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Tumbicastío, Michoacán Autodefensas and Special Forces: Closing in on El Chayo and La Tuta

Posted on

March 2, 2014

The Hunt for Chayo and La Tuta
I  reported on Friday that Chayo was located at a specific ranch in Tumbicastio, Michoacán .
After being reinstated as spokesman and leader for Tepalcatepec autodefensas, Dr Mireles was ratified as equal spokesman and leader of the autodefensas general council with Hipolito Mora and Papa Smurf.  Presently, that is the status of Dr. Mireles.
On Friday there occurred a meeting between autodefensas and the Feds.
Autodefensas have agreed to not engage in advancement of large cities, at this time.  Feds have agreed to send an elite team of Special Forces and satellite tracing equipment to the location of the discovery of Chayo.  La Tuta is also in that area.
Tumbicastío, an extremely remote area, with problematic accessibility, it is located high in the Sierra Madre del Sur mountains at an elevation of 12, 600 ft.  Because having only two dirt mountain roads accessing Tumbicastío, people of the sierras have learned to use steep, treacherous access pathways to maneuver in and out of mountain roadway.
 
Dr . Mireles speaking to the crowd (Comunitario Octavio’s foto)
The dirt roads are no picnic in of themselves.  Snaking through the Sierra requires knowledge of the area or an abundance of time.  This plays in favor of Caballeros Templarios who navigate the escape routes quickly permitting escape.
Due to the lack of knowledge in navigating the mountains, Federal forces have been stopped in their tracks, after  receiving information to the location of key Templarios leaders, namely Chayo and La Tuta.
Since Friday, the concentration of federal forces has been Tumbiscatío to Arteaga.  Bringing with them satellite equipment, heavy artillery and tanks.  For their part AD teams have accompanied Special Forces as they advance in to Tumbiscatio, and have stationed in points encircling the mountain range.
Publically today, Dr. Mireles stated to reporters, that with their joint action with the Special federal forces, they are close to capturing in Nazario Moreno González, aka “El Chayo” and with luck, also Servando Gomez, aka “La Tuta “.
Dr. Mireles shared with reporters, including El Universal:
“We are close to some leaders, “El Chayo”, was on a ranch near Tumbiscatío” reports José Manuel Mireles….
But here at Borderland Beat readers already knew that “news” from our “source”.
Dr. Mireles Calls for the Ouster of Infiltrators
Dr. Mireles visited several communities today in an autodefensa caravan, reminiscent of his life prior to the airplane crash that left him in critical condition.  He is partially paralyzed and blinded in one eye.  Although he appears to have decided to forego his last two weeks of therapy, he seems rejuvenated from just a week ago, and appears stronger.
He visited the site of the Los Reyes killings of 5 unarmed autodefensas, killed when Templarios open fired from rooftops.  Dr. Mireles, spoke to the crowd, had a moment of silence and left a bouquet of flowers on the black and white checkerboard tiled walkway where those killed fell.
A part of his message today to the crowds, was to not be afraid to give information about infiltrators that wear the shirts of autodefensas, but who are criminal infiltrators.

 
Tomorrow Autodefensas will oust Apatzingán’s Mayor Uriel Chávez
(El Chayo’s nephew)
 

Autodefensas report that tomorrow mayor Uriel Chávez will be removed from office.  He is charged as operating under the direction of Caballeros Templarios.  A new city council has been selected.

 

click on any image to enlarge

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.borderlandbeat.com/2014/03/tumbicastio-michoacan-autodefensas-and.html

 

Threatened by Chapo: former Nuevo Laredo mayor Benjamín Galván kidnapped

Posted on

March 1, 2014

Saturday March 1st update: Galván was found near his home, reportedly decapitated, the person kidnapped with him is said to have met the same fate. In my opinion it makes no sense that this was the work of Chapo, I am guessing it is a political killing.
Benjamín Galván Gómez, a former mayor of Nuevo Laredo in the period 2011 – 2013, disappeared on Thursday, along with another person.
His family reported that the former mayor was last seen in his office, with plans to travel across the border into Texas.
As Galván approached his car with a friend to go to the city of Laredo, Texas, both were intercepted by armed men forced out of their vehicle and into another.
The former mayor was threatened by a group working for Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who accused Galván of protecting Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, alias “Z40″.
 
In April 17, 2012, CDG Sinaloa gunmen executed 14 alleged members of  “Los Zetas” who were abandoned in front of the mayor office at city hall of Nuevo Laredo.
The bodies were left in 10 black bags inside a van parked on the side of City Hall. In the vehicle they left a “narco manta” signed by “El Chapo” threatening the mayor and his police chief.
Subsequently, two car bombs were detonated, one outside the Nuevo Laredo Security Building  and one near City Hall, sending a clear and threatening message to Mayor Benjamín Galván and Security Director Alejandro Garza Balmori.
In February 2013 Garza was kidnapped and vanished, just days after Garza’s two  brothers, Manuel and Jose, Jose a PGR Prosecutor, were killed in the metropolitan area of ​​Monterrey while on their way to investigate the kidnapping of yet another brother, taken at the Tamaulipas border.
 
