Tag Archives: Mexico

The Great Mexican Train Robberies

https://i0.wp.com/s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/warisboring.com/images/636623619539947925w-970x350.jpg

Early on the morning of May 19, 2018, residents on the outskirts of the town Orizaba, Veracruz — close to the bordering state of Puebla in Mexico — woke up to a loud crash.

A train with 39 cars and four locomotives crashed into another train when approaching the station. The conductor of the approaching train attempted to brake, but couldn’t because the brakes were cut, according to the Grupo Mexico Transporte, the company that owns and runs the train.

The aftermath looked like a post-apocalyptic scene — train cars overturned, piled up, and a pedestrian bridge destroyed.

Grupo Mexico Transporte instantly called this act sabotage and pointed to the culprits as being organized crime. The company ruled out the possibility of human error because of the way the trains are remotely operated.

The governor of the state of Veracruz, Miguel Angel Yunes Linares, was doubtful of the company’s claims that it was an act of sabotage. The Orizaba incident, though the most destructive, is part of the larger phenomenon of the robbing of cargo trains by criminal organizations.

There has been a 476-percent increase of the number of robberies similar to the one that occurred in Orizaba, according to Confederation of the Industrial Chambers, when the first quarter of this year was compared to the first quarter of last year. There were also six previous derailments of trains in April and May 2018.

In the first quarter of 2018, there was a robbery of a train every 2.5 hours, according to the Regulatory Agency for Rail Transport. The main products that have been robbed from the thefts of cargo trains have been grain and flour, finished consumer products, auto parts and construction materials.

Though it’s not clear if any goods were stolen from the trains that crashed around Orizaba, it is likely this was the motive because of the previous theft of cargo trains in the area and the tactic of sabotage being used prior. There has also been suspicion that the sabotage was in retaliation for the company not paying a “floor payment” that the criminal organization had demanded.

The supposed person behind the sabotaging and robberies of the trains in the area is Roberto De Los Santos De Jesus, known as El Bukanans. After the derailment in Orizaba on May 19, 2018, the reward for information that leads to his arrest was increased from one million pesos to five million pesos.

His experience is indicative of the criminal organizations and their involvement in criminal enterprises other than drug trafficking. Originally a police officer, he defected in 2012 to join the Zetas. After that organization splintered, he went to join the Zeta Nueva Sangre and then subsequently head the organization. Under his rule, authorities believe, the group began to rob trains.

What the sabotaging of trains in Veracruz shows is the impact that criminal organizations can have on industry. They can have a debilitating effects on companies and their operations. Grupo Mexico Transporte, the company whose trains were involved in Orizaba, said it lost 312 million pesos from the Orizaba derailment and 6 previous derailments that occurred in April and May 2018, with 11 million of that money going to cover the loss of cargo and 171 million going to repair the tracks and trains.

After the derailment in Orzibia, 130 trains had to stop, throwing off the logistics operations of many companies and delaying the delivery of 300,000 tons of goods and materials.

Recently, companies’ operations in Mexico have been hindered by insecurity and organized crime. The Canadian Pan American Silver Corporation reduced operations in the state of Chihuahua citing insecurity. The bottling company, Coca-Cola FEMSA recently indefinitely closed down a distribution center in the state of Guerrero due to the “harassment of criminal groups.”

At the end of May 2018, two of the country’s most influential business organizations, demanded that government to end the violence and crime because of the how it is affecting business.

In 2017 Mexico reached its deadliest year on record, with the country experiencing almost  30,000 homicides. Additionally, about 98 percent of all crimes going unpunished creating an environment of impunity that allows for criminal organizations to operate in the country.

Source: by Enrique Ochoa-Kaup | War Is Boring

Advertisements

Mexico Invades California – Trump Powerless To Block It

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/scaling_0.JPG?itok=eUNiot3a

https://static.reuters.com/resources/r/?m=02&d=20180429&t=2&i=1256730159&r=LYNXMPEE3S0JB&w=640

CARAVAN NOW...
They climb border fence, cheer 'Gracias, Mexico!'
Some enter USA illegally...
Others make asylum claims...
Supporters Rally in San Diego...

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/locations_0.jpg?itok=cDNKITsM

As Reuters pointed out last Thursday, the timing of their arrival could sabotage NAFTA talks after President Trump repeatedly threatened to scrap the deal if Mexico doesn’t do more to stop Central American migrants from traveling through its territory.

Developing…

In all fairness, watch the following to discover why Trump is a little extra distracted right now…

Once Glamorous Acapulco, Is Now Mexico’s Murder Capital

https://martinhladyniuk.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/taxi.jpg?w=625&zoom=2

ACAPULCO, Mexico — From the crescent bay and swaying palms, the taxi drivers of Acapulco need just 10 minutes to reach this other, plundered world.

Here, in a neighborhood called Renacimiento, a pharmacy is smeared with gang graffiti. Market stalls are charred by fire. Taco stands and dentists’ offices, hair salons and auto-body workshops – all stand empty behind roll-down metal gates.

