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Border Patrol agents arrest 21 sex offenders; 9 gang members

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EDINBURG, Texas – U.S. Border Patrol agents from the Rio Grande Valley Sector arrested 18 convicted sex offenders, who were illegally present in the United States, and nine members of notorious street gangs throughout the month of June. An additional three sex offenders have been arrested so far in July.

The majority of the sex offenders have convictions for sexual assault crimes involving children. Some of the more egregious offenses include: sexual assault of a child; sodomy, kidnapping, lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14; aggravated sexual assault of a child; and aggravated indecent assault and corruption of a minor.

The offenses occurred in states from coast to coast including California and North Carolina as well as in the Rio Grande Valley.

Additionally, agents arrested eight members of the Mara Salvatrucha gang, or MS-13, a notorious transnational criminal gang that started in Los Angeles. Agents also apprehended one member of the 18th Street gang. The 18th Street gang also originated in Los Angeles and is considered to be that city’s largest transnational criminal gang.


“Border Patrol agents have a responsibility to protect this nation from all threats,” Chief Patrol Agent Rosendo Hinojosa said. “Those threats are not always posed by terrorists or drug smugglers; sometimes they take the form of sex offenders and gang members. By keeping these dangerous criminals off our streets, agents are helping to ensure the safety of our children and the security of our communities.”

To report suspicious activity, call the Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol Sector’s toll-free telephone number at 800-863-9382.



Mexican drug cartels fight turf battles in Chicago

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(CBS News) CHICAGO – Gun violence is out of control in Chicago. Just last night, there were eight shootings, two of them deadly.

That pushes the total so far in 2012 to 351 shooting deaths — up 30 percent from last year. Drug gangs are a big reason.


Both President Obama and Director of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano have often claimed that our borders are secure.  We have also heard Ms. Napolitano claim that “Spillover Violence” was not a problem.

Janet Napolitano herself has stated that more than two hundred American cities have been infested by Mexican drug cartels.  Additionally, other transnational gangs from Latin America as well as from Europe, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and elsewhere have also set up shop in towns and cities in virtually every one of America’s 50 states.  Many of these gangs are known for their use of extreme violence to intimidate competitors as well as those who would cooperate with police and other law enforcement agencies.

Back in 1988 I was the first INS special agent to be assigned to the Unified Intelligence Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York Field Division, where I conducted an analysis of arrest records to determine who was being arrested by the DEA in New York as well as across the United States.  I found that 60% of the defendants arrested by the DEA Task Force in New York City were identified as being “foreign-born” while nationally 30% of all such defendants were so described.

The August 23rd CBS news report included an interview with Jack Riley, the Special Agent-in-Charge (SAC) of DEA’s Chicago Office:

Daily turf battles over drugs and distribution, he said, are turning parts of this Midwest city into a Mexican border town.

“One of the hardest jobs I’ve had in the past couple of years is to convince our law enforcement partners that we need an enforcement mentality as if we’re on the border,” Riley said.

Miles away, Riley says, Mexican cartels have a significant influence in Chicago’s gang violence problem.

“Let’s take the gloves off on that,” he said. “We know that the majority of the drugs here in Chicago, cartels are responsible for. We know that the majority of the murders are gang related. So it is very clear to see the connection and the role.”

As it stands now, at least three major Mexican cartels are battling over control of billions of dollars of marijuana, cocaine and — increasingly — heroin in this city. That includes the ultra-violent Zetas and the powerful Sinaloa cartel, run by its shadowy leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

Clearly “Spillover Violence” from Mexico is not only commonplace but endangers Americans and members of immigrant communities- not only along the US/Mexican border but across America!

SAC Riley is absolutely correct in his assessment and his drawing the comparison between Chicago and a Mexican border town is particularly noteworthy because he was previously assigned as the SAC of the DEA’s El Paso, Texas office.  It is disappointing that he created a task force that includes the FBI, ATF and local police who have partnered with his agents in Chicago but absolutely no mention was made of incorporating ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) into this task force.

After having served for nearly 4 years with the Unified Intelligence Division of the DEA in New York, I was promoted to the position of Senior Special Agent and assigned the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) where I worked in extremely close coordination with the DEA, FBI, ATF and local and state police for the balance of my career.  I found that my authorities as an INS special agent were often instrumental in conducting successful investigations of drug gangs- most of which had large numbers of aliens playing key roles in these pernicious gangs.  The effective use of immigration laws and procedures can provide law enforcement with ample and unique opportunities to convince aliens to become cooperators and informants to further drug investigations.  Immigration laws often provide important opportunities to bring additional criminal charges against alien gang members and make certain, that upon conviction, they are deported after they complete their prison sentences.

The effective enforcement of immigration laws should be a routine factor in law enforcement operations across the America so that the two primary objectives of our immigration laws can be realized- to protect American lives and protect American jobs.

The administration bolsters claims that the borders have never been more secure, pointing to Border Patrol arrest statistics.  Border Patrol agents have disputed these claims.

There is a far better way of determining if our borders are truly secure- simply ask if illegal drugs are still making their way onto street corners in towns and cities across America.  The answer to this question is self-evident!  Furthermore, the proceeds of the drug trade enrich the coffers of the drug cartels and terrorist organizations that have the United States in their sights!

The final sentence of the CBS report should get everyone’s attention:

More than ever, Chicago’s problem is turning into a Midwest problem. Cartel operations are also spreading to Milwaukee, St. Louis and Detroit.



Is the US-Mexico Border Turning into a War Zone?

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  Jul. 11, 2013


The first thing I did at the Border Security Expo in Phoenix this March was climb the brown “explosion-resistant” tower, 30 feet high and 10 feet wide, directly in the center of the spacious room that holds this annual trade show. From a platform where, assumedly, a border guard would stand, you could take in the constellation of small booths offering the surveillance industry’s finest products, including a staggering multitude of ways to monitor, chase, capture, or even kill people, thanks to modernistic arrays of cameras and sensors, up-armored jeeps, the latest in guns, and even surveillance balloons.

MQ-9 Reaper


Although at the time, headlines in the Southwest emphasized potential cuts to future border-security budgets thanks to Congress’s “sequester,” the vast Phoenix Convention Center hall—where the defense and security industries strut their stuff for law enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—told quite a different story. Clearly, the expanding global industry of border security wasn’t about to go anywhere.  It was as if the milling crowds of business people, government officials, and Border Patrol agents sensed that they were about to be truly in the money thanks to “immigration reform,” no matter what version of it did or didn’t pass Congress. And it looks like they were absolutely right.

All around me in that tower were poster-sized fiery photos demonstrating ways it could help thwart massive attacks and fireball-style explosions. A border like the one just over 100 miles away between the United States and Mexico, it seemed to say, was not so much a place that divided people in situations of unprecedented global inequality, but a site of constant war-like danger.

Below me were booths as far as the eye could see surrounded by Disneyesque fake desert shrubbery, barbed wire, sand bags, and desert camouflage. Throw in the products on display and you could almost believe that you were wandering through a militarized border zone with a Hollywood flair.

To an awed potential customer, a salesman in a suit and tie demonstrated a mini-drone that fits in your hand like a Frisbee. It seemed to catch the technological fetishism that makes Expo the extravaganza it is. Later I asked him what such a drone would be used for. “To see what’s over the next hill,” he replied.

Until you visit the yearly Expo, it’s easy enough to forget that the US borderlands are today ground zero for the rise, growth, and spread of a domestic surveillance state. On June 27th, the Senate passed the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. Along with the claim that it offers a path to citizenship to millions of the undocumented living in the United States (with many stringent requirements), in its more than 1,000 pages it promises to build the largest border-policing and surveillance apparatus ever seen in the United States. The result, Senator John McCain proudly said, will be the “most militarized border since the fall of the Berlin Wall.”

