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

Friday, November 17, 2023

Tigers & Tío Lako: The Operation to Capture El 08's Uncle

"HEARST", "Enojon", and "Char" for Borderland Beat 

In Michoacan, authorities attempted to arrest the uncle and cousin of El 08, a top CJNG leader, after they allegedly ordered the kidnapping of a local mayor.

Police raided the family ranch and seized animals like a tiger cub, but no arrests were made.

Some reports allege the uncle conveniently escaped minutes before the raid, while others allege that local politicians pressured police into releasing the cousin.

During the kidnapping of the mayor, Tio Lako is known to have hosted a lavish quinceanera for his daughter, replete with pink G wagons and celebrity performances from artists like Julión Álvarez.

The Kidnapping of a Mayor 

On September 23, 2023, Yolanda Sánchez Figueroa, the mayor of Cotija, a town in the state of Michoacán, was traveling through the neighboring state of Jalisco when she was abducted by a group of cartel hitmen. 

This development was not entirely unexpected. Mayor Sánchez Figueroa had been receiving death threats from a “criminal group” (which many suspect was the CJNG) for months prior. 

Over time, the severity of the death threats had gradually increased and in April 2023, the mayor requested a two month leave of absence from her position. After only 20 days of leave, however, the mayor chose to return to work. 

Now, just a few months later, the “criminal group” had finally caught up to her.

The cartel hitmen boldly approached her rental vehicle as it drove through the streets of Zapopan while she was accompanied by two female relatives. The three women had just gone on a small family shopping trip on the sunny Saturday afternoon, according to Telemundo. Mayor Sánchez Figueroa was forced, at gunpoint, into the hitmen’s vehicle. 

Her two relatives called 911 and reported her abduction to authorities. The state Attorney General’s Office (FGE) was the lead agency in the investigation of the kidnapping. They announced her abduction to the public on Sunday, one day after it occurred. 

Then, three days after she was kidnapped, Mayor Sánchez called the National Guard and told them that she had just been released by her captors. She informed them that she was currently on board a bus headed for Zamora. The bus was later intercepted by soldiers from the National Guard who escorted her back to Cotija. 

Proceso later reported that Mayor Sánchez was released by her captors in Mazamitla municipality. A map of the relevant locations is shown below. 

The mayor later released a statement thanking the agencies which searched for her and telling her constituents that she was doing well. 

A day after her release, three low level hitmen were arrested at an unspecified location in Jalisco for their alleged involvement in the kidnapping. All three men were said to have originally come from Michoacan.

The Operation To Capture Tío Lako & El Laminas

The investigation into Mayor Sánchez’s kidnapping continued. Evidence and interviews appear to have led investigators to believe that the CJNG subgroup los Guerreros were involved in the kidnapping. 

Two Guerreros figures, known by the aliases "El Tío Lako” and his son “El Laminas”, seem to potentially have ties to the abduction. 

"El Tío Lako” (sometimes spelled “Laco”) is the alias de Heraclio Guerrero Martínez, a 69 year old Guerreros leader. His son, Ruben Guerrero, meanwhile goes by the alias “El Laminas”. 

“Tío Lako” or “Uncle Lako” is the uncle of Guerreros leader Adrian Alonso Guerrero Covarrubias, alias “El 08”. El 08 is one of Mencho’s top lieutenants, leading the Guerreros branch of the CJNG. He has a position in the CJNG similar to figures like El RR, El 03, and El Jardinero.

Last week, the state Attorney General's Office (FGE) requested a search warrant for a ranch owned by Tío Lako. After reviewing the evidence, a judge granted the search warrant and on November 14, 2023, authorities approached Lako’s ranch.  

The ranch is located in the remote town of Tinaja de Vargas, in Tanhuato municipality in Michoacan, near the border of Jalisco. 

The group which executed the search warrant was made up of Army soldiers, state police officers, and other law enforcement personnel. 

They reportedly did not find Tio Lako or Laminus inside the property.

LatinUS claims that Tio Lako “fled just minutes before the arrival of the police officers, who only found three felines,” referring to a panther, lion, and tiger cub found on the ranch.

Authorities released no official images of the arrest operation or of Tío Lako’s property. The only real glimpses of the property we get come from the background of images showing the tiny cages Tío Lako kept the three exotic cats inside. There are, however, some users online who make unverified claims about the location of the ranch.

The three cubs were seized by authorities from the property. Breitbart claims that a few hours after the raid, Tio Lako’s son El Laminas was arrested, presumably at a location nearby. 