On Friday afternoons, however, the parking lot at the Oxxo convenience store in this brutalized barrio buzzes to life. Dozens of taxi drivers pull up. It’s time to pay the boys.

When the three young gunmen drive up in a white Nissan Tsuru, Armando, a 55-year-old cabbie, scribbles his four-digit taxi number on a scrap of paper, folds it around a 100-peso note and slips it into their black plastic bag. This is his weekly payment to Acapulco’s criminal underworld – about $5, or roughly half what he earns in a day.

“They have the power,” said Armando, who identified himself only by his first name because he feared reprisal. “They can do whatever they want.”

For each of the past five years, Acapulco has been the deadliest city in Mexico, in a marathon of murder that has hollowed out the hillside neighborhoods and sprawling colonias that tourists rarely visit. And yet, the term “drug war” only barely describes what is going on here.

The dominant drug cartel in Acapulco and the state of Guerrero broke up a decade ago. The criminals now in charge resemble neighborhood gangs – with names like 221 or Los Locos. An estimated 20 or more of these groups operate in Acapulco, intermixed with representatives from larger drug cartels who contract them for jobs. The gang members are young men who often become specialists – extortionists, kidnappers, car thieves, assassins – and prey on a largely defenseless population.

“They kill barbers, tailors, mechanics, tinsmiths, taxi drivers,” said Joaquin Badillo, who runs a private security company in the city. “This has turned into a monster with 100 heads.”

Mexico is halfway through what may become the bloodiest year in its recent history, with more than 12,000 murders in the first six months of 2017. June was the deadliest month in the past two decades of consistent Mexican government statistics.

There are many theories on why violence, which dropped for two years after the 2012 election of President Enrique Peña Nieto, has roared back: competition for the domain of captured kingpins; the breakdown of secret agreements between criminals and politicians; a judicial reform requiring more evidence to lock up suspected lawbreakers; the growing American demand for heroin, meth and synthetic opiates. Whatever the primary cause, the result has been terrifying – a disintegration of order across growing swaths of this country.

Violence is spreading to new places and taking many forms. In Puebla, south of Mexico City, a fight rages over the sale of stolen fuel. Beach towns such as Cancun and Playa del Carmen have been bloodied by drug killings. The battle for human-smuggling routes leaves bodies strewn along the migrant trail.

In Acapulco, the faded playground of Hollywood stars, where the Kennedys honeymooned and John Wayne basked in the clifftop breeze, drugs are no longer even the main story. This is a place awash in crime of all stripes, where criminals no longer have to hide.

When Evaristo opened his restaurant along Acapulco’s seaside strip 15 years ago, drugs were plentiful, and that was just fine with him. Acapulco has always been a party town, and became a transit point for U.S.-bound Colombian cocaine and the opium poppy that bloomed along with marijuana in the state’s highlands. The dominant traffickers were the Beltran Leyva brothers of the Sinaloa Cartel.

“What the Beltran Leyvas were doing was selling drugs,” said Evaristo, who identified himself only by his first name, for fear of reprisal. “But they left us alone.”

For Evaristo, and many other Acapulco residents, the city’s descent into lawlessness began with the events at La Garita. A brazen January 2006 shootout in that central neighborhood left flaming vehicles and bodies in the street and became part of the city’s lore, as much as the iconic cliff divers and the Hollywood stars who once passed through town.

That gun battle also made one thing clear: National-level cartels were active in Acapulco – in this case the Sinaloa cartel, allied with the Beltran Leyvas, and the expansionist Zetas. And they were willing to use tremendous violence against each other.

“That’s when all this began,” Evaristo recalled.

Over the next decade, as then-President Felipe Calderón declared war on organized crime, Mexican security forces and their U.S. allies picked off cartel bosses and kingpins, splintering their organizations.

In Acapulco, the result has become a kaleidoscope of feuding criminals. After the killing of a powerful Beltran Leyva brother in 2009, rival factions emerged, with names like the Independent Cartel of Acapulco, the South Pacific Cartel and La Barredora. Contenders joined the fray from ascendant heroin-trafficking groups and crime organizations from other cities.

With the loss of all-powerful cartel bosses who had tightly controlled their criminal empires, drug gangs moved increasingly into other crimes, such as kidnapping and extortion.

Some 2,000 businesses have closed in the past few years, according to trade associations, driven away by crime and a withering economy. The bulk of the devastation has come in the poorer, inland neighborhoods, but the tourist strip has not been spared. Gone are Hooters and the Hard Rock Cafe, along with famed local spots such as El Alebrije nightclub and Plaza Las Peroglas, a shopping mall. An accountant whose clients included restaurant owners, doctors, and mechanics said that about 70 percent of them had closed their businesses in the past year because of extortion.

