Tagged: drug war

Queen of Cartels: most famous female leader of Mexico’s underworld speaks out

(UK GUARDIAN) — Inside the front door of Sandra Ávila Beltrán’s home is an altar and lit candles that form a crowded shrine to her first husband (riddled by gunfire), her second husband (stabbed through the heart) and her brother (tortured to death). All were murdered during Mexico’s ongoing cocaine wars.

Ávila is the stuff legends are made of – one of the few women with access to the highest levels of cartel life. She has lived, worked and loved inside the upper echelons of the Mexican drug world since the late 1970s. At the height of her career, she showed a propensity to carry suitcases with millions of dollars in crisp $100 bills.

Her status led her to become known as “The Queen of the Pacific”, in honor of her alleged prowess organizing a fleet of tuna boats laden with 10 tons of cocaine each as they navigated north from Mexico’s Pacific coast towards the world’s number one cocaine market: the United States.
Californian, businesswoman, ‘narco junior’: El Chapo’s American daughter

Ávila has spent the last seven years in prison for money laundering, including two years in solitary confinement. Now free, she gave an exclusive interview, her first in nearly a decade, from her home near Guadalajara, in which she lashed out at Mexican politicians’ corruption, mocked the futility of drug prohibition and celebrated the escape of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.

Her three-decade rise to power has provided her with a front-row view of private jets, clandestine plastic surgery operations to disguise identity, murderous shootouts at VIP parties and one non-stop constant: massive bribes to Mexican public officials. “The most I ever heard about was a $100m [bribe] to a Mexican president,” Ávila said. “A million dollars is nothing. I have seen one [politician] look into the bag to see if it was there. He knew everything.”

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Helicopters rained gunfire as eight cartel gunmen killed in border firefight

(BREITBART) — REYNOSA, Tamaulipas — Mexican military helicopters rained gunfire down on drug cartel gunmen killing eight of them in the most recent gun battle to shake this border city.

The border city of Reynosa is controlled by the Gulf Cartel faction known as Los Metros which has been able to operate with almost complete impunity for years. As Breitbart Texas previously reported, the Gulf Cartel has been able to set up a clandestine network of surveillance cameras throughout the city to keep track of authorities. When authorities tried to do the same, the Gulf Cartel destroyed the police camera network by knocking down the large concrete poles that housed the cameras.

Information released by the Tamaulipas government revealed that the gun battle began shortly after 1 p.m. on Monday when cartel gunmen fired at a convoy of Mexican marines.

The attack set off a chase on the city’s south-side along the highway that connects this border city with the industrial hub of Monterrey.

The rolling shootout spread into various neighborhoods including Villa Florida, Villas del Roble, Paseo del Roble and Paseo Residencial. Close to an hour later, the Mexican army spotted a two SUV’s with cartel gunmen in the Granjas del Norte neighborhood setting off another series of rolling shootouts.

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Here are 3 failures in Mexico’s drug war

(DALLAS MORNING NEWS) — By RICARDO AINSLIE

By most accounts, the so-called kingpin strategy — the oft-decried tactic of taking down top cartel leaders — in Mexico’s drug war has generated significant violence, as would-be successors vie to fill the leadership vacuum. In fact, in a recent Dallas Morning News article a U.S. agent says, “We all thought we were doing the right thing, but truth is we didn’t fully anticipate the violence, and that’s on us.”

But this strategy isn’t the problem. If you have the head of the Zetas in your sights, it’s a no-brainer that he has to be taken down.

What is “on us,” as co-sponsors of law enforcement actions against organized crime in Mexico, are three failures of the imagination that continue to haunt both countries.

First is the failure to understand the depth and complexity of Mexico’s criminal networks. Had they done their homework, law enforcement agencies on both sides of the border would have discovered that each of the big cartels included many smaller groups, each linked by a vague common cause of making illicit money by whatever means. There is a complex and ambitious hierarchy at work, extending from neighborhood gangs that steal cars and sell drugs on the streets to the drug trafficking organizations that we call cartels. They are highly sophisticated transnational businesses whose profitability must be the envy of every major American corporation.

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Texas murder trial to shed light on Mexican drug cartels

(WALL STREET JOURNAL) — By Dan Frosch

SOUTHLAKE, Texas—The gunman walked toward Juan Jesús Guerrero Chapa, who sat in his Range Rover parked at a tony suburban Dallas shopping center.

Mr. Guerrero Chapa had just finished shopping for shoes with his wife, but moments later the 43-year-old Mexican lawyer was dead, struck by multiple shots from a 9-millimeter pistol. The gunman and an accomplice drove away, the brief early evening encounter caught on a surveillance camera.

The 2013 slaying stunned this upscale North Texas city of 29,000, which hadn’t seen a murder since 1999. But that wasn’t all: The man killed was allegedly a prominent member of Mexico’s Gulf Cartel drug trafficking organization, according to U.S. federal officials. His assassination brought that country’s drug war to the doorstep of the serene American neighborhood where the Guerrero Chapas lived.

This week, two of three men prosecutors say are responsible for Mr. Guerrero Chapa’s death will stand trial in Fort Worth, in a case expected to offer a rare glimpse into the nexus of Mexican cartels operating in the U.S.

Jesús Gerardo Ledezma-Cepeda, 59, and his cousin, José Luis Cepeda-Cortés, 60, face charges of conspiracy to commit murder for hire and interstate stalking—which carry up to life in prison. Both men have pleaded not guilty.

Mr. Ledezma-Cepeda’s son, Jesús Gerardo Ledezma-Campano, 32, who faces the same charges in the killing, recently pleaded guilty and is expected to testify for the prosecution, according to a person familiar with the case.

All three men are Mexican citizens; Mr. Cepeda-Cortés was legally in the U.S. on a green card.

According to federal officials, Mr. Guerrero Chapa was the lawyer for Gulf Cartel chief Osiel Cárdenas-Guillén—now imprisoned at the U.S.’s so-called Supermax facility in Florence, Colo.,—and played an important role in the organization.

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