This “border surge,” a phrase coined by Senator Chuck Schumer, is also a surveillance surge. The Senate bill provides for the hiring of almost 19,000 new Border Patrol agents, the building of 700 additional miles of walls, fences, and barriers, and an investment of billions of dollars in the latest surveillance technologies, including drones.

In this, the bill only continues in a post-9/11 tradition in which our southern divide has become an on-the-ground laboratory for the development of a surveillance state whose mission is already moving well beyond those borderlands. Calling this “immigration reform” is like calling the National Security Agency’s expanding global surveillance system a domestic telecommunications upgrade. It’s really all about the country that the United States is becoming—one of the police and the policed.

Low-Intensity War Zone The $46 billion border security price tag in the immigration reform bill will simply expand on what has already been built. After all, $100 billion was spent on border “enforcement” in the first decade after 9/11. To that must be added the annual $18 billion budget for border and immigration enforcement, money that outpaces the combined budgets of all other federal law enforcement agencies.  In fact, since Operation Blockade in the 1990s, the US-Mexico border has gone through so many surges that a time when simple chain link fences separated two friendly countries is now unimaginable.

To witness the widespread presence of Department of Homeland Security agents on the southern border, just visit that international boundary 100 miles south of Border Security Expo. Approximately 700 miles of walls, fences, and barriers already cut off the two countries at its major urban crossings and many rural ones as well. Emplaced everywhere are cameras that can follow you—or your body heat—day or night. Overhead, as in Afghanistan, a Predator B drone may hover. You can’t hear its incessant buzzing only because it flies so high, nor can you see the crew in charge of flying it and analyzing your movements from possibly hundreds of miles away.

As you walk, perhaps you step on implanted sensors, creating a beeping noise in some distant monitoring room.  Meanwhile, green-striped Border Patrol vehicles rush by constantly. On the US-Mexican border, there are already more than 18,500 agents (and approximately 2,300 more on the Canadian border). In counterterrorism mode, they are paid to be suspicious of everything and everybody. Some Homeland Security vehicles sport trailers carrying All Terrain Vehicles. Some have mounted surveillance cameras, others cages to detain captured migrants. Some borderlanders like Mike Wilson of the Tucson-based Border Action Network, a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation (a Native American people and the original inhabitants of the Arizona borderlands), call the border security operatives an “occupying army.”

Checkpoints—normally located 20-50 miles from the international boundary—serve as a second layer of border enforcement. Stopped at one of them, you will be interrogated by armed agents in green, most likely with drug-sniffing dogs. If you are near the international divide, it’s hard to avoid such checkpoints where you will be asked about your citizenship—and much more if anything you say or do, or simply the way you look, raises suspicions. Even outside of the checkpoints, agents of the Department of Homeland Security can pull you over for any reason—without probable cause or a warrant—and do what is termed a “routine search.” As a US Border Patrol agent told journalist Margaret Regan, within a hundred miles of the international divide, “there’s an asterisk on the Constitution.”

Off-road forward operating bases offer further evidence of the battlefield atmosphere being created near the border. Such outposts became commonplace during the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where they were meant to house US soldiers deployed into remote areas. On the border, there are high-tech yet rudimentary camps that serve the same purpose. They also signal how agents of the Department of Homeland Security are “gaining, maintaining, and expanding” into rural areas traversed by migrants and used by smugglers, though to this point never crossed by a known international terrorist.

These rural areas, especially in Arizona, are riddled with migrant causalities. More than 6,000 “remains” have been recovered since the mid-1990s, deaths not for the most part from bullets but from exposure. The US borderlands, according to sociologist Timothy Dunn, started to become a militarized zone as early as the 1970s—in part, in response to the Pentagon’s low-intensity conflict doctrine. With Congressional immigration reform, if it passes the House of Representatives, it may very well become a full-fledged war zone.

Since the 1990s, the strategy of the Border Patrol has been termed “prevention by deterrence” and has been focused on concentrating agents and surveillance technologies in urban areas, once the traditional migrant routes. The idea was to funnel migrant flows into areas too dangerous and desolate to cross like the triple-degree-temperature desert in Arizona.  Deadly yes; impossible to cross, no. Although unauthorized border-crossings have slowed down in recent years, tens of thousands continue to cross into the United States annually from Mexico and Central America, thanks in part to the continued havoc of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which left more two million Mexican farmers unemployed. 

I met Adira, a 21-year-old from Oaxaca, Mexico, in early June. She told me a story all too common in Arizona. As she described her experience, I realized that I was talking to somebody who had probably died and been brought back to life. We were only a few blocks from the border. Homeland Security had formally deported her only days before. Still reliving the trauma of her experience, she stared down, her face colorless, as she talked.



I had heard the basics of her story so many times before: to avoid the militarized surveillance apparatus, she and her companions walked for at least five days through the southern Arizona desert with little—and then no—water or food. By the fourth day, the mountains began to talk to her, so she told me, and she suspected she was coming to the end of her young life. After she couldn’t walk any more, the guide dragged her, telling her constantly: “We just have to make it to the next point.”

When they reached a road on the American side of the border, she remembers convulsing four times (just as she remembers blood bursting spontaneously from the noses of her companions). And then she remembers no more. She woke up in a hospital. There were scars on her chest. Medics must have used a machine, she thought, to shock her back to life. She found out later that somebody had lit a fire to attract the Border Patrol. She’s lucky not to be among those remains regularly found out in that desert.

In other words, each further tightening of the border is a death sentence passed on yet more Latin Americans. According to a statement by a group of Tucson organizations, including No More Deaths and the Coalición de Derechos Humanos, the border build-up in the immigration reform bill promises more of the same: “Make no mistake: this bill will lead to more deaths on the border.”



Brutal Drug Cartels Still Being Ignored in Washington’s Illegal Immigration Debate

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Jul 16, 2013


Monday, the leader of the brutal Mexican Zeta Cartel Miguel Angel Trevino Morales was arrested and taken into custody. Morales was best known for punishing his enemies by boiling them alive in oil. He was captured in Nuevo Laredo, a border city right across from Laredo, Texas.


Trevino Morales, known as “Z-40,” was captured by Mexican Marines in Nuevo Laredo, the Mexican media reported. The U.S. official who confirmed the media reports was not authorized to speak to the press and asked not to be identified.
Trevino’s capture removes the leader of a corps of special forces defectors who splintered off into their own cartel and spread across Mexico, expanding from drug dealing into extortion and human trafficking.
Along the way, the Zetas authored some of the worst atrocities of Mexico’s drug war, slaughtering dozens, leaving their bodies on display and gaining a reputation as perhaps the most terrifying of the country’s numerous ruthless cartels.

Why does this matter? Despite what the Obama administration and Congress continually says about the border being “more secure than ever,” cartel violence is spilling over our borders and running rampant in states across America.

Take for example what happened last week when an innocent Texas man, with no relation to the drug trade, was kidnapped by Gulf cartel members, taken to back to Mexico thanks to a porous border and executed.

The partial unsealing of a criminal complaint by the U.S. Attorney’s Office reveals a Mexican man legally living in the U.S. was kidnapped on U.S. soil by the Mexican Gulf cartel, illegally brought across the U.S. southern border back into Mexico, and allegedly executed.
Roel Garza of Texas was arrested on July 7, 2013 and stands accused of participation in the kidnapping which authorities say was retaliation by the Mexican Gulf cartel for the theft of more than 100 kilograms of cocaine from the cartel. The victim, however, was not involved in any way with the stolen drugs.
“The victim was a permanent resident of the U.S. with no criminal record and had no involvement in the theft or sale of cocaine. The victim has not been heard from or seen since this event,” explained the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Just a few months ago, the Associated Press released an alarming report about cartels operating on American streets, within American gangs and in the American prison system.

