Written for Borderland Beat by Otis B Fly-Wheel, with additional hyperlinks to the BB archive
Warning there are very strong bloody graphic images and video in the subsequent pages of this article and or its hyperlinks. Please carefully consider if you should read further as these may cause upset and or trauma. You have been warned.
Reporter: Otis B Fly-Wheel
|A sub captured from the Norte de Valle Cartel|
A former Norte del Valle Cartel member, Mauricio Harold Poveda Ortega ( arrested in 2008 ), confirmed the BLO ( I use the term BLO here, even though at the time Arturo was still under the Sinaloa banner ) connection with Serna and his crew, which in 2002 would become “Rastrojos” working for Wilber Varela of the Norte del Valle Cartel. Serna and his crew had turned these two Colombian towns into the most violent cities in Colombia.
According to statements given by Poveda, the consignments would journey 750 kilometers to Huatulco or Acapulco, and totalled 20 to 30 tons of cocaine a year. The Rastrojos, like most cartels had issues with their competitors, in their case the “Urabenos” who supplied cocaine to Los Zetas.
The violence in Colombia, at that time, was a level way above anything that was happening in Mexico. Arturo, I think was influenced by the control that the Norte del Valle Cartel had, politically and militarily in their areas of influence, through bribery, intimidation and murder. He saw the blueprint for the soon to be fledgling Beltran Leyva Organization. There is also testimony that proves Arturo was buying cocaine from Venezuela.
This, in my opinion led to the downward spiral of violence to be adopted by the BLO, as we will discuss in more detail later in this article.
Building the Organization
With the arrest and death of Arellano Felix Organization leaders, and the vacuum left by the death of “El Senor de Los Cielos”, a power vacuum lead to the now escaped Joaquin Guzman to lead a meeting, in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, with El Chapo, El Mayo, El Azul and El Barbas, from which came “The Sinaloa Federation” or the “Blood Alliance”.
Deciding among other things, offensives against the Cartel del Golfo and Los Zetas, both of which were dug in deeper than an Alabama tick. the Juarez Cartel tenuously joined the alliance, but left shortly afterwards when Rodolfo Carrillo Fuentes was killed by El Chapos people.
An agreement between various group operating or originating from Sinaloa but not exclusively, was made to bring them all under the umbrella of Mayo Zambada and Joaquin Guzman. Each group of the Federation were agreed to section up Mexico into their respective areas of strength, which they would manage, along their own lines and methodology.
Rates were agreed for piso payments for movement of drugs through different territories, and more importantly, plans were made to utilize major international Mexican airports to fly cocaine shipments direct from Colombia, to stop and refuel in Mexico before proceeding to the United States, as the heat on the Miami via the Caribbean sea route had now become untenable.
This initially led to a reduction in the inter-cartel violence between different factions, as the Federation was new and everyone wanted to see what the agreement would bring in the way of enhanced profits. This reduction in violence and relative peace continued until 2005 when the Cartel del Golfo began to make incursions into Guerrero through their armed wing Los Zetas.
This new agreement gave Arturo control of Guerrero and Morelos among other areas, including control of most of the Sonoran border with the USA. This also allowed the other Beltran Leyva family members to devote more time to the organization, and use less of their time defending the Federations leaders.
This, arguably was the birth of the Beltran Leyva Organization.
In Guerrero the Sinaloa Federation was represented by Arturo and his family and Diaz Parada, whose organization would later become known as Oaxaca Cartel or the Istmo Cartel. Parada was a trafficker from the old school, who had a sense of the dramatic. Probably the best example of this was when he killed a Judge that had sentenced him to 33 years in prison. Parada shot him 33 times. Parada had already escaped from two prisons, Santa Maria Ixcotel, Oaxaca, and Reclusorio Oriente in Federal District.
