A paradigm shift in illegal border crossings-those aren’t Latinos coming across.

by Chivis Martinez for Borderland Beat

In this tunnel, Border Patrol agents discovered 30 illegal immigrants, including 23 Chinese nationals.   (U.S. Customs and Border Protection via AP) 
Undocumented Chinese immigrants take the lead in apprehension numbers


At around 1 a.m on Saturday August 26, California Border Patrol agents made a surprising discovery; a crudely constructed tunnel that was being facilitated to smuggle illegal immigrants in to the United States. 

And the overwhelming majority of the immigrant group were not Mexican, or even Latino, 23 of the group of 30 were Chinese.  There were 21 Chinese males and 2 females.  There exists a new human smuggling trend that is setting records, as it did in 2016, when the number of undocumented Chinese migrants, surpassed the number of Mexicans.  The steep price tag that Chinese migrants must pay to be smuggled into the U.S. is 50 to 75 thousand USD, making it a very lucrative industry.

Far apart from the sophisticated drug tunnels of El Chapo, the newly discovered tunnel is a simplistic, rudimentary, system that utilized a ladder in place of an elevator, found in many Mexican Cartel tunnels.

Using tunnels to transport migrants into the U.S., is not new or unheard of, but it is atypical and the tunnels used are the throw away tunnels, tunnel projects abandoned for whatever reason.   What is new is who they are finding using the tunnels.

Unfinished projects can present problems.  An example is a few years ago when a migrant got stuck in a narrow passage, trapping himself and four others behind him.  They were rescued by BP.

Migrants were “stuck” in this narrow tunnel
Joaquin “el chapo” Guzmán, the master and originator of drug tunnels, has perfected tunnel construction projects to include rail car transport, ventilation and lighting systems.  The entry is on the Mexico side of the border, and the exit terminates on the U.S. side, typically popping up through the floor of a California warehouse, or single family home purchased specifically for its location.  Not all tunnels are alike.  It is dependent on its intended usage how superior it must be developed.  If it is to be an ultra-long tunnel to transport drugs or a prison escapee, it will require all the bells and whistles.  In 2016 a record breaking tunnel was discovered in San Diego.  It stretched for half a mile and included electric lights, rail and ventilation systems.  The tunnel initiated in a house in Tijuana, where an elevator was installed in a closet expediting the entry/exit, and then exiting through a pallet business on the California side.  It measured 775 meters in length.

Things became chaotic when agents approached the group.  Some ran back into the tunnel, others attempted to run off.  They were detained and taken to the Chula Vista Border Station for questioning.   The tunnel was approximately one mile in length.

While illegal border crossings by Mexicans and other Latinos has diminished to record breaking lows, attributed by many to the “Trump effect”, [Trump is the wall] the number of undocumented  Chinese immigrants coming to California’s south order,  has climb sharply in recent years.

Between the months of October to May nearly 700 Chinese nationals were apprehended, compared to 5 in 2014, and 48 in 2015. Before 2014 a spokesperson for Border Patrol said “we just were not getting any Chinese nationals.”

The Chinese surge, with the premiums charged them for border crossing, capitalizes on cartel profits, maximizing revenue derived a “diversity” apart from a drug trafficking. Trafficking humans, is a much less elaborate method of earning profits than trafficking drugs, with little loss even if plans end unfavorably.

“Factank” from the PEW Research Center

The number of Mexican immigrants living in the U.S. illegally has declined by more than 1 million since 2007. In 2014, 5.8 million unauthorized immigrants from Mexico lived in the U.S., down from a peak of 6.9 million in 2007. Despite the drop, Mexicans still make up about half of the nation’s 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants (52% in 2014).

In 2016, a total of 192,696 Mexicans were apprehended in illegal border crossings opposed to 222,847 non-Mexicans.

On the Mexican side of the southern border, some Chinese nationals are electing to stay in Mexico.