The two brothers were found dead inside the trunk of their white Passat, abandoned on the side of Nuevo Laredo Highway in the town of Cienega de Flores, 40 kilometers north of Monterrey, Nuevo León.
In Spring of 2012, a violent conflict between CDG/Chapo and Los Zetas ensued resulting in gruesome mass hangings, mass dismemberments, narco messages and threats between the cartels. (warning link contains graphic photos of dismembered bodies)
sources: facebook, Borderland Beat archives, Proceso,LMT Thank you to BB reader Tyrone! and others

4 armed suspects die in Tamaulipas

Posted on

February 26, 2014

Four unidentified armed suspects were killed in an armed encounter with Mexican security forces in the northern Mexican border state of Tamaulipas Tuesday afternoon, according to official Mexican government news reports.


A road patrol of Mexican Naval Infantry came under small arms fire in San Fernando municipality near ejido Santa Teresa from armed suspects traveling aboard a GMC Sierra pickup truck.  Marine return fire killed all suspects in the truck.
Inside the truck sailors found three rifles and four weapons magazines.

 

 

 

 

http://www.borderlandbeat.com/2014/02/4-armed-suspects-die-in-tamaulipas.html

 

Operation Gargoyle: Pursuit, capture and confessions of El Chapo

Posted on

February 26, 2014

Respectful, using no bad language, and in an even voice, Chapo confessed to having killed between 2,000 and 3,000 persons”
CIUDAD DE MEXICO, Mexico,
On January 19th of this year, 200 elite Mexican Navy marines landed in the Culiacán, Sinaloa, airport.
It was the start of Operation Gargoyle.
This is the story of how Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, the most wanted man in the world, was located, pursued, surrounded and captured, according to the testimony of the Navy soldiers who arrested him, their commanders who coordinated the operation, and the elements of the PGR (Attorney General) who assisted.

Translated by unvato for Borderland Beat (parts of the text interlinks to the video found at bottom)

This is the building.
This is the apartment.
This is the room.
This is the bath.
And behind this door, the last hideaway of ‘El Chapo’ Guzman.
Here, he was apprehended by an elite commando, made up of six marine troops.

To locate him, they tapped his phones, they used aircraft to spy on him, they intercepted his radio communications, they had recent photographs of him, they figured out he had three weaknesses (money, women and candy), that he was a fan of Tutsi-Pop and peanuts, that he frequently ordered good food from restaurants, that he never spent more than two days under the same roof, that he dyed his hair and mustache, that he had exercise walking machines in all his safe houses, that he had recently lost weight, that he didn’t use a cell phone, that many times he would make his men eat the food they took him to make sure it wasn’t poisoned, that he didn’t use drugs any more, that he was so mistrustful that he allowed only four people to be with him at all times: Chaneke, his chief of security; Condor, his chief of communications;  Nariz, his main errand boy, all three former members of Army Special Forces, and his cook.

It was 6:00 a.m., Mazatlan, Sinaloa, time, 7:00 a.m. Central Mexico time, this past Saturday, February 22, when Joaquin Guzman Loera showed his face through the bathroom door of the main bedroom in apartment No. 401 in the Torre Miramar (Miramar Tower) on the Mazatlan coast.  Then he showed his unarmed hands and, on being firmly told to surrender because he was surrounded, he responded four times: “OK”.
But to be exact, the story of the arrest of the most wanted man in the world began 120 miles from here, a month ago, in a place in the middle of nowhere.
There’s nothing to see anywhere. Wherever one turns, it’s swamp, dirt and bushes; for “El Chapo Guzman”, his new jewel, the ranch in the community of Sanchez Celis, in the municipality of Culiacán
Chapo’s ‘Miramar’ condo is now rendered a tourist attraction

For the authorities, Plan ‘A’.

Here’s where they wanted to capture him. It looked like an ideal place to them because there were no civilians around, because it is much more difficult to escape and get lost.
In addition, government intelligence reports pointed out that Guzman Loera visited the property only with his family, to spend time with his children, and for that reason, he preferred that there not be a lot of weapons and bodyguards around.
This is the access to the ranch. With mosquito netting that covers the garage completely, so that if somebody were lost around there, taking pictures or getting ready to shoot, he would not have a target, would not be able to see him, could not photograph him.
He would get down from his vehicle parked here, knowing full well that they could be spying on him from the air, with the use of satellite systems or aircraft. The route remains covered all the way, roofed until you get to the house. This is the main ranch house, which, according to what they tell us, was still under construction, and here, outside, we can see a new platform in this swamp, and the paradise he had constructed to visit with his family; Joaquin Guzman Loera.
The ranch is a complex of bungalows with a main house that surround a jacuzzi, a wading pool and a swimming pool with a bar.
It’s all new.
The guest room is a luxurious suite of 150 meters square, with glowing furniture and with all the amenities.
The main house includes a principal bedroom, where presumably the leader of the Sinaloa cartel slept, and two adjacent rooms for the children and the nannies, joined by a dining room and an open kitchen.
One bungalow is a play room still being furnished, another one has space for ladies’ and men’s rooms; another is a kitchen that can cook for a banquet.
Government technology also allowed observation of last minute work and detected when “Chapo” got there, much earlier than they had expected him.
That’s why Plan ‘A’ was aborted. Government agents weren’t prepared to proceed against such a powerful objective. And ‘Chapo’ Guzman never went back to the ranch.
Chapo’s new ranch

Plan ‘B’ was located 21 miles to the north. In the very heart of the city of Culiacán, his bastion.