At his sentencing, on hearing the sentence he told the Judge ” Me, I will go, and you, will die”. He escaped from prison after serving only a few days, then got information on the location of the Judge, who was hiding in Cuernavaca, after the threat in Court and the escape. He found him and shot him once for each year of his sentence.
The Beltran Leyva Organization’s operational side were set up to do the same thing as the Zeta’s were doing for the Cartel del Golfo. Secure a corridor from the drugs production place/place of import, to the border of the USA for the Sinaloa Federation. The BLO were very successful at this, and its operational sicarios led the BLO to control 11 States in Mexico at one point. The Sinaloa Federation may have been the name on the door, but it was the BLO with the guns on the ground in the places that mattered that really had the power and Arturo knew it.
Arturo was building something the Sinaloa Federation leaders did not have at the time, in the nature of its bureaucracy, its command structure, the number of its personnel, and the level of its in built redundancy. Its backup capacity was based on considerations of safety, security and the very survival of the organization itself.
The command structure of the BLO was hierarchical, five brothers made up the core leadership. Alfredo “El Mochomo” commanded two groups of sicarios. He was also in charge of logistics, bribery, and money laundering for the Sinaloa Federation.
The BLO had a lot of people and in this respect was one part of its success, allied with extra infrastructure. The organization could lose a transport hub or a communication facility in a bust, but the backup building would already be put into operational use as the present one was being busted.
The organization suffered some major blows later on, such as the arrest of “El Mochomo”, but the redundancy in generations of family involved in the drug trafficking meant the BLO hardly missed a beat in its operations with the arrest of Alfredo. This made the BLO very efficient at its main job of securing drugs in transit to the border, and the money and weapons returning south from the border.
This gave the BLO credibility when negotiating deals with Los Zetas and the Cartel del Golfo, and the Juarez Cartel after the BLO split from the Federation in 2008.
Under Arturo, were his “Generals” his five brothers, then the three Captains, Geronimo Gamez Garcia ( cousin of the Beltran Leyvas and their connection with the Colombians ), Edgar Valdez Villarreal ” La Barbie”, and Hector Beltran Leyva “El H” ( who fulfilled this position as well as being a “General”).
|Gernomino Gamez Garcia being arrested|
Under the second Captain “La Barbie” were two of the three Lieutenants of the BLO, Gerardo Alvarez Vazquez “El Indio”, and Carlos Montemayor “El Charro”.
Further down below La Barbie but not reporting to his Lieutenants were four ” Sergeant Majors”. Francisco Hernandez Garcia “El Panchillo” or “El 2000”, Alberto Pineda Villa “El Borrado”, Marco Antonio Pineda Villa “El MP” and Hector Huerta Rios ” La Burra ” or ” El Junior”.
|Hernandez Garcia Alberto Pineda Villa Hector Huerta Rios|
Some may raise an eyebrow at some possible names missing from the above lists, but I have included some in the “Crews” section below, because they are organizations working for the BLO and not necessarily an intrinsic part of the organization.
Some of the crews below didn’t take their current names until after the Beltran Leyva Organization splintered in 2009, such as Los Rojos and Los Ardillos.
Los Negros: Jefe; Edgar Valdez Villarreal, La Barbie
For the lowdown on this crew See Link to BB Founder Buggs article
Role for Cartel and area of influence: Head of Halcones, Personal Bodyguard of Arturo, Cartel Captain, Plaza Boss Monterrey, Nuevo Laredo, Acapulco, Morelos, Guerrero.
Los Gueros: Jefe; Alfredo Beltran Leyva “El Mochomo”, The Rodriguez Olivera brothers.
Role for Cartel and area of influence: General, Sonora, Jalisco, Sinaloa, Quintana Roo.