Mexican drug cartels whose operatives once rarely ventured beyond the U.S. border are dispatching some of their most trusted agents to live and work deep inside the United States — an emboldened presence that experts believe is meant to tighten their grip on the world’s most lucrative narcotics market and maximize profits.
If left unchecked, authorities say, the cartels’ move into the American interior could render the syndicates harder than ever to dislodge and pave the way for them to expand into other criminal enterprises such as prostitution, kidnapping-and-extortion rackets and money laundering.
But a wide-ranging Associated Press review of federal court cases and government drug-enforcement data, plus interviews with many top law enforcement officials, indicate the groups have begun deploying agents from their inner circles to the U.S. Cartel operatives are suspected of running drug-distribution networks in at least nine non-border states, often in middle-class suburbs in the Midwest, South and Northeast.
“It’s probably the most serious threat the United States has faced from organized crime,” said Jack Riley, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Chicago office.

During an interview on Fox News Tuesday, former Immigration and Naturalization Service Agent Michael Culter reiterated this reality.

“We know that hundreds of cities across America have been infected by Mexican cartels” Cutler said.

For months President of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Union Chris Crane has been begging Congress to address the issue of interior enforcement to deal with the dangerous cartel problem. His requests have been repeatedly ignored by lawmakers working on immigration legislation.

“We aren’t even scratching the surface on the criminal illegal alien problem in the United States,” Crane said. “That part [cartels] is absent from this discussion as are many parts of this….we know that the drug cartels, that the lieutenants and the troops, the soldiers, they’re all within the interior of United States and they’re all conducting business as are many other criminal elements and criminal individuals. There are people coming here for this to be a land of opportunity and there are people coming here because the United States for them is a target of opportunity and we believe there is a very disproportionate number of criminals coming into the United States. That conversation is almost completely absent from this entire public conversation about what’s happening….It’s just another part of this debate that gives us this concern that this is all about politics and not about really fixing the problems that we face within our broken immigration system and providing for what is best for everyone is best for America to include and most importantly, public safety.”

A recent Rasmussen Report shows the majority of Americans are more concerned about cartel violence than they are about illegal immigration. The majority also want the military to patrol and do exercises on the border, something hardly being discussed seriously on Capitol Hill.

Voters remain more concerned about Mexican drug violence coming to this country than they are about illegal immigration, and most favor use of the U.S. military on the border to prevent it.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 34% of Likely U.S. Voters are more concerned about illegal immigration. Fifty-seven percent (57%) worry more about drug violence.
Sixty-nine percent (69%) believe the U.S. military should be used along the border to protect American citizens if the drug violence continues to escalate along the Mexican border. Only 16% disagree, but another 15% are not sure.
Seventy-three percent (73%) of U.S. voters think it is at least somewhat likely that this drug violence will spill over into the United States. Twenty percent (20%) feel that’s unlikely. This includes 36% who think the violence is Very Likely to come here and just two percent (2%) who say it’s Not At All Likely.

As the House starts work on an immigration overhaul tied to border security, representatives should keep in mind that they owe the American people action in order to protect their safety. Cartel violence is a serious issue that must be addressed, not ignored.



Forget Operation Fast and Furious? Not with bodies still piling up

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10 July 2013


Before we knew that the IRS was targeting conservative groups, what a mess the Obama administration would make of Benghazi, or the Justice Department’s monitoring of selected journalists — even before Edward Snowden and his national security leaks — there was Operation Fast and Furious.


If you accept the government line, Fast and Furious was an ATF-Justice Department operation that supposedly would allow guns illegally straw-purchased in Arizona to reach suspected Mexican narco-terrorists. ATF agents would follow the supply chain, recover the guns and make arrests.

It worked perfectly — except for the parts about following the guns, recovering them and arresting bad guys. Instead, the ATF almost immediately lost track of about 2,000 high-powered weapons, which began turning up at U.S. and Mexican crime scenes.

U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was ambushed by drug smugglers Dec. 15, 2010, near Nogales, Ariz., with a Fast and Furious gun found nearby. If not for that tragedy — and the courage of ATF field agents who risked their careers to blow the whistle on this spectacularly ill-conceived plan — Americans still might not know.

In Mexico, they have known for some time. Officials there have attributed more than 200 deaths to Fast and Furious weapons. A Justice Department document made public this month by the Los Angeles Times’ Richard A. Serrano reveals what may be the most recent: Luis Lucio Rosales Astorga, police chief in the town of Hostotipaquillo, was shot to death Jan. 29 when gunmen opened fire on his patrol car. One bodyguard was killed and the chief’s wife and a second bodyguard wounded.

Hostotipaquillo, in Jalisco state in central-western Mexico, is nearly 1,000 miles from the Phoenix suburb where the semiautomatic WASR rifle was sold Feb. 22, 2010. The 26-year-old buyer would plead guilty to conspiracy, making false statements and smuggling goods from the U.S. No one — including the ATF — knows how the weapon traveled so far into the Mexican interior. ATF officials couldn’t say and told the Times they were still compiling an inventory of the lost guns.

No rush, apparently. Perhaps the ATF is waiting for the guns to wash ashore, one by one, after the drug criminals are done with them.

The shame is that second-term Obama administration scandals shoved aside first-term scandals like Fast and Furious. An internal Justice Department investigation supposedly cleared Attorney General Eric Holder, found guilty of no worse than not paying attention to what his people were doing. Any documents that could prove otherwise were deemed off-limits when President Barack Obama draped an executive privilege blanket over anything Holder didn’t want to surrender to Congress.

Americans, meanwhile, are left to wonder whatever happened with that ATF gun-walking fiasco, reminded only periodically when another Fast and Furious weapon surfaces long enough to leave someone else dead.

Timeline of the operation

September 2009: The Justice Department launches Operation Fast and Furious in Arizona.

December 2010: Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry is killed by drug smugglers near Nogales, Ariz.; guns at his crime scene are tracked back to Fast and Furious.

January 2011: ATF Special Agent John Dodson takes his concerns about Fast and Furious to Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.

February 2011: Justice officials respond with a letter categorically denying gun-walking tactics, subsequently withdrawn as false.

March 2011: President Barack Obama, interviewed by Univision, denies that he or Attorney General Eric Holder knew about the operation.

June 2012: With Holder facing a contempt of Congress vote for failing to turn over subpoenaed documents, Obama declares them protected by executive privilege. Holder is held in contempt.

September 2012: A report from Michael Horowitz, Justice Department inspector general, takes Holder at his word on Fast and Furious but blames 14 current or former subordinates for missteps.

January 2013: Luis Lucio Rosales Astorga, police chief in Hostotipaquillo, Mexico, and a bodyguard are shot to death with a Fast and Furious weapon.



Mexico – Travel Warning – U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Bureau of Consular Affairs

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July 12, 2013


The Department of State has issued this Travel Warning to inform U.S. citizens about the security situation in Mexico. General information on the overall security situation is provided immediately below. For information on security conditions in specific regions of Mexico, which can vary, travelers should reference the state-by-state assessments further below.

This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning for Mexico dated November 20, 2012 to consolidate and update information about the security situation and to advise the public of additional restrictions on the travel of U.S. government (USG) personnel.

General Conditions:

Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year for study, tourism, and business, including more than 150,000 who cross the border every day. More than 20 million U.S. citizens visited Mexico in 2012. The Mexican government makes a considerable effort to protect U.S. citizens and other visitors to major tourist destinations, and there is no evidence that Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) have targeted U.S. visitors and residents based on their nationality. Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime that is reported in the border region and in areas along major trafficking routes.

Nevertheless, U.S. travelers should be aware that the Mexican government has been engaged in an extensive effort to counter TCOs which engage in narcotics trafficking and other unlawful activities throughout Mexico. The TCOs themselves are engaged in a violent struggle to control drug trafficking routes and other criminal activity. Crime and violence are serious problems and can occur anywhere. U.S. citizens have fallen victim to criminal activity, including homicide, gun battles, kidnapping, carjacking and highway robbery. While most of those killed in narcotics-related violence have been members of TCOs, innocent persons have also been killed. The number of U.S. citizens reported to the Department of State as murdered in Mexico was 113                        in 2011 and 71 in 2012.