“Today, in Acapulco, this problem has given us mass psychosis,” said Alejandro Martinez Sidney, president of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce, Services and Tourism in Guerrero, which represents more than 8,000 businesses. “We are frozen, waiting for someone to come and demand our money.”

Last September, five gunmen walked into Evaristo’s restaurant, asking for the phone number of the owner. After he said he wouldn’t pay extortion, the men returned and put their guns to the heads of the staff, saying they would burn down the restaurant with everyone inside it, the restaurant owner recalled.

Since then, Evaristo has paid 40,000 pesos per month (about $2,200).

He has cut back on advertising and maintenance to cover the payments. Two of his private security guards were riddled with bullets from a passing car one night in May and survived the attack. If this keeps up, he will close down.

“My life is at risk,” Evaristo said.

Mexico’s crime gangs have not just proliferated, they behave differently than in past decades. Cartels were once based on family ties and known for maintaining strict hierarchies that rewarded members’ loyalty with promotion through the ranks.

The newer generations of criminal gangs operate more like a “wheel network,” a web of contacts who ally at times but also work independently, said Cecilia Farfán, a scholar at the Instituto Tecnologico Autonomy de Mexico, or ITAM, who specializes in organized crime and is doing research in Acapulco.

If these quasi-independent cells get disrupted, the larger network can still function, and “the intelligence that a cell can provide to law enforcement or rival organizations is limited,” Farfán wrote in her recently completed dissertation.

Criminals have begun to show less allegiance to a single organization – acting more like freelance subcontractors.

“They hire you for your expertise; they’re not going to develop you as a human resource,” Farfán said about how street-level criminals are used. “They’re not investing in you, and you’re not invested in them, either.”

The victims of Acapulco’s violence come in many forms: those caught in feuds between criminal bands; businessmen who don’t pay extortion; those who cross the invisible boundaries between drug gang territory. The situation has become so confused – with criminals staking out overlapping domains – that residents often complain about being forced to pay off two or three different groups. People die over mistaken identity or as bystanders.

On one recent night, an overflow crowd waited silently on sidewalk benches outside an Acapulco funeral parlor. Gerardo Flores Camarena, 57, a hotel bartender, couldn’t stay seated. He paced back and forth in anguish as he spoke into his cellphone.

“The killers thought they were from another group,” he told a relative. “They got confused. Can you imagine: confused.”

The day before, his brother, Ricardo, 42, an ambulance driver, and Gerardo’s two teenage grandsons had been found in the trunk of their Nissan Sentra. They had suffered a type of torture known as the “tourniquet”: wires cinched around their necks to the point of suffocation.

A note left with the bodies said this is what happens to car thieves. But the Nissan had belonged to the family.

“We feel powerless against what is happening in this city,” Flores said.

When Mayor Evodio Velázquez Aguirre took office in October 2015, he said, the municipal police force was “totally out of control.”

Half the 1,500 officers had failed federal vetting and background checks. The police had spent much of 2014 on strike to protest salaries and benefits, leaving state and federal forces in charge.

The mayor said that his administration has provided the police with life insurance, housing, new cameras and vehicles. There is also a new, separate tourist police force with jaunty uniforms to attend to travelers.

“Acapulco is on its feet,” the mayor said in an interview.

But last year, there were 918 killings in the city of 700,000, the most murders of any Mexican city for the fifth straight year. During the first half of this year, the government numbers track slightly lower – 412, compared with 466 in the same period in 2016 – although the local El Sur newspaper lists 466 murders for the most recent period.

Adm. Juan Guillermo Fierro Rocha, the commander in Acapulco for the Mexican navy, which has a critical role fighting cartels, told El Sur this month that criminals are lashing out because they are “cornered,” and that he expects a decrease soon.

But Mexican authorities have failed for years to halt Acapulco’s slide.

Some 5,000 security forces are in Acapulco, and the coastal sliver of hotels and restaurants brims with federal and state police, soldiers, marines and municipal forces. This attention to the tourist strip, however, leaves the vast majority of the city exposed, residents say.

Mexican police have been hobbled by corruption for decades, and Acapulco has been no exception. Alfredo Álvarez Valenzuela, who oversaw the Acapulco police for five months until May 2014, told the Mexican newspaper Reforma last year: “The municipal police don’t work for organized crime; the municipal police are organized crime.”

But the problem goes beyond corruption. Mexican municipal police traditionally have had little training, low pay, poor equipment and little capacity to do investigations. Federal police and the army often lack street-level knowledge of cities and their crime gangs.

Juan Salgado, an expert on police reform at CIDE, a Mexican research center, said that police are reluctant to visit some neighborhoods in Acapulco because they are outgunned and frightened.

“I’m not sure if crime would increase if the whole municipal police department in Acapulco disappeared,” Salgado said. “They are so inefficient in stopping crime I don’t think it would make a huge difference.”

Meanwhile, many people refuse to press charges out of concern the information will leak back to their tormentors. That makes investigating crimes all the more difficult.

