Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Strange Death of Tom Gisby

By aci for Borderland Beat

The mall was busy and crowded. A man walked up to a counter and ordered a coffee, moments later he would be dead, the victim of a Mexican assassination.  The victim was a prominent Canadian gangster by the name of Tom Gisby.  The gunmen shot Tom twice at point blank range with a 44 magnum, he was dead before he hit the ground.  There were two assassins, one managed to escaped into the crowds the other, captured.  Tom, whose nickname was the Tank had come down to Mexico to lay low after a rival  firebombed his motor home, Tom suffered minor burns from this attack.

Canada at that time was in the midst of a violent year as biker gangs killed one another over territory and revenge.  The violence continued to escalate after the death of Jonathan Bacon, a man who was not so friendly with Tom. Tom was known to associate of several biker gangs and heavily involved in the trafficking of high grade marijuana known as Bubblegum.  Tom had been in the business for over twenty years, certainly long enough to make a mistake. At the time of Tom's death he was said to be worth millions but the truth was Tom was low on funds.  While Tom’s connections to the bikers were well known and documented, little was known about his connections to the Mexican Cartels, until now.

At the time of his death Tom was spending most of his days in Mexico to avoid the carnage being unleashed in Canada. He thought he was safe, too far to be touched. Vancouver was where Tom was based, he owned a garage which customized cars and trucks.  This business was used to launder drug proceeds and construct hidden compartments in vehicles.  These vehicles would later be used to hide drugs and money.  Tom was liked by the the Mexicans, they respected him and considered him a professional and he was compared to the violent and unpredictable nature of the biker gangs.  He once joked that Customs Agents at the airport knew him by name.  They would smile and tell him, “Come here Tom, you know we have to look in your luggage.”  Even though he was known to the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, they were unable to effectively put together a case against him.  

Tom was responsible for the introduction of hundreds of kilos of cocaine to Canada.   The drugs would come to Vancouver by airplane arriving at the Vancouver International Airport.  This was accomplished by corrupting airport employees.  The network was still intact and functioning at the time of Tom’s death.  It was widely believed Tom was killed because he became indebted to the Fernandez Clan a powerful narco family almost invisible to law enforcement.  Others have suggested Tom was assassinated by his rivals known as Dhak-Duhre.   Tom was one of six prominent Canadian gangster to die within the span of a few months but that is a very long reach for a localized organization.      

Tom’s connection to the Mexican Drug Cartels began with a man named Albert Fernandez Mario Ojeda, who also goes by the alias ‘El Gringo’.  He was the son of Mario Fernandez Sr who goes by the name of ‘La Guajolota’.  For those who do not know, the term guajolota refers to a tamale put in a bun, it's quite delicious. 

Mario Fernandez Jr held two passports; one issued by the US and the other issued by Mexico.  These allow Mario to easily travel between the US and Mexico. This is of logistical importance because the family is headquartered in San Diego.  In San Diego the family owns a luxurious mansion where Maria Ojeda Felix lives.  This mansion is said to have been bought with proceeds from drug money. 
El Gringo

Maria Ojeda Felix plays an important role for the organization.  Maria is the wife of Mario Fernandez Sr, she is also the mother of Mario Jr and Hans Christian.   She handles all the proceeds from drug transactions and is responsible for sending cash back to Mexico.  It is said she is both beautiful and elegant and very unassuming.  Her husband resides in Guadalajara with Mario Fernandez and Hans Fernandez, though Mario also sometimes resides in San Diego.

Hans Christian Fernandez Ojeda is the brother of Mario.  He is in charge transporting the cocaine from Guadalajara to San Diego and Vancouver.  The family is known to own several mansions and several small businesses in and around Guadalajara.

Mario Fernandez Sr is in charge of the transporting the cocaine from Panama to Mexico.  He owns two cargo ships which he uses to smuggle the cocaine.  In Panama, Mario has  fostered a long standing relationship with several major traffickers who also help him launder some of his profits. 

He is known to have been affiliated with Ignacio Coronel Villareal or "Nacho"  and elements of the Beltran Leyva Organization. It remains rather unclear as to whether he operated independently or for these organizations.  There is also speculation that Mario Fernandez Sr was connected to the Guadalajara Cartel which saw the height of it's power in the 1980's.  It is interesting to note La Politica has made several references about the connection between Guadalajara and Canadian drug traffickers.

The cocaine arrives on the cargo ships at Nuevo Vallarta.  The city that borders the famous vacation destination Puerto Vallarta. The cocaine is then transported by truck to Benito Juárez International Airport.  This is the main hub for Mexico City and is infamous for its corruption.  It is said the Mexican Federal Police charge around 1,800 dollars US per kilo but it varies depending on how many kilos are sent or received, sometimes the price was higher.  The kilos were then flown to Vancouver and unloaded by Tom’s boys. 

Once the cocaine was sold and all the money was collected, Tom would then transport the cash either in cars of trucks.  The money was hidden in special compartments and sent back to San Diego where Maria would make sure everything was correct.  The money was then smuggled across the US border and then down the Pacific Coast to Guadalajara where Mario Sr would launder it. To date there have been no reports that the Fernandez Clan has been dismantled and no reason to believe they stopped trafficking narcotics.  It is highly likely they are still in operation at this time.

