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Luciano Marín Arango, alias ‘Iván Márquez’

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Luciano Marín Arango, alias “Iván Márquez,” is a former guerrilla commander who has called on demobilized fighters to join a dissident force helmed by ex-leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC), known as the Segunda Marquetalia.

Marquez, wearing fatigues and carrying a pistol, declared in a video that the group would return to war, claiming the Colombian state had “betrayed” the peace accords signed in 2016 between the government and the FARC. The address — published on YouTube on August 29, 2019 – has jeopardized the future of a process that aimed to end a half a century of civil conflict.

Márquez was the FARC’s second in command before its demobilization, and his return to armed conflict may attract former FARC fighters considering whether to abandon the peace process and may also embolden ex-FARC Mafia cells already operating within the country. Márquez brings serious political clout and the potential ability to unite disparate FARC dissidents.

His return also comes amid an unfolding crisis in Venezuela, which is likely to be a base of operations for the new force, as the country provides ample opportunities to cash in on drug trafficking, illegal gold mining and other illicit economies.

History

Iván Márquez was born on June 6, 1955 in Florencia, the capital city of Colombia’s southern Caquetá department. Like many of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia’s (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC) oldest members, Márquez was part of the Colombian Communist Party Youth Organization (Juventud Comunista Colombiana – JUCO), joining in 1977.

As a member of the JUCO, he supported the FARC in part by taking provisions to the group in the countryside. He later joined the FARC in 1985 as a political commissioner (“comisario político”) for one of the rebels’ most active units, the 14th Front in Caquetá.

In the early 1980s, as part of a peace process between the Colombian government and the FARC, Márquez became a top emissary for the rebels’ nascent political party, the Patriotic Union (Union Patriótica – UP). He was later elected as a city council member and then as an alternate congressman for Caquetá.

In 1987, as the persecution of UP members intensified, the FARC called Márquez and other top rebel emissaries in the party back to the mountains. For his efforts with the UP, the rebels named him commander of the Southwest Bloc.

In the 1990s, Márquez was transferred to the northwestern part of the country where he took part in a bloody battle for control of the Urabá region along the Colombia-Panama border.

This earned Márquez respect within the FARC as a strong military commander, complementing his political skills. The combination of these two abilities contributed to his trajectory as an international representative of the organization. His activities and influence spread far and wide: he became the guerrillas’ top foreign emissary, and intelligence officials in Colombia said he headed efforts to infiltrate universities and create student federations to support the FARC’s political and military strategy in Colombian cities.

Thanks to his political and diplomatic skills, Márquez was chosen to head the FARC’s delegation for peace talks with the Colombian government in Havana in 2012. He continued to head the guerrillas’ negotiating team after the talks moved to Havana in November of the same year.

After four years at the negotiating table followed by the signing of the peace accords in 2016, Márquez joined the Monitoring and Implementation Commission of the Agreement (Comisión de Seguimiento, Impulso y Verificación a la Implementación del Acuerdo), the mechanism created to ensure both parties implement the accords.

With the transition of the FARC to a political party called the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (Fuerza Alternativa Revolucionaria del Común – FARC) between August and September 2017, the FARC Secretariat became the party’s national directorate. Márquez received the most votes during the party’s founding congress.

A year later, however, the peace process was beset by turmoil after Jesús Santrich’s arrest on drug trafficking charges. Considering the April 2018 arrest a setup, Márquez refused his post as a senator in the Colombian congress, which had been granted to him as part of the accords. In an interview, Márquez said his refusal was evidence the peace process had failed and questioned how he could be a senator, “when they’ll say I’m a drug trafficker.” He also demanded that the government comply with stipulations in the agreement that had not been fulfilled, such as funding projects for ex-FARC members.

Amid this uncertainty, Márquez moved to a reintegration camp in Miravalle, a village in the municipality of San Vicente del Caguán in the southwest Caquetá department. The Training and Reincorporation Space (Espacios Territoriales de Capacitación y Reincorporación – ETCR) was headed by former FARC commander Hernán Darío Velásquez, alias “El Paisa,” who previously led the militant Teófilo Forero Mobile Column.

