The History of Gangs in Mexico part 4 and last

Posted: 18/11/2014 in World
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Sinaloa Cartel

The Sinaloa Cartel (Pacific Cartel, Guzmán-Loera Cartel) (Spanish: Cartel de Sinaloa) is a Mexican drug cartel primarily operating out of the states of Baja California, Sinaloa, Durango, Sonora and Chihuahua. The cartel is also known as the Guzmán-Loera Organization and the Pacific Cartel, the latter due to the coast of Mexico from which it originated, another name is the Federation. The ‘Federation’ was partially splintered when the Beltrán-Leyva brothers broke apart from the Sinaloa Cartel.

The Sinaloa Cartel is associated with the label «Golden Triangle» as the regions of Sinaloa, Durango, and Chihuahua in which they operate the most form a ‘triangle’ when their capital cities are looked at on a map. The region is a major producer of Mexican poppy and marijuana. This area is similar in the United States to the Emerald Triangle consisting of the three largest marijuana-producing counties in the US: Mendocino, Humboldt, and Trinity in Northern California, United States.

According to the U.S. Attorney General, the Sinaloa Cartel is responsible for importing into the United States and distributing nearly 200 tons of cocaine and large amounts of heroin between 1990 and 2008.

Background

Pedro Avilés Pérez was a pioneer drug lord in the Mexican state of Sinaloa in the late 1960s. He is considered to be the first generation of major Mexican drug smugglers of marijuana who marked the birth of large-scale Mexican drug trafficking. He also pioneered the use of aircraft to smuggle drugs to the United States.

Second generation Sinaloan traffickers such as Rafael Caro Quintero, Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo and Avilés Pérez’ nephew Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán, would claim they learned all they knew about narcotrafficking while serving in the Avilés organization. Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, who eventually founded the Guadalajara Cartel was arrested in 1989.

While incarcerated, he remained one of Mexico’s major traffickers, maintaining his organization via mobile phone until he was transferred to a new maximum security prison in the 1990s. At that point, his old organization broke up into two factions: the Tijuana Cartel led by his nephews, the Arellano Félix brothers, and the Sinaloa Cartel, run by former lieutenants Héctor Luis Palma Salazar, Adrián Gómez González and Joaquín Guzmán Loera.

Leadership

The Sinaloa Cartel used to be known as La Alianza de Sangre (Blood Alliance). When Héctor Luis Palma Salazar (a.k.a: El Güero) was arrested on June 23, 1995, by elements of the Mexican Army, his partner Joaquín Guzmán Loera took leadership of the cartel. Guzmán was captured in Guatemala on June 9, 1993, and extradited to Mexico, where he was jailed in a maximum security prison, but on Jan. 19, 2001, Guzmán escaped and resumed his command of the Sinaloa Cartel.

Guzmán has two close associates, Ismael Zambada García andIgnacio Coronel Villareal. Guzman and Zambada became Mexico’s top drug kingpins in 2003, after the arrest of their rival Osiel Cardenasof the Gulf Cartel. Another close associate, Javier Torres Felix, was arrested and extradited to the U.S. in December 2006; so far, Guzmán and Zambada have evaded operations to capture them.

On July 29, 2010 Ignacio Coronel was killed in a shootout with the Mexican military in Zapopan, Jalisco.

Operations

The Sinaloa Cartel has a presence in 17 states, with important centers in Mexico City, Tepic, Toluca, Guadalajara, and most of the state of Sinaloa. The cartel is primarily involved in the smuggling and distribution of Colombian cocaine, Mexican marijuana, methamphetamine and Mexican and Southeast Asian heroin into the United States.

It is believed that a group known as the Herrera Organization would transport multi-ton quantities of cocaine from South America to Guatemala on behalf of the Sinaloa Cartel. From there it is smuggled north to Mexico and later into the U.S. Other shipments of cocaine are believed to originate in Colombia from Cali and Medellín drug-trafficking groups from which the Sinaloa Cartel handle transportation across the U.S. border to distribution cells in Arizona, California, Texas, Chicago and New York.

