May 5, 2013
Violence spirals out of control in Northern Sinaloa as a new group asserts control
This narcomanta was left in a Jeep Cherokee with the bodies of 6 victims who were kidnapped on April 8
Written by Adán German for Borderland Beat
La Mochomera, lead by “el Dos Letras”, claims Northern Sinaloa
Violence, which is already commonplace in Sinaloa, is reaching new levels of barbarity in Northern Sinaloa as an apparently new group asserts ownership of the plaza.
The horror became apparent with the kidnapping of 6 men from El Fuerte and Juan Jose Rios on April 8. Their bodies were dumped in a Jeep Cherokee SUV on the shoulder of the Mexico highway 15 on April 20. Five of the victims have been identified as Sergio Roberto Valenzuela Aqui, el Checo, Leonard Alberto Romero Aguilar, el Leonard, Luis Rey Ramirez Guerrero, el Pili, Luis Alberto Osorio Valenzuela, el Chuy Poros, and Arturo Andalon Miranda, el Wico.
One of the victims is believed to be a municipal police officer, and they are from Juan Jose Rios, Constancia, Tehueco, and Mochicahui. The narcomanta left with the victims was directed at Ahome police commander Jesus Carrasco Ruiz and his officers.
The 6 men dumped with a Jeep Cherokee on April, 20 were kidnapped on April 8
Former Ahome police commander murdered
The 6 bodies in the Jeep Cherokee were dumped a few days after the murder of former Ahome police commander Nicolas Galaviz Vasquez on April 18. Galaviz was gunned down less than 200 meters from the municipal palace in Los Mochis. He had been accused of complicity in drug dealing and murder during his tenure as one of the police commanders in Ahome.
Nicolas Galviz Vasquez was gunned down by two men in Los Mochis
Galviz Vasquez and the entire Ahome police department were disbanded by the federal government and imprisoned in a maximum security prison in Veracruz in 2011. They were accused of being a de facto cell for los Mazatlecos, in support of the Betran Leyva organization. They were released after the charges were dropped and Galviz Vazquez was enjoying a police disability pension while working for a construction company running errands.
Announcements on Facebook
The first 6 murders were announced on a new Facebook account, under the name Mochomera Mochis. The page include accusations against various police agencies in Northern Sinaloa, alleging their complicity with the Sinaloa Cartel and their cells, under the command of Joaquin Guzman Loera, el Chapo Guzman.
Following the discovery of the bodies, various police forces descended on the scene, including the accused Ahome chief of police, Jesus Carrasco Ruiz. Days later, Ahome mayor Zenen Aaron Xochihua Enciso defended Carrrasco, saying that Carrasco was in collusion with nobody and that new security strategies were already being formed.
Three bodies left with a narcomanta
On Friday, May 3, three bodies dumped in a ditch in the rancho of Treinta y Ochinto near San Juan Rios, in the municipality of Guasave were identified. A narcomanta was left at the scene disputing the plaza and targeting the Sinaloa Cartel. The bodies had numerous gunshot wounds, and showed evidence of torture. The men have been identified as Gabriel Guadalupe Orozco Rivera, 27, Nabor Inzunza Fuentes, 22, and Fernando Escarrega Bojorquez, 38. The first two are from Topolobampo, and the third is from Compuertas, outside of Los Mochis, which has historically been the base of operations for the Beltran Leyva clan in the north.
The bodies of Fernando Bojorquez and Navor Fuentes were dumped near San Juan Rios on Friday
Six more murders
Now on Saturday, May 4th, it was announced that 6 more bodies were left on the shoulder of the Mexico highway 15, outside Los Mochis. Five of the victims have been identified as Ramon Soto Flores, Cristian Alberto Obeso Dominguez, both from the colonia Siglo XlX, Juan Pablo Armenta Vega, from Guamuchil, Casimiro Tizon Gerardo, 36, from El Tamarindo, Culiacan, and Luis Enrique Plasencia Valdez, from Ocoroni, in the municipality of Sinaloa de Leyva.
The bodies were accompanied by another narcomanta signed by “el Dos Letras”, who claims to head a new Betran Leyva group, la Mochomera. The men were bound hand and foot, and some of them were restrained with handcuffs, possibly indicating the complicity of police personnel. Once again a narcomanta was left with the bodies signed by the one calling himself “el Dos Letras”.
The narcomanta was aimed at the people of Guzman and stated that these people will not enter the plaza that it’s rightful owner already has, even with the help of the government.