Gun battles between rival TCOs or with Mexican authorities have taken place in towns and cities in many parts of Mexico, especially                        in the border region. Gun battles have occurred in broad daylight on streets and in other public venues, such as restaurants                        and clubs. During some of these incidents, U.S. citizens have been trapped and temporarily prevented from leaving the area. TCOs                        have used stolen cars, buses and trucks to create roadblocks on major thoroughfares, preventing the military and police from                        responding to criminal activity. The location and timing of future armed engagements is unpredictable. We recommend that you                        defer travel to the areas indicated in this Travel Warning and exercise extreme caution when traveling throughout the northern                        border region.

The number of kidnappings and disappearances throughout Mexico is of particular concern. Both local and expatriate communities                        have been victimized. In addition, local police have been implicated in some of these incidents. We strongly advise you to                        lower your profile and avoid displaying any evidence of wealth that might draw attention.

Carjacking and highway robbery are serious problems in many parts of the border region, and U.S. citizens have been murdered                        in such incidents. Most victims who complied with carjackers at these checkpoints have reported that they were not physically                        harmed. Carjackers have shot at vehicles that fail to stop at checkpoints. Incidents have occurred during the day and at night,                        and carjackers have used a variety of techniques, including bumping/moving vehicles to force them to stop and running vehicles                        off the road at high speeds. There are some indications that criminals have particularly targeted newer and larger vehicles,                        especially dark-colored SUVs. However, victims driving a variety of vehicles, from late model SUVs to old sedans have also                        been targeted. While violent incidents have occurred at all hours of the day and night on both modern toll highways (“cuotas”)                        and on secondary roads, they have occurred most frequently at night and on isolated roads. To reduce risk, if absolutely necessary                        to travel by road, we strongly urge you to travel between cities throughout Mexico only during daylight hours, to avoid isolated                        roads, and to use toll roads whenever possible. The Mexican government has deployed federal police and military personnel                        throughout the country as part of its efforts to combat the TCOs. U.S. citizens traveling on Mexican roads and highways may                        encounter government checkpoints, which are often staffed by military personnel or law enforcement personnel. TCOs have erected                        their own unauthorized checkpoints, at times wearing police and military uniforms, and killed or abducted motorists who have                        failed to stop at them. You should cooperate at all checkpoints.

The U.S. Mission in Mexico imposes restrictions on U.S. government employees’ (U.S. citizens working at the Embassy and the                        nine consulates throughout Mexico) travel that have been in place since July 15, 2010. USG employees and their families are                        not permitted to drive for personal reasons from the U.S.-Mexico border to or from the interior of Mexico or Central America.                        Personal travel by vehicle is permitted between Hermosillo and Nogales but is restricted to daylight hours and the Highway                        15 toll road (“cuota”).

USG personnel and their families are prohibited from personal travel to all areas to which it is advised to“defer non-essential                        travel”. When travel for official purposes is essential, it is conducted with extensive security precautions. USG personnel                        and their families are allowed to travel for personal reasons to the areas where no advisory is in effect or where the advisory                        is to exercise caution. While the general public is not forbidden from visiting places categorized under “defer non-essential                        travel,” USG personnel will not be able to respond quickly to an emergency situation in those areas due to security precautions                        that must be taken by USG personnel to travel to those areas.

For more information on road safety and crime along Mexico’s roadways, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.

State-by-State Assessment:

Below is a state-by-state assessment of security conditions throughout Mexico. The accompanying map will help in identifying                        individual locations. Travelers should be mindful that even if no advisories are in effect for a given state, crime and violence                        can occur anywhere. For general information about travel and other conditions in Mexico, see our Country Specific Information.

Aguascalientes: You should exercise caution when traveling to the areas of the state that border the state of Zacatecas, as TCO activity                        in that region continues. There is no advisory in effect for daytime travel to the areas of the state that do not border Zacatecas;                        however, intercity travel at night is not recommended.

Baja California (north): Tijuana, Ensenada and Mexicali are major cities/travel destinations in the state of Baja California                           – see map to identify their exact locations: You should exercise caution in the northern state of Baja California, particularly at night. There were 278 homicides in                        Tijuana from January to June 2013. Mexicali’s murder rate has climbed from 14.3 per 100,000 in 2011 to 15.8 per 100,000 in                        2012. In the majority of these cases, the killings appeared to be targeted TCO assassinations. Turf battles between criminal                        groups resulted in some assassinations in areas of Tijuana and Mexicali frequented by U.S. citizens. Shooting incidents, in                        which innocent bystanders have been injured, have occurred during daylight hours.

Baja California (South): Cabo San Lucas and La Paz are major cities/travel destinations in the state of Southern Baja California                           – see map to identify its exact location: No advisory is in effect.

Campeche: No advisory is in effect.

Chiapas: San Cristobal de las Casas is a major city/travel destination in Chiapas – see map to identify its exact location: No advisory is in effect.

Chihuahua: Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua City, and Copper Canyon are major cities/travel destinations in Chihuahua – see map to identify their exact locations: You should defer non-essential travel to the state of Chihuahua. In Ciudad Juarez, personal travel by USG employees outside                        the northeast portion of the city (the area near the Consulate General) is restricted. Although homicides have decreased markedly—from                        a high of 3,100 homicides in 3010 to 749 in 2012—Ciudad Juarez still has one of the highest homicide rates in Mexico. Crime                        and violence remain serious problems throughout the state of Chihuahua, particularly in the southern portion of the state                        and in the Sierra Mountains, including Copper Canyon. U.S. citizens do not, however, appear to be targeted based on their                        nationality.

Coahuila: You should defer non-essential travel to the state of Coahuila. The State of Coahuila continues to experience high rates                        of violent crimes and narcotics-related murders. TCOs continue to compete for territory and coveted border crossings to the                        United States. The cities of Torreón, Saltillo, Piedras Negras, and Ciudad Acuña have seen an increase of violent crimes within                        the last six months, including murder, kidnapping, and armed carjacking. Of particular safety concern are casinos, sportsbooks,                        or other gambling establishments and adult entertainment establishments, which USG personnel are not permitted to frequent.

Colima: Manzanillo is a major city/travel destination in Colima – see map to identify its exact location: You should defer non-essential travel to the areas of the state of Colima that border the state of Michoacán, including                        the city of Tecoman. You should also exercise caution when travelling to other parts of the state, including Colima City and                        Manzanillo. The security situation along the Michoacan border continues to be the most unstable in the state with gun battles                        occurring between rival criminal groups and with Mexican authorities. Homicides throughout the state rose sharply from 113                        in 2011 to 179 in 2012, according to official Mexican government sources.

Durango: You should defer non-essential travel to the state of Durango, except the city of Durango where you should exercise caution. Cartel                        violence and highway lawlessness are a continuing security concern. Several areas in the state continue to experience high                        rates of violence and remain volatile and unpredictable. The Mexican government deployed troops in March 2013 to quell TCO                        violence in the La Laguna area, which is comprised of the cities of Gomez Palacio and Lerdo in the state of Durango and the                        city of Torreon in the state of Coahuila. Of particular safety concern are casinos, sportsbooks, or other gambling establishments                        and adult entertainment establishments, which USG personnel are not permitted to frequent. USG personnel may not travel outside                        the city of Durango and must abide by a curfew of 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. within a secured venue.

Estado de Mexico: Toluca and Teotihuacan are major travel destinations in Estado de Mexico – see map to identify exact locations: You should defer non-essential travel to the municipalities of Coacalco, Ecatepec, Nezahualcoyotl, La Paz, Valle                        del Chalco, Solidaridad, Chalco, and Ixtapaluca, which are eastern portions of the greater Mexico City metropolitan area,                        located just to the east of the Federal District of Mexico and Benito Juarez airport, unless traveling directly through the                        areas on major thoroughfares. These areas have seen high rates of crime and insecurity. You should also defer non-essential                        travel on any roads between Santa Marta in the southeast portion of the state and Huitzilac in the state of Morelos, including                        the Lagunas de Zempoala National Park and surrounding areas.