Sometime later, he fled from the camp along with El Paisa and went into hiding. He wasn’t heard from until May 2019 when he sent a message via Twitter saying that the FARC guerrillas made a “grave error” when they put down their weapons.

Criminal Activities

According to the US State Department, Iván Márquez was in charge of the FARC’s drug policies, as well as directing and controlling the production, the manufacture and the distribution of cocaine. Eventually, the State Department offered $5 million for information leading to his arrest. He also commanded FARC units accused of kidnapping, extortion and murder.

Before the peace agreement was signed and amnesty was subsequently granted, the Colombian government considered Márquez a narco-terrorist.

In April 2018, US authorities revealed that Márquez was under investigation for alleged cocaine trafficking after he was caught on a cellphone video speaking to a supposed Mexican cartel operative. The investigation is the same one that has led to drug charges against his comrade, Santrich. It stems from a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) operation in which Marlon Marín, Marquez’s nephew and assistant, was observed retrieving $5 million from a DEA informant. The money was exchanged for the movement of ten tons of cocaine to Mexico’s powerful Sinaloa Cartel.

Márquez is also a major target of the US government, which offered a $10 million reward for his capture, as well as Jesús Santrich, in June 2020 due to their alleged connections to the Venezuelan government.

Geography

Before heading up the FARC’s peace negotiating team, Márquez mostly operated in northern Colombia. As commander of the Caribbean Bloc, his zones of influence included the Serranía del Perijá mountain range, the departments of La Guajira and Cesar, and some regions along the Colombia-Venezuela border.

Allies and Enemies

Historically, the main enemies of FARC leaders like Márquez have included extreme right-wing elements of Colombia’s political elite, some of whom have had ties to paramilitary groups.

However, the FARC has seen its share of infighting as well. A rift formed in its ruling body when Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, alias “Timochenko,” assumed leadership of the FARC because Márquez was also a candidate for the guerrilla group’s top position. Although the replacement of FARC commanders had been resolved through its handover mechanism, the succession of Guillermo León Sáenz Vargas, alias “Alfonso Cano,” was a challenge for the rebel group.

In the wake of successful military operations against its commanders, the FARC increasingly depended on young leaders due to its need to continue with the chain of command. This meant that even though Márquez was a strong contender for the top leadership position, Timochenko took the reins because he had more years of service in the Secretariat under his belt.

The division became most evident as the FARC transitioned into a political party. Márquez earned more votes than Timochenko to be elected to the party’s national directorate after running on a more critical line regarding the implementation of the peace agreement. The party has a high risk of criminalization, and counts among its members Seuxis Paucis Hernández Solarte, alias “Jesús Santrich;” Milton de Jesus Toncel, alias “Joaquin Gomez;” Henry Castellanos, alias “Romaña;” and Hernán Darío Velásquez, alias “El Paisa.”

Prospects

Márquez is one of the more radical leaders among the ex-FARC Mafia and is likely to use his leadership position to try and undermine the peace agreement, especially by being highly critical it has been handled. The platform and authority he carries among former guerrilla fighters means that his message is likely to find listeners. As the former second-in-command of the FARC, his presence gives the group he leads a real legacy as the continuation of the original guerrilla group.

He has taken on a natural leadership role within this new ex-FARC Mafia group and his presence will lend weight and credibility to the emissaries sent to negotiate with other dissident groups and invite them to join. He will also be a lightning rod which will encourage other demobilized fighters to take up arms once more.

His deep insider knowledge of the FARC’s operations, his experience of combat tactics and the respect he carries make Márquez one of the principal criminal actors in Colombia and Venezuela, with the ability to wield real influence in both countries.

 

Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sánchez, alias ‘El Coss’

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Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sánchez, alias “El Coss,” headed the Gulf Cartel, which has its headquarters in Tamaulipas, along the eastern part of the US-Mexico border. He was detained by Mexican marines in September 2012 and extradited to the United States in September 2015.