The bodies dumped on the Mexico 15 on Saturday were bound and some were handcuffed. Two had been beheaded.
A brief history
Sinaloa has long experience brutal violence between rival groups, even before the Beltran Leyva group split from the Sinaloa Cartel in 2008, following the arrest of Alfredo Beltran Leyva, el Mochomo. Groups of “gavilleros“, gangs comprised of tight knit clans have battled for control of the Sierra in Sinaloa for decades. While the current wave of violence is higher than normal, it’s not unprecedented. Sinaloa regularly experiences at many as 140 murders a month, and well over 1,000 a year. This is a substantial number for a state with 2.8 million people people, and an area roughly equal to the US state of West Virginia.
Since 2008 a violent turf war has raged between the Sinaloa Cartel and a triad of alliances comprised of Beltran Leyva cells based in los Mochis and Mazatlan, los Zetas, and the Juarez Cartel’s Carrillo family, who have their base in Navolato, outside Culiacan. While various factors are blamed for the war, it began after the arrest of Alfredo Beltran Leyva, el Mochomo at the start of 2008, and has escalated since the murder of Joaquin Guzman Loera’s son, Edgar Guzman Lopez, which occurred a short time later on May 8, 2008.
Several other factors have contributed to the war, including a dispute involving the Mexico City Airport, which is one of the most important locations in Mexico for the transshipment of cocaine from South America. In 2006 the Sinaloa Cartel struck a deal with the Beltran Leyva brothers to give them control of the airport, which has been under the command of Jesus Reynaldo Zambada Garcia, el Rey, the brother of Sinaloa Cartel capo Ismael Zambada Garcia, el Mayo. In return the Zambadas were given control of the Guanajuato airport, then held by a Ignacio “Nacho” Coronel Villarreal. In return the Beltran Leyvas would give Nacho Coronel control of the Monterrey airport.
Jesus Zambada Garcia had grown a carefully nuanced relationship with police, airline personnel, and customs agents, through bribes which gave him effective control of the Mexico City Airport without the use of violence. The Beltran Leyvas placed Sergio Villarreal Barragan, el Grande, in charge of the airport, and shortly after he became angered when an honest customs agent refused to release a shipment of cocaine. El Grande went on a rampage, murdering as many as 10 of el Rey’s most trusted workers and leaving two severed heads near the airport. This caused the 3 way deal to collapse and may have been a major factor in precipitating the war.
Back in Sinaloa a Beltran Leyva cell called los Mazatlecos, named for their origins in Mazatlan, began systematically killing police and anyone suspected of collusion with the Sinaloa Cartel. Under the command of Fausto Isidro Meza Flores, “el Chapito Isidro“, they proved their mettle as a worthy opposition to sicarios commanded by Manuel Torres Felix, el M1 or el Ondeado. In 2012 eleven men died in an ambush by los Mazatleco sicarios at Tetamboa, in El Fuerte municipality. Juan Pablo Osuna Lizarraga, el Cien, an important Mazatleco commander, died in the shootout, along with 7 police and 3 of his sicarios. This ambush involved police who had been sent to Choix, the scene of a drawn out battle between Sinaloa Cartel forces and a heavy presence of Beltran Leyva soldiers, who were aided by Carrillo and Zeta reinforcements, who came over the the mountains from Chihuahua and Sonora. This pitched battle over the marijuana and poppy growing areas of the Sierra Madre left as many as 40 people dead and displaced hundreds of poor rural inhabitants.
There has been recent speculation that a truce between the Sinaloa Cartel and the Beltran Leyvas is in place, following the death of Manuel Torres Felix, M1 el Ondeado, but this is apparently not the case.
The narcomantas left by la Mochomera, and signed by “el Dos Letras” specifically target Joaquin Guzman Loera’s people, even though they disavow los Mazatlecos and by extension Chapito Isidro. What we’re witnessing is apparently a violent announcement of a changing of the guard.
This is likely the beginning of a new war that could rival the violence that followed the murder of los Antrax leader Juan Francisco Arce Rubio, el Pancho Arce, at a soccer game in Culiacan in 2011.
The sad part is that many of the victims have been and will continue to be innocent people who are mostly poor farmers, used as pawns in a senseless game where they are butchered to send a message that the killers are asserting control over local drug sales and the growing of marijuana and opium poppy. We will likely see well over 100 murders in the month of May, and each month through the long, wet summer.