Tijuana BC: 105-110 Murders in 15 Days

Translated by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from Zeta

BC GOV “Kiko Vega ” Formally announcing his Crusade for Security

Sept 17, 2017

The statistics of bloody events in Tijuana continues to increase and seems to have no end. Malicious homicides amount to 1,169 events so far in 2017. As of the close of the edition, 105 people had lost their lives in September.

On September 12, 100 days had passed since Governor Francisco Vega de Lamadrid launched the Crusade for Security, with various initiatives to reduce violence, however in those same days 511 murders were committed.

The murdered were dismembered, calcined, signed, bagged; executed by shots or blows and have increased the number in the last seven days to 50 dead. Monday, September 11 is considered the most violent day of the year with 13 homicides. Most of the crimes were committed in the Eastern Zone of Tijuana.

“Kiko” Throngs of  Mexicali Residents chanted “Fuera Kiko” at El Grito

Recent violent acts include:

Around 08:00 hours it was reported that inside a gray trash can, was the corpse of a person. The container was located on the sidewalk of Callejón Zeta and Avenida Revolución, in the Zona Centro.
Half an hour later on Tequesquitengo Street in the Torres del Lago building, in Cerro Colorado, was the lifeless body of a subject. The victim had gunshot wounds. At the scene of the crime were located at least seven spent bullet casings.

Crimes of the Week :

On Friday 8: at a local video game place in El Florido #3, two subjects were shot dead. A dismembered body with head and limbs wrapped in a black plastic bag was found inside a green van. A 35 year old man died after being shot in El Laurel.

On Saturday 9: in Loma Bonita a young man was shot dead in the head. In a red suitcase a man’s body was found on the Tijuana-Rosarito highway. In Mariano Matamoros Norte, “Jaime” was shot in the chest. Among rubbish in Villas del Prado, the calcined corpse of a subject was found.

On Sunday 10: in Urbi Villas del Prado, a man was found dead with blunt injuries. José Amaro Flores, died after receiving several shots. Edgar David Navarro, alias “El Gordo”, 30, was killed in Colonia Emperors.
SEMEFO personnel collecting another or other bodies
with nowhere to take them
On Monday 11: thirteen people were killed. In Mariano Matamoros Centro a young woman was killed. At the 3 Leones Hotel in Centro, a 40-year-old man was shot dead. Wrapped in a blanket and with traces of violence, a 30-year-old woman was found dead in the Libertad colony. Pedro Hernández García, 22, was murdered in the  Colonia Mexico Lindo. In Loma Bonita Iván Hernández was assassinated. Marco Montejano Hernández, 27, was  executed in the Altiplano. In a state of putrefaction and with firearm injuries, three bodies were located in a balcony area of the Hacienda Las Delicias Building third floor. Juan Cervantes Carrillo, 32, was shot dead. Manuela Alvarado, 58, was executed on October 3. In Villas del Prado, Gabriel Roa Hernández, 40, was murdered. Wrapped in a blanket in the colony Reforma, a human corpse was found.

On Tuesday 12: five people were murdered including Antonio Murillo Alba, alias “Brenda”, 19, who died of knife injuries. In Colonia Delicias #3 were found half-buried bones remains of a woman. In the Colonia Emperors, a man of 30 was shot to death. In Urbi Quinta del Cedro II a man was shot dead.
On Wednesday 13: Héctor Cruz, 20, Jorge Miche Beta, 49, Héctor Rivera, alias “El Pelón”, 41 were murdered in Villa del Campo, Generation 2000, Praderas de la Gloria, Villas de Alcázar, Sánchez Taboada, respectively.

On Thursday the 14th: in Urbi Villas del Prado, a man of 45 – 50 years, was shot. In the colony Monte San Antonio, the corpse of a woman, between 25 and 30 years old, was located. The calcined body of a person was found in the Cumbres Flores Magón . In a vacant lot of Colonia El Florido the corpse of Antonio Escobar Rodriguez, 38 years was found. Inside a suitcase, the mutilated body of a man with a severed head was located on the Tijuana-Tecate Road; the victim was between 30 and 35 years old. In Lomas de San Antonio at Urbi Quinta del Centro was discovered the body of a woman of 30 years which had blows to the head. In the Encino of Villas del Álamo building  a man between 30 and 35 years was found shot to death.

