Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How Narcos use C-TPAT to their Advantage

Yuma Regional Update

M1 and M2 - Compadres
A narco cell belonging to the Sinaloa Federation operating in the area bounded (generally) by Peñasco, SON and Sonoyta, SON, that is part Ismael Zambada Garcia's (El Mayo) faction is actively looking to purchase between sixty and one hundred fully automatic AK-47 (7.62x39 caliber) weapons. It's part of the aftermath that's come as a result of the arrest of Manuel Torres Felix (M-1). Manuel Torres worked under Gonzalo Inzunza Inzunza (Macho Prieto) and ran the Mexicali Plaza. Nature abhors a vacuum and the same is true of narcotics territories. 

As a result of the build up of El Mayo's cell, the San Luis Rio Colorado/Yuma, Arizona US Port of Entry is seeing an increase of narcotics traffic. Methamphetamine, marijuana and some cocaine is crossing. The friction between Macho Prieto and El Mayo is increasing as a result. It's interesting to note that this particular turf/region is also claimed and used heavily by the Beltran Leyva Organization and Fausto Isidro Meza (Chapo Isidro) in particular. There don't seem to be many tunnels in play. It comes across the border by body-pack and across at the ports of entry.

C-TPAT - The Narco's Friend

The US Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism is a key strategy of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
CBP is one of the Department of Homeland Security’s largest and most complex components, with a priority mission of keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the U.S. It also has a responsibility for securing the border and facilitating lawful international trade and travel while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws and regulations, including immigration and drug laws.

Essentially this is how the narcos (primarily Los Caballeros Templarios or LCT) use C-TPAT to their advantage: Much of the avocado and mango crop from Mexico is shipped to the US from only a few regions (as a matter of agreement and law between Mexico and the USA). Agricultural products are brought from the fields to C-TPAT approved facilities where both US Customs and the US Department of Agriculture inspects the loads. They then put a C-TPAT seal on the rear loading doors of the trailer holding agriculture.

The truck and trailer(s) depart for the US Border under official US Government seal. Usually with ten minutes of leaving the facility where they were certified, the rear doors are lifted from their hinges by the use of a fork lift (seal intact). The produce is off-loaded and put in another truck. The (certified) produce trailer is filled with narcotics products. The sealed doors are replaced and the trailer is driven from the Mexican interior to the US Border region including the city of Peñasco (see Yuma Regional Update above). Having transited Mexico with their sealed and certified load, the rear doors are again lifted from their hinges, the produce is replaced and the narcotics crosses the border in broken up loads. That means some of it might come in through the C-TPAT certified load of produce, and it's also body packed over the border and brought across ports of entry by other means.

While CBP is proud of their expensive and lauded program, the only thing that it does in this scenario is to facilitate the shipment of narcotics over a thousand miles of Mexican highway. The Mexican Police will not break a USGOV applied C-TPAT seal to inspect the cargo.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Operation Fast and Furious - Does Anyone Remember That?

If Barack Obama is re-elected President, it is doubtful that Eric Holder will continue on as Attorney General. Whether he is imprisoned for lying to Congress or not still has not been adjudicated. 
Yes, I understand that Attorney General Eric Holder denied that he knew anything about Operation Fast and Furious. If he lied, he should be fired for lying. If he truly didn't know, he should be fired for incompetence. Read a little further and decide for yourself.

Based on the Congressional record (prior to the conclusion of the investigation by Congressman Issa R-CA) "No one at Justice Department headquarters has been able to provide answers to the (Brian) Terry family. During their respective transcribed interviews, Monty Wilkinson stated 38 times that he “did not recall” or “did not know.” In a similar fashion, Gary Grindler did so 29 times, and Ed Siskel 21 times. In two different transcribed interviews, Dennis Burke said he “did not recall” or “did not know” a combined total of 161 times." (Congressional Report)

 Who in the Obama Justice Department did what with Operation Fast and Furious? 

