Tuesday, October 29, 2013

3 Detained in attacks on 18 electrical plants, 6 gas stations in Michoacan, and Morelia

Assailants early Sunday blew up 18 electrical power plants in Michoacan, one of Mexico's most troubled states, triggering blackouts which gunmen then used as cover to torch gasoline stations, residents and authorities said.

The attacks in Michoacan state, west of the capital, did not cause deaths or serious injuries, authorities report. But they served as a pointed reminder of the strength of drug gangs and other criminals.

Shortly after midnight, attackers armed with Molotov cocktails almost simultaneously disabled electrical substations in at least twelve cities and towns in Michoacan, plunging an estimated 1 million people into darkness. The power was out for 15 -18 hours.

CFE in Sahuayo
CFE in Sahuayo
Gunmen then torched four gasoline stations, two in the state capital of Morelia, a popular tourist destination. a pump was burned down on Avenida Francisco I. Madero de Apatzingán and another on the Morelia-Uruapan Highway, 10 kilometers from Patzcuaro, where there was also damage to a convenience store.
The delegation of the Attorney General's Office (PGR) reported that damage was detected to 18 electrical substations, 6 gas station between the two states of Michoacan and Morelia, and there was damage to water facility attack in Morelia. The mechanical and electrical operating system for the treatment plant sustained damage at the Mintzita Spring. At the turn off to Morelia in Salamanca, Guanajuato, where an important plant  is located, the aggressors didn't manage to detonate bombs against any mechanism, but left more than 100 petrol bombs on the scene.

Along with the attacks on the CFE electrical substations, the attacks affected the operation of 14 wells in Morelia. There was damage to the water treatment plant of La Mintzita, which supplies water to 35 per cent of the population,  This led to several colonias not receiving water on Sunday, reported a  water, and sanitation and sewerage official. Augusto Arriaga Caire, director of water utility and waste water(OOAPAS) reported that after the power outages, 14 wells and Mintizita treatment plant were offline lacking power for a period of 16 hours, energy was restored at 18:00 hours on Sunday, At that point they immediately began trial assessment investigation including computer synchronization, in order restart and restore water service Morelia.

The state of Michoacan for years has been controlled either by the Knights Templar or its predecessor La Familia Michoacan, cartels that specialize in methamphetamine distribution to the United States, and have controlled many city halls and police departments. 

More recently, groups of citizens have taken up weapons forming self defense groups to protect communities from CT infiltration, extortion and domination.

MILENIO consulted state and federal sources who estimated 420, 000 people were left without electric power for about 18 hours, up to seven in the evening. The service in some affected areas was restored 95 percent.The assaulted CFE electric substations are located in Morelia, Apatzingán, Zamora, La Piedad, Ciudad Hidalgo, Uruapan, Sahuayo Tarímbaro, Zinapécuaro, Queréndaro, Tuxpan and Aguililla.

The first calls for help were received by the Michoacan emergency services at 11:45 am Saturday, and the last at 3:07 pm on Sunday, all were anonymous.

The only case where there was a confirmed exchange of gun fire during these fire bombings was in Morelia between security guarding the government electric facilities and the assailants. The firefight lasted about ten minutes.

After the confrontation and the flight of the suspects, on a sidewalk authorities found boxes with a total of 131 petrol bombs. 

Simultaneously, other groups attacked petrol stations in Morelia, one in Apatzingán and another in Patzcuaro, again without any injuries.

Mexican Army troops and Federal Police, supported by state troopers, activated a special safety protocal, both to try to to protect power generating facilities in the area and to locate and catch the suspects.

Federal authorities said they were sending hundreds of police and military troops to reinforce security in the region. The attacks came two days after the state's governor, Fausto Vallejo, resumed duties after a long illness leading some to wonder if it was a protest of some sort.

Local Government Secretary Jaime Mares, revealed that the federal government offered full backing to Michoacan to strengthen security, and said a coordinated action will restore power supply in all the affected areas.

In an interview with Oscar Mario Beteta, for Radio Times, the state official said they can not say whether the attack was a result of a drug war and self-defense groups.

- Should the attack in principle be considered terrorist?

-As we get further along, elements of the state's attorney will investigate determine the corresponding commentaries.

- Are other groups involved like "Familia Michoacana", "Zetas", "Nueva Gente", besides the "Knights Templar"?

-At this time we can not make claims of this nature, since investigations have just started a few hours ago.

On the possibility that the attacks are related to the rise to power of Fausto Vallejo, Jaime Mares said that there is no relationship.

"Naturally they are events that have nothing to do with it, unfortunate facts but they have no relationship," he said.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Borderland Beat Owner: "Best Wishes and Shoutout to Reporter Chivis!"

Best Wishes and Shoutout to Chivis

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 |  
When I started Borderland Beat, I knew I could not do it by myself and I was constantly recruiting for help to research information on the Mexican drug cartels. Not many people were willing to step up to the plate, but a few did and I am greatly appreciative for all who have helped in the past and do so in the present. Contributors who on their own time and without any compensation, provided informaton to many.