For years, El Coss managed the Gulf Cartel’s security, including the Zetas, the former armed wing of the group. He rose to the top after the arrest of famed Gulf boss Osiel Cárdenas Guillén in 2003.

His fearless approach and legendary temper have got him into many difficult situations. In November 1999, he was part of an armed group that stopped and held several US federal agents at gunpoint. He released them, but the incident earned him his first indictment in the United States.

By 2007, he was reportedly communicating with the Zetas via telephone rather than meeting with them in person. In 2010, the Gulf Cartel murdered a top member of the Zetas, and the group sought retribution. When El Coss refused to hand over the killer, the Zetas declared war, and since then the northeastern states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo León and Coahuila have become some of the most violent in Mexico.

El Coss was arrested on September 12, 2012, in the Gulf Cartel stronghold of Tamaulipas. El Coss, alongside fellow drug lord Edgar Váldez Villarreal, alias “La Barbie,” was extradited to the United States on September 30, 2015.

On September 26, 2017, El Coss pleaded guilty in a US federal court to drug trafficking charges and two counts of assault.

Joaquín Guzmán Loera, alias ‘El Chapo’

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Mexican drug lord Joaquín Guzmán Loera, alias “El Chapo,” was once the head of Mexico’s most powerful organized crime group, the Sinaloa Cartel. His ability to simultaneously co-opt public officials, attack enemies’ strongholds, and find creative ways to get his drugs to market has made him a legend in the underworld.

Before his capture in February 2014, Guzmán was the most wanted man in the Western Hemisphere. He escaped once again from prison, crawling through a tunnel, on July 11, 2015, prompting a massive manhunt in Mexico. On January 8, 2016, President Enrique Peña Nieto said via Twitter that the government had re-arrested the fugitive Sinaloa Cartel leader. A little over one year later, on January 19, 2017, Mexican authorities announced his extradition in a communique issued less than 24 hours before Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th US President.

El Chapo’s reign came to an end once and for all on February 12, 2019, when a US jury found him guilty on all 10 counts included in the federal indictment against him, including leading an ongoing criminal enterprise, which carries a life sentence in federal US prison without the possibility of parole.

History

Born in a small farming community in Badiraguato, Sinaloa state, Guzmán spent his childhood shuttling oranges to the market. With his uncle’s help, he moved into contraband and later coordinated large shipments of marijuana and finally cocaine, in Sinaloa state and later to the United States. He may have little formal education, but he has a Ph.D. in drug trafficking. Guzmán is known as a pioneer in the trade, having essentially leased an airplane hangar in Mexico City’s principal airport for years, and led the way in constructing tunnels beneath the US-Mexico border.

El Chapo’s career has also been marked by infighting and bloodshed. He split from the core group of Guadalajara-based traffickers in the 1990s and began a bloody fight with the Tijuana Cartel, also known as the Arellano Felix Organization, which ran the lucrative Tijuana trafficking corridor. After an attempt on his life in 1993, Guzmán fled to Guatemala, where he was arrested by the authorities and deported back to Mexico. From jail, he continued plying his trade, with his brother, Arturo Guzmán Loera, alias “El Pollo,” managing the business. His cohorts from Sinaloa, Arturo and Hector Beltran Leyva, regularly brought him suitcases of cash so he could grease the wheels of power inside the prison and continue his opulent lifestyle, including specially prepared meals and conjugal visits from his wife, girlfriends and prostitutes. His friend, ally and relative by marriage, Juan Jose Esparragoza Moreno, alias “El Azul,” made sure that Guzmán’s product got to the United States without interference from his rivals.

El Chapo Factbox

DOB: Unclear; some government agencies say 1954, others say 1957

Group: Sinaloa Cartel

Criminal Activities: International drug trafficking, money laundering

Status: In custody

Area of Operation: Mexico

Guzmán escaped prison in 2001, just as authorities were laying the groundwork for his extradition to the United States. He eluded capture for more than a decade by creating a sophisticated security system, allegedly basing himself in isolated, rural areas of Sinaloa and Durango.