Understaffed and ill- equipped Forensic and Morgue Facilities in TJ

    Meanwhile over at SEMEFO, the agency cannot keep up with the volumne of bodies piling up.

The storage facilities are lacking, the refrigerated units over flowing and many corpses are in such a rapid state of decomposition  that they may never be identified or claimed.

Note: UnoMasUno reports 110 criminal homicides

Ruling against Chapo’s motion to dismiss indictment due to improper extradition

by Chivis Martinez for Borderland Beat

click on image to enlarge
On Friday, a no surprise decision was filed in the U.S. case against Joaquin El Chapo Guzmán. U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan overruled an effort by Joaquin Guzman, challenging his extradition from Mexico to face charges in New York and Florida of international narcotics conspiracy, and the indictment against him, based on the foundation he was extradited improperly to NYC. Without touching on the evidences of the case, Guzmán’s attorneys focused on the indictment being improper, violating the extradition treaty between Mexico and the United States.

The original agreement contained the agreement that Guzmán would be extradited to either Texas or California.  However, when Guzmán was awoken for the middle of the night transfer, it was done without prior attorney notification, or prior documentation of the extradition city change.  The contention is that this action or inaction violates the confusing, ambiguous “Rule of Specialty”doctrine. Essentially, in the cases of Mexico to U.S. extraditions, within the four corners of the agreement, there can be no additions.

Remember the case of Alfredo Beltran Leyva? His appeared to be a clear violation of the Rule of Specialty. For two reasons; one, charges were added when he arrived in the U.S. and there was not a “waiver” signed by Mexico. The waiver is a caveat, stipulating to changes, post extradition.   There was not one in the Beltran Leyva case. There is a contention that there is one in Guzmán’s case but he denies there is one, or one he has ever seen or signed.

U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan wrote in his decision, that Guzmán had no legal right to challenge the New York  indictment because Mexico had not objected to it.

Cogan also said in July, in an unrelated case, the federal appeals court in Manhattan, upheld this opinion.

See below full docket text, Motion to dismiss filed on 8.13.17


“It is well-settled law in the Second Circuit law that absent protest or objection by the offended sovereign, [a defendant] has no standing to raise the violation of international law” to challenge his indictment. United States v. Suarez, 791 F.3d 363, 367 (2d Cir. 2015). In fact, one week before defendant filed his motion, the Second Circuit affirmed this legal principle in United States v. Barinas, 865 F.3d 99, 105 (2d Cir. 2017), holding that absent an express provision in an extradition treaty, a defendant has no standing to raise a Rule of Specialty violation. Here, there is no protest or objection by Mexico, nor is there an express provision in the extradition treaty between the United States and Mexico. Therefore, defendant’s motion to dismiss the Indictment based on an alleged Rule of Specialty violation is denied. Ordered by Judge Brian M. Cogan on 9/14/2017. “

Guzmán attorney Michele Gelent told reporters, Although disappointed, we still believe Mr. Guzmán’s rights were violated under the treaty and given that other circuit courts give the defendant the right to object to violations of extradition treaties, it is our hope that eventually the Supreme Court will decide this issue favorably to Mr. Guzmán.”

On September 13, 2017, Guzmán attorneys, adding insurance for a possible, filed a motion to dismiss counts;

Memorandum in support of defendant Joaquin Archivaldo Guzmán Loera’s motion to dismiss as time-barred counts ten, eleven, fourteen, and fifteen of the fourth superseding indictment  

The Court should dismiss Counts Ten, Eleven, Fourteen, and Fifteen of the Fourth Superseding Indictment (the “Challenged Counts”) because they are barred by the applicable five-year statute of limitations.