Authorities say that discretion his strength. He didn’t use sports cars or showy pickups, but he did use high quality pickups and automobiles with Level 7 armor, the highest grade available.  He would travel in one vehicle, two at most.
His safe houses, in middle or upper middle class neighborhoods. Government reports describe the homes as attractive, safe and with escape routes. Joaquin Guzman would jump from one house to another, and he felt at ease in Culiacan. The Navy’s strategy was to double its presence in the city; patrols, roadblocks, searches, operations. They wanted ‘El Chapo’ to feel harassed so he would leave the more populated zones and they could capture him in outlying areas.
That was Plan ‘B’: If Culiacan was his bunker, they wanted to get him out of there.
But he never left. It appears that he did not feel insecure. They understood why on Monday, in the early hours of February 17, when they tried to open the door to his house.
It was Plan ‘C’. Take him wherever he was. 200 men went after him.
The intelligence work by Mexican authorities had determined the areas where ‘Chapo’ Guzman was located. In the early hours of February 17, around 3:00 a.m., they managed to capture a man called “Nariz” (“Nose”), one of the men closest to Mexico’s most wanted man, when he was on his way home. “Nariz” was his personal assistant  and would run errands and satisfy his whims.
“Nariz”, when he was captured, tried to mislead the authorities. He lied to them about the house where “Chapo” was staying, but the authorities were able to disprove it immediately because their technical abilities has already allowed them to locate precisely the area, the street — Rio Maya Street –, where “El Chapo” was hiding, so the authorities went there and parked their vehicles.
They parked them right in front of the house where he was staying. With their weapons, a tight group of Marines lit up the windows of the house where they were minutes away from catching “Chapo” Guzman. The moment they shone their lights they saw a light turned on and off, and they were certain that there was somebody inside, probably the most wanted capo in Mexico. The windows closed automatically, so the Marine used special equipment to try to go in through this electric garage door.
Now, let’s look at the doors from the inside. They went in through this one, because it didn’t have any bolts; they had forgotten to slide the bolts. But this one, this one had two large locks. They didn’t open this door, but we’re going to go in through here to learn about the house where they were minutes away from capturing “El Chapo” in Culiacan, Sinaloa, and also about what we talked about a little earlier.
This is the door, this is commonly found in any house with an electric door. But what is not common are these security rods that, upon closing, prevent any person from opening  the door. But they had forgotten to close these, they were not locked, and that’s where Marine elements went in. They thought they were done, that they had him, that it had been a relatively quick operation.
What they had not counted on was that this door is doubly reinforced with steel.
With a large hammer, called breaching equipment, they began to pound, pound on it. The hammer broke, but the door didn’t open. They had to use another hammer, because this door had three … see how heavy it is. It had three of these pieces of steel placed across the door in such a way that if somebody broke off a piece of the door, only that piece would break off, the rest would not.
Not only that; the four metal compartments were filled with water. What’s that for? What they tell us is that when one is hammering on metal, the heat that it generates causes it to bend until it breaks. But when it is filled with water, one, the shock is absorbed, and two, the metal stays cold and won’t bend. According to the reports, it took eight minutes to open this door. It normally takes three seconds. Those eight minutes allowed “El Chapo” to escape through a complicated system of tunnels installed under this and other homes in the area.

Let’s go inside the house. This is the route the Marines took on Monday, the 17th, just as the sun was coming up. They had waited until that time — 6 a.m.– so that in case “Chapo” came out in a vehicle, on foot, or whatever, the helicopters could track him. There’s a small storeroom, it has one of these… Christmas trees. There’s a bath, and a complete kitchen.
They told us that he kept several homes completely furnished so that he could sleep in the one he would choose at the last minute. He was so mistrustful that he wouldn’t tell anybody where he was going to sleep. He simply sent his most trusted people ahead and everything was ready.
Remains of a meal, vegetables. This is the kitchen. One of the characteristics that authorities reveal about “El Chapo” is that he was a very paranoid man. The authorities say that he maintained a television monitor that showed everything that was happening outside and inside the house, so he was always on alert. According to the marines, when they got inside the house at 6:00 a.m., the monitors were switched on.
Let’s go back to the house, where we’ll find the key point, the escape point.
Peanuts to eat while watching TV, and again, the security monitor. The house has two floors; on top, there are living areas and a lot of security equipment. There are bathroom supplies, clothing on the floor, this is the bedroom, and again, the TV and the monitoring equipment. The government followed “Chapo” Guzman’s activities very closely. They say that Buchanan’s ’18′ was his favorite drink. People close to him said he no longer took drugs, like he did before.
And this was the key. The marines got inside and they felt very frustrated because they thought they had him, but those eight minutes gave “Chapo” the advantage.