While Chapo was on the run, there were a number of seeming close calls that later turned out be fabricated. In February 2012, Mexican authorities reported that they had come the closest ever to catching Guzmán. However, later reports indicated that the operation had never occurred, and that the false information may have been an effort to boost Calderon’s popularity in the run-up to the 2012 elections. In February 2013, authorities in Guatemala — the same country responsible for his jail stint in the 1990s — reported Guzmán’s possible death in a shootout, a report that was also found to be false. Numerous musicians have celebrated his ability to elude capture and undermine the authorities.

In the early hours of February 22, 2014, Guzmán was captured by Mexican Marines in a hotel in the Mexican beach resort city of Mazatlan. At the time of his arrest he was the most wanted criminal on the planet and had a $5 million reward on his head.

Despite pressure from US officials for his extradition nearly as soon as he was captured in February, tense US-Mexico relations have left in doubt whether the cartel boss will ever face justice in the United States.

On July 11, 2015, Mexico authorities reported that El Chapo has escaped from his maximum-security prison yet again. No laundry cart was reportedly involved this time, as was the case for his legendary escape in 2001. He apparently crawled through a tunnel that was 1.5 kilometers wide and led directly into his prison shower cell, according to reports. On January 8, 2016, Mexico’s president wrote on Twitter, “Mission accomplished: we have him. I would like to inform the Mexican people that Joaquin Guzmán Loera has been arrested.” On January 19, 2017, El Chapo was extradited to the United States, just hours before Donald Trump’s inauguration, in a move that spurred debate as to what message president Peña Nieto intended to send to the incoming US head of state.

After a three-month federal drug trafficking trial in the United States, El Chapo was found guilty in February 2019 on all 10 counts in the federal indictment against him including charges ranging from drug trafficking to money laundering and leading an ongoing criminal enterprise. He faces a mandatory minimum life sentence in federal US prison — likely in the so-called “Alcatraz of the Rockies,” or ADX Florence, the United States’ only supermax prison.

Criminal Activities

Before his arrest in 2014, Guzmán was widely considered the world’s biggest drug trafficker and among the most wanted criminals on the planet. With Chapo at the helm, the Sinaloa Cartel came to dominate the global cocaine market, and became a major player in the trafficking of heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana.

Guzmán’s immense fortune from drug trafficking — in 2009 he was included on the Forbes list of billionaires (he was later dropped from its rankings in 2013) — required a sophisticated money laundering system to legitimize the illicit funds.

Geography

Guzmán was allegedly based in rural parts of Sinaloa and Durango prior to his capture in 2014. However, while the drug lord was on the run rumors swirled that he was hiding out or operating in various countries, including Honduras, ArgentinaGuatemala, Bolivia, and even the United States. Guzmán was eventually arrested in the beach resort city of Mazatlan, Sinaloa.

Guzmán’s Sinaloa Cartel is believed to have a presence in nearly every major city in the United States and Latin America. Within Mexico, the cartel is believed to operate in 17 states throughout the country.

Allies and Enemies

Under Guzmán’s watch, the Sinaloa Cartel waged a bloody turf war with its rival the Juarez Cartel during the mid-2000s for control of valuable drug trafficking routes near the US border. The Sinaloa Cartel emerged victorious, cementing its position as the foremost drug trafficking organization in Mexico.

Following a split with the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO) in 2008, the cartel forged alliances with former rivals the Gulf Cartel and the Familia Michoacana. However, both the Gulf Cartel and the Familia Michoacan are shadows of their former selves, with many of their leaders either killed or captured.

Guzmán created the hemisphere’s largest drug cartel with many of those who helped in prison, including Esparragoza and the Beltran Leyva brothers. Guzmán has also spent a significant amount of time and effort cultivating support among Mexicans, especially in rural areas where contraband and drug trafficking is a way of life.