On a recent afternoon, a man wearing a cowboy hat and carrying an assault rifle stood in plain sight on the main boulevard in the Emiliano Zapata neighborhood, five miles from Acapulco Bay.

At his feet on the pavement lay another young man, barefoot and curled in the fetal position, his hair matted with blood. The man with the assault rifle kicked him repeatedly and savagely, then walked calmly back to his white pickup truck. A federal police truck rolled past, but it didn’t stop.

Taxi drivers operate at the intersection of Acapulco’s troubles: They have a shrinking number of tourists as clients, and navigate more dangerous streets. Some have become part of the crime world themselves, working as gang spotters (voluntarily or under duress), or moving drugs or weapons in their cars. When a rival gang tries to take over a neighborhood, its members often kill taxi drivers “in an effort to blind the established organization,” Chris Kyle, an anthropologist and expert on Guerrero based at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, wrote in an affidavit for an Acapulco taxi driver applying for asylum in the United States.

More than 130 taxi drivers were slain in Acapulco last year, making them about eight times more likely to get murdered than the average city resident.

Teens with guns often commandeer taxis in Renacimiento for hours or days. They burn taxis to enforce their warnings. Guillermo Perez, 40, a taxi driver, putters around the neighborhood in a 1995 Volkswagen Beetle, its windshield cracked and upholstery ripped out, leaving his newer car hidden at home. He no longer picks up strangers, driving only clients he knows.

“People are terrified,” he said.

Years ago, ferrying around tourists used to be enjoyable, he said, even lucrative work -$100 for a day shift, more at night.

“It was so different: It was Acapulco,” he said. “People were out in the streets. We all lived from tourism.”

The wealthy can leave or build homes with elaborate security systems, but the poor are exposed. And so Perez, like many of the 20,000 taxi drivers in Acapulco, pays his weekly fee for protection, even though he receives none.

“If 100 pesos a week is what it costs to stay alive,” he said, “I’ll pay.”

Source: The Mercury News

Remittances to Mexico Rose 25 Percent After Trump’s Election

https://i0.wp.com/media.breitbart.com/media/2017/01/sending-money-to-mexico-remittances-ap-640x480.jpg

Mexicans sent billions of dollars back to Mexico in November after President-elect Donald Trump’s election win.

Immigrant workers and illegal aliens rushed to take money out of the American economy and send it to their home countries, Reuters reports:

Mexicans abroad sent home nearly $2.4 billion in transfers in November, 24.7 percent higher than a year earlier, marking their fastest pace of expansion since March 2006, according to Mexican central bank data on Monday…

Trump’s surprise Nov. 8 election triumph also sent the Mexican currency to record lows in a sell-off fueled by his threats to scrap a trade deal between Mexico and the United States, and to levy punitive tariffs on Mexican-made goods…

Bank BBVA Bancomer has forecast that those Mexicans will have sent a record $27 billion in remittances into Mexico in 2016, an increase of more than $2 billion over 2015.

Not only do Americans give Mexico millions in foreign aid each year, Mexicans take in some $20 billion to $25 billion annually in remittances, according to the World Bank, much of it from the U.S. In total, foreigners took $54.2 billion in remittances out of the U.S. economy in 2014, with Mexico and China receiving the greatest sums from their citizens abroad.

American taxpayers are thus forced to pay for the welfare and schooling of millions of Mexican citizens and their children while enduring the costs of crime (gang activity, drug trafficking) and stagnant wages that unchecked immigration brings.

“The $ 20 billion being sent to immigrants’ grandmothers in Chiapas is forever eliminated from the American economy— unavailable for investment in American companies, the purchase of American products, or hiring American workers. That’s a cost of immigration that Americans are never told about,” conservative author Ann Coulter wrote in the influential Adios America about remittances.

 

“These billions of dollars being drained out of the U.S. economy every year would be bad enough if the money were coming exclusively from cheap-labor employers like Sheldon Adelson. But it’s worse than that,” Coulter continues. “It comes from American taxpayers. Not only do taxpayers have to support Americans who lose their jobs to low-wage immigrant laborers, taxpayers support the immigrants, too.”

Seventy-five percent of immigrant families from Mexico are on government assistance… Seventy-three percent of legal Mexican immigrants send money back to their native land and 83 percent of illegal immigrants do,” she adds.

Remittances also fuel international criminal enterprises, according to one watchdog.

“Remittances can be used to launder proceeds from different types of criminal activities, including drug trafficking and human smuggling, through methods such as structuring,” a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released February 2016 stated. The high reporting threshold of $3,000 lets individuals send broken-up payments without raising questions.

Trump issued a memo in April 2016 telling Mexico he would tax remittances flowing out of the U.S. economy, or the Mexican government could issue a one-time payment of $5 billion to $10 billion for a U.S.-Mexico border wall.