Guanajuato: San Miguel de Allende and Leon are major cities/travel destinations in Guanajuato – see map to identify their exact locations: No advisory is in effect.

Guerrero: Acapulco, Ixtapa, Taxco and Zihuatanejo are major cities/travel destinations in Guerrerosee map to identify their exact locations: You should defer non-essential travel to the northwestern and southern portions of the state (the area west and south of                        the town of Arcelia on the border with Estado de Mexico in the north and the town of Tlapa near the border with Oaxaca), except                        for the cities of Acapulco, Zihuatanejo, and Ixtapa. In those cities, you should exercise caution and stay within tourist                        areas. You should also exercise caution and travel only during daylight hours on toll highway (“cuota”) 95D between Mexico                        City and Acapulco and highway 200 between Acapulco and Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa. In Acapulco, defer non-essential travel to areas                        further than 2 blocks inland of the Costera Miguel Aleman Boulevard, which parallels the popular beach areas. Lodging for                        USG personnel is limited to the “Hotel Zone” of Acapulco, beginning from the Hotel Avalon Excalibur Acapulco in the north                        and going south through Puerto Marquez including the Playa Diamante area. Any activity outside the Hotel Zone for USG personnel                        is limited to the coastal area from La Quebrada to the beginning of the Hotel Zone and only during daylight hours. In general,                        the popular tourist area of Diamante, just south of the city, has been less affected by violence. Flying into the coastal                        cities in southern Guerrero remains the preferred method of travel. You should defer non-essential travel by land between                        Acapulco and Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa, travel to Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa only by air, and exercise caution while in Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa.                        If travelling by automobile between Mexico City and Acapulco you should exercise caution and travel only during daylight hours                        on toll highway (“cuota”) 95D, staying on the toll road towards the Playa Diamante area and avoiding the highway running through                        the city of Acapulco. You should also exercise caution in the northern region of Guerrero (the area north of the town of Arcelia                        on the border with Estado de Mexico in the north and the town of Tlapa near the border with Oaxaca). The state of Guerrero                        has seen an increase in violence among rival criminal organizations. Acapulco’s murder rates increased dramatically since                        2009; in response, in 2011 the Government of Mexico sent additional military and federal police to the state to assist State                        security forces in implementing ongoing operation “Guerrero Seguro” (Secure Guerrero) that focuses on combating organized                        crime and returning security to the environs of popular tourist areas. Self-defense groups operate independently of the government                        in the Costa Chica region of eastern Guerrero. Armed members of these groups frequently maintain roadblocks, and although                        not considered hostile to foreigners or tourists, are suspicious of outsiders and should be considered volatile and unpredictable.

Hidalgo: No advisory is in effect.

Jalisco: Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, and Lake Chapala are major cities/travel destinations in Jalisco – see map to identify their exact locations: You should defer non-essential travel to areas of the state that borders the state of Michoacán. The security situation                        along the Michoacán and Zacatecas borders continues to be unstable and gun battles between criminal groups and authorities                        occur. Concerns include roadblocks placed by individuals posing as police or military personnel and recent gun battles between                        rival TCOs involving automatic weapons.  You should exercise caution in rural areas and when using secondary highways, particularly                        along the northern border of the state. Except for the areas of the state that border Michoacan, there is no advisory in effect                        for daytime travel within major population centers or major highways in the state of Jalisco. Intercity travel at night is                        not recommended. There is no recommendation against travel to Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta. There is also no recommendation                        against travel on principal highways in Jalisco between Guadalajara including the portions that cross in to the southern portions                        of the state of Nayarit.

Mexico City (also known as the Federal District): No advisory is in effect. See also the discussion in the section on Estado de Mexico for areas within the greater Mexico                        City metropolitan area.

Michoacán: Morelia is a major city/travel destination in Michoacánsee map to identify exact locations: You should defer non-essential travel to the state of Michoacán except the cities of Morelia and Lázaro Cardenas where you                        should exercise caution. Flying into Morelia and Lázaro Cardenas is the recommended method of travel. Attacks on Mexican government                        officials, law enforcement and military personnel, and other incidents of TCO-related violence, have occurred throughout Michoacán.                        In the northwestern portion of the state, self-defense groups operate independently of the government. Armed members of the                        groups frequently maintain roadblocks, and although not considered hostile to foreigners or tourists, are suspicious of outsiders                        and should be considered volatile and unpredictable. Groups in Michoacan are reputed to be linked to TCOs.

Morelos: Cuernavaca is a major city/travel destination in Morelossee attached map to identify their exact locations: You should exercise caution in the state of Morelos due to the unpredictable nature of TCO violence. You should also defer                        non-essential travel on any roads between Huitzilac in the northwest corner of the state and Santa Marta in the state of Mexico,                        including the Lagunas de Zempoala National Park and surrounding areas. On August 24, 2012 two USG employees were injured after                        being fired upon by Federal Police officers on an isolated road north of Tres Marias, Morelos. Numerous incidents of narcotics-related                        violence have also occurred in the city of Cuernavaca.

Nayarit: You should defer non-essential travel to areas of the state of Nayarit that border the states of Sinaloa or Durango, as well                        as all rural areas and secondary highways. You should exercise caution when traveling to the cities of Tepic, Xalisco, or                        San Blas. There is no recommendation against travel to the Vallarta-Nayarit area in the southern portion of the state also                        known as the Riviera Nayarit or to principal highways in the southern portion of the state used to travel from Guadalajara                        to Puerto Vallarta.

Nuevo Leon: Monterrey is a major city/travel destination in Nuevo Leonsee map to identify its exact location: You should defer non-essential travel to the state of Nuevo Leon, except the metropolitan area of Monterrey where you should                        exercise caution. Although the level of TCO violence and general insecurity in Monterrey has decreased within the last 12                        months, sporadic gun battles continue to occur in the greater Monterrey area. Adult entertainment establishments and casinos                        continue to be targets of TCO activity. TCOs have kidnapped, and in some cases murdered American citizens, even when ransom                        demands are met. TCOs have been known to attack local government facilities, prisons and police stations, and are engaged                        in public shootouts with the military and between themselves. TCOs have used vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices against                        military and law enforcement units as well as incendiary devices against several types of businesses. Pedestrians and innocent                        bystanders have been killed in these incidents. Local police and private patrols have limited capacity to deter criminal elements                        or respond effectively to security incidents. As a result of a Department of State assessment of the overall security situation,                        the Consulate General in Monterrey is a partially unaccompanied post with no minor dependents of USG personnel permitted.                        USG personnel serving at the U.S. Consulate General in Monterrey may not frequent casinos, sportsbooks, or other gambling                        establishments. USG personnel may not travel outside the San Pedro Garza Garcia municipal boundaries between 1 a.m. and 6                        a.m., except for travel to the airport after 5 a.m.

Oaxaca: Oaxaca, Huatulco and Puerto Escondido are major cities/travel destinations in Oaxaca – see map to identify their exact locations: No advisory is in effect.

Puebla: No advisory is in effect.

Queretaro: No advisory is in effect.

Quintana Roo: Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya and Tulum are major cities/travel destinations in Quintana Roosee attached map to identify their exact locations: No advisory is in effect.

San Luis Potosi: You should defer non-essential travel to the state of San Luis Potosi, except the city of San Luis Potosi where you should                        exercise caution. The entire stretch of highway 57D in San Luis Potosi and portions of the state east of highway 57D towards                        Tamaulipas are particularly dangerous. A USG employee was killed and another wounded when they were attacked in their U.S.                        government vehicle on Highway 57 near Santa Maria del Rio in 2011. Cartel violence and highway lawlessness are a continuing                        security concern. USG personnel may not frequent casinos, sportsbooks, or other gambling establishments and adult entertainment                        establishments. USG personnel may not travel outside the City of San Luis Potosi and must abide by a curfew of 1 a.m. to 6                        a.m. within a secured venue.