Guzmán’s family is deeply involved in trafficking and his battles with his rivals cost him his brother, Arturo, who was killed in prison in 2004 while Guzmán carried on a dispute with the Zetas; his son, Edgar Guzmán Lopez, who was killed in May 2008 in Culiacan, Sinaloa, amidst Joquin’s dispute with his former allies, the Beltran Leyva Organization; his longtime girlfriend from his time in jail, Zulema Hernandez, who was found in the trunk of a car in 2008, strangled to death and with the letter “Z” carved into her body, presumably by rival group the Zetas.

The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the National Action Party (PAN) have long traded barbs, accusing each other of being beholden to Guzmán. The reality is that both may have factions allied to the trafficker, as do parts of the military and police throughout Mexico and other neighboring countries.

Prospects

Guzmán’s stunning second escape from a maximum-security prison in July 2015 sparked an immediate, massive manhunt for the Sinaloa Cartel head. There is widespread suspicion of high-level official collusion, and the government has come under intense pressure to recapture Guzmán quickly, which they did on January 8, 2016. After Chapo’s extradition to the United States in early 2017, speculation swirled about whether or not the former kingpin would testify during his own trial, he never did. El Chapo will spend the rest of his natural life in prison.

But this did not mark the end of the Sinaloa Cartel, and will unlikely have any significant impact on the criminal map in Mexico, as the group carries on with El Mayo and Guzmán’s sons at the top of the organization. El Chapo’s sons are effectively under the wing of El Mayo as he allegedly tries to reestablish order among the country’s criminal groups as Mexico’s last true remaining drug capo.

17 Dead in Honduran ‘Gang’ Massacre

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Seventeen youths are dead after armed men stormed a shoe factory and shot them at point blank range in the embattled city of San Pedro Sula, in the northern part of Honduras, AFP agency is reporting. The dead appear to be youths. Authorities said the massacre is the result of a dispute between the two deadly gangs operating in Honduras, the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and the Barrio 18.

Maras Paralyze Transport in El Salvador

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Gangs from the Mara Salvatrucha or MS-13 and the Barrio 18 shut down 40 percent to 60 percent of the public transport bus service in El Salvador, La Crónica said. The gangs are protesting legislation that makes being a member of a gang member punishable with sentences up to ten years. President Mauricio Funes has yet to sign the bill into law.

Ismael Zambada García, alias ‘El Mayo’

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Ismael Zambada García, alias “El Mayo,” heads the Sinaloa Cartel. Along with his now captured and convicted partner, Joaquín Guzmán Loera, alias “El Chapo,” El Mayo is one of the most storied drug traffickers in Mexican history.

History

Originally a farmer from the western state of Sinaloa, El Mayo started working with the Juarez Cartel in the 1980s and 1990s. After the death of the head of the Juarez Cartel, Amado Carrillo Fuentes, alias “El Señor de los Cielos,” El Mayo created his own organization.

With the slow demise of the Tijuana Cartel, El Mayo has sought to expand his routes through the northwestern states of Sonora and Baja California. He also controls much of the heroin production and shipment from Mexico into the United States.

In 2004, the US government offered a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture.

In recent years, El Mayo has suffered the loss of several key members of his inner circle. Authorities have arrested his brother, two sons and a nephew. One of his sons, Ismael Zambada, alias “El Mayito,” was extradited to the United States in 2010. In 2012, El Mayo’s alleged right-hand man, Manuel Torres Felix, alias “El M-1” or “El Ondeado,” was killed in a shootout with the military.

Some analysts surmised that El Mayo might be easing into the shadows, or even retiring, after he appeared on the front cover of the Mexican investigative news magazine Proceso in 2010. However, El Mayo survived a February 2017 attack reportedly carried out by Dámaso “Licenciado” López Núñez, another Sinaloa Cartel leader. The ambush also targeted two of El Chapo’s sons, suggesting an internal struggle for power following the drug boss’s capture and extradition to the United States earlier that year.

However, Licenciado was arrested soon after in Mexico City in May. Then Licenciado’s son, Damáso López Serrano, alias “Mini Lic,” later turned himself in to US authorities July. This left El Mayo at the top of the Sinaloa Cartel to oversee the group’s operations and watch over El Chapo’s sons, known collectively as “Los Chapitos,” who are now the next target for US authorities.