Prior to his arrest, Vicente Zambada Niebla («El Vicentillo»), son of Ismael Zambada García («El Mayo»), played a key role in the Sinaloa Cartel. Vicente Zambada was responsible for coordinating multi-ton cocaine shipments from Central and South American countries, through Mexico, and into the United States for the Sinaloa Cartel. To accomplish this task he used every means available: Boeing 747 cargo aircraft, narco submarines, container ships, go-fast boats, fishing vessels, buses, rail cars, tractor trailers and automobiles. He was arrested by the Mexican Army on March 18, 2009 and extradited on February 18, 2010 to Chicago to face federal charges.

In the late 1980s, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration believed the Sinaloa Cartel was the largest drug trafficking organization operating in Mexico. By the mid-1990s, according to one court opinion, it was believed to be the size of the Medellín Cartel during its prime.The Sinaloa Cartel was believed to be linked to the Juárez Cartel in a strategic alliance following the partnership of their rivals, the Gulf Cartel and Tijuana Cartel. Following the discovery of a tunnel system used to smuggle drugs across the Mexican/US border, the group has been associated with such means of trafficking.

By 2005, the Beltrán-Leyva brothers, who were formerly aligned with the Sinaloa Cartel, had come to dominate drug trafficking across the border with Arizona. By 2006, the Sinaloa Cartel had eliminated all competition across the 528 km of Arizona border, and it was suspected they had accomplished this by bribing state government officials. The Colima Cartel, Sonora Cartel, Milenio Cartel, Guadalajara Cartel and Sonora Cartel are now branches of the Sinaloa Cartel.

In January 2008 the cartel allegedly split into a number of warring factions, which is a major cause of the epidemic of drug violence Mexico has seen in the last year. Murders by the cartel often involve beheadings or bodies dissolved in vats of acid.

Atlanta has been used as a major U.S. distribution center and accounting hub, and the presence of the Sinaloa Cartel there has brought ruthless violence to that area.

Arrest and seizures

May 11, 2008, Alfonso Gutiérrez Loera cousin of Joaquín «El Chapo» Guzmán Loera and 5 other drug traffickers were arrested after a shootout with Federal Police officers in Culiacan,Sinaloa. Along with the captured suspects, 16 assault rifles, 3 grenades, 102 magazines and 3,543 ammunition rounds were seized.

On Feb. 25, 2009, the U.S. government announced the arrest of 750 members of the Sinaloa Cartel across the U.S. in Operation Xcellerator. They also announced the seizure of more than $59 million in cash and numerous vehicles, planes, and boats.

In March 2009, the Mexican Government announced the deployment of 1,000 Federal Police officers and 5,000 Mexican Army soldiers to restore order in Ciudad Juárez, which has suffered the highest number of casualties in the country.

On August 20, 2009 The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) disarticulated a large Mexican drug operation in Chicago, and knocking out a major distribution network operated by the Flores crew led by twin brothers Margarito and Pedro Flores that operated out of that city. The drug operation allegedly brought 1.5 to 2 tons of cocaine every month to Chicago from Mexico and shipped millions of dollars south of the border. The shipments were mostly bought from the Sinaloa Cartel and at times from the Beltrán-Leyva Cartel, it is assumed that both cartels threatened the Flores crew with violence if they bought from other rival drug organization.

The Sinaloa cartel’s loss of partners in Mexico does not appear to have affect its ability to smuggle drugs from South America to the U.S. On the contrary, based on seizure reports, the Sinaloa cartel appears to be the most active smuggler of cocaine. It has also demonstrated the ability to establish operations in previously unknown areas, such as Central America and South America, even as far south as Perú, Paraguay and Argentina. It also appears to be most active in diversifying its export markets; rather than relying solely on U.S. consumers, it has made an effort to supply distributors of drugs in Latin American and European countries.

Current alliances

Since February 2010, the major cartels have aligned in two factions, one integrated by the Juárez Cartel, Tijuana Cartel, Los Zetas and the Beltrán-Leyva Cartel‎‎; the other faction integrated by the Gulf Cartel, Sinaloa Cartel and La Familia Cartel.