In the last year or so, one contributor has gone above and beyond to make what BB is today, a reputable leading source of Mexican cartel news.This contributor is Buela Chivis who despite her failing health, continues to inform and contribute without a complaint. We owe her so much and always wish her the best of health.

Here is what DD shared on the Borderland Beat Forum:


In April of last year Chivis underwent a major surgery. Fortunately for all of us and all the others who know and love her she came through it successfully and has been as plucky and dedicated as ever. After the surgery, I think she may have become even more dedicated to the mission and the causes to which she has given so much of herself.

Here on Borderland Beat she has spent more time researching, investigating and writing. She has become the premier writer and reporter on BB. Even better than before.

I could write a 10,000 word essay describing our Grand Lady. Each of you could write your own descriptions of Chivis and all of us together still would not be able to capture how amazing and special this woman is.

She is scheduled to go under the knife for another major surgery on Thursday the 24th of this month.

Abuela Chivis, as some of us who have been around here for a while call her, doesn't complain or feel sorry for herself. The most she has said to me was when she was explaining why she had missed some trivial thing I had asked her about here on BB; (I normally would never reveal the contents of a private email from Chivis or any of our readers without their permission, but in this case I am making an exception because it shows how selfless Chivis is)

"in this case I have not had much time, trying to get ahead of myself with everything because it is unclear how badly my recovery will be after the surgery"

That is typical of Chivis, doing everything she can for us before her surgery. Worrying about us on BB rather than what she was facing in the upoming surgery.

When she had the surgery last year I asked the readers of the Forum to all say a prayer for Chivis while she was having the surgery and for her recovery. Here is an excerpt from that request;

Would all of you join me in praying for her successful surgery and a speedy recovery. Many studies have shown that concentrated prayer for a person with medical problems can have a positive effect. Whatever is your faith, or if you are an atheist or agnostic, lets use prayer, the power of positive thoughts, or whatever you want to call it, to do all we can for our beloved Chivis.

We have readers from around the world who love and respect Chivis and our combined energies might make a difference. I don't know what time her surgery is scheduled because I knew if I asked her she would know what I am doing and tell me not to do it. She wouldn't want to worry everybody. That is just how Chivis is. The most unselfish person I know.

All of what I posted last year asking for your prayers still applies today (except for the time and date of her surgery). The link for that plea is HERE. You can read the comments from some of the many many people who care for her, and her response to us after the surgery. Part of her response to everyone was:

"you can not know how it lifted my spirits and jump started my kick ass courage."

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Wide deployment in search of the gunman who killed Francisco Arellano Felix

Wide deployment in search of the gunman who killed Francisco Arellano Felix 

The oldest of the Mexican brothers of the Arellano Felix family, who for years took a leadership role of one of the bloodiest drug cartels in the country, was shot dead in the resort town of Los Cabos, Mexico, by an unknown assailant, authorities said Saturday.
The Tijuana Cartel known for its violent and brutal control of the drug trade in the border city of Tijuana in the 1990s, the arrests or death of most of the seven Arellano Felix brothers have reduced the cartel to a shadow of its former self.

Aged 63, Arellano Felix was already in prison by the time the gang rose to its height.

He was arrested in 1993 connection with the murder of Roman Catholic Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo and served a 10-year sentence for weapons possession. He was then extradited to the U.S. in 2006 to face California charges stemming from a 1980 case in which he allegedly sold cocaine to an undercover police officer in the United States.
He was sentenced by a U.S. judge to six years in prison on drug charges but was granted parole, released and deported back to Mexico in 2008.

"Arellano Felix  was never really part of the leadership of the big organization, mostly because he was in jail (in Mexico). He was arrested before they became what they really became," said John Kirby, a former federal prosecutor in San Diego who co-wrote a 2003 indictment against the Arellano Felix cartel leadership.

Francisco Rafael Arellano Felix, was at a party on Friday night when he was shot by a gunman who according to local media was dressed as a clown.

The gunman dressed as a clown is still being sought by members of the three branches of government, the entrances to the town are monitored by municipal and ministerial policemen, Francisco Rafael Arellano Felix died of a gunshot wound to the head. 

There were seals on federal highways, dirt roads, and turn-offs that lead to the popular subdivisions, by the police officers and the Armed Forces in an operation of control by the three levels of government.   

Tribune reported at the time, that the the mobilization is due to Francisco Rafael Arellano Felix 63 years old, was shot three times, while meeting with several people at a family party in the building "Ocean House" located between San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo.
Investigative research says that the authorities were informed that according to the witness versions, the gunman arrived at the scene dressed as a clown, as if to give a show and at the first opportunity, pointed his gun at the victim and killed the the oldest of the Arellano Felix brothers. 

Borderland Beat reports the gunman escaped from an exit reserved for VIPs.  So help from the inside is suspected

They also report :"Rumor alert: On the ground people are saying the sciarios were from Sinaloa and fled by boat, which would be easy on that isolated stretch of beach."

After the shots, the subject dressed as clown came out of the exclusive lounge and boarded a luxury truck late model white  Chevy Trailblazer, which was carrying the gunman also two other passengers,  dressed as clowns, the van would take the road towards  Cabo San Lucas, however, it has not been located. 