Breitbart also claims that authorities called Tio Lako the day after they raided his ranch and “ask[ed] for a meeting with him about the animals. Even though Guerrero Martinez is wanted in the U.S. on drug conspiracy charges, Mexican authorities simply questioned him about the animals and made no arrests in the case.” Its worth noting that no other publications have made these specific claims. 

What is undisputed, however, is that shortly after the raid, a series of narco blockades were created in the area by CJNG hitmen. Blockades like these are often created to disrupt the operation of law enforcement agencies. 

TV Azteca writes that the blockades were “a reaction by organized crime to the recent operation implemented in Tinaja de Vargas, in search of a regional leader of the Jalisco Cartel - New Generation (CJNG).” These blockades eventually branched out to nearby regions, such as Ocotolan.

Then, a series of supposedly civilian led protests erupted over how soldiers had allegedly “left several workers beaten and people threatened” and how “the rights of dozens of inhabitants were being violated” during their operation at the ranch in Tinaja de Vargas. Videos of these protests can be seen at this link

It's possible that these protests were orchestrated by the CJNG as a way to pressure law enforcement to back off. 

Then the mayor of Tanhuato, Francisca Licea Ramirez, made a video claiming that the soldiers had beaten and assaulted local residents and forced students out of their classes. Breitbart claims this message by the mayor, who they allege is friendly with the CJNG, was another way of pressuring law enforcement. 

The alleged pressure campaign appears to have worked because federal authorities have announced no arrests connected to their Tinaja de Vargas raid.

Who is Tío Lako and Los Guerreros?

So hold on, who is Tio Lako exactly and how did he accrue this much power in both Jalisco and Michoacan? 

Tio Lako comes from the Guerrero crime family, which has been active in the region surrounding the town Tinaja de Vargas, Michoacan, for well over 30 years. The Guerreros were previously known for being cattle barons but over time their family business transitioned into more illicit trades.

In the 2000s, the most prominent members of the family were the Guerrero Martinez brothers - Javier and Heraclio. 

Javier Guerrero Martinez developed a friendship with Mencho, another local crime figure, long before the official formation of the CJNG. 

With the aid of Mencho, Javier and Heraclio expanded the territory the Guerreros cartel controlled out to cover the municipalities of: Ocotlán, Zapotlanejo, La Barca, Poncitlán, Atotonilco, Arandas, San Ignacio, La Capilla, Tepatitlán and Yahualica, in the state of Jalisco, as well as the municipalities of Tanhuato and Yurécuaro, in the state of Michoacán state. 

Javier and Mencho worked closely together to prevent the Caballeros Templarios cartel from expanding on the borders of Jalisco and Michoacán, especially in the municipalities of Ecuandureo and Tanhuato.  

Javier had three sons: Leonardo, Javier and Adrian Alonso Guerrero Covarrubias. Mencho was reportedly the godfather of all three sons. Meanwhile, Heraclio had a son, named Ruben Guerrero, and an unnamed daughter (later in life). 

In December 2011, Javier was killed in a gun battle against the Caballeros Templarios near Tinaja de Vargas. Five fellow CJNG gunmen, who were referred to as Matazetas at this time, were arrested after the incident

Heraclio, along with his sons and nephews, took over leading Guerreros, which eventually developed into an important branch of the CJNG. 

Some claim that Guerreros ordered a hit on the mayor of Tanhuato, Gustavo Garibay García, in March  2014. Adrian Alonso was arrested for his suspected involvement in the homicide, however, he was released after just three months due to the alleged lack of evidence against him.

On March 19, 2015, Leonardo Guerrero met an 18 year old girl at a dance in Ocotlán, Jalisco. He offered to pay her a “large sum of money” if she would sleep with him, which she agreed to, and the pair traveled to a mansion called “La Casa Blanca”. Leonardo’s bodyguards stood outside the property while the two got acquainted inside. 

According to Cronica Jalisco, state police and federal police officers (equivalent to FBI agents in the US) noticed the security detail outside the house and attempted to arrest a man who was leaving the property. The man shot at the approaching officers and they returned fire. The security detail then shot towards the officers and a gun battle broke out.

In the ensuing firefight, five federal police officers were killed. Leonardo Guerrero and the 18-year old girl later pretended to be uninvolved in the incident by running towards officers who were shot, offering to help them, but one of the officers recognized Leonardo and he eventually admitted his true identity. 

Officers then proceeded to arrest Leonardo and he was interrogated for further information on Los Guerreros. The killing of the federal police officers led to a major crackdown on CJNG activities in the area and over the next month the group regularly got into skirmishes with law enforcement patrols.