Five indictments have been filed in this case. The original indictment was filed against Mr. Guzmán and five other defendants on July 10, 2009. It contained nine counts, with the last alleged criminal conduct occurring on April 30, 2005. 

The first superseding indictment (the “S-1 Indictment”) was filed against Mr. Guzmán
and one other defendant, Ismael Zambada Garcia, on September 25, 2014. It contained 21 counts.

The second superseding indictment (the “S-2 Indictment”) was filed against defendant Hector Beltran Leyva only.

The Third Superseding indictment (the “S-3 Indictment”) was filed against Mr. Guzmán and Mr. Zambada Garcia on March 9, 2016.

Finally, the current indictment, the Fourth Superseding Indictment (the “S-4 Indictment”), was filed against Mr. Guzmán and Mr. Zambada Garcia on May 11, 2016. It includes four substantive counts relevant to this motion: Counts Ten, Eleven, Fourteen, and Fifteen. 

“Except as otherwise expressly provided by law, no person shall be prosecuted, tried, or punished for any offense, not capital, unless the indictment is found or the information is instituted within five years next after such offense shall have been committed.” Thus, for the offenses charged in Counts Ten, Eleven, Fourteen, and Fifteen to be timely, they must have been included in an indictment filed within five years of their commission. As shown below, they weren’t.

A.Count Ten is time-barred. The statute of limitations for the offense charged in Count Ten expired on December 31, 2013. But the offense alleged in Count Ten was not charged until the First Superseding Indictment was filed on September 25, 2014. See S-1 Indictment 

Count Eleven. That was nine months too late. Count Eleven is time-barred. Count Eleven is untimely for similar reasons. For the offense alleged in Count Eleven to be timely, it had to be charged no later than February 3, 2011. But the offense alleged in Count 11 was not charged until the First Superseding Indictment was filed on September 25, 2014. See S-1 Indictment

Count Thirteen. Again, that was too late.

C. Count Fourteen is time-barred. The January–March 2004 offense alleged in Count Fourteen had to be charged no later than March 31, 2009. But it was not charged—as an independent substantive offense—until the Third Superseding Indictment was filed on March 9, 2016. See S-3 Indictment 

Count Fourteen. Thus, it is untimely. 

Count Fifteen is time-barred. Finally, the January 25, 2004 offense charged in Count Fifteen had to be filed no later than January 25, 2009. But that crime was not charged until the First Superseding Indictment was filed on September 25, 2014. See S-1 Indictment Count Eighteen. Thus, it too is barred by the statute of limitations

Below is the motion filed on the 13th of this month. There isredaction. But if you have time it is very interesting.

Review :"Bloodlines", Los Zetas, Treviños, and the American Quarter Horse Racing Scheme

Review by Adam V.(Siskiyou_kid) for Borderland Beat

image from Texas Observer
Bloodlines: The True Story of a Drug Cartel, the FBI, and the Battle for a Horse-Racing Dynasty by Melissa del Bosque

Veteran reporter Melissa del Bosque is an excellently researched book about the federal investigation into the Treviño Morales brothers, and their attempts to launder millions of dollars in illicit cash through the purchase, running, and breeding of champion quarter horses. Bloodlines is set for release Sept. 12 and it’s an easy read that introduces the reader to the history of organized crime in Mexico, and fleshes out the current situation leading to a riveting story of ruthless crime bosses and the people who are tasked with taking them down. Del Bosque accomplishes this seamlessly, without boring any ardent follower of events in the narco world.

We are introduced to how the Zetas paramilitary force, has broken away from the Gulf Cartel, where they worked as enforcers. They went to war against their former benefactors, as well as other groups, including the Sinaloa Cartel, which was the most powerful criminal organization in Mexico at the time.

Two young FBI agents, including a rookie from Tennessee only weeks into his first time on the job, doggedly follow the trail of money and champion horses connected to the leadership of the Zetas crime syndicate following their break with the Gulf Cartel, while many colleagues and competing federal agencies see this as an unproductive line of investigation into a murderous organization selling hundreds of millions dollars’ worth of narcotics.