Unofficial data indicate that the eldest Arellano Felix was shot three times, the first he received was in the head which immediately deprived him of life, the following shots him in the chest and shoulder who was already on the ground. The deceased attended the party with his wife and son. The PGJE reported that the official cause of death was severe head trauma secondary to firearm projectile. 

The Tijuana cartel came to take control of the cocaine that went from that city to neighboring San Diego (southwestern United States)1990s and early 2000s, but gradually began to lose power due to internal divisions .

The murder of Francisco Rafael Arellano Felix "answered old unpaid debts, old feuds Arellano times when were those who controlled" area, for the AFP said Raul Benitez Manaut, a researcher specializing in drug matters of public National University Autonoma de Mexico.

"It seems that one of his enemies who had outstanding receivables discovered his whereabouts and modus vivendi ... and as it was billed," he said.

It is assumed information that the bullets that took the life of Arellano Felix would be 5.7 mm caliber, known in some parts of Mexico as "the cop killer ", this ammunition can pierce body armor  with first and second degree of ballistic protection shielding. The PGJE has not officially informed what caliber are the bullets that killed Francisco Rafael Arellano Felix.

Worldwide Highlights

The national and international press highlighted the death of Francisco Rafael Arellano Felix, the eldest brother of the powerful organized crime family who was one of the leaders of the Tijuana Cartel.

German media as the renowned weekly Die Spiegel  and popular newspaper Die Welt, highlighted the fall of one of the most respected members of the family  Arellano Felix. 

The news also appeared in American newspapers as New York Daily, Huffington Post and USA Today

Meanwhile, several European newspapers reported that the murder of the powerful kingpin may have been done by a clown , who took him by surprise. The headlines  in Lidovky of Czech Republic, RP Online  of Germany and HLN  of Belgium  stressed the particularities of the murder.

Francisco Rafael Arellano Felix , one of the recognized brothers drug traffickers and members of the group who for many years led the movement of narcotics northwest of Mexico, died on Friday, October 18 during an attack by gunfire. The information was released in the first instance by local media around midnight on Friday and the first few minutes on Saturday.

The death of former boss has already been confirmed by the security authorities of San Jose del Cabo.

So far, two versions circulating about the murder , allegedly committed by a person dressed as a clown 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Knights Templar Test Narco-Insurgency Theory

In their fight against Mexico 's government and their rivals, the Knights Templar employs a multifaceted strategy that targets all levels of society, offering the clearest illustration of what some analysts have termed narco-insurgency.
The Knights Templar, an offshoot of another criminal organization known as the Familia Michoacana , have earned notoriety for their sudden outbreaks of spectacular violence, their unusually concerted public relations efforts, and their tactics that make the civilian population part of their modus operandi.

These traits have been particularly evident in recent weeks. The Knights have an ongoing blockade of five towns in the state of Michoacan controlled by vigilante groups opposed to them, impeding the arrival of basic staples like food, gas, and medicine.

August, 2013

 Knights Templar Leader 'La Tuta' gives an interview  

The Knights have employed blockades as a tactic against the vigilantes repeatedly over the course of the year; in July, federal attempts to remove such blockades in Michoacan led to 22 deaths .

The Knights have also continued their efforts to communicate with the public.In one of his more recent appearances, their leader, Servando Gomez, alias "La Tuta ," says his group has a "congress," and obeys the will of "the people."

"We don't do what I order," he says. "We do what is in the interest of what we believe is in the interest of the majority of the people. Forgive us if we harm any third parties." (See video below)
In the past, the group and its leaders have deployed the mass media to communicate on multiple occasions. In 2009, for instance, "La Tuta" called a TV show and implored federal forces not to interfere with their family members. As noted by InSight Crime in 2011, a series of recorded phone calls between different members of the Knights offers evidence of how they seek to manipulate the news media in their coverage of organized crime in the region.

More recently, however, La Tuta’s group has relied on the traditional medium of drug traffickers: the narcomanta, or banner signed by a criminal group. In October, the group posted narcomantas in three Michoacan towns threatening the vigilante groups. One month prior, they promised to initiate a “limpieza,”or social "cleanse," of a portion of southeastern Tabasco -- on the coast opposite the group’s native Michoacan, and where they have previously had little activity -- in which they promised to target the Gulf Cartel .

Over the past several years, the scale of the criminal violence in Mexico and the sophistication of the groups behind it has led many analysts to suggest that Mexico is suffering through something resembling a criminal, or a narco-insurgency. According to the proponents of this theory -- which include former law enforcement officers such as John Sullivan , academics like Robert Bunker , and journalists like Ioan Grillo -- the gangs in Mexico today represent something different.

Essentially, they are now competing with the state, seeking "to remove themselves from state control ," as Sullivan says, and, in some instances, seeking to set up a parallel state. While they do not aim to overthrow the government, this larger ambition represents a fundamental shift from traditional groups.

Nonetheless, there are several ways in which the insurgency paradigm falls short. While criminal gangs seek to control areas of state function that affect their work -- namely, law enforcement -- even in the most blood-soaked regions of Mexico, examples of a gang eliminating other areas of government are quite limited. Notwithstanding some high-profile but isolated examples, drug traffickers have had little impact on public education, municipal transportation, sanitation, and various other purviews of government. The same is all the more true for functions of the federal executive branch like the conduct of monetary policy, foreign relations, and industrial policy.