“Mexico has taken advantage of us in another way as well: gangs, drug traffickers, and cartels have freely exploited our open borders and committed vast numbers of crimes inside the United States,” he wrote. “The United States has borne the extraordinary daily cost of this criminal activity, including the cost of trials and incarcerations. Not to mention the even greater human cost.”

“We have the moral high ground here and all the leverage,” Trump said.

By Katie Mchugh | Breitbart

Hillary Clinton said “Physical Barrier” Needed To Keep Mexicans Out in 2006

https://s16-us2.ixquick.com/cgi-bin/serveimage?url=http%3A%2F%2Fthemostimportantnews.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2014%2F06%2FIllegal-Immigration-Crossing-The-Rio-Grande2.jpg&sp=46c9bba8f0739ed235edc8355a73dc7b


Clinton Video Transcript:

“Mexico is such an important problem. Mexican government’s policies are pushing migration north. There isn’t any sensible approach except to do what we need to do simultaneously.  You know secure our borders with technology personnel physical barriers. If necessary in some places and we need to have tougher employer sanctions and we need to product incentivize Mexico to do more if they’ve committed transgressions of whatever kind they should be obviously deported.”

But today, it’s only “racist” when Trump says it?

https://riflemaniiijournal.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/screen-shot-2016-06-10-at-12-06-49-pm.png?w=720&quality=80&strip=info

Pablo Escobar’s former chief hit man says ‘El Chapo is a dead man’

Pablo Escobar hit man El Chapo

John Jairo Velasquez, a former hit man for Pablo Escobar, in 2006 giving testimony while holding a book about his former boss.

Jhon Jairo Velásquez Vásquez, alias” Popeye,” is one of few surviving members of Pablo Escobar’s Medellin Cartel. He served as the infamous drug kingpin’s head of assassins.

In an interview with the Mexican news magazine Proceso, Popeye, who is a year removed from a 23-year prison term, said Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán would not be captured, but killed, should authorities try to apprehend him again.

Though Popeye thinks El Chapo could be found through a joint effort between un-corrupted police and military forces, American agents, and cooperative criminal elements, he said it would not be “convenient” for the Mexican government or for El Chapo if the fugitive drug lord survived.

Popeye: “El Chapo is a dead man.”

Proceso: “Why?”

Popeye: “He knows he has to be killed, because if they capture him alive, they will extradite him to the US. And he will not tolerate a high-security prison in the US. There the food they give [is eaten with] a straw, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Nobody talks to you; there is no human contact. If somebody sends you a letter, they show it to you on a television screen.”

Proceso: “You believe that El Chapo will not tolerate that?”

Popeye: “I imagine so; in order to get sun they take you out of your cell in a cage. And for a recalcitrant Mexican like El Chapo, as it was for Pablo Escobar … to be in a US jail is a very hard thing. That’s why El Chapo will get himself killed.”

Popeye also said he believed it would take Mexican authorities 16 to 18 months to track down El Chapo.

el chapo prison 1993Mexico National Security Commission Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, left.

He noted that this was the likely period of time it would take to track down the drug lord’s finances, family network, and security apparatus. He said it was the kind of work that would proceed by millimeters, “but what they give to him, they give to him, because it is a political matter for the Mexican government. Of honor.”

Read an excerpt from Proceso’s interview (in Spanish) here.

Popeye has voiced his opinion on the drug war in the past. In 2013, while he was still locked up in a maximum-security prison in Colombia, he told reporters from Der Spiegel that the drug war was most likely unwinnable — and possibly unendable:

People like me can’t be stopped. It’s a war. They lose men, and we lose men. They lose their scruples, and we never had any … I don’t know what you have to do. Maybe sell cocaine in pharmacies. I’ve been in prison for 20 years, but you will never win this war when there is so much money to be made. Never.

Popeye’s former boss ran the Medellin cartel, the most powerful and most feared drug cartel in the world for much of the 1980s and 1990s.

Pablo EscobarPablo Escobar, left.

Under Escobar’s leadership, the cartel waged a violent battle with the Colombian government, killing hundreds of government officials, police officers, prosecutors, judges, journalists, and innocent bystanders in the process.

“El Chapo” Guzmán has, many believe, assumed Escobar’s role as the world’s most powerful kingpin. His Sinaloa cartel has a global reach, reportedly delivering cocaine and heroin to Europe and the Middle East.

And the DEA said in 2013 that his organization was doing $3 billion a year in business routing drugs to the Chicago region of the US.

As is perhaps fitting for an heir to Escobar’s empire, El Chapo’s Sinaloa cartel controls 35% of the cocaine coming out of Colombia, a market share it maintains control over by partnering with many of Colombia’s violent criminal gangs, which are themselves descendants of the Colombian cartels.