Heraclio and his nephews were suspected of being involved in the CJNG battle that took place on May 1, 2015. CJNG forces fought against law enforcement that followed an attempt to arrest Mencho in Villa Purificación, which downed a military helicopter and left 9 soldiers dead. 

Later that same month, Enrique Hernández Saucedo, who was running to become mayor of the Michoacan town of Yurécuaro was shot to death shortly after a campaign event. Tio Lako was believed to be the man who ordered the hit on Hernández Saucedo.

Federal agents were still focused on bringing down major Guerreros figures for the murder of the five agent and in September, Javier “El Javi” was arrested in Zapotlán, Jalisco.

In November 2015, Tio Lako was arrested alongside six of his gunmen in Ecuandureo, Michoacan. This arrest is where we get the only known photographs of Tio Lako, who is seen wearing a striped polo shirt and tan jacket.

Heraclio, Javier and Leonardo were all charged for their alleged involvement in various criminal incidents and sentenced to serve years of jail time. With all three in prison, leadership of Los Guerreros then fell to Adrian Alonso Guerrero Covarrubias, “El 08”, who helmed the group alone for the next four years.

During this time, the widow of Mayor Garibay García spoke out against El 08, telling reporters that Mayor Garibay had refused to pay a “quota” (a method of extortion) that was demanded by El 08. 

She said her husband’s refusal led to El 08 ordering a hit on Garibay. El Universal reports that “some time later, the 38-year-old woman [Garibay’s widow] was murdered and her body was found on May 13, 2016 on the free Zamora-La Barca highway.”

In April 2019, El 08 was captured and convicted on charges of organized crime and kidnapping. El 08 was sent to prison, but in June 2021, after just short two years, El 08 was released from prison after the CJNG either bribed or intimidated a judge into granting an injunction which annulled his sentence.

The Current Leadership of Guerreros

As of today, Tio Lako and Javier are also both free from prison and active within Guerreros. They are presumed to be high ranking members within the group, which continues to be led by El 08.

Javier and El 08 have both been sanctioned by the US government for their involvement with the CJNG. The sanction described them as “violent senior CJNG members engaged in various criminal activities on behalf of CJNG, including the trafficking of weapons from the United States into Mexico, fuel theft, and drug trafficking activities.” 

The US also highlighted that a man named Obed Christian Sepulveda Portillo was known to procure and traffic weapons for the Guerrero Covarrubias brothers. 

One of the CJNG lieutenants known to work under El 08 is Gerardo González Ramírez, aliases “El Apa” and “El Gera”, who is particularly active in northern Jalisco/ southern Zacatecas area. 

Tío Lako's Parties

According to unverified reports, on September 25, 2023, just two days after the Cotija mayor was kidnapped, Tio Lako held a lavish quinceanera for his daughter at a ranch in Tinaja de Vargas.

It seems highly likely that this party was held while the mayor was being held against her will, on Tio Lako’s orders.

Photos of the party itinerary (along with the initials “NG”) reveal that the following artists were scheduled to perform at the party: 

  • Pancho Barraza
  • Julion Alvarez 
  • Alfredo Olivas 
  • Los Sebastianes 
  • Los Alegres del Barranco

It's worth noting that Los Alegres del Barranco are known to have two narco corridos (ballads praising a specific narco, commissioned by said narco) for Tio Lako, one called Compa Lako and another called El Tio Lako.

Videos of the fireworks display can be seen below. 

As a commenter recently highlighted, one of the hitmen acting as security at the event can be seen wearing a patch that combines the Mexican and Colombian flag.  CJNG is known to employ a number of Colombian nationals as hitmen.

This isn’t the first lavish party with famous performers that Tio Lako is known to have held. Last year, Milenio newspaper reported that Guacamaya-leaked documents showed that federal agents tracked down the location of CJNG’s El RR and Tio Lako based on the movements of narco corrido artist Luis R. Conríquez. 

The agents followed Luis R. Conríquez, who had been hired to perform at a party cohosted by El RR and Tio Lako. The event was held at one of El RR’s ranches located in the mountainous border region of Jalisco and Zacatecas, 16 kilometers from Ixtlahuacán del Río.

A convoy of “at least 20 Toyota and Tacoma vehicles with hitmen from the CJNG Elite Group” were spotted driving to the party to see Conríquez perform.

The Rescue of the Big Cats

It's a grim reality. 

In Mexico, you can order the abduction of a mayor, causing a scandal which draws the attention of the country’s President, but you can still feel confident that when law enforcement raids your property, you will find a way to miraculously evade arrest and only end up losing a few animals from your private menagerie. 