Allegations of collusion with Mexican federal government forces

In May 2009, the U.S. National Public Radio (NPR) aired multiple reports alleging that the Mexican federal police and military were working in collusion with the Sinaloa Cartel. In particular, the report claimed the government was helping Sinaloa cartel to take control of the Juarez Valley area and destroy other cartels, especially the Juarez Cartel. NPR’s reporters interviewed dozens of officials and ordinary people for the series. One report quotes a former Juarez police commander who claimed the entire department was working for the Sinaloa cartel and helping it to fight other groups.

He also claimed that Sinaloa cartel had bribed the military. Also quoted was a Mexican reporter who claimed hearing numerous times from the public that the military had been involved in murders. Another source in the story was the U.S. trial of Manuel Fierro-Mendez, an ex-Juarez police captain who admitted to working for Sinaloa cartel. He claimed that Sinaloa cartel influenced the Mexican government and military in order to gain control of the region. A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent in the same trial alleged that Fierro-Mendez had contacts with a Mexican military officer.

The report also alleged, with support from an anthropologist who studies drug trafficking, that data on the low arrest rate of Sinaloa cartel members (compared to other groups) was evidence of favoritism on the part of the authorities. A Mexican official denied the allegation of favoritism, and a DEA agent and a political scientist also had alternate explanations for the arrest data. Another report detailed numerous indications of corruption and influence that the cartel has within the Mexican government.

Battling the Tijuana Cartel

The Sinaloa Cartel has been waging a war against the Tijuana Cartel (Arellano-Félix Organization) over the Tijuana smuggling route to the border city of San Diego, California. The rivalry between the two cartels dates back to the Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo setup of Palma’s family. Félix Gallardo, following his imprisonment, bestowed the Guadalajara Cartel to his nephews in the Tijuana Cartel.

On November 8, 1992 Palma struck out against the Tijuana Cartel at a disco in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, where eight Tijuana Cartel members were killed in the shootout, the Arellano-Félix brothers having successfully escaped from the location with the assistance of Logan Heights gangster David «D» Barron.

In retaliation, the Tijuana Cartel attempted to set up Guzmán at Guadalajara airport on May 24, 1993. In the shootout that followed, six civilians were killed by the hired gunmen from theLogan Heights, San Diego-based 30th Street gang. The deaths included that of Roman Catholic Cardinal Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo. The church hierarchy originally believed Ocampo was targeted as revenge for his strong stance against the drug trade. However, Mexican officials believe Ocampo just happened to be caught in cross fire.

The Cardinal arrived at the airport in a white Mercury Grand Marquis town car, known to be popular amongst drug barons, making it a target. Intelligence received by Logan Heights gang leader David «D» Barron was that Guzmán would be arriving in a white Mercury Grand Marquis town car. This explanation, however, is often countered due to Ocampo having been wearing a long black cassock and large pectoral cross, as well as him sharing no similarity in appearance with Guzmán and having been gunned down from only two feet away.

Tijuana Cartel

Tijuana Cartel
Arellano-Felix Cartel 2009.jpg
Founded 1989
In Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico
Years active 1989–present
Territory In Mexico:
Baja California
In the United States:
California and Arizona
Ethnicity Mexican
Criminal activities Bribery, drug trafficking,kidnapping, murder, andracketeering
Allies Los Zetas, Juárez Cartel, Beltrán-Leyva Cartel
Rivals Sinaloa Cartel, Gulf Cartel, La Familia Cartel


Background

Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, the founder of the Guadalajara Cartel was arrested in 1989. While incarcerated, he remained one of Mexico’s major traffickers, maintaining his organization via mobile phone until he was transferred to a new maximum security prison in the 1990s. At that point, his old organization broke up into two factions: the Tijuana Cartel led by his nephews, the Arellano Félix brothers, and the Sinaloa Cartel, run by former lieutenants Héctor Luis Palma Salazar and Joaquín Guzmán Loera El Chapo.

Currently, the majority of Mexico’s smuggling routes are controlled by three key cartels: Gulf, Sinaloa and Tijuana —though Tijuana is the least powerful. The Tijuana cartel was further weakened in August 2006 when its chief, Javier Arellano Félix, was arrested by the U.S. Coast Guard on a boat off the coast of Baja California. Mexican army troops also were sent to Tijuana in January 2007 in an operation to restore order to the border city and root out corrupt police officers, who mostly were cooperating with the Tijuana cartel. As a result of these efforts, the Tijuana cartel is unable to project much power outside of its base in Tijuana.