Los Mazatlecos: Jefe; Fausto Isidro Meza Flores, Chapo Isidro
For the lowdown on Los Mazatlecos and all of its important members, See Link to BB Reporter Arm Chair’s article
Role for Cartel and area of influence: Head of sicario’s, Plaza Boss, Guasave, Los Mochis, Mazatlan
Los Pelones: Jefe; Alfredo Beltran Leyva, El Mochomo Edgar Valdez Villarreal, La Barbie, Marco Antonio Pineda Villa “El MP”, Evaristo Ramirez Santos
For the lowdown on Los Pelones and its creation, See Link to BB Reporter Itzli’s article
Role for Cartel and area of influence:Edgar Valdez Villarreal, La Barbie, Marco Antonio Pineda Villa “El MP”, Evaristo Ramirez Santos, Guerrero, Morelos, Durango, Chihuahua, Nayarit, Jalisco, Quintana Roo, Chipas, Naucalpan and Huixquilucan.
Los Rojos: Jefe;Crisoforo Rogelio Maldonado “El Bocinas”
Role for Cartel and area of influence: Crisoforo Rogelio Maldonado North and centre of Guerrero and Morelos
Guerreros Unidos: Jefe: Cleotilde Toribio Renteria, “El Tilde”
For the lowdown on this crew, See Link to BB Reporter Itzli’s article
Role for Cartel and area of influence: Cleotilde Toribio Renteria, “El Tilde”, Mario Casarrubias, “El Sapo Guapo”, Iguala, Arcelia, Ciudad Altamirano, Taxco, Chilpancingo and Tixtla.
Los Ardillos: Jefe; Celso Ortega Rosas, “La Ardilla”
Role for Cartel and area of influence: Celso Ortega Rosas, “La Ardilla”, Mountains and centre of Guerrero
Fuerzas Especiales de Arturo ( FEDA ): Jefe; Alfredo Beltran Leyva, “El Mochomo”
Role for Cartel and area of influence: Personal bodyguard of Arturo, FEDA recruited the most talented sicarios from each of the crews in the list for FEDA.
La Mochomera: Jefe; Hector Beltran Leyva, “El H”, Isidro Gastelum Luque, “Las Dos Letras”
For the lowdown on this crew See Link to BB Founder
Buggs article ( Includes a grillonautus interview with Dos Letras himself )
Role for Cartel and area of influence: Head sicario, Los Mochis
Los Manos con Ojos: Jefe; Oscar Garcia Montoya, “El Compayito”
For the lowdown on this crew and its psychopathic leader, See Link to BB Reporter Arm Chair’s article. This includes an interview with Garcia Montoya himself.
Role for Cartel and area of influence: Head of sicarios for “El Indio”, personal bodyguard of Arturo, District Federal
It is worth taking stock now of the area controlled by the BLO for the Sinaloa Federation. They had operations in Mexico City, Chiapas, Guerrero, Mexico State, Morelos, Nuevo Leon, Queretaro, Quintana Roo, Sinaloa, Sonora, and Tamaulipas.
They also had control of several International Airports, which was the key to moving weight, quickly, with little statistical chance of being busted before the border with the USA.
* Mexico City
They also had hotels through which the money laundering took place, in all the most popular tourist districts like Cozumel, Cancun and Acapulco. Area’s which had a high turnover of tourist cash, and which would not bring heat on people banking large quantities of cash. An ideal place to bank large quantities of United States currency, that was of course the illegal proceeds from the BLO’s criminal enterprise. Murder for hire, kidnapping, extortion, drug trafficking, all create large amounts of cash money.
The truly talented murderers
Arturo saw the road ahead of him the whole time. The lessons he had learnt from the Colombian Norte de Valle Cartel, in how to mete out extreme violence to gain total control, when bribery failed convinced Arturo that he needed to recruit some truly talented murderers for the upcoming wars. In that respect he was way ahead of his time, and he recruited some of the most psychopathic killers Mexico has ever seen.