Based on the Joint Staff Report prepared for Rep. Darrell Issa, Chairman, US House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and Senator Charles Grassley, Ranking member of the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary -- 112th Congress October 29, 2012 

Office of the Attorney General

Eric H. Holder, Jr. - Attorney General
After taking office, Holder delivered a series of speeches touting a new strategy to combat Mexican drug cartels. These speeches formed the basis of a new Department strategy.
Robert “Monty” Wilkinson - Deputy Chief of Staff
Monty Wilkinson read weekly reports discussing Operation Fast and Furious, yet failed to act on the information. He believed that it was not the responsibility of the Attorney General’s office to manage or supervise the Department’s components. Before Agent Brian Terry was murdered, Wilkinson inquired about the Attorney General’s participation in announcing the Fast and Furious take-down.
Gary Grindler - Acting Deputy Attorney General
Gary Grindler attended detailed briefings on Operation Fast and Furious in 2010. He had a passive management style, waiting for staff to bring issues to him instead of seeking them out. In January 2011, Grindler became the Chief of Staff to Attorney General Holder, a position he currently holds.
Edward Siskel - Associate Deputy Attorney General
Edward Siskel was responsible for the ATF portfolio in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General during Operation Fast and Furious, even though he had no prior training or experience with ATF. He also attended detailed briefings on Fast and Furious. Siskel is currently an Associate Counsel at the White House.
Lanny Breuer - Assistant Attorney General
Led by Lanny Breuer, zDOJ's Criminal Division decided to resurrect the prosecution of Operation Wide Receiver even though the case had used the reckless and misguided tactic of gunwalking. Breuer dedicated staff resources to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona to help in Operation Fast and Furious. His staff also authorized at least six wiretap applications on his behalf in support of Fast and Furious.
Jason Weinstein - Deputy Assistant Attorney General 
Jason Weinstein authorized wiretap applications for Operation Fast and Furious. He knew about the gunwalking tactics used in Operation Wide Receiver. He failed to connect the dots between the two cases. Weinstein resigned on September 19, 2012.
Kenneth Blanco - Deputy Assistant Attorney General
Kenneth Blanco authorized at least two wiretap applications in Operation Fast and Furious.
James Trusty - Acting Chief, Gang Unit
James Trusty was a key liaison between Criminal Division leadership and prosecutors sent by the Criminal Division to Arizona.
U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona

Dennis Burke - U.S. Attorney
Dennis Burke was the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona during Operation Fast and Furious. He frequently met with ATF and received updates on the case. In the early stages of Fast and Furious, Burke wanted to hold out for a bigger case instead of arresting the straw purchasers and closing the investigation. Burke resigned on August 30, 2011.
ATF Headquarters

Kenneth Melson - Acting Director
Kenneth Melson was instrumental in starting a new initiative between ATF and the Criminal Division, whereby Criminal Division attorneys assisted ATF with firearms investigations and prosecutions. Melson retired on September 19, 2012.
William Hoover - Deputy Director
Realizing that Fast and Furious had become an enormous case, William Hoover ordered an exit strategy for the investigation. The Department of Justice never implemented it. Hoover was also instrumental in briefing personnel at Department of Justice headquarters about the status of Fast and Furious, providing frequent updates to the Deputy Attorney General’s office. Hoover retired from ATF on August 1, 2012.
William McMahon - Deputy Assistant Director for Field Operations—West
McMahon authorized the wiretap applications on behalf of ATF before they were sent to the Department of Justice’s Office of Enforcement Operations for review and approval.
William Newell - Special Agent in Charge, Phoenix Field Division
William Newell had a history of using reckless tactics during his investigations. He believed he had the full support of senior Justice Department officials in creating and executing Fast and Furious.
When you look at the list above of who did what, it's apparent that he was correct.

Arellano Felix - Los Caballeros Templarios Alliance

Arellano Felix Family (back when)
I don't know whether or not the word is out, however, the alliance between the Arellano Felix Organization (AFO) and Los Caballeros Templarios (LCT) does make some sense when you stop and think about it.

