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

Thursday, January 18, 2024

The Beltrán Leyva Brothers and Their Socialite Obsession

"Morogris" for Borderland Beat

Note: This is post is a direct translation of a Milenio news article published on 17 January 2024.

Being a member of a criminal organization while simultaneously seeking fame is inherently contradictory. It can lead many cartel bosses, lieutenants, or hitmen to spend a substantial portion, if not the entirety, of their lives in prison.

In the annals of Mexico's drug trafficking history, notable leaders like Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada have chosen to adopt a low profile, enabling them to evade the scrutiny of authorities. Nevertheless, numerous members of criminal groups have aspired to infiltrate high echelons of Mexico's power structure and gain recognition within the country.

Whether in politics or entertainment, various narratives illustrate the catastrophic consequences that arise when the realms of drug trafficking and entertainment collide, as exemplified by the Beltran-Leyva Cartel during the first decade of the 2000s.

Their Obsession
Arturo Beltrán Leyva, also known by his alias El Barbas, has been associated on multiple occasions with Mexican actresses. Investigative journalist Anabel Hernández has mentioned figures like Galilea Montijo and Ninel Conde as two of the celebrities who allegedly had meetings with El Barbas, who asserted himself as one of the most influential drug trafficking bosses in Mexico.

Numerous journalistic investigations and accounts from those in proximity to the Beltrán Leyva clan depict the brothers as individuals with a volatile temperament, extravagant preferences, and a captivating personality. They were purportedly entrusted with the responsibility of establishing connections and disbursing substantial bribes to authorities at all three levels of government.

Anabel Hernandez claims that Mexican actress Galilea Montijo (left) was reportedly dating Arturo Beltran Leyva (right); Montijo has denied these claims (image credit: Milenio)
During those years, the humble beginnings at the La Palma ranch in Badiraguato, Sinaloa, were a distant memory. Mansions, attire from the most exclusive brands, jewelry, and exotic foods had transformed from mere dreams into their everyday reality. Yet, it was not sufficient; they yearned for more.

The Beltrán-Leyva Cartel stands out prominently in the annals of Mexican drug trafficking history, primarily due to the connections they fostered with numerous personalities in the entertainment industry. Their pursuit of social legitimacy and the acknowledgment of their power led them to strike a delicate balance between their criminal pursuits and a penchant for adopting the lifestyle of Mexican socialites.

'El H' and Clara Elena: From Drug Trafficking to Entertainment
Arturo Beltran Leyva's penchant for the most beautiful and renowned women in Mexican entertainment has been highlighted by various media outlets on numerous occasions. However, El Barbas was not the sole brother aspiring to be part of the country's most exclusive elite.

Based on information acquired by Anabel Hernández and detailed in her book "Los Señores del Narco," Héctor Beltrán Leyva and his wife, Clara Elena Laborín, possessed the ideal profile to serve as "public relations specialists" for the criminal organization.

"Héctor Beltrán Leyva was consistently mindful of politicians who gained prominence in their electoral campaigns, particularly in the states where his brother operated. Their role involved approaching and financing these politicians' proselytizing activities. This strategy aimed to ensure that the criminal organization would reap benefits when these politicians succeeded," described Anabel Hernandez, referring to Arturo's brother, also known as El H or El Elegante (The Elegant One).

On her part, Clara Elena Laborín transitioned from beauty pageants in Sonora to becoming the wife of a drug trafficking boss, a narrative not uncommon within the country's underworld. However, the young woman also harbored a fascination with the show business (showbiz). This, coupled with the wealth and influence derived from her husband's illicit earnings, brought her into proximity with a well-known presenter of the time.

Guillermo Francisco Ocaña Pradal: Manager for Celebrities and Drug Traffickers
In a reconstruction of events detailed by Anabel Hernández in her book "Los Señores del Narco," it was revealed that Hector Beltran Leyva's wife persuaded him to establish his own company called Rotceh Noticias y Espectáculos S.A de C.V.

To kickstart the venture, Clara Elena invited Guillermo Francisco Ocana Pradal to join, who was already a renowned representative of artists at that time.

"Ocaña Pradal, better known as Ocañita, skillfully merged his ventures in the realm of organized crime with those in the entertainment industry and the most exclusive social circles in Mexico. In the 1990s, he represented some of the most popular and elite artists of the time, including Alejandra Guzmán, Juan Gabriel, Tania Libertad, Gloria Trevi, Laura León, and Magneto," Hernández wrote in her book.

According to investigaors, Ocana Pradal laundered millions of dollars in the US, Canada, Mexico, and Europe (image credit: El Norte)
Francisco Ocaña Pradal served as the host of a Televisa show program and was responsible for coordinating an event in Mexico City's Zócalo to celebrate the nomination of actress Salma Hayek for Best Actress at the Oscar Awards.

In addition to his close association with popular actors, actresses, and singers, the renowned manager, Francisco Ocaña Pradal, was frequently seen at social events alongside politicians such as former president Enrique Peña Nieto or Dolores Padierna. Over time, Ocaña Pradal's responsibilities expanded, encompassing tasks such as managing copyright procedures and even participating in money laundering activities for the Beltrán Leyva Organization (BLO).