And, in one of the dark ironies so common in the decades-long drug war, the Colombian officials who were instrumental in hunting down and killing Escobar on a Medellin rooftop on December 3, 1993, were dispatched to Mexico in the days after El Chapo’s escape to assist with the search.


https://i0.wp.com/www.blazingcatfur.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/El-Guapo.jpg

‘El Chapo’ Guzmán’s Key Role In The Global Cocaine Trade Is Becoming Clearer

Colombia cocaine sinaloa

Colombia’s police chief, Gen. Rodolfo Palomino, center, examines confiscated packs of cocaine at a police base in northern Colombia, February 24, 2015.

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán’s Sinaloa cartel in Mexico is the largest drug-trafficking organization in the world, and its deep ties to Colombia are becoming more apparent.

According to a recent report from from Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, Sinaloa controls 35% of the cocaine exported from Colombia — the largest producer of the drug in the world.

Now that El Chapo has escaped from a Mexican prison, Colombian generals who worked to bring down the notorious Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar are reportedly hunting down the notorious Sinaloa cartel leader, too.

Born in the mountains of Sinaloa state on Mexico’s west coast, El Chapo’s cartel has expanded throughout the country and around the world over the last several decades.

According to Spanish newspaper El País, the cartel’s marijuana and poppy fields in Mexico cover more than 23,000 miles of land, an area larger than Costa Rica. It has operatives in at least 17 Mexican states and operations in up to 50 countries, Insight Crime reports.

Sinaloa

StratforA look at Sinaloa’s operations in Mexico.

The cartel is adept at sneaking the drug across borders and into the US. Cocaine has been found smuggled in frozen sharks, sprinkled on donuts, and crammed into cucumbers. The cartel is perhaps best known for the hundreds of elaborate smuggling tunnels it has built (the most recent allowing its boss to escape prison).Sinaloa’s second-in-command, Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, reportedly directs the cartel’s Colombian business dealings through two Mexicans based in the country, “Jairo Ortiz” and “Montiel” — both aliases.

cartel drug map

Business Insider/Andy KierszA look at how drugs from Sinaloa have passed through the US.

‘Lacoste,’ ‘Apple,’ and ‘Made in Colombia’

Documents from police and security forces seen by El Tiempo indicate the Sinaloa cartel works closely with criminal groups and guerrilla forces to run a trafficking network that exports more than one-third of the cocaine produced in Colombia.

Through an unidentified businessman, the Sinaloa cartel works with the criminal organization Los Urabeños, which was formed by remnants of right-wing paramilitaries in the mid-2000s, according to Colombia Reports.

This unidentified businessman works with Los Urabeños, its leader Dario Antonio Úsuga, and the cartel to coordinate shipments of drug cargos, labeled “Lacoste,” “Apple,” and “Made in Colombia,” to destinations in Europe and Asia, according to El Tiempo.

Los Urabeños, aka Clan Úsuga, is regarded as the most powerful of Colombia’s remaining criminal organizations and as the only one with a truly national reach.

Many of the Pacific and Caribbean smuggling routes are controlled by Los Urabeños, and its influence is so extensive that, over the last 18 months, 600 Colombian officials have been jailed for supporting the group.

Colombia cocaine submarine

REUTERS/John VizcainoCounternarcotics police guard an under-construction submersible that was seized from Los Urabeños.

The Sinaloa cartel has also formed an alliance with the left-wing guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc).

The Farc began peace negotiations with the government in late 2012 and agreed to suspend drug trafficking as a part of the talks. Sinaloa then began franchising drug operations from Farc rebels, allowing the cartel to expand its reach into the production stages of the cocaine trade.

The Mexican cartel reportedly works with two Farc leaders in southern Colombia and pays as much as $40,000 per shipment for cocaine that leaves the Pacific coast departments of Nariño and Cauca.

The Sinaloa cartel also works with “La Empresa,” a criminal group based in the Pacific port city of Buenaventura, to direct shipments. La Empresa has, according to Colombia Reports, allied with Colombian criminal group “Los Rastrojos” (with whom the Sinaloa cartel has also aligned) to fight off the Pacific coast expansion of Los Urabeños.

(La Empresa, El Tiempo notes, has been linked to the “casas de pique” — buildings in outlying areas of Buenaventura used to torture and dismember rival gang members.)

mexico city povertyREUTERS/Edgard GarridoA low-income neighborhood in Mexico City, July 23, 2015.

The Sinaloa cartel has also provided weapons and financing to the Oficina de Envigado, a Medellin-based crime syndicate that assumed much of Pablo Escobar’s operations after his death in 1993.

Sinaloa “retained the services of ‘La Oficina’ to support drug trafficking around the world,” the US Treasury Department has said.

According to El Tiempo, “the FARC, ‘los Úsuga,’ and ‘la Empresa’ are keys in Sinaloa’s strategy to control eight ports on the Pacific, from Mexico to Peru.”

“In Colombia, [the Sinaloa cartel] already directs 50% of the drugs that leave from [the ports of] Tumaco, Buenaventura, and el Urabá, which form a network with ports in Peru (El Callao and Talara), Ecuador (Esmeraldas and San Lorenzo) and Guatemala,” according to intelligence documents seen by El Tiempo.

cocainehttp://www.cocaineroute.eu/

Drugs are shipped by fastboat from Colombia, primarily to Guatemala’s Puerto Quetzal, which handles almost all of the cocaine coming out of Colombia.