Sinaloa: Mazatlanis a major city/travel destination in Sinaloa – see map to identify its exact location: You should defer non-essential travel to the state of Sinaloa except the city of Mazatlan where you should exercise caution,                        particularly late at night and in the early morning. One of Mexico’s most powerful TCOs is based in the state of Sinaloa.                        With the exception of Ciudad Juarez, since 2006 more homicides have occurred in the state’s capital city of Culiacan than                        in any other city in Mexico. Travel off the toll roads (“cuotas”) in remote areas of Sinaloa is especially dangerous and should                        be avoided. We recommend that any travel in Mazatlan be limited to Zona Dorada and the historic town center, as well as direct                        routes to/from these locations and the airport.

Sonora: Nogales, Puerto Peñasco, Hermosillo, and San Carlos are major cities/travel destinations in Sonora – see map to identify their exact locations: U.S. citizens visiting Puerto Peñasco should exercise caution and use the Lukeville, Arizona/Sonoyta, Sonora border crossing,                        in order to limit driving through Mexico. You should defer non-essential travel between the city of Nogales and the cities                        of Sonoyta and Caborca (which area also includes the smaller cities of Saric, Tubutama, and Altar), defer non-essential travel                        to the eastern edge of the State of Sonora which borders the State of Chihuahua (all points along that border east of the                        northern city of Agua Prieta and the southern town of Alamos), and defer non-essential travel within the city of Ciudad Obregon                        and southward with the exception of travel to Alamos (traveling only during daylight hours and using only the Highway 15 toll                        road, or “cuota”, and Sonora State Road 162). Sonora is a key region in the international drug and human trafficking trades,                        and can be extremely dangerous for travelers. The region west of Nogales, east of Sonoyta, and from Caborca north, including                        the towns of Saric, Tubutama and Altar, and the eastern edge of Sonora bordering Chihuahua, are known centers of illegal activity.                        Travelers throughout Sonora are encouraged to limit travel to main roads during daylight hours.

Tabasco: Villahermosa is a major city/travel destination in Tabasco -see attached map to identify its exact location: No advisory is in effect.

Tamaulipas: Matamoros, Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa, and Tampico are major cities/travel destinations in Tamaulipas – see map to identify their exact locations: You should defer non-essential travel to the state of Tamaulipas. All USG employees are prohibited from personal travel                        on Tamaulipas highways outside of Matamoros and Nuevo Laredo due to the tenuous security situation. In Matamoros, USG employees                        are subject to further movement restrictions between midnight and 6 a.m. USG employees may not frequent casinos and adult                        entertainment establishments. Matamoros, Reynosa, Nuevo Laredo, and Ciudad Victoria have experienced grenade attacks in the                        past year, as well as numerous reported gun battles. Nuevo Laredo has seen a marked increase in the number of murders, carjackings,                        and robberies in the past year. For example, the numbers of murders are up 92.5% over last year. These crimes occur in all                        parts of the city at all times of the day. The kidnapping rate for Tamaulipas, the highest for all states in Mexico, more                        than doubled in the past year. In February 2013, four masked and armed individuals attempted to kidnap a USG employee in Matamoros                        during daylight hours. All travelers should be aware of the risks posed by armed robbery and carjacking on state highways                        throughout Tamaulipas, particularly on highways and roads outside of urban areas along the northern border. Traveling outside                        of cities after dark is particularly dangerous. While no highway routes through Tamaulipas are considered safe, many of the                        crimes reported to the U.S. Consulate General in Matamoros have taken place along the Matamoros-Tampico highway.

Tlaxcala: No advisory is in effect.

Veracruz: You should exercise caution when traveling in the state of Veracruz. The state of Veracruz continues to experience violence                        among rival criminal organizations. Mexican federal security forces continue to assist state and local security forces in                        providing security and combating organized crime.

Yucatan: Merida and Chichen Itza are major cities/travel destinations in Yucatan –see map to identify its exact location: No advisory is in effect.

Zacatecas: You should defer non-essential travel within the state of Zacatecas to the area bordering the states of Aguascalientes, Coahuila,                        Durango, and Jalisco and exercise caution in the interior of the state including the city of Zacatecas. The regions of the                        state bordering Durango and Coahuila as well as the cities of Fresnillo and Fresnillo-Sombrete and surrounding area are particularly                        dangerous. The northwestern portion of the state of Zacatecas has become notably dangerous and insecure. Robberies and carjackings                        are occurring with increased frequency and both local authorities and residents have reported a surge in observed TCO activity. This                        area is remote, and local authorities are unable to regularly patrol it or quickly respond to incidents that occur there.                        Gun battles between criminal groups and authorities occur in the area of the state bordering the state of Jalisco. There have                        also been reports of roadblocks and false checkpoints on highways between the states of Zacatecas and Jalisco. The city of                        Fresnillo, the area extending northwest from Fresnillo along Highway 45 (Fresnillo-Sombrete) between Highways 44 and 49, and                        highway 49 northwards from Fresnillo through Durango and in to Chihuahua are considered dangerous. Extreme caution should                        be taken when traveling in the remainder of the state. Of particular safety concern are casinos, sportsbooks, or other gambling                        establishments and adult entertainment establishments, which USG personnel may not frequent. USG personnel may not travel                        outside the City of Zacatecas after dark and must abide by a curfew of 1 a.m to 6 a.m. within a secured venue.

Further Information

For more detailed information on staying safe in Mexico, please see the State Department’s Country Specific Information for Mexico.

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the State Department’s internet web site, where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States                        and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 001-202-501-4444. These numbers are                        available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). U.S. citizens traveling                        or residing overseas are encouraged to enroll with the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. For any emergencies involving U.S. citizens in Mexico, please contact the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate with responsibility                        for that person’s location in Mexico. For information on the ten U.S. consular districts in Mexico, complete with links to                        Embassy and Consulate websites, please consult the Mexico U.S. Consular District map. The numbers provided below for the Embassy and Consulates are available around the clock. The U.S. Embassy is located in                        Mexico City at Paseo de la Reforma 305, Colonia Cuauhtemoc, telephone from the United States: 011-52-55-5080-2000; telephone                        within Mexico City: 5080-2000; telephone long distance within Mexico 01-55-5080-2000. U.S. citizens may also contact the Embassy                        by e-mail.

Consulates (with consular districts):

  • Ciudad Juarez (Chihuahua): Paseo de la Victoria 3650, tel. (011)(52)(656) 227-3000.
  • Guadalajara (Nayarit, Jalisco, Aguas Calientes, and Colima): Progreso 175, telephone (011)(52)(333) 268-2100.
  • Hermosillo (Sinaloa and the southern part of the state of Sonora): Avenida Monterrey 141, telephone (011)(52)(662) 289-3500.
  • Matamoros (the southern part of Tamaulipas with the exception of the city of Tampico): Avenida Primera 2002, telephone (011)(52)(868)                           812-4402.
  • Merida (Campeche, Yucatan, and Quintana Roo): Calle 60 no. 338-K x 29 y 31, Col. Alcala Martin, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico 97050,                           telephone (011)(52)(999) 942-5700 or 202-250-3711 (U.S. number).
  • Monterrey (Nuevo Leon, Durango, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosi, and the southern part of Coahuila): Avenida Constitucion 411 Poniente,                           telephone (011)(52)(818) 047-3100.
  • Nogales (the northern part of Sonora): Calle San Jose, Nogales, Sonora, telephone (011)(52)(631) 311-8150.
  • Nuevo Laredo (the northern part of Coahuila and the northwestern part of Tamaulipas): Calle Allende 3330, col. Jardin, telephone                           (011)(52)(867) 714-0512.
  • Tijuana (Baja California Norte and Baja California Sur): Paseo de Las Culturas s/n Mesa de Otay, telephone (011) (52) (664)                           977-2000.

