuals were told to be on the alert, as they may be betrayed.

While clear connections cannot be made to this, it should be noted that José Alfredo "El Calamardo" Hernández Campos, code name “M27”, who had been broken out of prison in mid-July, before the attack on Reynosa, was allegedly killed in a clash with the military in early September, although rumors would surface that he was betrayed by Los Metros. Furthermore, “El Pezón”, who was among the individuals who were told to be on alert, was killed in late September and his death was specifically compared to that of “El Calamardo”.

La Droga Arrested

In late August 2021, Óscar Antonio “La Droga” López Sandoval, formerly “Ciclón 89, was arrested; he had long been associated with the war against Los Metros. While there is a lack of rumors that his arrest was directly connected to the truce, it is likely that authorities were particularly interested in removing him from power as he was often mentioned among the individuals responsible for ordering the attacks on Reynosa.

“La Droga” was imprisoned in Ciudad Victoria and it was alleged that he continued to have power and influence from behind bars. In May 2022, he was killed along with two fellow members of the Matamoros faction who were also in prison. Soon thereafter, it came to be known that prison guards had allowed the killing to take place; four guards were later arrested and another guard was killed at her home.

El Timo Arrested

Part of the fallout from the arrest of “La Droga” was the revelation of deep connections between the Matamoros faction and members of Tamaulipas government agencies. The key person in this was Eutimio “El Timo” Chávez Ruelas, code name “Escorpión 24”, who was arrested days after “La Droga”.

“El Timo” was once a member of Los Ciclones, where he had the code name “Ciclón 24”. It appears that, like many other members of Los Ciclones when they were disbanded, as discussed in Part 7, he kept his code number and joined Los Escorpiones with a variation of his original code name. He would claim to have worked directly under “La Kena” and be closely connected to “El Contador”, it turns out they are true “compadres”, as his daughter is married to Alan Alexis Cárdenas Rodríguez, a son of “El Contador”.

According to rumors at the time, “El Timo” paid authorities $500,000 in exchange for being released from prison after 48 hours. While it is unclear if this actually happened, “El Timo” was definitely released at some point as he appears again in cartel events a year later.

The Decline of Los Espartanos

The fight in San Luis Potosí between the Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG, Jalisco Cartel New Generation) against the Matamoros faction, in alliance with Los Alemanes and Zetas Vieja Escuela (ZVE, Old School Zetas) continued on through 2020 and 2021.

With the formation of Operativa Huasteca, the CJNG continued to threaten Los Espartanos, although it appears that this armed wing, also known as Grupo Espartano, fell into decline following the arrest of “El Vaquero”, discussed in Part 8, and was largely replaced by Los Escorpiones, whose presence in Ciudad Valles was mentioned in a video from early July 2021.

In October of that same year, military forces arrested four members of Los Escorpiones in El Naranjo. Within their possessions was a pamphlet titled “Reglamento XIX”, rules of conduct of the CDG with visual allusions to Los Escorpiones. The existence of “Relgamento XIX”, which was found within the Guacamaya leaks, was reported in April 2023.

War with CDN

As discussed in Part 4, Los Zetas had a presence in Ciudad Victoria and southern Tamaulipas, which turned into a war between the Cártel del Noreste (CDN, Northeast Cartel) and ZVE upon the latter's formation. Conflict in the area would rise and fall in cycles, as the CDN struggled to maintain an ongoing war and, over time, ZVE largely ceded the territory to their allies in the Matamoros faction. By the fall of 2021 at the latest, “Escorpión 75”, whose real name may be Damián Castro Hernández, was in charge of Ciudad Mante and surrounding areas in southern Tamaulipas for the Matamoros faction.

In September the mutilated body of a woman, identified as “La Diabla”, was found near Ciudad Mante, along with a message from the CDN announcing that they would be “cleaning” the territory. It was immediately rumored that a new leader in the Mante region for the CDN had arrived, which had triggered this event. Two weeks later another dismembered body was found, that of Jared Antonio Zamora Míreles, along with a message against “Escorpión 75”. Thereafter, an interrogation video of Jared Antonio Zamora Míreles circulated in which he stated that he worked directly under “Escorpión 75”. More importantly, the video identified a key member of the CDN as “Romeo”.

A week later, a video of Los Escorpiones appeared in which they interrogated two members of the CDN who confessed to killing “La Diabla”. At the end of the video, a message appeared in which “Romeo” was identified as Antonio Romero Sánchez, a former Tamaulipas state police officer turned CDN cartel member, who was wanted for arrest since December 2020.