A kilo of cocaine that reaches Guatemala is worth $10,000, according to El Tiempo. The price hovers around $12,000 to $15,000 at the US border, and a kilo can sell in the low six figures once it reaches the US.

‘A possible refuge’

The panoply of ties that the Sinaloa cartel has built throughout the Western Hemisphere lead many to believe El Chapo, the fugitive Sinaloa boss, could seek “a possible refuge” in Colombia.

el chapoUS State DepartmentJoaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán.

In fact, on July 19, just eight days after El Chapo rode to freedom on a motorcycle through a mile-long, air-conditioned underground tunnel in central Mexico, El Tiempo reported that officials from the DEA and FBI had requested “all available information on the movements, personnel, and contacts of the Sinaloa cartel in the country.”US State DepartmentJoaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán.

In the six months prior to El Chapo’s escape, the Mexican army captured nearly 2,800 kilos of cocaine — a 340% increase over the same period in 2014. The increase in seizures comes despite UN reports indicating that drug cultivation and trading in Colombia had stabilized.

The hunt for El Chapo has also drawn in several officials from the very country to which he may be headed. In late July, El Tiempo reported that three retired Colombian generals and six active police officials were headed north to assist with the search.

The Colombian generals — two former heads of the national police and the former chief of the now disbanded secret police — were selected because of their roles in similar mission: The effort to bring down the Cali cartel and Pablo Escobar’s Medellin cartel — two of the Colombian drug-trafficking organizations that ran roughshod over Colombian society in 1980s and 1990s.

Colombia pablo escobarReuters Two men carry a picture of Pablo Escobar through the streets of Medellin December 2, 1994, on the first anniversary of his death. Hundreds of admirers packed a memorial service for the slain cocaine king, proclaiming undying loyalty to the dead drug lord.

The generals, who a Colombian police source called the “most effective three musketeers the country has against the narcos,” left Mexico in early August.

But, according to Michael Lohmuller at Insight Crime, whatever advice they left behind may not be enough to bring down Sinaloa’s drug boss.

The 22 years since the controversial killing of Escobar have seen marked advancements in the operations, sophistication, and evasiveness of drug cartels.

Moreover, modern-day Colombian police have failed to catch their country’s own most wanted kingpin: Dario Antonio Úsuga — the head of Los Urabeños and El Chapo’s ally.

Drug Lord ‘El Chapo’ Escapes; Manhunt Begins

https://i0.wp.com/www.blazingcatfur.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/El-Guapo.jpgMEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico mounted an all-out manhunt Sunday for its most powerful drug lord, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who escaped from a maximum security prison through a 1.5-kilometer (1 mile) tunnel from a small opening in the shower area of his cell, according to the country’s top security official.

The elaborate underground escape route, built allegedly without the detection of authorities, allowed Guzman to do what Mexican officials promised would never happen after his re-capture last year — slip out of one of the country’s most secure penitentiaries for the second time.

“This represents without a doubt an affront to the Mexican state,” said President Enrique Pena Nieto, speaking during a previously scheduled trip to France. “But I also have confidence in the institutions of the Mexican state … that they have the strength and determination to recapture this criminal.”

If Guzman is not caught immediately, the drug lord will likely be back in full command and control of the Sinaloa Cartel in 48 hours, said Michael S. Vigil, a retired U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration chief of international operations.

“We may never find him again,” he said. “All the accolades that Mexico has received in their counter drug efforts will be erased by this one event.”

Thirty employees from various part of the Altiplano prison, 55 miles (90 kilometers) west of Mexico City, have been taken in for questioning, according to the federal Attorney General’s Office.

https://i1.wp.com/binaryapi.ap.org/395570f2d3a24ec8b77cc78981eb43a1/460x.jpg

A manhunt began immediately late Saturday for Guzman, whose cartel is believed to control most of the major crossing points for drugs at the U.S. border with Mexico.

Guatemala’s Interior Ministry said a special task force of police and soldiers were watching Mexico’s southern border for any sign of fugitive drug lord.

To the north, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch issued a statement offering “any assistance that may help support his swift recapture,”

Associated Press journalists near Altiplano saw the roads were being heavily patrolled by federal police, with numerous checkpoints and a Blackhawk helicopter flying overhead. Flights were also suspended at Toluca’s international airport near the penitentiary in the State of Mexico, and civil aviation hangars were being searched.

Guzman was last seen about 9 p.m. in the shower area of his cell, according to a statement from the National Security Commission. After a time, he was lost by the prison’s security camera surveillance network. Upon checking his cell, authorities found it empty and a 20-by-20-inch (50-by-50 centimeter) hole near the shower.