Let’s see how he escaped. This is the bathroom in the bedroom that is located on the first floor where they almost got Guzman Loera. And this is the tub, in reality the tunnel. A hydraulic system lifts the tub and opens a stairway. Don’t think it would open the way I just did it. In reality, they discovered that you have to move this plug with a connection tied to a cable so that it completes a circuit, then the mirror here causes the tub to lift automatically. This is the escape route.
The marines who had studied “El Chapo” said that his most important weapon, what he had counted on more than money, more than weapons, was time. That’s what allowed him to get away on February 17, in the early morning hours in Culiacan, Sinaloa: time.
(Photo of reporter in tunnel)  (Caption: this tunnel is approximately 1.8 miles long and reaches the river. Let’s look at it.)
The tunnel is approximately 1.4 meters in height (4.5 ft. high), and there’s places where it gets much narrower. The first stretch of the tunnel is completely wired for electricity. The tunnel connects farther down with the rain drainage system for the city of Culiacan, and from there on, of course, conditions change. This escape route had steel compartment doors, and this is the drainage system for the city of Culiacan.
The escape took approximately 1.8 miles in these conditions. The Marine troops followed his footsteps thanks to an expert tracker who managed to find signs on the tunnel corners and turns that told him they had gone that way, for example, spots where they had sat down to rest. Because the posture is very uncomfortable — one has to walk bent over –, for a 57 year old man in “Chapo’s” condition, that’s how it was.
It was 1.8 miles until he got to the river and there the Culiacan plaza boss, whom he had called by phone, picked him up and took him away.
According to authorities, “Chapo” presented lacerations on his shoulders and on his head, the result of that escape. Because a few meters beyond the first part of the tunnel there is no light. He himself told authorities that he did not have a flashlight, that he was bumping things and hurt his shoulders, his head. This is verified in the investigation report.
Eight minutes. That was the head start that the most wanted capo on the planet had on the authorities who wanted to capture him. Eight minutes and a tunnel that connected with the rain drains, a dark labyrinth of clear and dirty water.
The elite team of marines that followed him through the entrails of “Culichi” reported that “El Chapo” and his men, most probably exhausted by the long race in the dark and bent over forward, left stuff behind, first a suitcase with clothing, then some grenades, farther ahead, bulletproof vests, then, finally, at the opening of the drain, right on the Humaya River, a grenade launcher that, had they fired it at their pursuers, would have killed every one of them.

According to the official report, they took advantage of drain openings to call for help with their cell phones.
When they came out of the main drain, a few yards from the Sinaloa Government building, the escape was not finished.
He ran about a quarter of a mile along this dirt road, passed to one side of the National Water Commission offices and stopped in the shade under this tree, where “El Picudo”, his plaza boss in Culiacan, picked him up, this according to the testimony of both “El Chapo” and “El Picudo”.
The PGR investigation establishes that Manuel Lopez Osorio, “El Picudo”, took him to Kilometer 24 on the Culiacan-Mazatlan highway, where he switched cars to one driven by Alejandro “Bravo” Aponte, his security chief  in the area around Culiacan.
“El Chapo” vanished.

Chapo did not resist arrest-his injuries were from slamming into tunnel walls while escaping two days earlier in Culiacán without light of any source

If he planned his escape for years, if he connected five homes with tunnels to the drainage system, if he bought homes around him for his men, it worked. He bought time. Eight minutes, to be precise. Time in the shape of reinforced doors, hydraulically lifted bath tub, tunnel, walls, partitions, compartment doors. Because of those eight minutes,  he escaped from them. In the media, it was erroneously reported that authorities had been close to finding Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, partner and “compadre” of Guzman Loera, the true target.  It took only one day for the members of Operation Gargoyle to regain hope. They arrested “El Picudo”. He revealed details about the escape and gave them a new clue: “El Chapo” is in Mazatlan.
On Februry 19, they captured the brothers Kevin Alonso and Karim Elias Gil Acosta, communications operators for the Sinaloa Cartel. They provided the addresses of some of his favorite hideouts. And they kept interrogating Mario Hidalgo Arguello, aka “Nariz”.