Not just the individuals who we will discuss in the next paragraphs, but the ferocity and bloodthirstiness of his crews, instilled fear into the whole country, rancorous bone shaking fear. As time went on, and the BLO changed strategy, their killers descended into some of the worst depravities a human could visit on another. They certainly didn’t fear anyone and for a while, while Don Arturo was alive, the members and affiliates of the BLO had a fierce loyalty to the Jefe de Jefes organization.
What strikes most people about the three people featuring in this next section is the seeming enjoyment they took from butchering people. They are in order from Oscar Garcia Montoya, “El Compayito”, who without doubt would still be butchering people like it was for free if he hadn’t been imprisoned. Next on the list of the top three misanthropes from the BLO is Isidro Gastelum Luque, “Las Dos Letras”. The last of the list is Edgar Valdez Villarreal “La Barbie”.
I have included him as third place by dint of the fact that, to begin with, as witnessed in the interrogation video from Acapulco, with the four Zetas, they died from a single shot to the head. Only later did he descend into the depths of depravity that the other two did from the start of their careers with the BLO, perhaps this was by necessity of the changes they had to make after Los Zetas and their all encompassing violence lead to massive territorial gains for first the CDG and after the split with Los Zetas themselves.
In the “Crews” section, the link to La Mochomera and Los Manos con Ojos, contain interviews with two Las Dos Letras and El Compayito. Both claim to have not lost a seconds sleep over all the other narco related people that they killed. El Compayito confessed to having ordered 600 people killed, while carrying out 300 of those executions himself. I believe he does sleep soundly at night, and that he enjoys killing people as much as you or I enjoy a nice meal with a glass of wine.
Dos Letras comes from the same psychological stable. While not having the body count that El Compayito did, he relished the chance to sadistically torture and kill his victims. Like most serial killers, once he found out he liked it, he behavior in this manner accelerated and continued until he was physically prevented from doing anymore by being shot to death.
Lastly La Barbie who shows classic psychopathic symptoms, in that his mind does not link up cause and effect like our minds do. Many, many articles have been written on La Barbie and his exploits, and many who have spoken to him remark that, ” after all he has done, and all the people he has killed, and his betrayals of those who showed loyalty to him, he still believes in his mind, that he is a popular, likeable guy”. He realized early on with his dealings in Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas against Los Zetas, that he would have to amp up the violence. He was in a war against them, and the unfortunate thing about warfare is that if you are not more ferocious than your enemy, you will generally lose.
Arturo used these three psychopaths as ” Shock and Awe”, in much the same way as the US might deploy B2, F117 Nighthawks and cruise missiles, the effect was the same, nobody felt safe, regardless of status, which made the subject of the next section that much easier for him.
The Establishment Parasites
As Arturo set his master plan in place for domination of Mexico, and all the wealth and power that that would provide him, he knew once his plan was set in motion he would need information from the establishment, Politicians, Military, Police.
The plata o plomo saying has been done to death so in this article we are going with the carrot and the stick. Arturo was going to offer the carrot first, and if you weren’t hungry, Arturo would smite thee with his stick, and his stick was long and very sharply pointed, and he would ” strike down on thee with great vengeance and furious anger “, oops I came over all pulp fictiony then. If either of the above didn’t work he would infiltrate your organization with his own men.
Arturo had carried out his due diligence on the correct names in the correct States, and whose palms would need greasing with what.
From the Federal Investigation Agency he paid off Domingo Gonzalez Dias, through La Barbie, a million dollars for information and some level of protection.
From the SSP they paid off Genaro Garcia Luna and Igor Labastida.
Perhaps the jewel in the crown of corrupt Government Officials bribed by the BLO was Deputy Attorney General Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, who died in a plane crash when the plane he was travelling in flew through the jet wash of the engines from a passenger jet.
Also Deputy Attorney General Noe Ramirez and former Secretary for Public Security’s Commander Victor Gerardo Garay who took half a million in bribes from the BLO.
They also had contacts high up in every Mexican Federal and Police Agency including SEIDO, PGR, PGJE, Ministerial Police, Municipal Police, Transit Police, Army, Navy, Commercial Aviation Control and INTERPOL.