And that is the story of Tom Gisby and his Mexican connections.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Man Who Turned on Lazca

By ACI - Borderland Beat
In 2010 Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano was in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.  His movements were being traced through a currupted Nextel number.  The only reason this is known is because of a man named Pedro Vazquez Torres ' el perro' or the dog.  El Perro was part of Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano inner ring of security.  It was said he rarely ever left Lazcano’s side but on the day of his death El Perro was absent.  While the accounts of what occurred that day differ widely, the following is what is believed to be true. 

On October 7, 2012, Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano was attending a soccer game in the town of Progreso, Coahuila.  As Lazca was watching the game he had little clue as to what was taking place around him.  A contingent of Mexican Marines was moving in on Lazca’s location, surrounding the entire area. 

The Mexican Government claimed someone had called in a tip about gunmen at a soccer game.  This has been hard for many to believe.  Some have speculated that perhaps he was set up by Z-40, another powerful leader of the group.  While I cannot say for certain, I have confirmed what I believe is closest representation of the truth.  Lazca was turned in by his inner ring of security, possibly with the green light from Los Zetas.

Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano was known to use several layers of security at any given moment.  He was supposed to be alerted anytime anyone hostel was in the area.  If the Military was moving anywhere in the state Lazcano should have gotten a phone call.  The fact that Lazca was unaware of the military presence in the area suggests every layer of his security failed.   He fell in a hail of bullets not far from the soccer field, shot by elements of the Mexican Miltary.  He was killed with his lone body guard Mario Alberto Rodriguez Rodriguez.   

There is very little information regarding Pedro Torres Vazquez.  Most of the information presented in this story comes from a confidential file created by Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional or SEDENA.  He became part of Mexico’s notorious Grupo Aeromóvil de Fuerzas Especiales (GAFE) in 1999.  The GAFE is a branch of Mexico’s Special Armed Forces.  Los Zetas were originally founded by a group of deserters who originated from GAFE.  A Proceso article mentioned his name incorrectly but did state he also worked on communications for the group.

Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano continued to favor those who had been part of GAFE.  Many druglords turn to highly experienced security professionals for protection.  It is also not surprising that many of these professionals are ex-military.  These security professionals generally serve as the inner ring of security, however have also tended to rise quickly within the criminal organizations.  

Employing ex-GAFE member has been a long standing tradition within Los Zetas.  It was Lazcano’s boss Osiel Cardenas of the Gulf Cartel who originally began the militarization of the Mexican Cartels.  A move he made out of paranoia and fear for his own life.  Within Los Zetas the practice of recruitment continues to this day, though not a prevalent as it has in the past.  One particularly bold example of this was when Los Zetas hung banners recruiting anyone with military experience. 

What is known:

             SEDENA had a file on el Perro since at least 2010

             In June of 2010 DEA had a working Nextel number for Lazca

             In June 2010 Lazca was in San Louis Potosi, the DEA was aware of this

             Lazca was killed in October 7, 2012 under suspicious circumstances

             El Perro was not with Lazca when he died


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

An Asian Connection

ACI - Borderland Beat

Ye Gon

Most who follow the drug war are familiar with the story of Zhenli Ye Gon, the china man whose house was filled with upwards of 300 million dollars.  Some of the money was hidden throughout the walls, in file cabinets but most remember the now iconic image of a gigantic pile of cash in a corner room in his residence in Lomas de Chapultepec in Mexico City.   He was the legal represented of Pharm Chem México, a position he used to traffic pseudoephedrine and ephedrine precursor chemicals for large scale production of methamphetamines.  He was arrested in 2007 and even though his case was dismissed in the US in 2009, he is still pending charges in Mexico.  As of this writing Zhenli Ye Gon continues to be held in US custody.   Zhenli Ye Gon is fighting extradition to Mexico.

What ever happened to the rest of his network?  According to court documents  we are led to believe that the man behind one of the largest  pseudoephedrine networks in the world  was only working with a handful people?  More troubling still is that out of those found to be involved in Ye Gon's network many were found innocent after the prosecution failed to prove several "aspects" of the case. My favorite included the following: The prosecution did not identify weather the substance (methamphetamine) was a narcotic or psychotropic drug.


There is no doubt that elements of this network continue trafficking pseudoephedrine and ephedrine precursor chemicals for a number of reasons.  There have been numerous seizures since 2007; including a 15 ton seizure in 2012 which was the largest seizure in history.  There has been an increase in the size and scope of these operations since Zhenli Ye Gon's downfall.  With several cartels in Mexico heavily reliant on the proceeds from methamphetamine it is likely that Ye Gon's network of connections back in China would prove too valuable to merely let vanish.   
Wong Ryu Hyo is a man few have heard of; he is thought to head what is left of Zhenli Ye Gon network in Mexico.  His main base of operations is in Tepito; a rather famous slum in Mexico City.  It is renowned for its open markets and fiercely proud people.  The type of markets rife with pirated copies of Taylor Swift and 2Pac, knock off booze, stolen car engines and any other item which could be resold at bargain rates.  It is said, "En Tepito todo se vende menos la dignidad" or the only thing not for sale is our dignity.