Furthermore, while traditional insurgency depends on a coherent alternative to the government, in Mexico the trend has gone in the other direction. On an individual level, the dominant gangs have not accrued ever more power in their effort to overtake the government. Rather, they have splintered and fractured, thanks to years of unrelenting pressure from government forces and from one another. In this sense, Mexico looks less capable of producing an insurgent group capable of rivaling the state than it did five years ago.

To be fair, the criminal insurgency theorists are not advocating a strict definition of the term insurgent.

"Criminal insurgency is different from conventional terrorism and insurgency because the criminal insurgents’ sole political motive is to gain autonomy and economic control over territory," Sullivan writes in a recent report in the Small Wars Journal . "They do so by hollowing out the state and creating criminal enclaves to secure freedom to maneuver."

And while many of the traditional underlying elements of an insurgency do not translate to Mexico, in so far as they do, these elements are visible in the Knights Templar, or Caballeros Templarios, as they are known. They have a quasi-religious patina, which evokes connotations not only of the Islamist insurgencies in the Middle East, but also of the famous Mexican religious insurgency, the Cristero War. Many theorists have written of the spiritual facet of insurgency, which this aspect of the group demonstrates.

The Knights are also plainly more focused on influencing the broader population than are their rivals. Other groups seek to intimidate the locals into tolerating their presence, but none of the Knights’ rivals has gone to such lengths to affect its image before the general public. None has invested as much into distinguishing their group’s operation from that of their rivals either.From its emergence in the mid-2000s, the Familia Michoacana celebrated its code of behavior that governed its members’ activities, and embraced its role as a savior of the people of Michoacan, its birthplace.

From there, one can draw parallels to insurgency as a population-centric form of warfare. Classic theorists of insurgency, from revolutionaries like Mao Zedong to counterinsurgent leaders like France’s David Galula , have recognized that the battlefield in an insurgency is not a literal piece of terrain.The winner of the conflict is instead determined by the support of the local population.

That isn’t entirely true in Mexico -- the general population is firmly against the gangs as a whole, which spend more time alienating hearts and minds than winning them. But though the differences between a classic insurgency and Mexico’s security challenges are more relevant than their similarities, the Knights Templar is the best case of that distinction becoming blurred.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Mexico's crackdown on drugs spurs an extortion wave

When the threatening phone calls demanding $20,000 in protection money began in December, Dr. Roman Gomez Gaviria shrugged them off, believing his clinic on the outskirts of Mexico City couldn't possibly be of interest to criminal gangs. A few months later, his sense of security was shattered when three armed men barged into his office screaming "Dr. Roman, you bastard, where are you?"

"They tried to tackle me, to take me out of the clinic, when I saw that each one had a pistol tucked into his belt," said Gaviria, recounting the ordeal. "They thought that, because I'm a doctor, I wasn't going to resist."

Such shakedown rackets have long targeted businesses in the most violent corners of Mexico. Now the practice is spreading. One anti-crime group estimates that kidnapping across the country has jumped by one-third so far this year compared to 2012. And as the extortion industry expands, it has drawn both experienced criminals and imitators.

Experts say the increase is a byproduct of Mexico's crackdown on the nation's drug gangs. As authorities nab cartel bosses and break up chains of command, hundreds of lower-level gunmen and traffickers are desperate for income and looking for income in new places.

Targets include everything from multinational businesses to corner pharmacies and unsuspecting holidaymakers. The gangs are less organized, but more ubiquitous than the drug cartels, affecting broad swaths of the country.

"It affects all economic activity. It discourages investment," said security expert Jorge Chabat.

In the first eight months of 2013, there were 5,335 reported extortion attempts nationwide, equal to the number for all of the previous year. If the current pace continues, the total could surpass 8,000 this year, almost twice as many as in 2007.

The tourism industry, Mexico's third-largest source of foreign revenue, has been one of the hardest hit. Largely untouched when the U.S.-backed drug war began in late 2006, the state of Oaxaca had quietly become the turf of the Zetas cartel. In recent months, guests of at least a dozen hotels in scenic, colonial Oaxaca city have started receiving calls from strangers saying they would be kidnapped if they didn't pay between $380 and $1,500, hotel industry and security officials said.

"The way they operate is to call the hotel, ask to speak to a particular room and then start threatening" the guest, said Joaquin Carrillo Ruiz, an assistant state prosecutor in Oaxaca. Many of the tourists, all from Mexico, reported the crime instead of paying up, but that hasn't calmed worries in Oaxaca, where tourism is a vital source of outside income
"We have to stop this in its tracks," said Juan Carlos Rivera, the head of the Oaxaca Hotel Association. "If we don't, it could escalate."

As if to prove his point, a group of Spanish musicians were hit by a telephone extortion scheme in Mexico City this month, though none was kidnapped or harmed.