No stone was left un-turned of those that showed empty palms poking out from underneath. The list of parasites is long and distinguished and includes people on both sides of the border.
Now the scene and the players are set for the next chain of events that lead to the downfall of Arturo and the Beltran Leyva Organization.
BLO turn their back on the Sinaloa Federation
Arturo looked at the Sinaloa Federation leadership with envy. He was doing all the work and they were taking the lions share of the money. Arturo knew that if he stayed in the Federation he would never be able to be Jefe de Jefes.
In Los Zetas relationship with the Cartel del Golfo, he found common ground. Los Zetas were doing the work and the CDG were taking the lions share of the profits.
Like the BLO, Los Zetas had boots and guns on the ground in the locations that mattered. They had secured a corridor that ran the entire length of the East Coast of Mexico. If they combined and turned against their current employers, they could control 90% of the Mexican territory that mattered together.
Los Zetas had begun to take hits to their leadership, as they didn’t have to the same extent, the Establishment connections that Arturo had fostered. It made sense to Los Zetas to join forces with Arturo, and take advantage of his connections in return for sharing of infrastructure and operational blueprints.
Is the enemy of my enemy my friend? Certainly by this point Arturo saw Joaquin El Chapo Guzman and Ismael El Mayo Zambada as the enemy, standing in the way of what he saw as rightfully his. Los Zetas wanted to move into the golden triangle and required assistance to do that, so they sought out alliances with not only Arturo, but with La Familia and the Juarez Cartel. Their main protagonist before the split with the Cartel del Golfo was the Sinaloa Federation. The Juarez Cartel also had an axe to grind against Sinaloa for the death of Rodolfo Carillo Fuentes “El Nino de Oro”
The BLO, and the Sinaloa factions of El Chapo and El Mayo had a different way of doing things. The Beltran Leyva’s enjoyed throwing parties and inviting important members of the Mexican elite, they courted publicity. as part of the trappings of fame, or infamy in their case.
El Chapo and El Mayo like to run things from the background and stay out of the way. Low profile, under the radar as much as possible. El Chapo saw the BLO leadership as a weak point in the Federation and cursed them for bringing attention and heat on the Federation. There is also a whiff of rumour that he found out about the alleged agreement between Los Zetas and the BLO.
Much has been made of the BLO intolerance of extortioners and kidnappers, and the treatment given out to those doing those things in BLO plazas. Like most things it isn’t quite the whole story. All Cartels tend to sing the same tune, ” We don’t allow, kidnapping and extortion”, when in reality that means ” we don’t allow kidnapping and extortion, ( pregnant pause ) by non-affiliates or those not paying piso to do so”.
The arrest of El Mochomo
Everyone has their version of events surrounding the arrest of “El Mochomo”. There have probably been as many different explanations as there are for sightings at Area 51. So we will concentrate on the generally accepted versions; that El Chapo gave him up because he was bringing too much heat on the Federation, and that his son had been captured and El Chapo gave him up to get his son released. The second is that La Barbie gave him up in an act of treachery.
For all intents and purposes, the alleged act of betrayal by La Barbie did not come to light until after the death of Arturo. At the time the events were happening, nearly everyone was convinced that El Chapo had given up El Mochomo and that was the main driver behind the attack on El Chapo Guzmans son Edgar, in a parking lot in Culiacan by the Fuerzas Especiales de Arturo. So we shall deal with the La Barbie betrayal in Part 3 of this article “The Final Stand of Don Arturo”.
Arturo had decided enough was enough with El Chapo, and he hated him more than the devil hates holy water. Arturo put a plan into place to split from the Sinaloa Federation and all hell was about to break loose all over Mexico as a consequence of the rupture.