The streets are jammed with merchandise, leaving not an inch to spare.  A constant chatter fills the market, the hum of people wheeling and dealing never stops.  Stalls dart out in every direction and the people are everywhere. If you need something cheap and fast Tepito is the place to go and if you can't find it here then there is a good chance you will never find it.  Most of the stalls are off the grid, part of Mexico's informal economy which accounts for  1/3 of Mexico’s GDP by some estimates.  It was back in the 1970’s that pirating knock offs took off in the area, now it sells more than simply pirated goods, it has become a place to find find anything.  Literally anything.

Santa Muerte statues adorn many locations.  There are many alters for her here.  The market itself it said to be one of the oldest in Mexico and the resident here will let you know that.  A place of pride, poverty, innovation and a bit of thievery all mixing together like pozolé.  Along the narrow passage ways one may find  an array of cooking dishes next to DVDs, right next to that an assortment of watches and childrens toys.   A journalist reported that while he was there he was able to view a wide assortment weapons including hand grenades and in an odd but chilling display of exactly what’s for sale in Tepito; the reporter was offered a motorcycle and a handgun as a package deal.  The more you buy, the greater the discount apparently.  Strangely the reporter also said he was offered to rent the package, the seller told him that's what most do.  In Central and South America motorcycle killings are common place.  In addition the vendors bragged about some arms that were procured from corrupt officials within the military.
Tepito is also home to large Korean population who have  invested heavily in shops around the area.  It is thought that as many as 2500 Korean businesses operate here.  It was this  characteristic that helped Tepito go from locally manufacturing pirated merchandise to becoming one of the largest importers of pirated merchandise in Mexico, therefore the world.  It was through these relationships an even more lucrative market presented itself.  The market for methamphetamine or to be more precise, the illegal importation of precursor chemicals used to make the drug.   

Wong Ryu Hyo is of both Korean and Chinese blood.   An educated man, Ryu Hyo is fluent in several languages.   He is not in the country legally even though he is well known in his barrio.  He found a home within the Korean population of Tepito.  He is one of the Triads main contacts in Mexico, thought to still be in charge of many shipments coming in from China.  Some say he was actually the real power behind Zhenli Ye Gon.

He imports his chemicals from Yiwu, Zhejiang, China.   Its a city of 1.2 million people known throughout the world for its own proclivity to manufacture counterfeit goods.   It has recently become a major exporter precursor chemicals used in the manufacture of methamphetamine.   Eamonn Fingleton once said “The city of Yiwu functions as a sort of 'Wall Street' for the counterfeiting industry, providing a vast marketplace where 100,000 counterfeit products are openly traded and 2,000 metric tons of fake products change hands daily.” 

The chemicals arrive through a front company operated by a women referred to as Ms. Am Lam.  The Chemicals at the Mexico City Airport and are unloaded under the watch of Lara Hermenegildo Lugo's people, then transferred to whomever ordered the shipment.  The Asian TCO’s have little to nothing to do with the actual manufacture of methamphetamine; they simply provide Mexican TCO's with precursor chemicals and pirated goods.  Many siezures have taken place in cities such as Mazalan and Boca Del Rio as oppsed to Mexico City which has seen relativley few. Cargo shipments are more widley used than aircraft due to there being less restrictions.  It should also be noted that human trafficking also another major source of income for Asian TCO's operating within Mexico.

Lara Hermenegildo Lugo worked his way up through the system, holding many positions and posts.  He became quite renown after successfully dismantling a kidnapping ring run by corrupt government officials.   He was in charge of high priority cases involving drug dealing, car theft and kidnapping.   He was promoted to a high position within the SSP after the successful dismantling of an infamous band of kidnappers.   Lara Hermenegildo Lugo's father was the contact at the airport.   It is often officials tasked with such responsibilities which Cartels treasure the most. 

By most accounts this ring has operated without facing any real sustained pressure from the authorities, according to the information out there, they are ghosts.   Zhenli Ye Gon may have been arrested but the network is by all accounts very much in tact, still being able to bring large consignments of precursor chemicals into Mexico.  Huang Wei Chen Jie was a money man for Wong Ryu Hyo.  Some of his enforcers are Lee Young Gwang Suck, Han Heung Suck Shoi, Park Kang Hyo Sun.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The 150 Million Dollar Seizure

Casa de Bermudez

By ACI - Borderland Beat

The year was 2007 and Mexico was in the process of ramping up its war against the cartels.  A strange feeling overtook the nation as the drug war escalated further than anyone could have predicted.    Most Americans never noticed the blood being spilled next door and few outside of the law enforcement remember the name Pedro Antonio Bermudez Suaza.  There was event which did catch the media’s attention for a brief moment.  Perhaps you can recall a plane which crashed into the Yucatan in Mexico.   Authorities discovered inside the wreckage 3.7 tons of pure cocaine.  This discovery,would turn into one of the largest cash seizures in history one hundred and fifty million dollars in all.  