  • SUPPLY - Cocaine smuggling is on the decline because it simply doesn't make good financial sense anymore and won't until the demand pushes the price through the roof (if it ever does). Meth is the new coke and AFO doesn't have a reliable lab network to call on for supplies to meet the demand in the US and Canada. LCT does have a substantial lab network in Mexico that churns out tons of methamphetamine each month.
  • SUMGGLLING and DISTRIBUTION - LCT doesn't have an effective distribution network north of the US Border to deal with the supply that they are able to manufacture. AFO has an excellent network that has been in place for a very long time.
  • POLITICAL STROKE - Despite persistent rumors of their demise (including pronouncements by various US Law Enforcement task forces and US Attorneys (Laura), the AFO has a lot of infrastructure and power in Northern Mexico. The LCT does not, but they have stroke in Michoacan and Gurrero where they manufacture meth and tap poppies. In other words, they have the power where they need it if they are the manufacturers. They control the port of Lazlo Cardenas and can bring precursors directly to the labs through that route.
  • THE PLAZA PROBLEM - LCT doesn't need to control plazas (nor buy sanction from MEXGOV to run them) in order to brew and ship methamphetamine (and refine opium) for distribution by AFO.
LCT Narco Mata
One other thing to keep in mind is that the AFO has changed due to pressure from the US and Mexican governments, changing leadership and the reality that the Tijuana Plaza is owned and operated by the Sinaloa Federation. AFO (meaning Luis Francisco Sanchez Arellano) made a conscious decision not to go to war with anyone. They cooperate, collaborate and run their dope in peace because it's more profitable and after all, it is a business.

LCT has regional aspirations, but is generally isolated by its members and its political constituency to remain in the Michoacan (Mexican Interior) region. They do not challenge AFO in any measurable way nor are their ambitions likely to expand to cause friction.
The mandate by the People of Michoacan for LCT to provide some sort of social justice to the people living in the hamlets doesn't interfere with anything AFO has going, six hundred miles to the north.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Greasing the Machine

While nobody talks about it, there is no doubt but what every Mexican Administration for the past fifty years has been complicit in the drug trade. Some are more engaged than others, but there doesn't seem to be much difference between Partido Acción Nacional (PAN) and Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI. Both sell plazas to favored drug kingpins and then work diligently to protect their financial interests by shielding those plazas and drug trafficking routes. There are always sacrificial goats who end up in prison (usually paroled on weekends to visit their families and attend family fiestas).

Partido de la Revolución Democrática, PRD, the Mexican version of a 'communist party' tries to hold themselves as somehow above the narco mix but in the last election they (key party members) accepted contributions from known narcos and from their attorneys. They were paid less than their PRI counterparts because nobody expected them to win, but they still were rewarded for dragging the sack from place to place in search of money.

It may be instructional for people now and in the future who read this blog to understand how the pay-offs happen and the mechanisms that make it work.

When some of this information that you're going to read was presented to Vice President Joe Biden, he wanted to know how it differed from the way things were handled in the United States. 

In Mexico, it's not all that tough to know who the narcos are. And if you're a politician taking a briefcase or a suitcase full of cash from a known narco attorney -- you know where the money is coming from. And you also know that if you win, you will owe favors, which will be called due and payable in time.

In the same way that I know that the Sinaloa Federation is using the Estancion Abuya Airfield near Culiacan as their principal airstrip and that they're no longer using the airport at Imala, politicians know what is going on around them. That's what they do. Politicians worldwide obtain contributions (clean and dirty) by knowing what their constituency wants and being able to deliver the goods.

In the same way as people know who the alcalde (mayor) is in a town, they know which thug runs the organized crime rackets. For example:  If you live in Coahuayana de Hidalgo, you know that the regional narco is El Del Los Cortes Finos and that he reports to Servando Gomez Martinez (La Tuta). 

Back to the issue of political bag men in Mexico. Sometimes the plazas are sold by the President's family. In the Fox Administration, it's rumored that his wife, Marta Shagun's sons sold the plazas directly. I don't know who President Pena Nieto will select as attorney general. There are rumors and it might be Ignacio Morales Lechuga, who served in that role under President Carlos Salinas de Gotiari (1991-93). Whether PGR will lead the effort at collection or not becomes a political decision that may not yet have been made.

One thing is certain, plazas will be sold, landing rights will be guaranteed at certain airstrips and some ports (Manzanillo is high on the list as is Puerto Lazlo Cardenas) will be guaranteed as ports of entry for narcotics precursors and cocaine coming north from South America. It's how business has always been done and there is no indication that it will change.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Corporate Sinaloa Federation

It's been happening in a big way in the Sinaloa Federation for the past six months and plans are underway to 'work' through the holiday break.