What we do know for sure is that on the morning of January 21st 2008, Mexican special forces arrested Alfredo in the Burocrata Colonia, in the city of Culiacan, Sinaloa. He was arrested with three men that were his personal bodyguard, while travelling in a BMW X-3. The men arrested with him were Javier Hugo Urquiza Inzunza, Flavio Manuel Castro Leon and Jose Uistisengo Barraza. There was also almost a million dollars in US currency in two suitcases, weapons including an AK47 and some luxury watches.
These last non lethal items sound like a get out jail free card, to be played in exactly this scenario should El Mochomo need to bribe his way out of arrest.
Arturo gathered a 300 strong caravan of sicarios, ready to assault the Cefereso Occidente Prison in Jalisco, to rescue his brother. He requested the support of El Chapo and El Mayo for the assault.
Some had already given up hope of springing “El Mochomo”, but Arturo frustrated to the point of rage, urged the leaders of the Federation to back up his operation. As days turned into weeks, it began to dawn on Arturo that, the Federation were willing to leave him to rot as a sacrificial pawn.
The death of Edgar Guzman
The death of Edgar Guzman at the hands of the BLO did not come as a surprise given recent events. Marcial Fernandez who was the son of Manuel Fernandez Valencia was killed while driving a white Ferrari of the same type as that driven in Culiacan by Alfredo Guzman, another son of El Chapo.
The BLO were determined to take revenge on El Chapo and that chance came on May the 8th of 2008, when Edgar had been shopping with friends and family in Culiacan. As he was walking back to his vehicle, 19 men approached wearing the body armor bearing the legend FEDA some carrying the new FN Herstal P90 self defence sub-machine guns.. They opened fire on Edgar, firing 500 rounds at him and his friends and family. They also fired several grenades at him from a grenade launcher.
The young Guzman fell in a hail of gunfire, also killed in the attack was the nephew of a narco trafficker, Cesar Loera, the son of a money launderer that the DEA had christened “La Emperatriz”.
Word flew out of the attack, and everyone held their breath for the next few days to see what the response would be. Narco’s being what they are, are not known for their patience.
War was declared soon after making the split of the BLO from the Federation Official. Things had started to unwind since the attack on Edgar Guzman. A dispute evolved around Mexico City airport. In 2006 the Beltran Leyva Organization had agreed a deal with El Chapo/ El Mayo to take operational control of Mexico City airport.
Up until that time the airport had been under the control of Jesus Reynaldo Zambada Garcia “El Rey”, brother of Ismael. In reciprocation, the Zambadas were given control of Guanajuato airport, then controlled by Ignacio Coronel Villarreal. In reciprocation for that, Villarreal was given control of Monterrey airport.
Jesus Zambada had nurtured a relationship with the Commercial and Civil Aviation Authorities, Airport Police, Customs Agents. Through the carrot, he had gained effective control of the airport without having to resort to the stick.
The Beltran Leyvas put Sergio Villarreal Barragan in charge. El Grande doesn’t have a diplomatic bone in his body, and when an honest customs agent would not release a plane, that just happened to have a load of cocaine aboard.
El Grande decided that in true BLO style, retribution would be swift and final. He killed 10 of Jesus Zambadas most trusted airport contacts, and left two heads outside the airport. All bets were now off at the airport, and a major source of revenue for the Federation had just dried up.
Don Arturo only knew one way to react in a hostile situation, go forward, go hard, maximum aggression. He launched an all out war against the Chapo/Mayo organizations across every plaza that he had physical control of. He also made a formal pact with Los Zetas and the CDG, the Juarez Cartel and La Familia Michoacana.
The writing was on the wall for the inhabitants of Culiacan, when BLO Mantas started appearing, and the close family members of Sinaloa Cartel capos started to leave Culiacan.
More to follow on the Sinaloa vs BLO war and Don Arturo’s Final Stand in Part 3
Coming Soon, Arturo Beltran Leyva, the life, death of El Barbas” Part 3, ” The Final Stand of Don Arturo”.