Del Bosque meticulously researched the story, with extensive personal interviews, not only with the two primary investigators and the prosecutors, but with seasoned reporters, other federal agents from the DEA, IRS, ICE, and the FBI, live court testimony, interviews with Mexican law enforcement officials, and direct interviews with some of the defendants targeted during the course of the case. This is in addition to her familiarity with border issues as a veteran report for the Texas Observer, and researching court transcripts, news stories, and other public information.

Scott Lawson and Alma Perez make are an unlikely pairing of young FBI agents stationed in Laredo, Texas, on the doorstep of the Zetas’ stronghold of Nuevo Laredo. They get a tip and Lawson travels to a sprawling horse ranch outside Austin run by a wealthy young heir to a quarter horse breeding business started by his grandfather. Tyler Graham is a confident 26 year-old who agrees to help the FBI with their investigation into José Treviño Morales, the seemingly straight-arrow brother of the incredibly violent Zetas boss, Miguel Angél Treviño Morales.

The agents are tasked, with the help of horse broker and breeder Tyler Graham, with learning how José Treviño Morales has gone from a brick layer earning at most $60,000 a year, to the apparent scion of a horse-racing empire worth millions of dollars, in a little over a year. It is not a stretch of the imagination to consider the involvement of his violent brothers, who are bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars through their criminal activities.

While the expense and manpower involved in such a complicated case could appear to be yet another pointless endeavor in America’s drug war, del Bosque accurately points out that the Zetas are much more that a drug cartel, they are a criminal insurgency that has spread through much of Mexico, even into the Golden Triangle stronghold of the rival Sinaloa Cartel, where Miguel Treviño has even taken over ranches and racetracks to enjoy his pursuit of racing champion quarter horses. While narcotics play an important role in this story and the activities of the Zetas, they also derive a significant portion of their illicit profits from kidnapping, extortion, murder, and immigrant smuggling. These are activities that arguably impact a much greater percentage of Mexican society than simply running drugs.

Miguel Angél Treviño Morales and his younger brother and deputy, Oscar Omar Treviño Morales, are able to continue their reign of terror with little opposition from Mexican authorities. This is because they are able to subvert and corrupt nearly every level of government and society through bribes and intimidation. We are introduced to how brutal this is in states like Veracruz, where del Bosque introduces us to a victim of the Zetas who becomes wrapped up in the federal case. From the governor down to the lowest-paid local police, the Zetas have officials under their control, which is crucial in states like Veracruz, with its huge seaport and 400 plus-mile coastline on the Gulf of Mexico, as well as in the eastern border states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, and Coahuila.

The center of Miguel Treviño’s operations is in and around the border city of Nuevo Laredo, one of the biggest entry points into the United States from Mexico for the transshipment of goods, and especially coveted for its proximity, via US Interstate 35, to San Antonio and US Interstate 10, where drug shipments can be routed to anywhere in America. Miguel Treviño and his and 6 brothers 6 sisters grew up here before the family relocated to Dallas, where they became accustomed to the border between the two Laredos being a mere formality. However, as the security situation in Mexico deteriorates and Miguel and Omar Treviño feel authorities closing in, they seek to establish a legacy for their family in the United States that will secure their family’s financial future. They decide to enlist their low-key older brother to accomplish this through the purchase of champion quarter horses and blood stock.

A dizzying array of shell companies and front men are used to mask the true ownership, as José Treviño Morales spends millions of dollars purchasing champion bloodlines, almost always changing the names of the horses, further obscuring ownership history. Of course they weren’t entirely discrete, giving the horses names like Forty Force and Number One Cartel. To pay the approximately one million dollars a month they spent buying horses at auction and caring for them, they enlisted a cadre of Mexicans who owned legitimate business, such as Francisco Colorado Cessa, who owned an oil services business with lucrative PEMEX contracts in Veracruz, to co-mingle Zeta cash with his legitimate revenue and wire money to pay for horses and other expenses. This web of deceit is aided by the shady nature of the horse racing industry, whose players looked the other way as cash was shuffled around, horses were drugged or otherwise manipulated to throw races, and employees and trainers at top racetracks colluded with criminals.