Organization

The Arellano Félix family was initially composed of seven brothers and four sisters, who inherited the organization from Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo upon his incarceration in Mexico in 1989 for his complicity in the murder of DEA Special Agent Enrique Camarena. Although the subsequent brothers’ arrest in the 1990s and 2000s are blows to the Arellano Felix cartel, it did not dismantle the organization which currently is led by the Arellano’s nephew, Luis Fernando Sánchez Arellano.

The Tijuana Cartel has infiltrated the Mexican law enforcement and judicial systems and is directly involved in street-level trafficking within the United States. This criminal organization is responsible for the transportation, importation, and distribution of multi-ton quantities of cocaine and marijuana, as well as large quantities of heroin and methamphetamine.

The organization has a reputation for extreme violence. Ramón Arellano Félix ordered a hit which resulted in the mass murder of 18 people in Ensenada, Baja California, on September 17, 1998. Ramón was eventually killed in a gun battle with police at Mazatlán Sinaloa, on February 10, 2002.

The Arellano Félix family has seven brothers:
Francisco Rafael Arellano Félix (born 24 October 1949) – Captured and released
Benjamín Arellano Félix (born 3 December 1952) – Captured
Carlos Arellano Félix (born 20 August 1955) – is not currently wanted.[6]
Eduardo Arellano Félix (born 11 October 1956), – Captured on October 26, 2008.
Ramón Eduardo Arellano Félix (born 31 August 1964) – Deceased, shot by police in 2002
Luis Fernando Arellano Félix (believed to be born 26 January 1966) is not currently wanted.
Francisco Javier Arellano Félix (born 11 December 1969) – Captured

They also have four sisters, where Alicia and Enedina are most active in the cartel’s affairs. The family inherited the organization from Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo upon his incarceration. Eduardo Arellano Félix was captured by the Mexican Army after a shootout in Tijuana, Baja California, on October 26, 2008; he had been the last of the Arellano Félix brothers at large. According to a Mexican official, Enedina’s son, Luis Fernando Sánchez Arellano, has taken over the cartel’s operations. His two top lieutenants are Armando Villareal Heredia and Edgardo Leyva Escandon.

Activities

The Tijuana cartel is present in at least 15 Mexican states with important areas of operation in Tijuana, Mexicali, Tecate, and Ensenada in Baja California, in parts of Sinaloa and Zacatecas. After the death in 1997 of the Juárez Cartel’s Amado Carrillo Fuentes, the Tijuana Cartel attempted to gain a foothold in Sonora. The Oaxaca Cartel reportedly joined forces with the Tijuana Cartel in 2003.

Fourteen Mexican drug gang members were killed and eight others were injured in a gun battle in Tijuana near the U.S. border on Saturday, April 26, 2008 that was one of the bloodiest shootouts in the narco-war between the Tijuana Cartel and the Sinaloa Cartel.

Captures and trial

In October 1997, a retired U.S. Air Force C-130A that was sold to the airline Aeropostal Cargo de México was seized by Mexican federal officials, who alleged that the aircraft had been used to haul drugs for the cartel up from Central and South America, as well as around the Mexican interior. Investigators had linked the airline’s owner, Jesús Villegas Covallos, to Ramón Arellano Félix.

On August 14, 2006, Francisco Javier Arellano Félix was apprehended by the United States Coast Guard off the coast of Baja California Sur.

Current alliances

Since February 2010, the major cartels have aligned in two factions, one integrated by the Juárez Cartel, Tijuana Cartel, Los Zetas and the Beltrán-Leyva Cartel‎‎; the other faction integrated by the Gulf Cartel, Sinaloa Cartel and La Familia Cartel.

Vagos Motorcycle Club

The Vagos Motorcycle Club, also known as the Green Nation, is a one-percenter motorcycle gang and organized crime syndicate that was formed in the 1960s in the small unincorporated community of Temescal Valley, south of Corona, California. The gang originally was called «the Psychos». The club’s insignia is Loki, the Norse god of mischief, riding a motorcycle and members commonly wear green.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation as well as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the California Attorney General have named the Vagos as an outlaw motorcycle club, claiming that they are involved in criminal activities such as producing, transporting and distributing methamphetamine and marijuana, as well as assault, extortion, insurance fraud, money laundering, murder, vehicle theft, witness intimidation and weapons violations.