But even authorities acknowledge that the vast majority of extortions go unreported as many as 92 percent according to a survey of crime victims by the National Statistics Institute. The same survey from April indicated that extortion is now the second most common crime after street robberies, with 7.6 percent of those surveyed in 2012 saying they were extortion victims, up about two percentage points from the year before.

President Enrique Pena Nieto's government says the rise in extortions is a paradoxical effect of its success in the anti-drug fight. As such, it mirrors a trend in Colombia, where smaller-scale extortion rackets have mushroomed since security forces in the past decade broke the backs of Marxist rebels, paramilitary groups and major drug cartels with a national presence.

"When cartel activity diminishes, house-break-ins, muggings and other crimes increase," federal security spokesman Eduardo Sanchez said.

PGR investigates Sonia Barragan Pérez, Widow of "Lord of the Skies"

The Attorney General of the Republic (PGR) has opened a preliminary investigation against Sonia Barragan Pérez, widow of Amado Carrillo Fuentes, Lord of the Skies.

Sonia Barragan is included in the preliminary inquiry PGR/SEIDO/UEIDS/ 197/2013, which is mentions her ex brother-in law Alberto Carrillo Fuentes, aka Betty La Fea, arrested a few weeks ago by the Federal Police in Nayarit and who was looking to consolidate to the so-called New Juarez Cartel.

In accordance with the investigation, Alberto Carrillo Fuentes, alias "Betty La Fea,  -- a nickname referencing a popular Colombian soap opera accuses Sonia Barragan Pérez of having given information to the Federal Police for his capture. 

Since 2005, there's been an arrest warrant out for Sonia Barragan for alleged operations with the Juarez Cartel from illicit sources, derived from what's called maxiproceso undertaken in the six years during the Ernesto Zedillo term.

After the death of Lord of the skies during plastic surgery in 1997, in 1997,his brother Vicente, El Viceroy, continued with the control of the organization, but retreated after  having endured an intense battles with the Sinaloa Cartel during the last six years which caused major set backs for organization.

His brother, Alberto, intended take over leadership of the new Juarez cartel, but his arrest, was announced  by the Agency last September 1 after an operation of the Federal Police. 

Alberto Carrillo Fuentes, "Betty La Fea, 47 years,continued the war with the organization of "El Chapo" Guzman especially in Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Sonora, Coahuila and Durango. 

Having been persued since the beginning of the current six-year presidential  period, Alberto Carrillo was arrested in the hotel zone of the Riviera Nayarita, in the village of Bucerias, where she was hiding only.

The accusations against him are for participation in organized crime, crimes against the health and homicide, integrated into at least four prior inquiries

In the PGR/SEIDO/UEIDS/ 197/2013, indictment, in addition to Sonia Barragan and Alberto Carrillo, among the others included are Javier Torres Felix, El JT and Jesus Alfredo Salazar Ramírez, both detained as operators of Ismael Zambada , "El" Mayo  and Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, respectively.

Sources:  RiodoceLapared, Washington Post, InsightCrime

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Open for business: Gulf Cartel keeps moving marijuana

McALLEN — Despite more than three years of top bosses getting arrested or killed, the Gulf Cartel continues to be a major drug smuggling group that seeks to fill the appetites of drug users nationwide.

Like arteries to a heart, Interstate 69C/Expressway 281 and I-69E/U.S. 77, which connect the Rio Grande Valley to San Antonio, are the main roads that the organization uses to pump a steady flow of marijuana into mainstream America. The plant — which is grown illegally in Mexico, packaged and then smuggled across the Rio Grande — fetches about $200 per pound wholesale in South Texas. But that pricetag can double when the drug passes the Border Patrol’s Falfurrias and Sarita checkpoints, and it can go for up to $1,000 per pound when it reaches metropolitan areas across the nation. That price is further increased when the drug is sold at street level. In an effort to curb the drug smuggling through the highways, U.S. authorities have set up permanent checkpoints along the two main arteries leading to San Antonio.  

For years, the Gulf Cartel has been the target of investigations aimed at impairing its operations, said Will Glaspy, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s assistant special agent in charge in McAllen. Through their work with Mexican military and law enforcement agencies, the DEA has played a key role in the arrests of numerous key members of the Mexican drug trade, including kingpins of the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas, Glaspy said. While the takedown of a kingpin hurts the organization’s operations, by design the criminal entity will shift power to a new boss quickly, thus continuing the cat and mouse game. “We will continue to put pressure on the Gulf Cartel throughout investigations, making seizures of drugs coming into our country and currency heading into Mexico to deprive them of their proceeds,” Glaspy said. “We will continue targeting and making arrest on those individuals who are in the command and control structure within the cartel.”  