Throughout October, the CDN would continue to produce videos, but there was a notable drop in violence at the end of the month that remains unexplained. One possibility stems from earlier in October, when screenshots of alleged texts between “Escorpión 75” and a member of the CDN appeared online. In these conversations, “Escorpión 75” sought a ceasefire between the groups which opens the door to a truce being achieved by the end of October. Another scenario is that Los Escorpiones were so entrenched in the area, coupled with local government collusion leading to arrests of only CDN members, that the CDN was forced to abandon the conflict for the time being.

The Death of El Tigre

The city of Matamoros broke out in chaos on October 22, 2021, with multiple shootouts with the military and blockades throughout the city. The following day news spread that  a high ranking member of the Matamoros faction, Ariel “El Tigre” Treviño Peña, had been killed

The criminal career of “El Tigre” dates back to at least 2009, as he was arrested in September of that year. At the time of his arrest, which was during the leadership of Antonio “Tony Tormenta” Ezequiel Cárdenas Guillén, he was alleged to be head of plaza in Matamoros. While some sources imply that he was released from prison in 2018, evidence exists that he was released at some point years before that and may have joined Los Ciclones with the code name “Ciclón 34”.

In October 2014 three Americans went missing in the town of Control Ramírez and their bodies were found a little over two weeks later, along with a fourth person, known as “El Negrito”, who was said to be the boyfriend of one of the Americans. It would be alleged that “El Negrito” had worked for “El Tigre”, who was described as the head of plaza in Control Ramírez at the time. Thereafter, Borderland Beat added him to a list of notable cartel members and the state of Tamaulipas began offering a 2 million peso reward for information leading to his arrest in July 2018.

The criminal career of “El Tigre” thereafter is a bit unclear. He is said to have been a close associate of “La Kena” and had two star tattoos with XIX to show his loyalty to him. At the time of his death, he was reported to be head of plaza in Nuevo Progreso, head of “halcones” (lookouts), and operations leader of Los Escorpiones. While the lack of information makes it uncertain, a case can be made that “El Tigre”, went from being head of plaza in Control Ramírez to head of plaza in Nuevo Progreso after Carlos Osvaldo “Carlitos Whiskies” González Escobar was killed in January 2019, discussed in Part 6, and became head of operations at some point after April 5, 2021, when “La Kena” took the place of Evaristo “El Vaquero” Cruz Sánchez, as discussed in Part 8.

*This article was updated on 5/31/23 to include the name of "Casco 1" and not merely his code name.

Continue in Part 10: Dawn of a New Era


  1. You guys deserve way more credit that’s due… 🦉

    Thank you!

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words, just knowing that people appreciate the work is all the credit I need.

  2. Cdg matamoros le puso una verguiza al chuy 7 por traicionero. Lo sacaron de su plaza. Ni con la ayuda de las jaliscas ni los metros ni el pantera 24 que es zve pudo quedarse in san fernando. Ahora es matamoros contra todos. Y existe audio de la conversacion entre los comandantes. El escorpion les canto un tiro a todos y ni las jaliscas hicieron nada. Tamaulipas es de los tamaulipecos alv. No como los de reynosa que les dieron todo el culo a las jaliscas.

    1. 6:59 calmate chikimafia

    2. No.dejem.entrar.a.nadie.

  3. Did I just.. did I just read this whole article lol
    Very interesting read.
    I personally like the details which helps it make more sense in my mind.

    Thank you BB,
    Long time reader.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment and give some feedback. It's a balancing act when it comes to details, putting enough but not too much. Glad you enjoyed and hope you get something out of the articles to come.

  4. With the recent happenings in/between CDG some things got cleared up. They're saying it's Escorpiones against everyone, but I heard that some Metros were not fond of Primito allowing the jaliscas into Reynosa and stopped listening to him and sought out Los Escorpiones. That's probably why they have been in parts of Reynosa recently.

    1. Some of the metros tried and failed to take down el primitos top men and got killed.

  5. Itzli, I’ve been following your work since the BB Forum days back in 2012. This series is the best yet.

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words. I felt like I lost my footing with the forum gone but starting to feel like my old self again.

  6. Eine tolle Arbeit,klasse Artikel. Bitte weiter so. Ihr seid toll.Grüße aus Deutschland.


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