As part of their operation to find missing persons in the Northern part of the state, Coahuila authorities reported that members of the armed forces, in addition to state (GATE) and federal police, Friday entered the Piedras Negras Ceresco (prison) in search for missing persons.
Authorities disclosed the possibility that some of the missing may be buried within the prison. Interrogation of inmates, who were identified by people as having involvement related to missing persons cases, information was obtained by detainees have shared information with others, while they were outside of prison.
Experts with cadaver dogs inspected the prison since last Monday, along with Marina, and police, searching for bodies.
Earlier in the week, in the municipality of Zaragoza, human remains were discovered on a ranch in the municipality of Zaragoza, in addition to finding evidence that dozens of people were incinerated, this information from Jesus Carranza Coahuila Security spokesman.
On the large ranch, bones, clothes bullets, hundreds of bullet casings, were found among other objects of interest, at the ranch that was controlled by Zetas.
Steel barrels used to boil or incinerate bodies, were also found.
Coahuila is one of those notorious states that allow little information out as to the consequences of the narco war and narco activity. Additionally it is a state that has a death count and “disappeared” count of victims, seemingly stuck at about the same number for years.
“¡No pasa nada!”, the familiar chant from citizens as they mock the press, state and municipal governments.
I was already established in Coahuila, when the split of Los Zetas and Gulf Cartel occurred. I have written how Zetas prepared for the split long before the actual break. Once Osiel Cardenas was gone, it was just a matter of time.
Some may think Zetas are unorganized thugs, but nothing could be further than the truth, one needs not to look further than their takeover of CDG plazas after the split. In making Coahuila their home base, the preparation began in 2009.
Information surfaced during the Zetas Money Laundry trial in Austin, how they manage to acquire information from contractors and force their loyalty, “with us or not at all”, much the same tactic as they used when with CDG to acquire plazas.
One trial witness was Mario Alfonso Cuellar, aka “El Poncho”, a trafficker in Piedras Negras, was living in Texas when he became a wanted man, prompting a move to Piedras Negras to avoid capture. He testified that in 2011 Zetas crossed between 500 and 800 kilos of cocaine per month.
Cuellar testified drug proceeds were sent to Mexico in airtight plastic bags, which were concealed in the fuel tanks of vehicles.
Funds from the trafficking were handled by Cuellar, Hector Moreno was his associate.
Hector Moreno testified that in 2011 Miguel Treviño and his brother Omar, accused him along with Cuellar, of leaking information to the DEA. Fearing for their lives, Cuellar and Moreno absconded with five million Zeta dollars.
Enraged, Miguel and Omar ordered them to return the money or else they would execute every member of their families, their associates and destroy their properties.
No doubt the men knew they were dead men either way, if caughter by Zetas, so they men ignored the order, this initiated the reign of terror in “los cinco manantiales”, (five springs) in thenorthern part of Coahuila
In March, 2011 Los Zetas Cartel reigned a week of terror in Piedras Negras and los Cinco Manantiales which includes: Allende, Morelos, Zaragoza, Villa Union and Nava.
Reports of over 100 people kidnapped of all ages including an infant. The homes were destroyed by fire, as firefighters were prevented from fighting the fires, in fact warned directly prior to the siege.
10 homes and ranch-houses were reported to have been burned to the ground in Allende alone. A family by the name Villanueva, said to be linked to organized crime, was hit hard in Allende, where family and anyone visiting the homes were killed, even pets were not spared.
It was known to local residents that Victor Cruz (at left), a local businessman, had links to organized crime. In 2011 he, his family and a teenaged guest named Gerardo, were kidnapped. It was reported that the Cruz family was killed directly after the kidnapping of, although hope remained strong for Gerardo’s family when his mother received a message that he would be released within 72 hours. 72 hours passed with no other communication, he was not released, nor ever located.
The lone remaining son of Victor Cruz escaped the abduction and sought refuge with his extended family in Eagle Pass.
The kidnapping and presumed killings were “ajuste de cuentas” – settling of accounts- and was ordered by Zetas.
The number of people killed and missing in Coahuila, from the years of 2010 through 2011, will never be known. But Coahuilenses know it rivals any other atrocity known about in Mexico, and many were innocents, in a reign of terror, using acts to control, eliminate and retaliate.
Zetas Climb to Power-With a little Help from Friends
With the climb in power of the Zetas, luck and good timing must be factored in, and they were in luck that the Humberto Moreira, Mayor of Saltillo, the capital of Coahuila, ran for the highest office in the state, and became the governor in 2005 and remained there until his resignation in 2011 when he left to become the national president of the PRI party, being primed for presidency of Mexico.
Coming from a middle class family, Humberto began his professional career as a teacher in Coahuila, and began his political career in Mexico City as Sec of Public Education before returning to Coahuila and elected as the mayor of Saltillo. He was married twice before marrying his current wife, Vanesa Guerrero in a lavish ceremony, nationally televised, held in Piedras Negras, home to the former Miss Coahuila. It has long been long rumored that the father of Guerrero has cartel ties.
His brother Ruben currently holds the governorship, winning with 62% of the vote, and without any previously held experience, aside from his term as president of the state PRI party. And before the scandal would befall his brother.
It is alleged that Humberto had strong Zetas ties. An arrangement that benefitted both, but more so Zetas as they operated in Coahuila with impunity and collusion, with the freedom to kidnap, kill, extort along with other crimes, to assure the state was solidly theirs.