The majority of the drugs trafficked in northern Tamaulipas and South Texas are under the control of one criminal organization: the Matamoros-based Gulf Cartel, which traces its roots to the 1930s, when it primarily dealt with local rackets in Tamaulipas and liquor and tobacco smuggling. As part of its rackets, the organization found a way to make money from smuggling poultry, grains and other goods when a profit could be made by skimping on customs tariffs. During the 1960s and 1970s, the Gulf Cartel began shifting its operations into the profitable smuggling of marijuana and cocaine making South Texas a major player in the illicit drug trade. While most scholars cite 2006 as the year former Mexican Felipe Calderón kicked off his war on drug cartels, its effects were not felt at the South Texas border until late 2009 and early 2010 since the focus of that war fell largely on the bloody streets of Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana. By early 2010, though, the tide of violence reached the Tamaulipas-Texas border as the Gulf Cartel severed ties with its muscle, the Zetas, setting off a ruthless feud that drew the attention of the Mexican military.  
Since the split with the Zetas, the Gulf Cartel has undergone another significant split as the factions loyal to legendary leader Osiel Cárdenas Guillén and his brothers have squared off against the operational leader of the Gulf Cartel, Jorge Eduardo “Coss” Costilla. During that struggle four cartel lieutenants were detained on the U.S. side of the border as they sought to avoid the lawlessness of Mexico in favor of relative safety in Texas. In this time period, the U.S. saw a few cross-border incidents, such as a double execution in 2010 in Brownsville, a September 2011 execution along the expressway in McAllen, and in October 2011, a failed kidnapping in the City of Hidalgo and a botched kidnapping in rural Hidalgo County in which a sheriff’s deputy was shot. The internal rivalry continued until early 2013, by which time most of the known bosses of the Gulf Cartel were either dead or captured, but the criminal organization continues to be the leading smuggling organization in the area. Although Mexican authorities assume Homero “El Orejon” Cárdenas — the leader for the Matamoros region — is the de-facto kingpin, it remains unclear whether he is in fact the boss of the organization.  
According to U.S. Border Patrol statistics, the Rio Grande Valley Sector has consistently rivaled the Tucson Sector in drugs seized. The fiscal year 2013 statistics are not yet available, but during that year, the agency saw an even bigger jump in marijuana and human trafficking, nearly doubling its apprehension rate, which came after drug trafficking organizations shifted their smuggling routes toward the Texas border. The second-most important money maker for the Gulf Cartel appears to be human smuggling, which RGV Sector statistics show yielded a jump from almost 60,000 apprehensions in 2011 to 98,000 in 2012 and to almost 150,000 in 2013. While the arrest of a top boss can spur a temporary decrease in production, criminal organizations quickly return to business to keep up with demand, said Alejandro Hope, a former Mexican intelligence official who is now the director for security at Mexican think thank IMCO. The demand for marijuana in the U.S. has climbed since 2007, when the number of users was at 14.5 million, to almost 19 million in 2012, Hope said. As long as the demand for marijuana and other narcotics remains high, drug traffickers will work to supply it. At the end of the day, the logistical structure needed to smuggle drugs across the border is not that complicated, but the volumes of drugs that are actually crossed are staggering and very difficult to quantify, Hope said.  
The Gulf Cartel’s continued strength is due in part to its alliance with drug traffickers from the Sinaloa Cartel and the Knights Templar, formerly known as the Familia Michoacana. “Over time, there’s been a historical relationship between the Gulf Cartel, Sinaloa and the Knights Templar,” Glaspy said. “There’s always drugs that travel through the RGV that belong to other cartels. It’s all part of a business relationship.” Federal court records show an increase in prosecutions of methamphetamine smugglers, who are tied to the Gulf Cartel’s allies. The heavier presence of Sinaloan forces and their support to the Gulf Cartel in Tamaulipas is because of its leader, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzman, who has a big interest in controlling the entire Mexican border, said George Grayson, a university professor at the College of William and Mary who has researched drug trafficking in Mexico and has written several books on the topic.

“El Chapo is playing nice,” Grayson said. “It’s out of convenience. Ultimately he is looking to control the entire border.”


Friday, October 11, 2013

El Salvador 219 M90 Anti-Tank Grenades Maybe Slated for Los Zetas in Coahuila

MEXICO CITY - The President of El Salvador, Mauricio Funes, announced the discovery of 213 M90 antitank grenades, he said, were stolen from the Army and apparently were intended to Mexican cartel Los Zetas.

"All we know is that these weapons, as weapons of war, were destined for the  Los Zetas" through a Salvadoran drug gang recently dismantled, Saca said.

According to a news release released by the agency EFE, Funes said that it is likely that military or former military may be involved in the incident, "because somehow these weapons were taken from the Armed Forces."

The Salvadoran gang, Texis cartel he said, operated in the northwest region in Texistepeque, where last Tuesday, October 8, police and prosecutors found an arsenal in an underground storage tank in a house in the area of the Congo, about 50 miles northwest of San Salvador.

Last September the Salvadoran authorities captured somewhere between 12 to twenty Texis cartel members, including its top leaders, "that group is virtually removed, dismantled," said the president.

He added that the weapons were to be sent to Mexico via another network with "some connection with Salvadoran cartels, particularly Texis cartel"

This investigation will clarify how these weapons were going  to get there (to Mexico) through which network "with" some connection with Salvadoran cartels, particularly the Texis "he added.

However, he noted that the confiscation in their Central American country is still no guarantee that the Mexican cartels, particularly the Zetas cartel are operating and in El Salvador.

He warned: "All those involved in the operation of theft of these weapons of war from the armed forces in order to take them to a Mexican drug cartel (...) will be caught, will be prosecuted according to law."