Simple Living 
Pedro Antonio Bermudez Suaza had been in the game a long time; he entered into the world of drug trafficking back in the early eighties.  He got his start working for Pablo Escobar and the Ochoa clan in Medellin, Colombia.  He would regularly fly consignments out of the country to partners further north.  He was quite successful at this venture and decided expanding was a good option, so slowly he began to build on his empire. 

In the late eighties and early nineties Pedro Antonio Bermudez Suaza had successfully relocated his operation to Mexico City.  As the Medellin Cartel lost power and the Cali Cartel took over as the predominate traffickers in the region, Bermudez Suaza saw the shift in power and began working with the Cali Cartel.  In Mexico he found that he was welcomed, his connections back home served him well.  He was in a perfect position to play a pivotal role within the international drug trade.  He was to become a facilitator  between one world and another.  He for a time worked with the lord of the skies, Amado Carrillo Fuentes.  Following the death of the lord of the skies, Bermudez Suaza began working with the federations as it was known then.   
Another of his Properties 

At the turn of the century Bermudez Suaza had become a key importer for the Sinaloa cartel.  He was very useful to the organization.  He wasn't just a facilitator between the Mexicans and Colombians but also an innovative smuggler.  He is said to have received his nick name, the architect, because he pioneered the use of drug tunnels.  Drug tunnels have become a highly effective way to crossing drugs over the border.  Some say tunnels are responsible for the majority of the drugs making it through the border.  It was this ingenuity and his ability to stay useful that Bermudez Suaza managed to survive in a game which allows for few mistakes.

Pedro Antonio Bermudez Suaza's mistake came when Mexican authorities found his plane which had crashed into the jungles of the Yucatan.  Authorities discovered along with the cocaine, recordings implicating Felipe Bermudez Duran, Bermudez Suaza’s son.  At least this is what is believed.   What really happened is up for debate.  Some claim the tape was fabricated and that until this point in time Pedro Antonio Bermudez Suaza was able to remain off the radar for the most part.  The tape according to this alternative version of events were actually a cover for the informant working with authorities.  It was actually through the work of a confidential informant that he was apprehended and his properties seized.   As with all things Mexico the truth is buried in there somewhere.

His main contact for cocaine in Colombia was a man by the name of Olmedo Gomez Cruz, though he had many others.  He was thought to have died in Colombia under unclear circumstances.   Castro Jaramillo, Mejia Molina and Tobon Calle managed the trafficking side of the business.   Aristizabal Mejia, Ramirez Duque and Pelaez Lopez operated front companies for Bermudez Suaza in Colombia.   Luque Aguilera operated front companies based in Spain and Pablo Agustin Meouchi Saade managed front companies for Bermudez Suaza in Mexico. Andre Rodriguez Fernandez helped with logistics inside Mexico.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Smoke Filled Rooms (part 2)

By ACI for Borderland Beat

For Part 1 click here
For Ibarra story click here

Jack stared at the screen, some joke he thought. Jack had been living a good life after receiving his reward. He dismissed the email and went about his day. Jack was what some might call a con. He had an affectionate relationship with gambling. When he lived in New York he would often gamble at Israeli run parking lots, stacking cards, dealing from the bottom, fleecing the naive and proud. He knew people, he could read them, but that was of little help when reading email. Jack was also adapt at the slow con, which given his terrible anxiety, seems out of place. He never left a room with out some sorted collection of benzos to battle it. But that is a story for another time.

Ivan couldn't believe his predicament. The DEA fucked him. He wished he could kill every single one of them. Why did they do this to him? He did his fucking job, he raged, how dare they? He led them right to the bastard and they leave him with nothing. Fuck them he thought. He was counting on that money. They seized millions in assests and he’d planned on getting a piece, what the fuck happened? Those filthy, lying thieves took it all for themselves. Now he was fucked, leveraged to the hilt, it felt like the whole world was falling down around him. If he didn't get cash soon he would be in too deep to get out and he knew it.

One night while drinking beers and surfing the web he came across a website. It talked about a man who fought the Canadian reward system and won. As the buzz from the Modelo settled in, his anger stewed. Fuck the DEA, all they did was lie, cheat and steal from me, maybe Canada would be different? He didn't know this guy but he was desperate and a little drunk. This was one hell of a risk, he had no idea what would happen. As the beer bottles began to pile up, he sent an email. It was then he began talking to a man named Jack.

Ivan originally thought Jack was Canadian and that he could somehow help get Ivan a reward. He began by sending information on a man Ivan claimed was major player in Canada. Jack still thought he was dealing with some nutcase, he had no idea this man Ivan was in fact the man he claimed to be. But the emails persisted, after a while Jack began listening to Ivan with less skepticism.