The first information that the government intelligence agencies received was that he was hiding out in a luxury hotel spa called Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay Resort, north of Mazatlan. On February 21, the guest register at the Miramar building shows the arrival of new guests to Apartment 401. They leased it for three months at 40,000 pesos ($3,077.00). A young man by the name of Allon signed the lease. In reality, he was “Condor”, the only man he had left.
A few hours later, at 5:45 a.m., Mazatlan time, on February 22, a hand-picked team of 30 Navy marines, who had arrived one by one from Culiacan so as not to attract attention, parked on the coast highway, entered the Miramar, secured the surrounding areas, placed a guard on an adjacent swimming pool in case the capo decided to escape by jumping from his window, questioned the watchman, broke first into Apartment 602, detained two apparently intoxicated persons, decided they weren’t their targets and went down two floors to the fourth floor.
This is building 401 of the Miramar building on the Mazatlan, Sinaloa, coast highway. Inside this place, “Chapo” Guzman was arrested. According to the statements that authorities have given us, they got to this point thanks to their technical capabilities for locating persons.
Once inside, they were going to try to open the door with a key, a lock pick, but through the door they heard, so they tell us, the sound of an AR-15 being cocked. So they decided to bust the door quickly and the first thing they see in the entry room is a man called “Condor”, “Chapo” Guzman’s chief of security.
“Condor”, according to the narrative, hides behind this door holding a weapon. The marines come in with a bulletproof shield and tell him, “Give up, Condor”, and, according to this part of the narrative, he drops the weapon and is immediately apprehended.
A group of six marines go through this hallway in the apartment of  a little over 100 meters square, where there is a wheelchair that, according to the building administrators, was ordered by “El Condor”, who gave a false name when he registered, because he said he was going to bring up his grandfather. They don’t eliminate the possibility that, as a disguise, they may have used the wheelchair to bring “El Chapo” up here in the elevator.
When they get here, according to what they tell us, the marine team breaks up into three parts. Two men go to this first room where there are two women and the two youngest daughters of the total of 16 children that  “El Chapo” has fathered. The nanny was there, along with the cook that always traveled with “Chapo” wherever he went because they say he likes good food, and here were the two daughters. These two persons are secured.
Two men go through this door, not knowing it was a bathroom; they don’t find anything.
And two men go on to the main bedroom, which is this one. According to the narrative from the Navy marines, they got to this point and saw a woman that was, shall we say, in a sleeping position, awake at 5:45 local time here in Mazatlan, 6:45 Central. She stands up and says there’s nobody else, please don’t touch her.

Then the marines go into (the room) to search. The closets and the bathroom door were closed, and when they cannot open it completely, that’s when they call out to Joaquin Guzman to surrender, who, according to this part of the report, was hiding behind the bathroom door.
It’s not until the third time they order him that he agrees to surrender, they bring him down, and that’s where they handcuff him and he is secured. According to the report, the operation in the apartment took two minutes, and 17 minutes from the time they entered the building. According to the official report, they twice yelled at him to surrender, but he didn’t respond. The third time was louder. Also, they told him the entire building was surrounded. And they called him by his nickname, “Chapo”, using “tu” (you), the familiar form of address.
He stuck his head out and pulled it back. He showed his two empty hands and pulled them back again.
The marine trooper told him there might be gunshots. “Give up, Chapo,” he yelled at him. The soldier recalls that the capo answered with an “Ok”, repeated four times. He showed his body and they subdued him.
The operation took 17 minutes.
They placed all the detainees in armored pickups. “Chapo” and his associate “El Condor” were driven around the block to a dirt football field, where a Blackhawk helicopter flew them to the local airport. From there, a Learjet 60 took them to Mexico City.
An hour and ten minutes of flight time.
Those that traveled with him describe a calm man, respectful, who always responded by referring to his questioners as “boss”, charismatic, frank, with a heavy Sinaloa accent accompanied by gestures and facial expressions, but no bad language, in an even voice, who confessed to having killed between 2,000 and 3,000 persons, among them Ramon Arellano Felix, but not Cardinal Posadas.
He said that when he escaped from prison, he hid out in Nayarit and then in his ranch in Badiraguato, Sinaloa. He said that at first, the Beltran Leyvas treated him well, like the chief that he was, but later he found out that they wanted to kill him, that’s why they split up.
He told them about a dinner that he had recently with Rafael Caro Quintero, who he said was in the mountains and was not interested in going back into the drug business. They asked him about “El Mayo” Zambada and he told them he was also in the mountains. They asked him about his other partner, Juan Jose Esparragoza, “El Azul”, and he answered that he might be in Guadalajara. They asked him about “El Lazca”, the former leader of “Los Zetas”, and he said he was his enemy, but that he was a gentleman.
They asked him about “La Tuta” and “Los Templarios”, and he described them as filthy thieves.
They asked him if he had money and he told them: “I don’t have anything, it’s a myth of Forbes (magazine)”, but they reminded him that they had just seized three watches worth $115,000.00 each, 16 houses and 43 vehicles, 19 of them armored.
When the plane landed in the Federal District International Airport, the news had spread around the world.
Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera was arrested in the bathroom of the main bedroom of an apartment that has a view of the ocean in front, and to the rear, the offices of the local police.

El Chapo’s Arrest Unlikely to Break Mexican Cartel

Posted on

FEB. 25, 2014

To have a crack at an international kingpin, undercover officers from Boston and New Hampshire went from the mountains of northern Mexico through the Caribbean to Spain, where they discovered operatives of the powerful Sinaloa cartel setting up new routes and new markets.

When it finally ended last year, Operation Dark Water, as the investigation was known, was heralded as a milestone in the fight against the global drug trade. Police officers seized 750 pounds of cocaine and caught four cartel members, including a first cousin to its infamous kingpin, Joaquín (El Chapo) Guzmán Loera.