Perhaps the only positive in this whole tale is the fate of the three big cats who were seized from Lako’s property.

The tiger, lion, and panther cubs were transported away from the ranch in specialized cages on pickup trucks.

The cubs were taken to the Benito Juárez Zoo located in Morelia, Michoacan, where they were assessed by expert zoologists. 

The three cubs were found to be between 2-4 months old. The zoo reported that all three were found to be underweight and suffering from malnutrition. The cubs will be quarantined from the zoo’s other animals for the first few months. The three will be kept under strict observation for any potential health issues and their development regularly assessed.

The zoo reported on Facebook that “Our medical staff is already taking care of the little furry ones who arrived yesterday afternoon. Their bedroom is set up for their comfort and well-being. We are happy to have them at their new home!”

Mayor’s Kidnapping Sources: The Yucatan TimesTelemundo, Reporte Indigo, TV Azteca, Milenio, La Jornada, TeleDiario 

2023 Attempted Arrest Sources: Official Press Release, Latin US, ES Euro, Acueducto Online, Omnia, Canal 13 Mexico, La Balanza, Morelia en Linea, TV Azteca, El Universal 

Five Feds Killed May 2015 Sources: Excelsior, Cronica Jalisco, Cronica Jalisco 

2015 Tio Laco Arrested Sources: El Universal,, Revista Búsqueda,, Ignacio Martinez Article 1, Article 2, Quadratin

El 08 Freed Sources: Milenio, La Jornada, Article 2, Article 3, El Universal, El Financiero, MVS Noticias, La Silla Rota

2022 Guerreros Guacamaya Leaks Sources: La Silla Rota, Prensa Libre

Misc Guerreros Sources: La Silla Rota, El Universal, AristeguiNoticias, Michoacan Sin Miedo, Segundo a Segundo, Notivideo

El 08 Photo Credit: Sorpresa,Velocidad y Violencia en Acción, Milenio ,Televisa, Michoacan Sin Miedo

Further Reading: 

CJNG’s Jardinero, the Butcher of Nayarit


  1. lots of good information and we will see if the mexican federal government let El Tio Lako off the hook or keep on pushing for his capture. power family

    ahi esta el Laminas que dijiste ayer @CONNOR

    1. mencho and the Guerrero family super close and it seems like all of his key operators are his compadres

    2. There a vato on tik tok leaking all that info on how it went down laminas supposely got popped heading to help his dad thinking tio lako got caught in the raid cause he wasn’t answering his phone but he was in a meeting con los señores and no phones allowed and the blockades where to put pressure on the government to release laminas

    3. Yes Char .. good read good article chief

    4. 7:56 you got a link to that tiktok account?

    5. Great read, thanks.

  2. Funny someone tagged his house on Google maps in Tinaja de Vargas.

    1. Haha yeah the 10,000+ sq foot mansion in a town of shacks is kind of a giveaway.

  3. Conor, would you smash the mayor?

  4. Palabra en novalato is chapo isidro got swooped up.

    1. Any links ? I know everyday I click on here wondering who gets arrested next . And Chapo Isidro is a giant catch if he indeed got caught . I know most times they are probably able to bribe officials for their release, so we never happen to ever hear of it . It seems like most narcos in Mexico are only invisible to law enforcement

  5. Compa Lako and Tío Lako some bangers. Jamming to LADB at 7am bien periquiado con Coronas de botella cafe. Que mal se la pasan.

  6. 50 guerreros is a tio lako corrido .. belicon el corrido by los chavalos de la perla who the singer is 03 nephew

  7. Animó Viejón y puro Michoacán

  8. Cjng are all raggedy

    1. There no difference between the bums for cjng and the bums for cds. Fun fact cds has posting bots to help better the image of theyre pathetic cartel.

  9. Such beautiful cats

  10. Tio Lako helps out RR and his grupo elite with guns and people. Tio Lako and RR are probably the better equipped armed wings of CJNG .

  11. There's alot of well equipped/armed CJNG cells we hardly talk or know about.

    We mainly only know what the mainstream and narco blogs talk about.

    For example- I didn't know their is a armed wing of CJNG called (la meñiza) who's leader (El meño) is allegedly close to (El Mencho) and that the meñiza makes up one of Menchos security rings.

    Or (el 18) who was one of menchos many bodyguards,and now he leads (operativa 18).

    1. People focus on the big CJNG branches like Grupo Elite and Guerreros because they're the ones involved in the large territory campaigns (like Zacatecas and Guanajuato).

      Small groups are only notable when, and if, they do something notable.


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