El Mayo is getting older and is rumored to be in bad health and battling diabetes. For now, however, he is the last remaining member of the Sinaloa Cartel’s old guard, and will likely continue to run the show while he is still able.

Criminal Activities

Following the extradition of El Chapo to the United States in January 2017 and the May 2017 arrest of Licenciado, some consider El Mayo to have claimed the top spot in one of the world’s most powerful criminal organizations. El Mayo oversees much of Mexico’s heroin production, largely bound for the booming market in the United States. And the Sinaloa Cartel is still a dominant player in the international cocaine trade.

Geography

El Mayo is originally from Sinaloa, and he is believed to operate out of the mountainous regions in Sinaloa, Durango, and Chihuahua — the so-called “Golden Triangle” of drug production in Mexico, and a longtime Sinaloa Cartel stronghold. However, El Mayo’s influence is thought to extend throughout much of Mexico, and the Sinaloa Cartel has a presence in almost every major city in the Western Hemisphere.

Allies and Enemies

El Mayo has made and broken many alliances with other drug trafficking organizations. His partnership with El Chapo has been cited as a major reason why the Sinaloa Cartel is the strongest in the hemisphere.

El Mayo has also used his connections in the Mexican government to push his influence steadily north toward the US border and south toward Cancún, leaving a trail of imprisoned and dead colleagues in his wake.

More recently, as Mexico’s criminal landscape succumbs to increased fragmentation, El Mayo is reportedly leading a campaign in part through the use of narco-banners to align belligerent groups that otherwise risk being captured or killed.

Prospects

Even before El Chapo’s extradition in 2017, El Mayo was a major figure within the Sinaloa Cartel, and perhaps even of equal stature with his former boss on the operational side. With El Chapo out of the picture and internal power struggles roiling the organization, El Mayo will likely play an important role in the cartel’s future.

El Mayo has proven himself remarkably adept at evading arrest. His deep connections in government and the local population in Sinaloa have helped him spend over 40 years in the drug trafficking business without ever seeing the inside of a jail cell. At this point, it appears that El Mayo’s deteriorating health may get to him before authorities do.

El Universal: ‘Barbie’ Handed Himself In

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In what has become almost a daily routine, the Mexican daily El Universal speculates that Edgar Valdez Villareal, alias “La Barbie,” was not captured but handed himself in to authorities.

Valdez was the top security officers for Arturo Beltán Leyva, alias “El Jefe de Jefes,” killed by authorities in a raid in December 2009. The death split the Beltrán Leyva Organization in two, with Valdez declaring war against Arturo’s brother Hector, who took the reigns of the organization. Valdez, however, was captured just outside of Mexico City in what authorities said was a routine traffic stop. El Universal said he has since been very cooperative and some speculate he’d laid the groundwork for his “capture,” perhaps negotiating with the United States where he was born.

Calderón: Fight Against Cartels Could Take Years

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During a TV interview, part of a blitz of interviews by Mexican President Felipe Calderón, the leader said his government’s success in fighting drug cartels depended on the capacity of the police, El Proceso reported. “It depends on a critical factor,” he said, “the day that we have state police who are capable of confronting, like the Armed Forces do now, the criminals. I mean if a group of six or seven trucks with armed men appear you need a group that is capable of reacting and defeating those six or seven trucks. So this could take a year, two years or five years. It depends on what we politicians do.”

Hector Beltran Leyva, alias ‘El H’

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Hector Beltran Leyva, alias “El H,” was the head of the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO) in Mexico. Once one of the most feared groups in the region, the BLO has been decimated in recent years as the group’s top leadership has been captured or killed.