The Los Zetas cartel is identified as one of the most bloodthirsty criminal groups in Mexico, also operates in some Central American countries. Consulted by El Universal, Lieutenant Colonel Luis Viera Santamaria, spokesman for the El Salvadorean Armed Forces said, "...that information from the investigation might point to Los Zetas as an organization that can use this material or might have an interest in it by the very nature of their structure allows them to make use of these grenades."

"not just any group can use them,"he said, alluding to the military origin of los Zetas as structure created by former members of the Mexican Army.  "It is a war material for the exclusive use of the Armed Forces

Viera continued, "The Attorney General of El Salvador requested assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tabaco and Firearms (ATF), a Federal institution in the United States to determine the source of the weapons. The prosecution has asked the ATF to collaborate to determine both source and to help investigate in determining who would be the target." 

ElUniversal,  Lavoz

Four Mexican Drug Cartels Operate in Panama

Panama • Local media reported about four Mexican drug trafficking groups are operating in Panama, using the country as a base for trafficking cocaine from Colombia to Mexico and the United States.

The presence drug trafficking sicarios from Mexican drug cartels are not only detected on the streets of Panama but many have been left behind in Panamanian prisons for the crimes they've committed.

According to intelligence reports cited by the newspaper La Prensa, the Gulf cartel, Beltran Leyva, Los Zetas and Juarez Cartel are the drug trafficking organizations identified as present in Panama. The information indicated that there are 2,500 foreign prisoners incarcerated in Panamanian jails, between 90 and 100 are Mexican nationals, all charged with drug offenses, confirmed by Angel Calderon, Panama's Director of Prisons to La Prensa.

Edgar Valdez Villarreal, aka La Barbie,  when captured in September 2010 in an operation in Mexico's capital said: "all the drugs we transported into Mexico came from Colombia through Panama." In 2007, Valdez Villarreal was mentioned in Panama for the first time when an intelligence report associated the operation with the Beltran Leyva cartel. At that time La Barbie was listed as "Boss and security coordinator" of drug deliveries from Colombia that were transported through Panama.

Public Ministry sources consulted for this report indicated that, at the request of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Interpol, they had investigated in Panama between 2007 and 2008, to determine whether the Beltran Leyva had accounts or assets in the country, but the inquiries were fruitless.

The paper outlined several episodes in the last seven years in which there were crimes directly linked to cartel members. In one of these incidents,in 2007, a Sinaloa Cartel cell was dismantled. 16 Mexicans and 3 Panamanians were arrested with the interception and ultimate seizure of their boat loaded with 19.4 tons of cocaine in the Pacific Ocean.

A week after that large vessel seizure, authorities captured two other members of the cartel with 200 kilos of cocaine and 2.5 million in cash they were intending to bury in the residence in the capital.

While from Los Zetas, in 2009, they seized three cars with drug compartments loaded with cocaine crossing at the Paso Canoas border with Costa Rica. in 2010 four suspected Juárez cartel members were captured at the Tocumen international airport with drugs in their suitcases with false bottoms. 

Besides the activities of drug trafficking, Mexican cartels have also left the country samples of their brand of cruelty by eliminating those who betray or act contrary to their interests.

A local intelligence report  in late 2012, seen by La Prensa, said: "A group of Mexican hitmen were in Panama, and Mexican agents lost track them in Paso Canoas".
According to this information, suspected Sinaloa cartel sicarios " were looking for several members of the opposing Los Zetas cartel operating in Panama and Central America,"
According to the report, this group of gunmen also had several "jobs" in Guatemala, Costa Rica, Colombia and Honduras.

The agents believe that the Sinaloa cartel and Los Zetas have been taking their war to Central America and to meet this objective, each side tries to "disappear" people who washed their drug money.

Another report from the Homicide Division of the Directorate of Judicial Investigation (DIJ) of the National Police indicates, that between 2009 and 2012, 20 Mexicans were killed in Panama linked to drug trafficking cases.

Furthermore, an analysis of the Integrated Criminal Statistics broken down between 2007 and 2012, 4,099 homicides occurred in the country of Panama.

Of this total, 45 murders were credited to cases that involved drug trafficking, 127 mafia style executions, 135 were settling scores and 309 were attributed to gangs. Also according to this report, the homicide rate in Panama rose from 13.0 to 18.0 per 100,000 inhabitants during the same period of time.

A recent report from the Attorney General of Mexico states that in the country eight drug cartels currently operating, who have partnerships in 16 countries in the Americas, from Canada to Argentina.

According to the Mexican intelligence document, there is evidence that at least four of these drug cartels have operations in Panama.

Research maps of Mexico's drug trafficking identifies the cartels as the Pacific, Gulf, Los Zetas, Los Arellano Felix, La Familia Michoacana, the Knights Templar, Beltran Leyva and Juarez.

The report notes that the Pacific cartel expanded its presence to 13 countries of the continent: Canada, United States, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Belize, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Venezuela.

The Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas, are two of the most vicious and territorial organized crime groups who operate in nine countries: United States, Guatemala, El Salvador, Panama, Colombia and Bolivia.

Also documented was the presence of Los Zetas in Honduras, Argentina, Brazil, while there are traces of Gulf cartel in Belize, Costa Rica and Peru.

