Blog del Narco: What Next for Beltran-Leyva Cartel?

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Days after granting a rare interview, the anonymous author of the Blog del Narco, which publishes uncensored images of Mexico’s drug violence, has posted an analysis of what lies next for the Beltran Leyva Organization.

Days after granting a rare interview, the anonymous author of the Blog del Narco, which publishes uncensored images of Mexico’s drug violence, has posted an analysis of what lies next for the Beltrán Leyva Organization. The author cites an unnamed Defense Ministry report throughout, and also makes vague references to unspecified “military” sources. So while much of the article’s analysis can not be verified, let alone fact-checked, the author still makes a few key points.

The first is that the recent high-profile captures of Beltrán Leyva operatives, including the hitmen known as Edgar Valdez Villareal, alias “La Barbie,” and Sergio Villareal Barragán, alias “El Grande,” do not necessarily indicate the fracturing of the cartel, as some Mexican authorities have claimed. As long as a criminal group’s financial structure is not targeted, the author argues, then it doesn’t really matter how may top or mid-level operatives are arrested. This is very similar to the argument Ron Chepesiuk makes in his book “Drug Lords,” which tracks the unraveling of the Cali cartel. Chepesiuk points out that the Cali cartel only began to significantly weaken after the US Treasury began targeting the group’s money laundering and front businesses via the “Kingpin” act. According to Blog del Narco, the Defense Ministry has concluded that Beltrán Leyva Organization is still financially strong, even though the leadership has been in flux since Arturo Beltrán Leyva’s death in December 2009. Attacking a DTO’s finances, rather than prioritizing the capture of its leaders, makes sense considering that most DTOs are not vertical structures. Beltrán Leyva is a good example, Blog del Narco asserts. The group is described as a “pyramid,” consisting of compartmentalized cells operating pretty much independently from each other, making and breaking alliances at their own convenience rather than following the commands of a single, easily identified leader.

According to the blog’s author, Sonora and Morelos will be key states for the Beltrán Leyva Organization, and the group will only be able to hold onto this territory by reaffirming alliances with the Juarez and Gulf Cartel. The group had suffered from inner divisions even before the death of Arturo Beltrán Leyva in December 2009. Rather than signifying a blow to the cartel’s leadership, the arrests of Valdez and Villareal could actually give their rival Héctor Beltrán Leyva the time and space he needs to regroup and negotiate new partnerships with other DTOs. If Blog del Narco’s predictions come true, we could see something very similar to what happened in 2001, when Joaquín Guzmán Loera, alias “El Chapo,” of the Sinaloa Cartel negotiated the formation of the “Federation”, which divvied up territory and drug-trafficking routes between various DTOs, in the interest of supplanting the Gulf Cartel. In this case, however, the new interest may be displacing not the Gulf, but their former armed wing, the Zetas.

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