The Vagos have approximately 600 members among 24 chapters located in the states of Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and ten chapters located in Mexico (Baja California, Jalisco and Mexico City). Two hundred members are in Riverside County, where the gang was started in the late 1960s.
In 2002, members of the Vagos turned in the estranged wife of a Pomona, California police detective after she attempted to hire a hit man from the Vagos to kill her husband.

Vagos MC
OLD PATCH.png
Founded 1965
In Temescal Valley, south ofCorona, California[1]
Years active 1965-present
Territory Southwestern United Statesand Northern Mexico
Membership 600 full-patch members[1][2]
Criminal activities Drug trafficking, arms dealing,auto theft, extortion, money laundering, prostitution andmurder[3]
Allies Bandidos, Mongols andSureños[citation needed]
Rivals Brother Speed, Free Souls,Gypsy Jokers and Hells Angels[4]

Wrongful conviction

Four members of the Vagos were convicted in 1974 for the murder and mutilation of University of New Mexico student William Velten. The four, Richard Greer, Ronald Keine, Clarence Smith and Thomas Gladish, spent 17 months on death row. Their case was in the appeals process when Kerry Rodney Lee, an informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration, confessed to the murder.

Criminal activities

In October 1998, a two-year undercover investigation of the Vagos resulted in the arrests of more than a dozen people for kidnapping, and drug and weapons crimes, and in September 2004, a state investigation involving the gang led to the arrests of 26 people and the seizure of more than $125,000 in cash, drugs and guns.

On March 9, 2006, twenty-five Vagos members and associates were arrested on firearms and drug violations charges following one of the largest coordinated law enforcement probes ever conducted in Southern California. The operation, known as «Operation 22 Green», involved around 700 personnel from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and local police and sheriff’s departments. Ninety-five illegal firearms, illegal drugs, $6,000 in cash and two stolen motorcycles were also seized.

In December 2007, six members of the Vagos were arrested and accused of beating and robbing a member who intended to leave the club. The victim was allegedly attacked at the Custom Motorcycle auto shop in Grants Pass, Oregon then taken to his home where the attackers robbed him, in August 2007. In February 2010 the ex-president of the chapter involved was acquitted of all charges relating to robbery assault and kidnapping.

Three Vagos members were arrested on June 9 and 10, 2009 and charged with sexually assaulting a woman in San Jose, California. Police investigators told the San Jose Mercury News that the victim met the three men in a nightclub on May 4, 2009 and that they had offered to drive her home, but instead they took her to the Vagos clubhouse on Kings Row where she was beaten and sexually assaulted.

On March 17, 2010, amid allegations that Vagos members have been attempting to use home-made booby traps to maim and kill police detectives in Hemet, California police arrested at least 31 Vagos members in a multistate raid which took place in Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and California and involved some 400 police officers from 60 law enforcement agencies.

As many as 73 locations were hit in Southern California, where police seized weapons and drugs and discovered a methamphetamine lab. On December 31, 2009 the unmarked headquarters of the Hemet Gang Task Force was filled up by natural gas which had been rerouted into the building through a hole drilled in the roof. Two task force members entering the office smelled gas and backed away before flipping the light switch and possibly causing the building to explode.

The day before that attack, a Vagos funeral was held at a church next to the office. On February 23, 2010 a task force member at the Hemet headquarters opened a security gate outside the building, which launched a homemade zip gun attached to the gate. The weapon fired but missed the officer’s head by inches.

On March 5, 2010 a task force member who had parked an unmarked police car in front of a convenience store in Hemet found a homemade pipe bomb hidden underneath the vehicle. A $200,000 reward has been announced by California and federal authorities for information on these cases. California Attorney General Jerry Brown called the attempts «urban terrorism.» Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco said that Vagos members posed an «extreme threat» to law enforcement officers and were notorious for trying to «infiltrate» public safety agencies, either by getting sworn or non-sworn positions, working undercover to obstruct and dismantle police investigations.

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