But for the Sinaloa cartel, a criminal multinational corporation handling billions of dollars, the arrests proved only a minor setback, authorities acknowledged. The cartel has established channels of cooperation with so many European criminal groups, including Sicily’s Cosa Nostra and street gangs in Budapest, that business there continues to boom.

On Saturday, Mexican and American authorities struck even deeper, capturing Mr. Guzmán in a predawn raid on a seaside condominium in the Mexican city of Mazatlán. Governments around the world are hailing the capture as a landmark in the fight against organized crime. Yet many authorities agree that the arrest will probably not bring an end to the cartel’s activities, much less make a lasting dent in the availability of illegal drugs.

Joaquín Guzmán Loera on Saturday. His arrest is a challenge for his cartel, but many experts say it is not necessarily devastating

Operation Dark Water and other investigations against the Sinaloa cartel shed light on why. Simply put, said numerous law enforcement officials and scholars, whether Mr. Guzmán intended it or not, the cartel has transcended the man. It has learned better than any of its competitors how to produce and move drugs, how to establish new markets for them — and how to outsource business to partners worldwide.

“Sinaloa has managed to expand in such a way that the business can run itself,” said Samuel Logan, an expert on transnational crime at Southern Pulse, an investment and risk assessment firm. “The entire Mexican state could fall, and the drug trade will continue, as long as there is a demand.”

Comparing the cartel to McDonald’s, Mr. Logan said, “If the C.E.O. of McDonald’s was arrested today, you could still buy a hamburger in Tokyo tomorrow.”

Of course, Mr. Guzmán’s arrest could weaken the cartel on many fronts, leaving it open to challenges from rivals, division from within or additional prosecution if he cooperates.

But the cartel’s activities, like those of many international businesses, are diversified. It quickly learned to shift the focus of its production between cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines and marijuana, depending on price and demand, the authorities say. Once it achieved vertical integration, the cartel franchised its business to subcontractors across the globe: Italian mafias, Central American gangs, Canadian Hells Angels, Chinese traffickers and corrupt African governments. It then protected its profits and assets by lavishing its allies with patronage and bribes, and by showing no mercy to traitors and rivals.

“What Chapo was able to do was expand by sending representatives to a lot of different areas, settle in, learn the area, identify individuals and government officials he could bribe, if necessary, and build a solid base so that he could funnel drugs into the area and get cash out,” said Mike Vigil, a former top official with the Drug Enforcement Administration who worked for several years in Mexico.

Signs of that expertise have appeared around the world, where no market seems either too small or too tough for the cartel to penetrate. A raid in the Philippines on Christmas uncovered what the authorities described as an unholy alliance among Sinaloa operatives, Chinese traffickers and local gangs to sell methamphetamines across the country. Federal prosecutors in New York brought down a major French Canadian trafficker who helped establish an elaborate web tying together the Sinaloa cartel, Vancouver gangs and the Rizutto and Bonanno crime families. And in Hong Kong, the authorities have charged the cartel with trading cocaine with local gangs in return for precursor chemicals used to make methamphetamines.

Those kinds of profitable associations do not simply dry up when one man is taken out of the picture — especially when that man has been dodging the authorities and living in a remote hideaway that often kept him from close involvement with the day-to-day business, analysts say.

Still, Mr. Guzmán’s arrest poses clear challenges for the cartel. If Mr. Guzmán gives information to prosecutors, his organization could suddenly become vulnerable. Even if he does not — he did not during a previous time in prison, Mr. Vigil said — the cartel may have to fend off a scramble by partners and rivals alike for the assets he controlled directly.

One senior D.E.A. official said that Mr. Guzmán was very plugged into the expansion of new routes, the establishment of partnerships and the flows of money coming back to Mexico. Though Mr. Guzmán spent most of his time hunkered down in the mountains where he was raised, he owned jets and traveled extensively to oversee new ventures and meet new partners, the official said.

“He kept his fingers on the pulse of where his money was,” said the senior D.E.A. official, who was not authorized to speak publicly. “He kept close track of what he owned. And as for who was sticking their fingers into the pot of money as it was coming back to him? Chapo was all over that.”

The official added, “With Chapo gone, the assets that were under his direct control might be lost, too. But the drug business is liquid. The cartel will be able to make up any losses in a short period of time.”

The cartel’s tougher challenges, others contend, may be hierarchical. Most expect that the cartel’s second most powerful leader, Ismael (El Mayo) Zambada, will seek to take the reins of the sprawling operation by fending off internal power grabs by the dozen or so senior lieutenants, particularly those who feel a stronger sense of loyalty to Mr. Guzmán than to Mr. Zambada.

If Mr. Zambada holds the organization together, analysts say, the era of large cartels will be extended for a little while longer. It is more likely, they argue, that the aging Mr. Zambada will eventually retire or fail, and that the cartel will break into smaller groups that may be even more violent and competitive than their hegemonic predecessor.

