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.

Monday, July 2, 2012

A Mexican Psychopath

By ACI for Borderland Beat

They called him the hand with eyes, his legacy was one which left heads severed through out central Mexico.  His organization thrived on fear and violence and from the shadows he killed.  As his narcobanners continued to appear his reputation grew into myth.  He was a modern day psychopath, one of many in Mexico.  Their hands stained with blood, their souls deprived of conscience, these men roam the highways of Mexico, killing, leaving a trail of blood in their wake.  This is an examination of one of these monsters. 
He openly admitted to killing 300 by his own hand and bragged about ordering another 600, if his claim is true he would rank as one of the worlds most prolific killers.  He surpasses many who haunt dreams, Jack the Ripper, John Wayne Gacey, Ted Bundy, to name a few.  These are men, who inspired nightmares and slasher films; whose crimes have become infamous throughout generations.  But Óscar Osvaldo García Montoya may not even go down as one of Mexico’s most prolific killers; he may just simply be another one of Mexico’s psychopaths.

Óscar Osvaldo García Montoya or “El Compayito” as he was originally known as, was a native son of Sinaloa.  Born in 1975 in the town of Gausave, located in the northern part of the state, Garcia Montoya grew up in an abusive and neglectful household.  He enlisted in the Mexican Marines receiving training from one of the most brutal and feared elite forces in Central America, the Kaibiles.   This sets Garcia Montoya apart from many of his counterparts in Mexico, while many came from broken homes, most have never served in the Marines much less received training from los Kaibiles.  

The Kaibiles; a product of the cold war, have a reputation for producing killing machines; men who kill without thought or conscience.  Created in 1975 to combat the civil war in Guatemala, the Kaibiles quickly earned a reputation of brutality.  The training which was supposed to have been heavily influenced by the CIA is perceived by many as torturous.  From having to forfeit any previous medals or honors, to having to drink the blood of animals for courage; these methods of training are designed to take away individuals identity and replace it with one of a stone cold killer.  Garcia Montoya would later boast that the Kaibiles trained him to become a killer. 

He returned to Mexico and left the Marines to become a police officer in Baja California, and it is thought from here he entered into the world of the cartels around 2002.  He was brought to the attention of José Gerardo Álvarez known as"El Indio,” who at the time was a powerful lieutenant of Arturo Beltan Levya.  Garcia Montoya due to his background was promoted to chief of security for Gerardo Alvarez.

In 2007 Arturo, broke from the Sinaloan Federation and went to war with Guzman and Zambada.  When Arturo was killed in 2010, his faction splintered, with Gerardo Alvarez and Edger Villarreal known as “La Barbie” going against Arturo’s brother Hector or “El H.”  The ensuing war left bodies piled up throughout much of Sinaloa and Guerrero.  With the arrests of Villarreal and Alvarez, Garcia Montoya was left without a master and without a leash.  He began a systematic murder spree which aim was to control the local drug trade around Mexico City.