In April 2005, following the arrest of two of his accomplices in Spain, the Ministry of the Interior of Spain, accused Francisco Ocaña Pradal of leading an illegal money transfer network.

The DEA also identified Ocaña as part of a money laundering network associated with the Beltrán Leyva Cartel. This led to a complaint, triggering an operation by the then Attorney General's Office (PGR) in Tecamalchalco, State of Mexico, which ultimately resulted in Ocaña's arrest.

In January 2006, Ocaña was incarcerated at Reclusorio Oriente prison in Mexico City, facing charges of organized crime, drug trafficking, and money laundering. However, according to Hernandez, Ocaña was released due to a lack of evidence.

In April 2010, after the death of Arturo Beltrán Leyva and the rupture of the Sinaloa Cartel and BLO, Mexican authorities recaptured Ocaña, accusing him of the same crimes as years before.

While Arturo Beltrán Leyva's romantic involvements have received considerable media attention, it is essential to note that his brothers and sisters-in-law also shared a fascination with the Mexican socialite scene. This growing connection gradually became the Beltran Levya's "Achilles' heel" and contributed to the decline of the criminal organization.

Sources: Milenio (direct translation)


  1. It wasn't just the BLO . The Sinaloans just have a tendency to be rubbing shoulders with the famous people. Amado Arellaños Chapo where well known to have famous friends and lovers

    1. BLOs are Sinaloans, kid.

    2. Didn't say otherwise nena 5:45

    3. 5:45 can you read? He said it good can you read kiddo?

    4. 9:04
      Didn't say they said otherwise; they implied it.

      I can read but I doubt you can judging by your comment.

    5. Crap, I messed up.

  2. Todos y todas que andan en eso se juran empresarios y de la realeza.
    Nada más fuera de la realidad.

  3. Socialite. Arturo beltran leyva was a fucking cokehead. Nothing more. A cartel boss turned into a junkie.

    1. You partied with him before?

    2. Coke head or not the guy had more balls than any wanna be gangster who comments on here yet was probably buying his drugs back then . Not many go toe to toe with the Marines knowing he could snitch on very high level politicians and make a deal .The guy probably spent more money in two weeks than many do their whole lives .

    3. He broke your heart huh?

    4. A coke head you say would you have the balls to tell him that in his face? 😏

    5. He used a lot of coke.. Sure.. But he still was able to function..

      So saying he was "just a cokehead," is ridiculous. He was much more than that...

    6. 8:37 you're obviously living in a fantasy world. He didn't go toe to toe with the Marina. The order was to kill that fat ass slob and that's exactly what they did. Of course he could function, like any other functioning addict out there. That don't mean he was brave. If anything all that dope in his system had him believing he was invincible. But in the end all that hot lead put that ugly turd in its place.

    7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Then it all ended when Chapo snitched

    1. And then was the beginning of the downfall of blo

    2. Yeah, these guys had Mexico on lock. It was definitely Chapo snitching that marked the true downfall of BLO. Also, aligning themselves with the Zetas. Zeta's were being hunted down all over Mexico around the time of the split, so aligning themselves with them did them no better.

    3. The problem was Chapo and Mayo had the better government connections, they put up a good fight at first but the odds were stacked against them

    4. No era que tenían mejores conexiones, los conectes eran de Arturo.
      El asunto fue EE.UU. inclinó la balanza

      Pero diganme Arturo hizo lo que hizo por su Hermano Alfredo el menor de los Caballeros
      ¿Ustedes no se hubieran peleado con medio mundo si te hacen esa mala jugada?
      Y mas si son personas que son tus compadres, primos, amigos de toda la vida

      Muchos critican las decisiones de Arturo en sus ultimos 2 años, pero al final hizo lo que quiso y murio en su Ley.

  5. Arturo had la barbie as his head of security then allied himself with Zetas who everyone hated and la barbie hated Zetas n this alliance. His downfall was his own doing, La barbie snitched on Arturo location even told him to turn himself in when Arturo kept calling him for backup. Arturo was told that la barbie was a madrina but kept him around n doing coke parties n paranoia got worse.

  6. Journalists Annabel is doing more damage to Mexico with her false many years and can't produce evidence...she is what we call in America a "race hustler"...

    1. 9:29 hum bug..,🤔
      It's always a good idea to include the last name of the intended person your talking about.
      Anabel Lector
      Anabel Gonzales
      Anabel Hernandez
      Anabel DeLa Cruz

    2. @ 9:29 "Anabel Lector" LMFAO

  7. MX reported that Televisa had a catalog of actresses that would chaperone BLO figures. The going rate was $700,000 pesos for 5 hours.

  8. This same book claims Arturo was pulling in $400,000,000 USD monthly PROFIT. If it’s true that would surely make him one of the most successful traffickers of all time right next to Pablo and Amado??

    1. $400 million monthly profit huh? Not even in gross revenue. They added one zero too many.

  9. He controlled multiple cities across Mexico and trafficked to US and Europe and Asia i mean it’s possible . It was his wife that said that’s around how much he made in a month. Just in the US he was accused of bringing in more than 200 TONS . Amado Carrillo fuentes was supposedly said to be making $200 million weekly.


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