Jack would learn that Ivan was part of a tangled web of connections, wealth, narcos and of course greed and betrayal. Ivan came from a well known and famously connected family. His grandfather was a high ranking associate of a previous President. A symbol of what is wrong in Mexico. He was what some “analysts” might call a kingmaker of druglords. But to say that isn't correct. He wielded less power than one would think. He simply met with people and talked to his friends, making deals over champagne and caviar. He would listen to any offer, and offers were rarely denied, the unlucky simply got screwed over. This is the game which is played. He was still a puppet to those beyond him but that wasn't the way he saw it. And even if he was he didn't care, ego blinds many men.

This story is more about a man who tired to play all sides, using his connections to broker deals. He claimed he was independent, working alone and that he would work for anyone willing to pay. He played for both the Sinaloa Cartel and Los Zetas. This put him in the odd position of having more knowledge than one would think logical. Even more confounding was that he was able to live knowing such things. He was also courting the DEA, which made the game Ivan played appear even more foolish.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Smoke Filled Rooms (part 1)

By ACI for Borderland Beat

It’s no secret that the drug war is a dirty war. A war fought with deception, betrayal and lies. As in any war information is often the single most prized possession. This war is no different. Informants may be the single most important asset the government possesses. These people are not angles; they are often narcos, killers or any range of unsavory and unpleasant characters. They provide information for gain not for justice.
Informants by their very nature are part of the mechanism the government is trying to defeat. This is the beginning of a series that illustrates the role one informant played in this ever evolving and ever changing war. The following story is based on truth and it all started with an email.
Somewhere in Mexico
He stared at his computer screen; watching the curser blink. In all of his years doing this kind of work he never thought he would do this. An unsettling feeling set in; a combination of fear, excitement and betrayal. The room was dark, the only light coming from the screen on the computer. It was set up in a corner of the room and it was ancient. The fan inside made an awful humming sound, a small radio played music in the background.
The room itself wasn’t big; maybe 10 by 12 feet, the walls were bare except for a picture of the Virgin Mary in the center of a wall. The room had tiles floors, not much in the way of furniture. A mattress on the floor was covered by mound of sheets and cloths. A few religious candles lay on the floor. In the corner of the room was a small alter. A statue of Santa Muerte was at the center. It was surrounded with little offerings, several candles, some pesos, and a few pictures of Jesus Malverde. There was no need to guess his occupation.
Papers littered the floors; boxes filled with files were everywhere. Many would kill for these files. Old beer cans overflowing with cigarettes butts covered the desk. There he sat, staring through the smoke at the screen. The cursor continued to blink off and on the send button. He knew once he sent this it would be final, it could not be undone. But this information was worth money; a lot of money. He sat in his chair; smoke rose in front of his face, his wire rimmed glasses reflected what was on the screen. The ash on the end of his cigarette fell on to his lap, he wiped it away, and pondered what his next move was.
There was someone who could help, someone who knew what to do with information. It was through his sister that he learned of a man, someone with the knowhow to take his information and convert it into money. He was hesitant and scared. This wasn’t about doing the right thing; this was about money, pure and simple. He would try to tell himself he was righting his wrongs but he knew that was a lie. He knew the risk he was about to take, he knew that he was putting those around him in danger. After that thought the pit in his stomach grew and a bead of sweet ran down his brow, he wiped it away with his arm. Was this worth it? Could this man be trusted?
Trust means something else when your life is on the line. He thought how most people take this granted. He sure did, he thought of the time when his girlfriend cheated on him. A smirk came across his face. Those were the simpler times when misplaced trust ended in a broken heart not a death sentence. But this was an entirely different game, one which his life hung in the balance. If this man wasn’t who he said he was he knew he was a dead man.
He pressed the send button; there was no turning back now.

Somewhere in the US

Jackk had lived quite the life. If he told his life story no one would believe him, I didn’t at first. Most would assume that he is some made up character in some crime novel. It was the stuff movies are made of. His life has been a tangled web of coincidence and luck. Through a series of events he ended up being a CI or confidential informant for the FBI. The case would end up shaping Jack’s life and world.

Jack was picked purely because he knew the people that surrounding the government’s target. The government thought Jack could get them access to a dangerous man on the run. And they were right; with Jacks assistance the government finally arrested a man they have been hunting for years. There was a substantial reward being offered and Jack wanted his piece. Jack assumed as most would that upon the capture he would receive his reward. One might assume that a check would be sent out upon request, this however did not happen. It took years for the reward to pay out and it was though this experience that Jack learned how the system worked.

Jack had several articles written about his struggle to obtain the reward, he exposed a system few talk about. He gained recognition for his struggle. Then one day he received an email. It was from a man in Mexico. The email simply stated; I know a man from Colombia who smuggles fifty tons of coke into the US regularly and I know where he is, regards Ivan.
To be continued....

Monday, August 20, 2012

Ghosts from the Past

By ACI for Borderland Beat
Jorge Miguel Aldana Ibarra, a man who is currently wanted by the DEA for his alleged participation in the torture and murder of Kiki Camarena is a free man in Mexico. Aldana Ibarra was linked to the crime by several witnesses that were also convicted in Kiki's death. But before we reveal what he has been up recently, a little history.