All other Mexican states, the Federal District of Mexico City, and the city of Tampico, Tamaulipas, are part of the Embassy’s                        consular district.

Consular Agencies:

  • Acapulco: Hotel Emporio, Costera Miguel Aleman 121 – Suite 14, telephone (011)(52)(744) 481-0100 or (011)(52)(744) 484-0300.
  • Cancún: Blvd. Kukulcan Km 13 ZH Torre La Europea, Despacho 301 Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico C.P. 77500; telephone (011)(52)(998)                           883-0272.
  • Cozumel: Plaza Villa Mar en el Centro, Plaza Principal, (Parque Juárez between Melgar and 5th Ave.) 2nd floor, locales #8                           and 9, telephone (011)(52)(987) 872-4574 or, 202-459-4661 (a U.S. number).
  • Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo: Hotel Fontan, Blvd. Ixtapa, telephone (011)(52)(755) 553-2100.
  • Los Cabos: Las Tiendas de Palmilla Local B221, Carretera Transpeninsular Km. 27.5, San José del Cabo, BCS, Mexico 23406 Telephone:                           (624) 143-3566 Fax: (624) 143-6750.
  • Mazatlán: Playa Gaviotas #202, Zona Dorada, telephone (011)(52)(669) 916-5889.
  • Oaxaca: Macedonio Alcalá no. 407, interior 20, telephone (011)(52)(951) 514-3054, (011) (52)(951) 516-2853.
  • Piedras Negras: Abasolo #211, Zona Centro, Piedras Negras, Coah., Tel. (011)(52)(878) 782-5586.
  • Playa del Carmen: “The Palapa,” Calle 1 Sur, between Avenida 15 and Avenida 20, telephone (011)(52)(984) 873-0303 or 202-370-6708(a                           U.S. number).
  • Puerto Vallarta: Paradise Plaza, Paseo de los Cocoteros #1, Local #4, Interior #17, Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit, telephone (011)(52)(322)                           222-0069.
  • San Luis Potosí: Edificio “Las Terrazas”, Avenida Venustiano Carranza 2076-41, Col. Polanco, telephone: (011)(52)(444) 811-7802/7803.
  • San Miguel de Allende: Centro Comercial La Luciernaga, Libramiento Manuel Zavala (Pepe KBZON), telephone (011)(52)(415) 152-2357.


Z40: The aftermath of Miguel Treviño’s Arrest and Looking at the Contenders

Posted on

July 17, 2013

During the early hours of Monday, the leader Miguel Treviño Morales, known as “Cuarenta” or “40”, was captured by the Mexican Marines in a municipality about 27 km south west of Nuevo Laredo…..
Setting  aside the unproven, sensationalistic accounts, relayed by captured narcos, and perpetuated by the media, legends such as Miguel Treviño boiling babies, one only has to view the photos of 72 migrants slaughtered by Zetas to establish how brutal Zetas are. ..
It was Zetas that crafted a drug business diversification, by expanding into the business of human trafficking. It is big business for Zetas, who charge thousands of dollars to transport economic migrants into the US.  But the process is not so precise.
Speaking directly with economic migrants through my work with the Casa Migrantes, I have learned that the journey is prepped  by assuming two things will happen.  They will be kidnapped, and females will be raped.  All migrants  prepare for the eventuality of being kidnapped, at the minimum of one time during their 2000 mile journey.  Family members prepare and await the call from narcos demanding “ransom” money.
Zetas draw from  these huge migrant pools to select recruits they deem best for narco work, or the sex industry.  The outcome for those refusing to work for the Zetas,  is depicted in the photos of the  72 slaughtered migrants whose bodies were discovered in an abandon ranch in Tamaulipas. (Above)

So yes they are brutal. Yes they kill innocents.

But brutality was a part of drug war apart and long before the formation of the Zetas, and contrary to popular belief they did not initiate   the method of decapitation for the purposes of terror, it was La Familia Michoacán who shocked Mexico, in October 2006, when they tossed  5 decapitated heads on to the floor of a Michoacán disco.  The heads were accompanied by a “cartulina”(poster board with narco message) that read;
“La Familia does not kill for pay; it does not kill women or innocents. Only those who deserve to die will die. Everybody understand: this is divine justice.” In 2006, such acts were very rare, today decapitations are so common they are not shocking to those that follow the Mexican Drug War.  Although previously rare, decapitations were a part of the cartel arsenal of terror and revenge prior to the lobbing of 5 decapitated heads in the Uruapan disco. It was the act of using multiple decapitated heads thrown into a public environment to send a message that was new. Prior to this horrific occurrence, LFM had used decapitation to settle scores and revenge, but not to send a message.  The victims were props, either low level narco or innocents, it was never made clear.
The “Hearts and Minds of Citizens” A defining difference between Zetas and other cartels  is that Zetas have never cultivated the hearts and minds of the people.  They simply, at the most basic level, are uninterested and uncaring what people think of them or their actions. Most cartels have the opposite agenda, with PR machines intact they espouse their work as good, in the sense they are helpers of the poor, and infirm and never would harm innocents.   This is a tactical maneuver called “pyops”, that influences the value system of people, in which reality becomes shrouded.  Whereas Zetas use fear and terror as a means of control.
When I arrived in Coahuila a decade ago, Zetas were a presence but working as enforcers for the Golfo Cartel (CDG). Zetas were much less overt as enforcers, taking orders from CDG’s premier leader Osiel Cardenas Guillen.
Osiel was one of those leaders who thought it important to capture the hearts and minds of the people, to gain their support.  He was fulfilling requests for medical and emergency assistance, throwing lavish parties for citizens with expensive giveaways, and celebrations at Christmas and Children’s Day (photo above).
However, behind the scenes he was ordering brutal murders, extortion and kidnappings. LFM worked for CDG as enforcers in the south.  Osiel was captured after a shootout in 2003 and imprisoned in Mexico, although he continued  commanding the cartel from behind bars.
The violence, including decapitations by enforcers were conducted on orders given by Osiel and the other CDG leaders.  Osiel earned the  nickname of  “friend killer”,  stemming from ordering the execution of his his good friend Salvador Gómez Herrera, aka “el Chava”, then the co-leader of the Golfo Cartel along with Osiel.  Osiel wanted to command solo.

Gómez, was selected by Osiel (at left) and given the honor of being his daughters godfather.  It was shortly after driving away from the baptism party celebration, with Osiel in the vehicle, when a sicario sitting  in the backseat, fired a gunshot into the head of Gomez, blowing his brains out.

To this day many citizens think of Osiel and a kind and generous leader that would never harm innocents, or extort or kidnap.  The PR machine could not have done a better job.
His command stopped in 2007 when he was extradited to the US.  He pled guilty in a US Federal courtroom where upon the brutal fearless leader broke down and wept.  He received a 25 year sentence.
The Treviño Morales Family Clearly, it has been a horrible year  for the Treviño Morales family. Then again 2012 wasn’t so great either.
Arcelia Morales, is the 74 year old matriarch, the woman that gave birth to all of the 13 Treviño children.  Juan, Arcelia, Irma, Alicia, Rodolfo, María, José, Ana Isabel, Jesús, Miguel, Ángel Óscar Omar, Cristina and Adolfo, born between the years of 1955 to 1980.
Arcelia and Rodolfo, father of the Treviño siblings, migrated to Texas from the Mexican border town of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas.  The family settled in a modest Pleasant Grove neighborhood of Dallas Texas.
Where Miguel appears chronologically  in the family tree is in dispute, even by the US and Mexican Governments, his year of birth is either 1973 or 1980, although it is certain he was  born in Nuveo Laredo where the family has always maintained a home.
Arcelia continues to live in the Dallas area and Nuevo Laredo.
Miguel grew up idolizing his older brother and  the first born Treviño child, Juan Francisco.  Juan had a landscaping business in Laredo Texas.  40 worked for his brother in the business, which included servicing the properties of well-placed narcos having homes in Laredo. He was recruited by “Los Tejas”of Nuevo Laredo.
Though he began as a go-fer which included tasks such as getting lunches, and running errands  he was a fast learner, bilingual and had the ability to move between the US and Mexico freely.  With his skills he was able to rise quickly in the ranks fortified by helping his brother Juan, who had by this time gone from pulling weeds to smuggling weed.
In 1995 Juan, he was convicted of conspiracy to smuggle hundreds of pounds of marijuana into Texas through Nuevo Laredo.  Both Miguel and José were implicated in the investigation leading to the arrest of Juan; it fell short of enough to overcome the standard of reasonable doubt, so they were not charged in the case.
Juan was sentenced to 20 years in prison; he is in the Florence Federal Prison in Colorado.  His original release date was July 2013 but has been delayed for an undisclosed reason to March 2014.
Treviño Clan’s “Años Horribles”2012-2013