Feliz Navidad in Canada
WORK? No not that kind of work. They won't be moving drugs during the break - at least not many. They continue to establish their Canadian infrastructure and will be spending a piece of the holidays there in order to 'work while the sun shines' -- sorta -- to prepare for 2013 when you're going to see at least half of the methamphetamine products sold by the Sinaloa Federation and particularly by Joaquin Guzman Loera (Chapo) pushed not from Mexico, but to the United States through Canada. Even though the route is farther, the scrutiny is an order of magnitude less and they know how SLOW government moves. 

Experimentation with Canadian routes has been very successful beginning in April 2012 and continuing to the present day.

Chapo has visited Canada twice in the past six months that I'm sure of, and he may have slipped under my radar a couple more times. He's been up there visiting friends, making plans and trying to build a new (if not novel) system that maximizes profit by minimizing risk.

Jesus Malverde, SantoNarco
I don't know if anyone noticed, but ...the cash that used to flow from the US to Mexico, across the International Border is drying up. The first rule of investigation is to follow the money. But the Sinaloa Federation has, in a sense, gone cashless. Most of the profits from drug sales in the US are now being moved through banking channels. Only a fraction is crossing into the plazas. There are a couple of reasons for this, but the bottom line is that it's simply less expensive for the narcos to do this. 

Since the Sinaloa Federation accounts for at least 80% of the drugs moved from Mexico into the US, somebody should pay attention to this. I doubt that the RCMP reads this blog, but maybe they should because there will be more specifics on the "Northern Route" popping up here and there as I'm disposed to blog it.

There will still be cocaine shipments, but the principal Mexican narcos (meaning Chapo, Mayo and Mencho) are convinced that they are better off dealing in cheap, very high quality methamphetamine. Anticipate a sharp decline in cocaine shipments to the US. It's business and supply and cost with an eye toward profit, drive this market. That should raise the price of cocaine, and when that happens, you'll see the independents move that more because of the same supply and demand situation. For the moment, the Sinaloa Federation is going corporate and that means that they are going to allow the independents to take the big risks while they focus on the surer thing.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Alejandrina Gisselle Guzman Salazar

On Friday, October 12, Paola Ortega (DOB January 8, 1981), holding a Mexican Passport with a (counterfeit) US visa attempted to enter the United States at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. It turns out that Paola Ortega was actually Alejandrina Gisselle Guzman Salazar (DOB October 15, 1981). She spent her thirty-first birthday at the Metropolitan Detention Center in downtown San Diego in the protective custody lock-up.

She looks very much like her father.
She is carrying the baby of Dr. Juan Carlos Magana Jimenez, MD (age 25), a clinician practicing medicine in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. The couple have been married for about two years. Together they decided to send Alejandrina (whose mother is also named Alejandrina) to the US to have their daughter. Ms. Guzman-Salazar is about six months pregnant.

Up to this point, nobody cares, but she's the daughter of the prime narcotics kingpin in Mexico, Joaquin Guzman Loera (El Chapo), and that makes all the difference as far as USGOV is concerned.

El Chapo has several wives, one of whom, Emma Coronel Aispuro legally entered the US last year and had twin children, now US Citzens. After the babies were born, they returned to Mexico with their mother.

As usual, the San Diego bar is scrambling for the case. Early in the business, Juan Carlos Magana hired Guadalupe Valencia, who publicized the arrest. Then, angry with Valencia, he fired him and hired Jan Ronis, another narco-attorney based in San Diego, who is famous for selling his clients who cooperate with the government out to the cartels -- who kill them. And remarkably, Ronis is still alive after a lifetime of treachery. Who would have guessed he'd survive this long? Will Ronis be the last attorney on this case? Unlikely. 

Will Alejandrina be released on bond? Also unlikely. Will her daughter be born in custody and become a US Citizen? Very likely. And after all, that's why she crossed the border, isn't it?

A Lack of Harmony in the Sinaloa Federation

José Manuel Torres Félix is now communicating from hell - so says the narco mata (left) announcing a message from the late El Ondeado (also known as M-1), who was killed on October 13th.  Narco matas are a common sight, hanging from freeway and highway overpasses in mexico. They are anonymous messages to the public that the Mexican press might have not carried. Call if a blog, if you will.

