• Connect with us on Linkedin

Two Mexico Cartel Rivals, Once Reeling, Now Resurging

Banners signed by the Gulf Cartel Banners signed by the Gulf Cartel

Two large Mexican drug cartels -- once thought to be reeling due to infighting, pressure from authorities, and constant assaults by rivals -- appear to be on the rise again, according to law enforcement and independent crime analysts.

Linkedin
Google +

The Gulf Cartel and the Beltran Leyva Organization have surged in various parts of the country, including critical, strategic drug production and trafficking corridors in northeast and western Mexico.

After a prolonged battle, the Gulf Cartel has taken control of most of the industrial hub of Monterrey, which was under the Zetas' domination since until at least 2010, when the latter broke from the Gulf and the two began a pitched battle across the northeast of the country.

Mexican and foreign government intelligence analysts, as well as the independent crime-watching service Southern Pulse, say at least three-quarters of Greater Monterrey Metropolitan -- which includes the municipalities of Apodaca, Garcia, General Escobedo, Guadalupe, Juarez, Monterrey, San Nicolas de los Garza, San Pedro Garza Garcia, Santa Catarina, and Santiago -- is under Gulf control now.

This dramatic and somewhat surprising assessment comes after years of pinpoint assaults on Zetas' drug distribution points and safe houses by both the Gulf and their allies, the Sinaloa Cartel.

Monterrey is important for many reasons. The city lies along an important trafficking corridor leading to Nuevo Laredo, where more commercial vehicles cross into the United States than at any other point along the 3,169 km border.

The Zetas remain the power in Nuevo Laredo, and it is the de facto headquarters of the organization following the death Zetas leader Heriberto Lazcano , alias "Z-3," at the hands of Naval forces in October. The Zetas' new leader, Miguel Treviño, alias "Z-40," has long been based in the Nuevo Laredo area.

Monterrey also has numerous sources of local revenue, which the Zetas, more than many other large Mexican criminal groups, use to sustain their forces and expand into new territories. The plethora of money-making operations in the city include local drug peddling, kidnapping, extortion and theft.

(For a more complete accounting of the Zetas' history and revenue streams in Monterrey, see The Zetas and the Battle for Monterrey)

The steady erosion of the Zetas' stranglehold in the city has coincided with a drop in homicides. According to state government statistics, homicides in the municipality of Monterrey, for example, dropped to 11 in November, compared to 73 in August. (See statistics for all Greater Monterrey here)

The resurgence of the Gulf is even more surprising considering the recent arrest of the group's top leader Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sanchez , alias "El Coss." Security analysts consulted by InSight Crime speculated that this resurgence in Monterrey may also be related to the deterioration of the Zetas, who, in addition to losing their top leader, have suffered from infighting in recent months.

In this fratricidal struggle, real and symbolic figures make for legitimate targets. In January, 17 members of the Vallenato group Kombo Kolombia were intercepted and killed after playing at a private party. Vallenato, the Colombian music named for its birthplace Valledupar, is reportedly a favorite of the Zetas. The way the music group was tracked and massacred suggests the victims were more of a bloody message than an attack of any operational value.

Still, the situation in the northeast remains in flux. In January, InSight Crime, and other media, reported the death of David Salgado, alias "Metro 4," a top level Gulf member, in a firefight between the cities of Matamoros and Reynosa. Authorities did not confirm his death, but one intelligence official in the area told InSight Crime that Metro 4 was betrayed by his own men.

Meanwhile, the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO), a Zetas' ally that was also thought to be in decline, has recovered and is threatening its former boss, the Sinaloa Cartel, in other parts of the country. The latest blow came with the reported death of Felix Adolfo Jauregui Meza, alias "El Paletero," a Sinaloa Cartel lieutenant in Sonora where the BLO and Zetas have been steadily reclaiming territory.

Coupled with repeated blows the BLO has delivered to the Sinaloa group in their namesake and the emergence of a new strongman tied to their loose, nationwide alliance with the Zetas and the Juarez Cartel, it appears the BLO has returned to the form that once made it one of the most feared cartels in Mexico.

In January, the US government said Fausto Isidro Meza Flores, alias "Chapito Isidro" -- a longtime BLO ally who hails from the same area as the Beltran Leyva brothers, as well as Sinaloa Cartel heads, Joaquin Guzman, alias "El Chapo," and Ismael Zambada, alias "El Mayo" -- plays "a significant role in international narcotics trafficking." 