In the year of 2012 and the 7 months of 2013 the Treviño family crisis list includes:

Miguel Angel Treviño Morales, 40, leader of the Zetas, was captured
José Treviño Morales, 46 (a naturalized U.S. citizen) was convicted in a Zetas related money laundering/horseracing scheme.  He is awaiting sentencing. (with wife and daughter in the photo above)
Zulema Treviño, 39, wife of José also a naturalized U.S. citizen, pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy in March, she is awaiting sentencing, her whereabouts unknown.
Alexandra García Treviño, daughter of José and Zulema, pleaded guilty to having knowledge of a felony. She’s believed to be living in California with her military husband.
Omar Treviño Morales, indicted in the U.S., has not been arrested.
Alejandro Treviño Chávez nephew of Miguel was shot by forces in Piedras Negras Coahuila in October 2012 sparking a “Nephew for a Nephew” retaliation resulting in the death of Eduardo Lalo Moreira, nephew of the governor of Coahuila.
Juan Francisco Treviño Chavez  “El Quico” (above though it may be mislabeled) son of Juan senior, arrested in Monterrey in June 2012. Quico escaped from a Nuevo Laredo prison in 2010.
The future of Los Zetas

The feared leader went down without a shot.  That does not surprise this reporter. He is a calculating criminal and leader.  Surrender equates to; opportunity.

Powerful cartels are big business.  Sinaloa at the top and Zetas are in scores of countries around the globe. They plan for every eventuality, so it is way too soon to write the Zetas epitaph.  That said, even the best laid plans fall apart by the unplanned circumstances, or rogue players.
Perhaps a serendipitous advantage, just before and directly after the death of premier leader of the Zetas Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano in October 2012, infighting had resulted in two known splits within the group, those staying with the cartel were deemed as being faithful to 40.  Another fracture is possible, but more so if 40’s brother Omar (Z42) is not named the heir to leadership.  Or an unknown factor such as a power play by one or more of the members to overthrow the Treviño hold on the cartel.
Splits within groups are deadly to the organization, case in point is CDG.  When I moved to Mexico, CDG was arguably the most powerful cartel, and the oldest, having begun as smuggling alcohol to the US during the prohibition.  Although they are experiencing a strengthening, they had been weaken through several events; Osiels arrest, death of key players such as Tony Tormenta, inept leadership, the split with Zetas, and a division within the organization.  Had they not been so powerful before those events, they would not exist today.
Another factor in their survival can be attributed  to the alliance with CDS (Sinaloa), teaming against the Zetas.  CDS made the alliance to attain a path in the northeast.  It is no secret Chapo has wanted the NE border plazas and none more than the lucrative Nuevo Laredo Plaza, if CDS acquires the Nuevo Laredo plaza, they will control every major plaza along the frontera. .  Many felt if the  Zetas were eliminated in the NE region,  at that time CDS would break ties with CDG and control the NE.
If Omar (42) gains premier leadership, it is likely that 40 will govern the organization from behind bars.  As far as franchising plazas or “leasing” for a price the use of routes, similar to CAF in Tijuana, that is also a possibility, it would be smart of Zetas to concede their position of black and white and attempt agreements.
As Osiel did, until extradited to the US,  it will be probable that 40 would continue in control Zetas behind bars .
It was disturbing to see that he was taken into custody sans handcuffs.  It could be the style of Mexico’s new president Enrique Peña, or it could be an indication of a lax treatment that lies ahead for the capo once he is incarcerated.  Capos have a comparative luxurious life behind bars.  Two room cells with kitchens, electronics, liquor, and just about any amenity they want.
The other “opportunity” for the fallen leader is escape.  Though the days of Chapo’s laundry basket escape are said to be a thing of the past, Zetas are known for daring escapes, involving scores of inmates, and in Piedras Negras an escape of over 100 inmates were facilitated by a tunnel. However, how feasible that would be in the more secure federal prison system remains to be seen.  Money has been known to buy freedom, not a likely scenario, but not impossibility.
When Osiel was apprehended, Zeta enforcer “Mamito”, the former GAFE member, headed an extravagant, but failed attempt to free the incarcerated leader. The ambitious plan used air support of three helicopters and over 60 Zetas as the group moved in on maximum security prison ‘El Altiplano’.
The best course would be if Mexico would allow 40 to be extradited to the United States.  Given the strained US relationship with the new administration of EPN, that is unlikely.  EPN has detached his administration from US agencies and cutoff the previous privileges enjoyed by US agencies under the Calderon administration, such as open access to information and data.
It would not be surprising to learn the US provided the information to the Mexican Navy to execute the capture of 40.  The Mexican Navy is the sole hold out in the sea of Mexican agencies having cut off open relationships with the US.  The Mexican Navy is the most respected Mexican agency, highly regarded by US agencies.
The US recently was instrumental in the capture of the father in law of Chapo Guzman.  The capture was called a “gift”from the DEA to EPN.  Some think the capture of Z40 was another gift from the US. Mexican officials ignored the direct question when proposed in the press conference conducted to announce the capture.
Others are in the belief that the capture was perhaps a gift from the EPN administration to Chapo Guzman.
Top contenders as the new leader of Zetas
Appointing 42 as the Zetas new leader would likely be the most desirable scenario for the fallen leader.  The bond of trust between the brothers is paramount to the organization continuing, at least for now, under the direction of Miguel Treviño behind bars.
However the list of possible replacement can be shortened to four standouts.
Omar Treviño Morales ” Z-42 “, brother and strongman” Z-40 “, who is identifies by Mexican agencies by being responsible for the same degree of violence as his brother Miguel.  People on the ground in Coahuila, where Omar resides, consider him a person with potential of even greater violence and brutality.
Maxiley Barahona Nadales, “El Contador” or “El Maxiley”, if it’s a leader with the potential for high brutality that gets the nod, this is the Zeta.  The Mexican agency PGR Labels him as “Extremely Dangerous”.  He is the second in line in the Zeta hierarchy, if Omar is not the leader, it will be this man.
He is in charge of the plazas of Veracruz, Tabasco and Chiapas.  Under his direction a mass of murders, and kidnappings have been conducted in the regions that he is responsible for. He is also suspected of detonating grenades at the offices of the Attorney General Justice of the state of Chiapas .
Román Ricardo Palomo Rincones, “El Coyote”,  This Zeta is one of the leaders in charge of the kidnappings and massacres of Central American migrants, including those in the municipality of San Fernando, Tamaulipas.
The PGR identifies him as being  involved in the murder of 145 people who were abducted when” traveling on ‘Omnibus de Mexico’ and ‘Commercial Orient’ bus lines, travelling north from various states to Tamaulipas,  through the city of  San Fernando, to  Reynosa, from there hoping to  cross into the US.
Sergio Ricardo Basurto Peña “el Grande “, The Trusted and close friend of Miguel Treviño is in control of the narcotiendas, in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas.
There are other contenders, but these are known to be at the top, trusted and respected by Miguel Treviño, making it likely one or more will be appointed to fill the position vacated by the arrest of 40.