“A lot of these guys suffer fragile male ego syndrome,” the senior D.E.A. official said. “They go to war with each other all the time. And if Mayo is unable to keep the peace among the different factions, the war could get worse.”

Unlike its rivals among the Zetas or the Gulf cartel, whose reach was extended almost entirely by brute force, the Sinaloa cartel more frequently operates on the thinking that too much violence is bad for business, analysts say.

Rather than moving into an area and trying to displace local groups, Sinaloa turns them into partners, using their expertise on such subjects as physical terrain and local politics, said Steven Dudley, an analyst for InSight Crime, a research group.

“These kinds of partnerships give them a staying power and an ability to penetrate areas in ways that other cartels have not,” Mr. Dudley said. “It gives them multiple options for moving all kinds of items across borders, whether it’s drugs going north, or weapons going south.”

Guillermo Valdés Castellanos, the former head of Mexico’s domestic intelligence agency, said that the cartel established partners on the streets of Los Angeles and Chicago, and in places much farther afield, like Australia, where the long coastline provides access, and the price of cocaine can be much higher than in the United States.

“If the American market is declining and you can’t completely enter Europe, the logical thing is to open markets in Asia and Australia,” Mr. Valdés said. “And he is very logical about markets,” he added of Mr. Guzmán.

Beyond the charges in Mexico, Mr. Guzmán has been charged by federal authorities in more than half a dozen American jurisdictions, including Chicago, Miami, Brooklyn and Manhattan, where an indictment was unsealed against him on Tuesday.

Many D.E.A. officials say that what set Mr. Guzmán apart — especially compared with Pablo Escobar of the Medellín cartel — was his willingness to be discreet and patient. The cartel has been known to evade customs officials by secretly shipping ephedrine, the key ingredient for strong methamphetamine, from India or China to intermediary ports like Long Beach, Calif. The cartel allows the chemicals to sit on the docks for weeks or months before loading them onto a second shipment headed for Mexico, making the cargo look like it originated in the United States so that inspectors are less likely to check it.

Mexican authorities intercepted nearly 3.5 tons of ephedrine hidden that way in 612 fire extinguishers that showed up on Mexico’s Pacific coast a few years ago.

“It’s done on a very professional level,” said another D.E.A. official. “Mayo and Chapo did everything they could to make the Sinaloa cartel blend into the business community. They ran it just like a global corporation.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/26/world/americas/arrest-unlikely-to-break-cartel.html?_r=1

Border Patrol Agents Find 12 Pounds of Meth

Posted on

February 26, 2014

 

U.S. Border Patrol agents took more methamphetamine off the streets Tuesday by foiling an attempted smuggling at the San Clemente checkpoint.

Last week, agents found $7 million in meth stashed in the hull of a boat in Oceanside Harbor.

In the most recent discovery, agents searched a pickup driven by a U.S. citizen who had an undocumented Mexican national as a passenger.

Meth found in a pickup truck Tuesday at the San Clemente checkpoint. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Border Patrol.
Meth found in a pickup truck Tuesday at the San Clemente checkpoint. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Border Patrol.

 

A K-9 gave a positive alert for narcotics, and a non-intrusive X-ray detection system discovered anomalies within the truck, according to a Border Patrol press release.

Agents searched the Ford F-150 and found bundles of meth underneath the truck bed and even more hidden with “natural voids of the vehicle,” the release states.

The bundles weighed 12.24 pounds and had an estimated street value of $122,400.

Both the 32-year-old U.S. citizen and the 32-year-old Mexican national were arrested and turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration for further investigation. Their names were withheld.

 

 

 

 

http://lagunaniguel-danapoint.patch.com/groups/police-and-fire/p/border-patrol-agents-find-12-pounds-of-meth

 

How Captured Mexican Drug Lord ‘El Chapo’ Turned Chicago Into His Home Port

Posted on
Feb. 26, 2014

Last year on Valentine’s  Day, the drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was designated Chicago’s Public Enemy No.  1. It was a telling day to bestow the measure of dishonor, a nod to the gangster Al Capone and The Valentine’s  Day Massacre of 1929. Capone found himself Chicago’s Public Enemy No. 1 after  seven mobsters were killed that day, and his role as a bogeyman blamed for  increasing crime in the city was unmatched for decades—until El Chapo.

El Chapo ran the biggest drug syndicate in the Americas until he was  captured in Mexico last week, and his footprint was especially heavy in the  place once dominated by that earlier public enemy. El Chapo’s Sinaloa  Cartel, widely considered to supply up to 80 percent of the drugs in the city,  has been blamed  for helping spark the gang disputes that have fueled so  much of the gun violence in Chicago. That violence peaked in 2012, the city’s  bloodiest year in almost a decade, when 506 people were killed by gun violence.  As Art Bilek of the Chicago Crime Commission, which issues the public  enemies list, put it, El Chapo “virtually has his fingerprints on the guns that  are killing the children of this city.”

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is escorted to a helicopter in handcuffs by Mexican navy marines at a navy hanger in Mexico City, on Feb. 22, 2014.