Chapito Isidro has a strong presence in Sinaloa and Sonora, two longtime BLO areas of operation. To be sure, Isidro reportedly organized a brutal 2010 ambush in Sonora of Chapo Guzman's men, which left some 29 dead and many others wounded.

The BLO seems to be winning legal struggles as well. The case against five high-level retired military officials, who were allegedly part of their structure, is falling apart, the Attorney General's office told a judge

Perhaps more importantly, one of their top leaders, the infamous Alfredo Beltran Leyva, alias "El Mochomo," has not been extradited to the United States and by some accounts continues to operate the organization from prison. 

Linkedin
Google +

Media

---

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We also encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, provided that it is attributed to InSight Crime in the byline, with a link to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

InSight Crime Search

The Complete Organized Crime Database on the Americas

InSight Crime Social

facebooktwittergooglelinkedin

InSight Crime Special Series

The Zetas in Nuevo Laredo

Los Zetas in Nuevo Laredo

After the capture of Zetas boss "Z40," Nuevo Laredo is bracing itself for the worst. This investigation breaks down what makes the city such an important trafficking corridor, and what it will take for the Zetas to maintain their grip on the city.

See entire series »

 

Uruguay's Marijuana Bill

Uruguay: Marijuana, Organized Crime and the Politics of Drugs

Uruguay is poised to become the first country on the planet to regulate the production, sale, and distribution of the drug.

See entire series »

El Salvador's Gang Truce

El Salvador's Gang Truce

The truce between El Salvador's two largest gangs -- the MS-13 and the Barrio 18 -- opens up new possibilities in how to deal with

See entire series »

Juarez After The War

Juarez After The War

As a bitter war between rival cartels grinds to an end, Ciudad Juarez has lost the title of world murder capital, and is moving towards something more like normality.

See entire series »

The Zetas And The Battle For Monterrey

The Zetas and the Battle for Monterrey

InSight Crime delves into the Zetas' battle for Mexico’s industrial capital, Monterrey, getting to the essence of a criminal gang that defies easy definition.

See entire series »

Slavery in Latin America

Slavery in Latin America

InSight Crime coordinated an investigation into modern slavery, looking at how Latin America’s criminal groups traffic human beings and force them to work as slaves.

See entire series »

FARC, Peace and Criminalization

FARC, Peace and Possible Criminalization

The possibility of ending nearly 50 years of civil conflict is being dangled before Colombia. While the vast majority of the Colombian public want to see peace, the enemies of the negotiations appear to be strong, and the risks inherent in the process are high.

See entire series »

Displacement in Latin America

Displacement in Latin America

InSight Crime coordinated an investigation into the new face of displacement in Latin America, where organized criminal groups are expanding and forcing people to flee.

See entire series »

Target: Migrants

Target: Migrants

The growth of organized crime in Mexico and Central America has led to an increase in violence and insecurity across the region, posing challenges to citizens, public security forces, and travelers.

See entire series »

Zetas in Guatemala

The Zetas in Guatemala

Mexico's Zetas have taken Guatemala by storm, and they are testing this country and the rest of the region: fail this test, and Central America sinks deeper into the abyss.

See entire series »

Most Read

Mapping MS13, Barrio 18 Territory in Guatemala City

Mapping MS13, Barrio 18 Territory in Guatemala City

Officials in Guatemala have identified the areas of the capital controlled by the MS13 and Barrio 18 gangs, illustrating the degree of gang infiltration in the city with the third highest homicide rate in the...

Read more

Phone Calls Illustrate Power of Guatemalan Ex-Army Officer

Phone Calls Illustrate Power of Guatemalan Ex-Army Officer

As the trial begins of a Guatemalan ex-military officer accused of running a bribery ring from prison, where he is serving a sentence for a high-profile murder, phone recordings presented as evidence provide an inside...

Read more

Brazil's Red Command and the Police Who Fight Them

Brazil's Red Command and the Police Who Fight Them

In the Antares favela, a flat dusty slum in the far west of Rio de Janeiro, the control of the Red Command remains intact and blatant.

Read more

Latest Criminal Profile