The story of Kiki Camarena has been told many times. It has been regarded as a major escalation in the war on drugs.
This is an excerpt from a piece I wrote some time ago that gives some background on Kiki.
Enrique Camarena, an agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency began working in Guadalajara in 1981. His goal was to find out how powerful the Guadalajara Cartel had become. At the time he was only one of a handful of agents working within Mexico. He spent years infiltrating the Guadalajara Cartel for the DEA and had built close ties to El Padrino. Everything was going according to plan until the betrayal.
Miguel reacted and had Enrique kidnapped, tortured then killed, to serve as a warning to any who might want to disrupt cartel business. The blow back was historic; the United States began the largest murder investigation in its history. It did not take long before Miguel was identified as a target of interest. The United States put an enormous amount of pressure on the Mexican Government to apprehend Miguel. It would take the authorities 5 more years before they would be able to secure his arrest in 1989.
While this tells of how Kiki betrayed the powers that be, there is much more to this story. BB has received numerous documents detailing the kidnapping and torture of Kiki. The people who were present might surprise most who are not familiar with the story. One of those involved was Jorge Miguel Aldana Ibarra.

Jorge Miguel Aldana Ibarra has a long history with drug traffickers, dating all the way back to the Guadalajara Cartel. He once held the coveted position as the head of INTERPOL in Mexico. He led the greatly promoted “Operation Pacific,” which targeted 114 gangs and six thousand suspects. Authorities seized over 11 tons of narcotics and an arsenal of thousands of high-powered weapons. It was promoted as one of the greatest blows against organized crime at the time. He was thought to be incorruptible; it’s amazing how wrong this assumption was.

This is an actual memo by Special Agent Arthur Werge detailing the kidnapping, torture and murder of Kiki:
On September 9, 1992, (XXXXXXX) provided the following information:
The DEA agent Camarena, was kidnapped for his relationship with Sarah Cossio, a mistress of Rafael Caro Quintero, with the initial intention simply to "heat him up" and teach him a lesson. Camarena was, indeed, severely beaten and tortured. As a result, Javier Garcia, also known as the little chief, gave the order to kill him. Camarena was taken in a gray van to the ranch of Emilio Caro Quintero, current located on the grounds of La Primavera, where he was buried in one of the animal pens on the ranch. The special pen was on the left side of the entrance to the ranch. He was buried there by RAMON COSSIO OF MORA, "El Guero" Velasco, and (first name unknown) RIVERA RODRIGUEZ. After he was buried alive in Caro Emilio's ranch Quintero, the body was moved to another ranch, El Mareno, a helicopter owned by the Attorney General transported the body. All recordings of the interrogation and torture of Camarena were recorded by MAGDALENA SANTILLAN. Statements were given to Miguel Aldana Ibarra. According to source, NDP Alcaraz, a Mexican man who runs gambling operations in Guadalajara, Mexico has the actual possession of these recordings.(XXXXXXXXXXXXXX) AVW: bbb
In March 1985 Newsweek accused Jorge Miguel Aldana Ibarra, then director of Interpol-Mexico, of protecting a Honduran drug trafficker who was being pursued for Camarena’s death. Aldana Ibarra is said to have delayed his detention while the man stayed in a hotel in Mexico City. The PRG also reported that Aldana Ibarra protected Caro Quintero, Jaime Figueroa Soto and other traffickers. They also reported that Aldana Ibarra was there during a meeting of both government and cartel heavy hitters who were discussing options for dealing with the DEA. It was at this meeting which they decided that they had to send the DEA a message.
What make this even worse is that there have been several claims that he was an actual participant in Kiki's death. He has been charged with this offense in the United States. There have been several witness accounts which not only implicate Aldana Ibarra in covering up the torture and killing but also place him at the scene, some going as far as to say he participated in the torture.

He was arrested in Mexico in 1990 at his home in Cuernavaca, 51 miles southeast of Mexico City. Agents confiscated 2.2 pounds of pure cocaine, six automatic rifles and several rounds of ammunition. His extradition to the United States never happened. He was later released and has been walking around Mexico a free man, our source claims he is untouchable.

The indictment of both Aldana Ibarra and his cousin Ibarra Herrera caused quite a strain on US Mexican relations. There was an enormous amount of pressure from the United States to extradite these people. It seems however that wasn’t enough; neither lives in fear of extradition to the United States. Mexican authorities have even released a statement saying that they will not pursue criminal charges against the two.

The crimes he is charged with in the United States are as follows:
· Violent Crimes in Aid of Racketeering
· Conspiracy to Commit Violent Crimes in Aid of Racketeering
· Conspiracy To Kidnap a Federal Agent
· Kidnapping of a Federal Agent
· Felony Murder of a Federal Agent
· Aiding and Abetting
· Accessory After the Fact
Here is a link to his indictment:

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Gang that Took on Chapo: Los Mazatlecos

By ACI for Borderland Beat

There has been a lot of talk of Choix and Northern Sinaloa lately.  Currently the area is at the center of the cartel wars.  With gun battles raging, mass exodus of civilians from their homes, the area harkens back to towns such as Meir or Saric.  Ghost towns, whose residents had to flee for fear of death; those who haven’t left yet stay inside, only venturing out if necessity.  Abandoned homes dot the landscape, homes which had been passed down generation after generation, inhabited now only by ghost of the past.  Gunmen roam the hills, these men bring the devil with them.  Those who have left, leave behind their culture, their history, their lives, everything they knew.  America doesn't like these stories, it shocks most who become aware.  As this nightmare continues the people of the Sierras can only watch as the outlaws battle it out, with federal forces in the middle.          