Guzman’s escape is a major embarrassment to the Pena Nieto administration, which had received plaudits for its aggressive approach to top drug lords. Since the government took office in late 2012, Mexican authorities have nabbed or killed six of them, including Guzman.

Guzman faces multiple federal drug trafficking indictments in the U.S. as well as Mexico, and was on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s most-wanted list.

After Guzman was arrested on Feb. 22, 2014, the U.S. said it would file an extradition request, though it’s not clear if that happened.

The Mexican government at the time vehemently denied the need to extradite Guzman, even as many expressed fears he would escape as he did in 2001 while serving a 20-year sentence in the country’s other top-security prison, Puente Grande, in the western state of Jalisco.

Former Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam told the AP earlier this year that the U.S. would get Guzman in “about 300 or 400 years” after he served time for all his crimes in Mexico.

He dismissed concerns that Guzman could escape a second time. That risk “does not exist,” Murillo Karam said.

“It wasn’t overconfidence; it was Mexican judicial nationalism,” said Raul Benitez, a security expert at Mexico’s National Autonomous University. “First he had to pay his debt in Mexico and then in the U.S. Now it’s very evident that it was a mistake.”

It was difficult to believe that such an elaborate structure could have been built without the detection of authorities, though photographs show the corrections facility surrounded by construction, with large open ditches and lots of metal drainage pipes that could have camouflaged such a project.

Guzman dropped by ladder into a hole 10 meters (30 feet) deep that connected with a tunnel about 1.7 meters (5 feet-6 inches) high that was fully ventilated and had lighting, Rubido said.

Authorities also found tools, oxygen tanks and a motorcycle adapted to run on rails that they believe was used to carry dirt out and tools in during the construction.

The tunnel terminated in a half-built house in a farm field, according to radio transmissions among authorities, who cordoned off the structure that sits atop a small rise with a clear view of the prison. They would not confirm the location of the end of the tunnel directly to the AP.

A 74-year-old rancher whose home is about 400 yards (meters) from the cordoned property said he had seen a couple in their 30s start building on the property about a year ago. He did not want to be named for safety reasons. He said they were very friendly and not from the area.

“One day my cows made it over to the house and I didn’t see anything strange,” said the rancher, whose home sits between the prison and the other property.

Guzman’s cartel is known for building elaborate tunnels beneath the Mexico-U.S. border to transport cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana, with ventilation, lighting and even rail cars to easily move products.

He was first caught by authorities in Guatemala in 1993, extradited and sentenced to 20 years in prison on drug-trafficking-related charges.

Many accounts say he escaped in 2001 in a laundry cart, although there have been several versions of how he got away. What is clear is that he had help from prison guards, who were prosecuted and convicted.

Guzman was finally re-captured in February 2014 after eluding authorities for days across his home state of Sinaloa.

Born 58 years ago, according to Interpol, he and allies took control of the Sinaloa faction when a larger syndicate began to fall apart in 1989.

During his first stint as a fugitive, Guzman transformed himself into arguably the most powerful drug trafficker in the world. His fortune was estimated at more than $1 billion, according to Forbes magazine, which listed him among the “World’s Most Powerful People,” ranked above the presidents of France and Venezuela.

He finally was tracked down to a modest beach side high-rise in the Pacific Coast resort city of Mazatlan, where he had been hiding with his wife and twin daughters. He was captured in the early morning of Feb. 22, 2014, without a shot fired.

Before they reached him, security forces went on a several-day chase through Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state. They found houses where Guzman supposedly had been staying with steel-enforced doors and the same kind of lighted, ventilated escape tunnels.

Even after his 2014 capture, Guzman’s Sinaloa Cartel empire continues to stretch throughout North America and reaches as far as Europe and Australia. The cartel has been heavily involved in the bloody drug war that has torn through parts of Mexico for the last decade, taking an estimated 100,000 lives or more.

Altiplano, considered the most secure of Mexico’s federal prisons, also houses Zetas drug cartel leader Miguel Angel Trevino, and Edgar Valdes Villarreal, known as “La Barbie,” of the Beltran Leyva cartel.

Associated Press writers Cristian Kovadloff in Toluca, Mexico, Maria Verza in Almoloya, Mexico, Christopher Sherman in Mexico City and Alicia A. Caldwell in Washington contributed to this report.  Read original here


Guzman, who is considered “the world’s most powerful drug trafficker” by the US government and who is on the Forbes list of billionaires, worked closely with the Drug Enforcement Administration to eliminate his competitors.

Following the 2009 arrest Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla, the son of a Sinaloa leader Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, it was discovered members of the notorious cartel met with DEA officials at least 50 times since 2000.

A report published in early 2014 by El Universal confirmed the arrangement, which included “an array of future benefits, including dropping charges pending against Sinaloa members” in exchange for information of rival drug cartels, according to the Latin Times.

The primary benefit for Guzman and Sinaloa Cartel was the ability to ship billions of dollars worth of narcotics into the United States without fear of DEA interference.