José Manuel Torres Félix ran a cell that dealt primarily with Plaza Management, which means that he handled everything from money movement and narcotics movement to turf control. Sometimes there was a little money laundering as well. While alive, he was more or less on a par with Gonzalo Inzunza Inzunza (El Macho Prieto) in terms of ranking. 

His former subordinates, Mario Aguirre and Lamberto Verdugo feel that the big boss, Joaquin Guzman Loera (El Chapo) and the #2 man, Ismael Zambada Garcia (El Mayo) gave Torres up to the Mexican government. That is precisely what they did and the messages hanging from the overpasses in Sinaloa and Jalisco are accurate.

But what else is new. MEXGOV needs victories in the endless war on drugs and El Chapo thins the ranks of the bold, cocky and insubordinate this way with a double win. The subordinate is killed or captured (life in prison) and out of El Chapo's hair and it makes for gruesome but flamboyant headlines as MEXGOV remains on the road to victory.       (Sanguinarios del M1)

Maybe it was the song? Chapo prefers that the people in Sinaloa sing songs about HIM, not his lieutenants. Maybe the song went to Torres' head? Who knows?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Mexican Methamphetamine

Americans are so desensitized to the drug trade that one photo of piles of drums containing precursor chemicals for methamphetamine, seized by Mexican and US officials, looks more less like all the rest. Thus, I won't bother to post a photo of a pile of chemical drums.

Mexican drug cartels are flooding U.S. cities with cheap, extraordinarily pure methamphetamine made in factory-like "super labs” located throughout Mexico. Although Mexican meth is not new to the U.S. drug trade, it now accounts for as much as 80 percent of the meth domestically, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. And it is as much as 90 percent pure, a level that offers users a faster, more intense and longer-lasting high.

Viewers familiar with the popular television series, BREAKING BAD, have a genuinely accurate view of the meth lab scene, combined with Hollywood drama. The only difference is that the really good stuff is made in Mexico these days. Various cartels expanded into the U.S. meth market very effectively, using the drug pipelines that they previously used for cocaine, heroin and marijuana. 
Mexican meth has a clearer, glassier appearance than more crudely produced formulas and often resembles ice fragments, usually with a clear or bluish-white color. It often has a smell people compare to ammonia, cat urine or even burning plastic.

Seizures of meth along the Southwest border have more than quadrupled.

In terms of raw tonnage, the amount of seized meth jumped from slightly more than 4,000 pounds in 2007 to more than 16,000 pounds in 2011. The Sinaloa Federation, which keeps close tabs on these profit-and-loss numbers feels that somewhere around 8% of the methamphetamine product that they sent north was seized by law enforcement in their pipelines. Once it hits the street distributors, they don't track it. Though I don't have completely reliable numbers from the Sinaloa Federation (only, not considering other cartels), the best numbers I have is that they shipped 1,500 metric tons of methamphetamine products (crystal, ice, etc.) to the United States and Canada to date in 2012.
During that same period, the purity of Mexican meth shot up too, from 39 percent in 2007 to 88 percent by 2011. During that same time, the price fell 69 percent, tumbling from $290 per pure gram to less than $90. (Source: DEA)
The marketing format follows a well-established pattern. By simultaneously increasing the purity and cutting the price, the cartels get people hooked and create a new customer base.

Mexico has tightened laws and regulations on pseudoephedrine and occasionally the cartels have a problem obtaining commercial quantities from India and China. Today they arrive at the ports of Manzanillo and Lazlo Cardenas on the West Coast and they cross the Mexican border from Guatemala.

Some producers shifted their recipe from pseudo ephedrine to P2P, using the organic compound phenylacetone because it's easier to obtain and has some legitimate commercial applications. In 2011, 85 percent of lab samples taken from U.S. meth seizures came from the P2P process - up from 50 percent a little more than a year earlier.
Last year, Mexican authorities made two major busts in the quiet central state of Queretaro, seizing nearly 500 tons of precursor chemicals and 3.4 tons of pure meth with a street value of more than $100 million. In Sinaloa, investigators found a sophisticated underground lab equipped with an elevator and ventilation systems as well as cooking and sleeping facilities. The facility was reachable only by a nearly 100-foot tunnel with its opening concealed under a tractor shed. (Source: Univision)
In February, soldiers in western Mexico made a historic seizure: 15 tons of pure methamphetamine, a haul that could have supplied 13 million doses worth more than $4 billion.