Eduardo Verdugo / APJoaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is escorted to a  helicopter in handcuffs by Mexican marines at a navy hanger in Mexico City, on  Feb. 22, 2014.

“The problem is now the gang structure here is so fractured, you have a lot  of the cliques,” says Brian Sexton, chief of narcotics prosecutions for the  Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. “You may have just like maybe 15 guys in  one block or whatever, but there’s nobody calling the shots really, and they’re  more younger and more violent than they ever were.”

The drug trade can actually have a stabilizing effect, according to law  enforcement. The supply of cocaine and heroin from Mexico, much of it coming  from the Sinaloa Cartel, is the main source of income for these gangs and  violence can be bad for business. “In the 70s, when all the gangs started  big, it was very traditional,” Sexton said. “Folks versus Peoples, and the  colors, and you know they were all rivals with each other and very  turf-protective. But now it’s all about making money.”

Much of that money comes from selling drugs from El Chapo’s cartel, which get  smuggled from Mexico to Chicago and then distributed throughout the Midwest and  other parts of the nation. Numerous cartels ship drugs through the city, but  Sinaloa dwarfs them all, according to court records. And the market is large. In  a 2010 report, the Department of Justice named the Chicago metro area the No. 1  destination in the United States for heroin shipments, No. 2 for marijuana and  cocaine, and No. 5 for methamphetamine. The reasons are a combination of ideal  geography, a developed retail network and a large population of Mexican  immigrants.

Chicago is a national transportation hub, ideally located within a day’s  drive of 70 percent of the U.S. population. It has two major airports, and six  of the seven major railroads. The region accounts for one quarter of the entire  country’s rail traffic. If you’re looking to efficiently move products in and  out, it’s a hard location to beat.

“The geographic reality of the situation is that it’s just a very convenient  point, the infrastructure’s there,” says Amarjeet Singh Bhachu, an Assistant  U.S. Attorney who helped prosecute members of the La Familia  Michoacana drug cartel. “The same reasons that made Chicago a big city in  the history of the United States are the same reasons that make it a big city  for any enterprise, including illegal enterprises.”

Once the drugs make it to town, the city’s large number of gangs serve as a  ready-made distribution operation. Jack Blakey, chief of the special  prosecutions bureau at the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, estimated that  there are between 75,000 and 100,000 active gang members in the region who can  be used to funnel cartel shipments onto the street. “Chicago has an  enormously serious gang problem,” says Christina Egan, former deputy chief of  the narcotics and gangs unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “It’s easy for the  cartel to get through a series of layers the drug to Chicago and then have  people able to put them on the street and get them to the consumers. There’s a  huge demand, and with the gangs in Chicago it’s easy to service that  demand.”

Family ties proved especially crucial in helping  Sinaloa edge out  rivals in Chicago’s lucrative market. The Chicagoans credited for building  up El Chapo’s local cocaine operation were twin brothers born to Mexican parents  in the Little Village neighborhood. Their father and an older brother also  smuggled drugs for Sinaloa. The twins, Pedro and Margarito Flores, enlisted  boyhood friends from Little Village to deliver the cocaine, which at the  operation’s peak weighed in at two tons per month. Links to the drug  business in Mexico that go back generations are what distinguished the Sinaloa  business model in Chicago from that of cartels like the Zetas or La Familia,  whose distributors tended to be transients.

Those advantages have helped Sinaloa dominate the Chicago drug market. The  U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago has brought three drug indictments linked to  Mexican cartels since 2009, hitting local distributors for the Sinaloa Cartel  and La Familia in 2009, and the Zetas in 2011, according to federal court  documents. The amount of cocaine in the Sinaloa Cartel indictment was 12 times  the amount in the others, and included 64 kilos of heroin.  “The primary  issue in the Midwest is without a doubt Sinaloa,” says Jack Riley, director of  the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Chicago Field Division. “All of our major  investigations at some point lead back to other investigations that are tied to  Sinaloa.”

Authorities are hopeful that El Chapo’s capture will help them stifle  Sinaloa’s pipeline through Chicago. Cartel members and affiliates are the  targets of a federal task force against drug-trafficking that has about 40  active investigations into the distribution cells in the region and their supply  sources in Mexico. ”Our job,” Riley says, “is to remove all the legs so the  organization ceases to exist, from the highest level to the guy that is maybe  unwittingly putting Chapo’s dope on the street on the West Side, to remove it  altogether.”

That’s a tall order, given Chicago’s natural advantages in the marketplace  and the gap between cartel leaders and the end users of their product. Even at  the height of his power, El Chapo was careful to maintain distance from his  supply chain. The layers of importers and wholesalers served as a kind of  buffer between the suppliers in Mexico and the street gangs who handled the bulk  of retail sales. The bulk wholesalers may know where the drugs are coming from,  but starting at the mid-level wholesalers, the identity of the supplier is  lost.

“The guys at the street level,” says Nicholas Roti, chief of the organized  crime bureau for the Chicago Police Department, ”have no idea.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://nation.time.com/2014/02/26/el-chapo-joaquin-guzman-sinaloa-cartel-chicago/

 

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