History

Hector Beltran Leyva and his brothers (Arturo, Carlos, and Alfredo) made their foray into Mexico’s criminal underworld working with opium poppy growers in Sinaloa state. The brothers went on to work for Amado Carrillo Fuentes, alias “El Señor de los Cielos,” the head of the Juarez Cartel, as hitmen and transporters. In 2002, Hector and his brothers forged an alliance with Joaquin Guzman Loera, alias “El Chapo,” and his partners, and formed what was known as the Federation, or the “Alianza de Sangre” (Blood Alliance).

However, in 2008 the Beltran Leyva brothers split with El Chapo after the arrest of Alfredo, which they believed El Chapo had orchestrated. As the BLO battled the Sinaloa Cartel, Arturo was killed in 2009.  

El H Factbox

DOB: February 15, 1965

Group: Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO)

Criminal Activities: Drug trafficking

Status: Captured in October 2014

Area of Operation: “El H” operated out of Mexico’s Queretaro state

As his brothers began to fall one by one, Hector assumed the BLO’s leadership and ran what was left of the organization in conjunction with the Zetas, the group’s former rivals. Before he took over as leader, Hector had previously operated the financial wing of the BLO and was responsible for keeping politicians and police on the payroll. Nevertheless, Hector was not the obvious choice to become his group’s leader, and his tenure saw the BLO’s power decline significantly.

Criminal Activities

The BLO is primarily a drug trafficking organization, and Hector mainly dealt with the financial side of the operations and managed the group’s connections with politicians, businessmen and security personnel.  

Geography                                                    

The BLO formed in Mexico’s Sinaloa state and operated in Guerrero, Morelos, Chiapas, Queretaro, Sinaloa, Jalisco, Quintana Roo, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, and Mexico State at the height of its power. Prior to his capture, Hector lived in Queretaro state.

Allies and Enemies

While leader of the BLO, Hector battled many former allies, including members of the Sinaloa Cartel and members of his former security wing run by Edgar Valdez Villarreal, alias “La Barbie,” who was arrested in August 2010. He was allied with the Zetas and the armed wing of the Juarez Cartel, known as La Linea.

Prospects

Prior to his arrest on October 1, 2014, Hector was the last remaining Beltran Leyva still alive or at large. Hector saw two brothers, Carlos and Alfredo, go to jail and another, Arturo, die in a hail of bullets in December 2009 at the hands of the Mexican Marines. 

‘Barbie’ Negotiated Surrender?

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Rumors are swirling that Edgar Valdez Villareal, alias “La Barbie,” the former top hitman for the Beltrán Leyva Organization (BLO) who later formed his own drug trafficking organization, negotiated his surrender with Mexican and possibly US authorities.
One column in El Universal, which signed “Journalists of El Universal,” noted that it happened the same day the federal police announced that it had removed 3,200 policemen from service for presumed ties to criminal networks. It adds that Valdez’s handover was due in part to political considerations.
 
Valdez spent his first few days being interrogated by Mexican and US authorities, a piece in Milenio over the weekend said, and that he willingly detailed how he and others operated and who his possible successors were. The report added that he’d told his one-time boss, Arturo Beltrán Leyva, to “turn himself in” to authorities as the Navy special forces were preparing an assault on Beltrán Leyva’s headquarters in Cuernavaca in December 2009. Beltrán Leyva refused and was shot and killed by the special forces.

5 Peasants Killed in Border Area

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Five “peasant farmers” were killed and two more remain missing in Peru near the Colombian and Brazilian borders, Peruvian Defense Minister Rafael Rey told EFE news agency. The armed group, which the agency said were “drug traffickers,” also attacked a Peruvian military boat. They could have been from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) or another armed group wearing camouflage, the minister said. He also noted an increase in drug trafficking activity in the tri-border area.

Peru President ‘Troubled’ by Mexican Traffickers in Peru

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In an interview with CNN in Spanish, Peruvian President Alan Garcia said he was very troubled by Mexican cartel presence in his country, EFE news agency reported. Garcia said he was willing to accept more US military aid to help him respond to reports that Mexican drug cartels, as well the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), are increasingly operating in Peruvian territory, taking advantage of Peru’s boom in coca production, which most recent United Nations data suggests is higher than that of Colombia.