The cocaine pipeline from Colombia to the United States has already been closed for this season and will reopen after the Holiday smuggling break, due to begin mid-January 2013. That is not true of the meth pipeline because it's produced domestically in Mexico and the profit margin is therefore much higher.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Carlos Slim and the Notorious Obama Phone

I've wondered why Carlos Slim Helu, the richest man in the world, seems to have an affinity for President Barack Obama. Carlos, for all who know him, is a very sharp businessman. He didn't earn a net worth of about $80 billion by being a slouch. So for the past four years, I kept trying to figure out what Slim's angle was in this. Slim feels that it's better to own a politician than to be one...

It turns out that Carlos Slim is one of the prime movers who supply 'free' ObamaPhones to Americans.

You don't need to be poor to get your ObamaPhones and free air time. (you can get as many phones as you want and as much free airtime courtesy of the US taxpayers - if you don't believe me, just sign up. walks you through the procedure.

Carlos Slim owns a controlling stake in TracFone, which makes $10 per phone for each device it provides to poor Americans. The company, whose president and CEO is Frederick “F.J.” Pollak, also makes money from extra minutes and data plans it sells to subscribers who get phones and service through the government's Lifeline program. The program, which began in the mid-1980s, has exploded in the past four years after being expanded from supplying landlines to the poor to providing cellular phones. (Fox News)
Slim’s Movil America owns TracFone and recently snapped up service provider Simple Mobile for $100 million. TracFones and Simple Mobile service are huge players in the Lifeline program through the company's “SafeLink Wireless” brand. TracFone had 3.8 million subscribers through the federal program as of late 2011. 
Pollak has donated at least $156,500 to Democratic candidates and committees this cycle, including at least $50,000 to the Obama campaign. His wife, Abigail, is a campaign bundler for Obama and has raised more than $632,000 for the president this cycle and more than $1.5 million since 2007. She has personally contributed more than $200,000 to Democratic candidates and committees since 2008
The Pollaks hosted Obama at their Miami Beach home in June for a $40,000-per-plate fundraising dinner, and hosted a similar event with Michelle Obama in July 2008. The couple personally donated a combined $66,200 to Obama’s re-election effort that year.
U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin, (R-Ark.) said, “I simply do not think that the taxpayers should be footing the bill for someone’s cell service and social interaction,” Griffin said. "If that’s the case, what should the government pay for and not pay for? Let’s just start paying for everyone’s gas.”

It's hard to blame Carlos Slim when the more or less legal bribes/campaign contributions that he and his dole out to President Barack Obama provide such a handsome return. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Ruben Osegevera Cervantes

In 2006, President Calderon started a crusade against organized crime without a clear strategy, political structure or a military force capable of fighting Mexican cartels. The objective was to reclaim the rule of law, but shortly after the end of his administration, the structures of narco remain intact. (Tag Line from a speech that will be delivered at LA HIDTA on Tuesday, November 27, 2012 - you can't attend unless you have credentials, but it will be a meaningless rehash.)

Why is Ruben Osegevera Cervantes (El Mencho) free and running his large and prosperous drug organization (sometimes referred to as the Cárteles de Jalisco e Colima Nueva Generación)? Who has an interest in keeping him in power? Why is the Mexican Army (SEDENA) and federal police (SSP) so ineffective against him personally? They took him into custody about a month ago. Why did they let him go?

Cartel roadblock in Jalisco from last month. Why were there roadblocks?
CJNG won't be shipping anymore cocaine to the United States until after the Christmas Holiday (roughly January 15, 2013) and the street price in Guadalajara has jumped $2K per kilo within the past two weeks. The price is also up in Los Angeles for those narcos who usually order enough to tide them over the month of December when the Cartels shut down for the holidays. Why is this? Any intel on this from the US side? Yes, I know the answer to all the questions that I posit, but do the intelligence professionals. And if not, why not?

CJNG will still ship methamphetemine products to the US during this period and precursor deliveries through the ports of Manzanillo and Lazlo Cardenas have picked up since the large seizures in summer weren't repeated. They will also ship heroin (grown in Gurrero, refined in Michoacan) through late December.