Coahuila is not a big trafficking state, not in comparison to its neighbor, Tamaulipas, but it is a perfect home base state. One glance at the map posted with this article and one can see the logistical importance. Acuña and Piedras Negras are the important North border cities, bordering Texas.
When Humberto entered the governorship, the state had a surplus and the S and P rating of AAA-, the top level credit rating. When he left office it plummeted 6 levels.
The once beloved governor was known for his show and tell extravagant giveaways. The governor, provided gifts of school uniforms for every student, (with the exception of special needs children) thousands of laptops, major appliances, houses for flood victims, lavish parties for PRI loyal with high end gift giveaways, money among much more.
All bought with state funds, or “other” means, to win the hearts and minds of the people and to appear in control of good government.
The state has a modest debt of 25M when Humberto came into office and a debt of 37B when he left. He was forced to resign from the PRI presidency, for the good of the PRI party, in order to secure the presidential election of EPN, his onetime pal. It has been confirmed that fabricated or dubious documentation was issued to secure loans and Humberto is suspected of being aware and/or actively participating when credits were granted to the State using fake documentation, and the money has disappeared, along with thousands of people. As of today however, he has not been charged. After his fall, Humberto and his family moved to Barcelona, Spain as he acquired a degree from the University of Barcelona (see photo above left-a shell of his former self receiving his diploma). He is said to have returned to Mexico.
|Moreira brothers in happy times
When brother Ruben came into office it was clear that he was not going to be the bed partner his brother was. Adding to the complexity is the severe estrangement of the once close brothers. Assuring the brothers would not be reconciling any time soon, was theexecution of Humberto’s son Eduardo “Lalo” Moreia
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|The grieving family, widow is far left, Humberto, his wife Vanessa and daughter in forefront
Humberto’s camp contends his brother Ruben had advance warning in threats and then narco banners that a Moreira execution would occur. Ruben assured the safety of his children and family, but allowed Lalo to be exposed.
In fact he had taken Lalo’s, (at left) armor vehicle and body guard a month prior, telling Lalo the municipal police would now guard him, he was given a pickup truck. The same truck he was killed in, by municipal police working from Zetas, including officers at the highest level.
A high level member of the Zetas later,
a close friend of premier leader Heriberto Lazcano, later stated that it was Lazcano that ordered the hit on Lalo in retaliation for the GATE (state police force) killing of Miguel Trevino’s nephew.
How Ruben’s governorship will be written in the history books, remains to be seen. I was of the school of thought that Humberto would mark a comeback. That he was promised something significant in exchange for his resignation. Perhaps a promise of being exonerated of any complicity in the Coahuila fiasco, paving the way for another bid for PRI president and the national presidency. Lest you scoff, this is Mexico, stranger things have happened.
Meanwhile, Humberto was given a nod on a Forbes “Most” list;
The Forbes “Most Corrupt Mexicans 2013”.
CDG and Sinaloa cartel both want to remove Coahuila from the grip of Los Zetas. It appears that any cartel alliance that the state government may have is rumored to be with Chapo Guzman. His first action was to tighten the press of their narco reporting, and began action against the Zetas organization. This caused a flare up in violence that dissipated, although the government continued with their campaign against Zetas.
How serious a campaign is the guess of anyone, but the home base municipalities of premier Zetas leaders, Miguel and Omar Trevino, is well known to many on the ground and until the DEA made it known that knew Miguel was in Sabinas, a move to capture him was never made. His brother Omar, is known to be not far from where his brother was at the time of his capture. If people on the ground know this, authorities must, yet he continues to roam freely.
Coahuila is a land mass, the third largest state in the Mexican Union, but small in population numbers, at 3M it is about 800K less than the city of Los Angeles, California.
In the latter part of the Calderon administration it was announced that 25k people were feared buried in clandestine “narco fosas” (narco graves).
That number would not be so scoffed at, had the government been speaking of an estimate for a portion of the north states of Mexico. Hot states such as Chihuahua, Durango, Zacatecas, Coahuila and Tamaulipas, some have large masses of barren land and mountain terrain, perfect for dumping or burying bodies never to be found, or moved to the “Murdered”tally..
The second problem with the number is that it admittedly excludes migrants. 10K migrants go “missing” each year, but are traditionally excluded from homicide and missing tallies brought by the government.
One can only hope the answers to the families of the disappeared will be forthcoming. Hopefully, the efforts of the state are sincere. That said, organizations such as FUUNDEC and United Forces for Our Disappeared have been campaigning for searches for the past 7 years, and largely ignored.
The high tech equipment and man hours used in this mass search, seems ill-timed due to the lack of funds in the now financially challenged state. It would seem that the money could be better spent, at a time where classrooms lack materials, some without flushing toilets, and electrical transformers, schools receiving answers of “no money” to their requests. Some have waited two years, what once was approved and supplied in 6 months, and no light at the end of a dark tunnel.
|Logistically important-Coahuila borders 5 hot states and a skip and jump to Tamps
One wonders, while the state is now using o a scientific approach to a complex issue, that is clearly dilatory and inexplicably delayed, is it all for show and tell, much as was seen in the previous Moreira administration, a story that had a disastrous ending for the citizens of Coahuila.