The man thought to be at the center of it all, is Chapo Isidro, he has been a character of interest for some time now.  Many wish to know how one man has been able to bring so much hell upon the Sinaloan Cartel.  The answer is not as simple as one would think, its a complex tapestry of what remains of the Beltran-Levya Organization.  Many of the leaders of los mazatlecos have been killed or arrested recently.  It is not yet clear how the group may recover from these loses but because they work closely with los zetas, it is difficult to discount this group.  So the question is who are the Mazatlecos?

Los mazatlecos are one of the largest groups working under the Beltran-Levya umbrella.  Los mazatleco’s took their name from their place of origin, Mazatlan, located on the southern coast of Sinaloa.  The city has long been prized by traffickers for its geographic location and its thriving port.  Mazatlan is one of busiest ports in Mexico.  Los Mazatlecos were at the direct service of El Mochomo before his arrest in 2008.  Since his arrest it is believed their loyalties have shifted to that of Hector Beltran-Levya.  The groups influence stretches from Sinaloa to the state of Nayarit and could be considered the largest and strongest cell operating under the Beltran Levyas as well as one of its last.

The mazatlecos leaderships came to light after the arrest of one of its patriarchs Geovany Lizarraga Ontiveros, who was arrested in Los Mochis in May of 2011.  The group attempted a daring rescue but failed and were repelled by elements of the military. 

Marcos Lizarraga Ontiveros the brother of Geovany was also arrested in May.  Geovany Lizarraga Ontiveros was thought to have given him control over distribution for the entire state of Sinaloa for the Beltran-Levya Organization.  He was taken to Mexico City to be tried for connection to organized crime and distribution of drugs.

Since this time much has happened to the group and its ability to operate.  Fighting has been long standing since since 2008 when the federation split. Recently though, violence has become a full fledged battle for control of the lucrative drug producing area known as “The Golden Triangle.”

The following people are part of Chapo Isidro's network.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Narco Convoys: Power in Numbers

By ACI for Borderland Beat
They moved in on the small town of Creel in the early hours of March 15, 2010.  A convoy of three luxury SUV’s pull off one of the main drags.  Through tinted windows gunmen filled the cabs.  They pulled over to a stop.  Many jumped out guns at the ready; they converged around the capo, Enrique Lopez Acosta, alias El Cumbias. 

The men wait, snorting lines of cocaine, more trucks arrive and more gunmen step out.  They converge and several gunmen block off access to the town.  They set up roadblocks, each of the trucks that block the road have lights which mimic police vehicles.  There must be at least forty or fifty gunmen.  A man and his truck approach the check point, he is pulled out and thrown against his vehicle and patted down, the man is later allowed to turn around and leave the way he came.

As the sun rises in the sky a large group of gunmen run towards what appears to be a very large house.  Sources claim this to be the mayor’s house, one of the biggest in town.  It is thought the occupants were involved in La Linea.  The gunmen fan out overtaking the property.  Several of the gunmen approached the front of the house; they kicked down doors and shot through windows.  After they killed who they came for they run back toward the street filled with trucks and gunmen.
A SUV pulls up to the check point, several other gunmen run up, they fire into the SUV.  Several shooters get in the vehicle and move the bodies out of the way.  One of the gunmen commandeers the vehicle and drives out of town with the rest of the convoy.
This video shows how small town are most vulnerable to cartel violence simply because they are outnumbered and outgunned.   The video cameras were installed because of a massacre of 13 people that had just occurred.
Lopez Acosta ran a cell of Gente Nueva in the state of Chihuahua.  He worked directly with Noel “El Falco” Salgueiro who at the time was the man behind much of the violence in Juarez.  La Gente Nueva is a faction of the Sinaloa Cartel; they operated mostly out of Chihuahua however have now branched out and operate in several states within Mexico, including Veracruz, Durango and Guerrero.  Most of the original members of this faction were former Juarez Cartel members, who defected to Sinaloa.  Greed lead many to wage war against “Viceroy” Carrillo Fuentes and his sicarios, La Linea.  To date at least 3000 people have died in the conflict between the two cartels.         
"El Falco"
Lopez Acosta was arrested in December 2010 at his lavish home in Delicias, Chihuahua where he was having a celebration.  In the operation he was wounded, and his brother killed.  Noel Salgueiro was said to have been at the party but was able to escape prior to the Mexican Armies arrival.  Salgueiro was eventually arrested in October of 2011.  He was arrested in Culiacan, alone and without incident; many believed he was turned over by Chapo because he had caused too many problems.    