The rest of these groups also  contribute to criminal activities in some of these countries, but not the same level as the others. For example, the once-powerful members of the Arellano Felix cartel, are present only in the United States and Peru, while Juarez Cartel is in U.S. territory and keeps its alliances in Colombia, as well as Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama and reaches to Argentina.

The Knights Templar, who emerged from La Familia Michoacan in 2011,does operates on U.S. soil, but they are also involved in Colombia, Costa Rica and Guatemala.
The tentacles of the Beltran Leyva stretch to their own network in the United States, and also Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia.

La Prensa reported assassinations or executions in Panama in recent years are related to these criminal groups transferring some of their operations to Central America.  Panama is considered a transit country for drugs to move from Colombia through several routes to the United States.

Cartels and Gangs Involved with Drug Transit Through Panama!/K_Mennem 

Valle de Colombia Cartel
-Colombian cocaine trafficking group
-One of the most active Cartels in Colombia
-Is responsible for bringing much of the cocaine from South America to Mexico

-Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
-Ties to communist Cuba, Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, the ETA of Spain, and other Marxist movements
-Aligned with the remnants of the Tijuana Cartel and the Juarez Cartel for cocaine shipments
-Claims to only supply drugs to support their political movement
-Known for high profile kidnappings

-Colombian cocaine trafficking group
-Partners with the Sinaloa Cartel and the Juarez Cartel for cocaine supplies
-Ariel routes from Eastern Colombia and Southwestern Venezuela for shipments
-Sea routes from the Pacific Coast of Colombia
-Former members of Norte de Valle who are partnered with Ejercito Revolucionario Popular Antiterrorista Colombiano. (Led by Pedro Oliveiro "Cuchillo" Guerrero and Daniel "El Loco" Barrera

-Colombian cocaine trafficking group
-Remaining members of army members of the AUC
-Positioned along the Panama border
-Aligned with the Gulf Cartel for cocaine trafficking

Los Paisas
-Colombian cocaine trafficking group
-3rd generation Medellin based group
-Beltran-Leyva organization in Mexico is a major cocaine buyer from the group

Cartel de Sinaloa
-Major Mexican drug trafficking organization
- Also known as the Sinaloa Cartel, Pacific Cartel, Guzman-Loera Organization, the Federation, and the Golden Triangle.
-This cartel was formed in 1989.
-El Chapo Guzman is the leader of the Sinaloa cartel.
-El Chapo has been featured in Forbes and other lists as one of the richest and most powerful figures in the world.
-The cartel now controls the complete border from Tijuana to western Juarez
-Feuds include fighting with the Tijuana Cartel, the Los Zetas, the Juarez Cartel, and the Beltra-Leyva Cartel.
-Claims are often made that the Mexican government favors the Sinaloa cartel over others. Recent claims have been made that the US Federal Agents have favored Sinaloa as well.

Los Zetas
-Created in 1999 by former special forces deserters who used their skills to work for cartels.
-A major Mexican and Guatemalan drug trafficking organization
-Split from their main employer the Gulf Cartel in early 2010
-They turned from an armed wing into a full fledged drug trafficking organization
-The currently control the Nuevo Laredo corridor into Southwest Texas.
-They have spread their territory stretching from the Texas border to Guatemala.
-They have seized control of much of the human smuggling industry into the US, from Central America all the way into Texas. They are believed to be responsible for the massacre of 72 Central and South Americans in northern Mexico.
-They are currently fighting with the Gulf Cartel mainly, as well as the Sinaloa and La Familia cartels.
-The group is a favorite target by the Mexican and US Government because of their ruthless behavior

Mara Salvatrucha - MS -13
-Central American/ Los Angeles street gang
-They have been known to be employed in Southern Mexico, and in the United States to carry out hits, as well as move large amounts of drugs onto the streets by cartels
-They are involved in human smuggling into Mexico from Central America.
-They also share drug distribution and smuggling into Mexico and Central America

Barrio 18 ( M-18)
-Central American / Los Angeles street gang
-Began as a Mexican and Mexican American street gang in LA
-Now more prominent in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala
-Bitter rivals of MS-13
-Ties with the Los Zetas and Sinaloa Cartel are suspected

El Perrones
-El Salvador drug trafficking organization
-Transit drugs from Panama to Guatemala
-Most prominent Salvadorian trafficking group

Texis Cartel
-El Salvador based drug trafficking organization
-Leaders are prominent and respected businessmen
-Profit off of controlling drug transit routes

El Mendozas
-Guatemalan drug and contraband trafficking organization
-Believed to have brought the Los Zetas into Guatemala as hired guns
-Highly connected to Guatemalan government
-Many members are believed to have fled to Belize

El Lorenzanas
-Guatemalan drug and contraband trafficking organization
-Ties to the Sinaloa Cartel
-Many members believed to be in Belize

El Leones
-Guatemalan drug trafficking organization
-Former cattle rustlers and car thieves
-The group was attacked by the Los Zetas in 2008
-Their territory is now believed to be run by the Zetas

hell on earth blog panama, For more on Central American countries and the drug war read