I really don't like the name, "CGNJ" because outside of a little posturing after El Mencho succeeded the late Ignacio (Nacho) Coronel Villarreal, it's not used in Mexico to any degree. It's all the Sinaloa Federation. It looks good on charts, but it's simply not used in Guadalajara or in El Mencho's headquarters in the twin cities of El Grullo and Autlan de Navarro. So if you're really tied to the name and if it means something to you personally, keep using it. But they don't. From here on, I'll simply refer to it as El Mencho's Organization or more appropriately, the Sinaloa Federation. They do use that term.

Does anyone think that the Mexican Government is so STUPID that they don't know what's going on in their own country? I for one do not. I've worked with them and will assure you that they have their fingers on the pulse of the drug business. Why? Because they get a cut. They always have and they always will. Why is El Mencho free and running his cartel? Because it's good for business. What happens when it's no longer good for business to have him in that job? Ask the late Nacho Coronel.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Beltran Leyva Organization

As I discussed in the previous blog post (Renovatio), organizational names tend to come and go in Mexico.  For example, the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO) still call themselves by that name, with some pride. The US Government refers to it as Cártel del Pacífico Sur, the South Pacific Cartel. As far as I know, only the USGOV uses that name.
Wikipedia has this to say about the The South Pacific Cartel (Spanish: Cártel del Pacífico Sur), is a Mexican organized crime group composed of the remnants of the Beltran-Leyva Cartel. It is based in the Mexican state of Morelos. (Wikipedia)
The source cited by Wikipedia is misleading: The BLO have very little presence in Morelos, though you could say that at one point in time, they had a greater presence there. The BLO still retains a presence in Cuernavaca, Morelos and still has political stroke there. 

Today Hector Beltran Leyva makes his home in Estado Libre y Soberano de Nayarit (The Mexican State of Nayarit) and he oversees another cell in Northern Sinaloa (Guassave and Batamote) that is managed by Chuy Gonzales. Yes, it's true that Fausto Isidro Meza used to be the boss but he was displaced from that roll about a month ago. Today the combined strength in Sinaloa is no more than 600 fighters, down from several times that number six months ago.

Courtesy: STRATFOR - Circa July 2012
Though the bulk of the map above portrays wildly inaccurate information, the general territory (orange) that they lay out for the BLO is generally well done. 


The last blog post dealt with a situation with the "extinct" Beltran Leyva Organization, that is on the ropes, but not yet dead and buried. Today we will discuss another "extinct" cartel that is very much alive. 

La Familia Michoacana, (English: The Michoacán Family) or LFM is a narcotics syndicate based in the Mexican state of Michoacán .

La Tuta is much thinner now
than he was when this photo
was taken.
Members of the cartel were organized by Nazario Moreno González, (El Más Loco) who carried a "bible" of his own sayings and insisted that his army of traffickers should avoid using the narcotics that they sell. José de Jesús Méndez Vargas, Servando Gómez Martínez and Enrique Plancarte Solís also led the cartel. Servando Gómez (La Tuta) is the last man standing from that original group. On November 2, 2001, The Mexican Federal Police (SSP) announced that they had eliminated La Familia and that the cartel was "extinct".

They are not extinct, however, they did reorganize, and under new leadership, they rebranded the organization and today it is called The Knights Templar Cartel (Los Caballeros Templarios or LCT). They are based in Michoacan but have shown considerable reach and recently, almost 2,000 fighters took the field and swarmed much of Colima State, and threatened Southern Jalisco State in a military  style campaign. You could ask why. And I could answer, but that answer would smack of "conspiracy theory" and that's not what this blog is about. I don't deal in theory here. Only facts.
It has been reported widely that the La Resistencia drug syndicate is part of LCT. That is not true. There are two branches of La Resistencia, which evolved in part from the Millennium Cartel/New Colima Cartel. One branch is run by Juan Carlos Nava Valencia. I don't know who is currently in command of the other branch, but it's not LCT.
Nazario Moreno is dead, but in much the way that Elvis lives in the hearts of people in the US, Nazario lives in the hearts of LCT and they truly believe that he lives, runs the organization and provides secret orders to Servando Gómez (La Tuta) and others in leadership positions. That role of spiritual leader has been assumed by Roman Catholic Archbishop Alberto Suárez Inda, Bishop of the Archdiocese of Morelia responsible for the dioceses of Apatzingan, Ciudad Lázaro Cárdenas, Tacámbaro and Zamora. It is headquartered at Morelia Cathedral in the city of Morelia Michoacán. 
On 17 March 2012 in the State of Guanajuato, LCT put up several banners on bridges welcoming Pope Benedict XVI, and pledging to not provoke any violent acts during the pope's visit. The 14 banners read the following: “The Knights Templar Cartel will not partake in any warlike acts, we are not killers, welcome Pope." (Wikipedia)
Renovatio - Rebirth. This is a common theme among drug cartels in Mexico and it occurs because the Mexican Government needs to show success in wiping out the narcotics syndicates that plague the land. As with the Hydra, chopping off one head, usually leaves you with the uncomfortable truth that two have grown in its place in Mexico.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Nicholas Ivie murder and the Beltran Leyva Cartel