This video shows a convoy of Zetas in San Fernando.  This has been site of several of the worst atrocities of the cartel wars.  This is where 72 migrants were massacred at a ranch because they refused to join the organization.  This is also the location of several mass graves which totaled more than 200 bodies.  It was said the Zetas roamed the streets freely, forcing many locals to abandon their town due to the lack of security.  In the following video a convoy can be seen traveling throughout the town unabated till some sort of confrontation ensues.   This was before either atrocity occurred, after both incidents the town was swarmed by Federal Troops and order was briefly restored.  The Mexican Government is now building a permanent military base outside of the town in an attempt to wrench the area back from Los Zetas. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Chapo Isidro: A History

By ACI for Borderland Beat

Of all of the narcos roaming freely around Mexico few bring to mind the outlaws of old more so than Chapo Isidro Meza Flores. From the mountains, he and his band control one of the last hold outs of the Beltran Levya Cartel in Sinaloa. He controls most of the ranches and farms which produce significant quantities of both opium and marijuana for the Beltran Levya/Zeta alliance. His base of operations is in Guasave and surrounding villages, and is, and has become one of the most important lieutenants of Hector Beltran Levya, the last of the brothers who has avoided both death and capture. There was a recent shift in power however when one of his top men Adelmo "EL Lemo" Nuñez , betrayed him and went to work for Chapo Guzman. That's when all hell broke loose, the battle still rages as we speak. This war between Isidro and Adelmo "EL Lemo" Nuñez, will continue till either one is arrested, dies or disappears.

To understand how he and his cohorts have been able to outwit and outmaneuver several military offensives against them, one must understand the geography of the area. Northern Sinaloa is in the heart of the "Golden Triangle" the term used to describe Mexico's drug producing region. The mountainous region seems defiant of gravity, rugged and steep, beautiful and lush from a distance, it is hard to see the secrets hidden here and this place has many secrets.

Some of the roads are treacherous to navigate, they hug precariously to the sides of their mountains, steep cliffs and narrow valleys dot the landscape. Offering many opportunities to ambush or outmaneuver the military. Most places have only a couple points of entrance and can be secured using a fairly small quantity of men. With much of the area cut off due to geography, getting from one area to another can be a daunting task. Many mountains can only be hiked by foot and the vegetation and rock outcroppings offer ample places to hide what may need to be hidden.

High up in the Sierras, where isolation is a part of life, a culture emerged. One born out of self reliance and hardship, centered on the ruggedness of living in the harsh and unforgiving Sierras. The culture had little care for the authorities which offered them little in return. Outsiders are not welcome here, even without the cartel threats most locals would treat you the same, an outsider, someone who does not belong and is not to be trusted. A kind of Robin Hood bravado holds in the air, as the locals quietly praise those who went against the government. These criminals or outlaws were often related to many of those who called this place home. The locals never saw the harm in letting these men get one over on a government, which they only saw as inept and corrupt. Out of this environment were born many of the narcos you read about today.

Chapo Isidro was no stranger to the world of the cartels, having been involved since at least the early nineties. It is said Chapo Isidro began his climb up the cartel corporate ladder working under the Amado Carrillo Fuentes Organization. He was one of many who abandoned Juarez after The Lord of the Skies died. He left and began working under the Beltran Levya Brothers. With time he proved himself to be a skilled sicario, capable of daring, cunning and bravado. A skilled tactician with an eye for details, Chapo Isidro has had many successful operations which have propelled him to the status of the outlaws of old. These small groups which outsmarted the government again and again, making a mockery of those who attempted to capture them are alluring to the poor and disenfranchised.
El Mochomo
Many left the Beltrans when Arturo was killed to follow “La Barbies” faction but Chapo Isidro seems to have remained fiercely loyal to the Beltrans. There may also a connection between him and Vicente Carrillo Fuentes or Viceroy of the Juarez Cartel as well. Since Isidro Meza Flores worked for his brother, there is no reason to doubt the rumor. Due to the alliance with Beltran Levya and Los Zetas, one can assume they have continued to boaster this arrangment as both groups stand to gain from destroying the Sinaloan Cartel.

His group was the one of a few groups who starred in "The Battle" of Burrion where they confronted a group of sicarios backed by Chapo and Mayo. Some say some fifty trucks belonging to “Los Anthrax” a cell that operates under El Mayo Zambada went looking for revenge for the killing of Pancho Arce, they blamed Isidro and his Mazatlecos. Once again Chapo Isidro was the victor and it is said that many in that convoy never returned home. Isidro and his people earned the new title, "The Nightmare of Los Anthrax."
X Marks the Spot

His group also played a major role in the famous shootout in Tubutama, Sonora, where he and El Gilo annihilated another group of gunman from the Sinaloa Cartel. The Sinaloan Cartel sent Felix the Ice Cream Man, Raúl Sabori, Paéz Soto, Nini Beltrán and Los Jabalí and Jose Vásquez’s men to take El Gilo out, it is said that they rode in a convoy of thirty to forty vehicles, all notoriously marked with the letter X on the windows. Some say there were upwards of a hundred Sinaloan gunmen, all with the aim of taking out the Beltran Levya’s last remaining transit routes through Sonora. What the convoy never anticipated was the ambush Chapo Isidro and El Gilo had set in place for them.