The Beltrán-Leyva Cartel (Beltrán Leyva Organization or BLO -  Cártel de los Beltrán Leyva was a Mexican drug cartel founded by Arturo, Carlos, Alfredo and Hector Beltrán Leyva brothers. The cartel found its origin with the demise of Amado Carillo Fuentes (El Rey de Ciello). From time to time they have been allied to and opposed to most of the other drug syndicates in Mexico. 

On August 11, 2011, the Mexican Government declared the cartel to be disbanded and extinct, except that it's not. (Wikipedia) As of the penning of this blog, the BLO has been pushed back in Sinaloa to a sparse turf in Mexico including the Gussave and Batamote corridor in the valley along the highway 15 corridor and into the mountains east of there in the region referred to as "Mexico's Golden Triangle" where the states of Sinaloa, Durango and Chihuahua meet.

They also control turf in Nayarit State and in the area surrounding Cuernavaca. Their distribution network in the United States is intact. They control various sections along the US/Mexico Border including a portion of the narcotics traffic that crosses at the San Luis Colorado/Yuma area and about 75% of the turf between Nogales and Agua Prieto. It's in that turf area that Agent Nicholas Ivie was murdered this week. And there it was there, in that area that Fausto Isidro Meza Flores also known as Chapo Isidro traveled to pick up a supply of money that was transported south, across the US/Mexico Border.
One of the best photos of Chapo Isidro available. He has
more gray hair now and is heavier.
Chapo Isidro has been pressed hard of late. There were two attacks by the Mexican Army at his home in Batamote and at Camp Wilson over the past three months wherein they tried to take him and only succeeded in killing his bodyguards. Today the Mexican Federal Police raided his home near Gussave and took members of his family into custody.

He traveled up to the border across from the Bisbee, Arizona Corridor because he needed to replenish his war chest. There's been a big war in Mexico and he needed more cash to pay his small army of about 300 fighters.

Drug dealers transit the Bisbee, Arizona Corridor because the US Border Patrol is prohibited by policy for policing that area with vehicles. They do their work on horseback or on foot. Terrorists or narcotraffickers have a pass to move through this area. A bill passed the House of Representatives on June 19, stipulates that federal land management agencies may not prohibit enforcement efforts to “prevent all unlawful entries into the United States, including entries by terrorists, other unlawful aliens, instruments of terrorism, narcotics, and other contraband through the international land borders of the United States.” The Senate has not acted and the bill rests, collecting dust on Sen. Harry Reid's desk.

On October 2, 2012 in the early morning hours, Ivie, along with two other agents, responded to a border sensor about five miles into Arizona. Ivie was shot to death and one of the other agents was wounded.

Border Patrol Agent Nicholas Ivie was responding to members of a drug cartel that officially doesn't exist anymore in a portion of the US/Mexico Border area that the US Government wouldn't allow them to use automobiles to patrol, when he was killed by friendly fire.
Out of the more than 20 million acres of Interior Department and U.S. Forest Service land along the southern border, 4.3 million acres are classified as wilderness areas.

The Center for Biological Diversity has been one of the organizations charging that greater access for the Border Patrol on federal lands would harm the environment.

“Organ Pipe and Cabeza Prieta lie adjacent to each other along the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona and have been significantly hurt by off-road vehicle use in recent years — much of the damage has been the result of Border Patrol vehicles riding roughshod over wilderness areas,” (PJ Media)