Many readers may recall Borderland Beat’s excellent from the court coverage of the trial, and Melissa del Bosque delivers a clear and concise overview of trial key points, including the significant testimony of Jesús Enrique “Mamito” Rejón Aguilar, Z-7  in the Zetas hierarchy and one of their original founders, as well as testimony from a Dallas cocaine dealer and distributor, José Luis Vasquez Jr., who described how as much as three tons of cocaine would move through or be sold in Dallas, and how large sums from the sale of cocaine would be diverted to buy and maintain quarter horses. Vasquez Jr. and a man named Hector Moreno had given the Blackberry ID numbers of phones supplied to the Los Zetas leadership to the DEA, precipitating the bloody purge of the Cinco Manantiales [aka Five Springs; Allende, Morelos, Nava, Villa Unión and Zaragoza] communities in the border region of Coahuila, 45 minutes south of the border city of Piedras Negras. Entire families and everybody they knew were rounded up, killed, and burned, and their homes destroyed. As many as 400-500 people died in the massacre, while the state and federal government did nothing. The two DEA informants, José Luis Garza Gaytán and Héctor Moreno Villanueva, are widely blamed for the deaths of these innocent people, most of whom had nothing to do with the Zetas.

In short, Bloodlines is a well written account of how a rookie FBI agent and his partner, along with colleagues from their agency and several federal departments, took down a complex criminal operation built by the leader of one of the world’s most fearsome criminal organizations. We gain insights into the inner workings of a ruthless criminal group, and the trail of victims they leave in their wake.

Channing Tatum has signed to play in the film version by Universal Studios
To read a teaser and chapter content use this hyperlink.  Borderland Beat couldn’t resist this morsel, click on image to enlarge.

Markos Hernandez Aka "El Smith or El Karton" a CJNG operator executed in Zapopan, Jalisco

Original article available at Proceso/ With additional information provided by El Wachito
Additional information was obtained through personal contacts of El Wachito
Translated by El Wachito

On Tuesday morning, the driver of a red BMW i8 suffered an armed attack in Zapopan Jalisco. According to Proceso the car has an estimate value of 2.7 million pesos, and the Ministerial Power APRO believes that the victim was a member of the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion, which is an organization headed by Nemesio Oseguera, El Mencho.

more pictures of El Karton available on our instagram account HERE

The driver of the BMW died moments after the aggression, and according to documents of law enforcement agencies, his name was Marcos Hernandez or Alejandro Ruano, El Karton and he belonged to a cell of “El 2”, which has the objective to eliminate Carlos Enrique Sanchez Martinez or Miguel Angel Sanchez Solorzano and Luis Emmanuel Rodriguez Cerros, aka “El Cholo”.

At the beginning of this year, “El Cholo” was considered a right man of “El Mencho”, however El Cholo ordered the execution of “El Colombiano”, who was the principle financial operator of the CJNG. Mencho found himself bothered by the unauthorized execution from El Cholo and he decided to kill him.

BMW i8 of El Karton

According to local media, El Colombiano died during a firefight in March 10th, in Puerto Vallarta, inside the parking lot of a Walmart store located in Blvd. Francisco Medina Ascencio.

“Because of this, El Mencho put a price on the head of El Cholo and ordered his execution, which led a struggle for the territory of Tonala, Guadalajara and Tlajomulco de Zuñiga”. Other collaborators of “El 2” were, El Karton, El Padrino, El Pipo and El Tortas.

According to information provided by Law Enforcement, “El 2” ordered the execution of everyone involved in crimes of theft, which led to a series of assassinations in the metropolitan area, and a couple of narco mantas.

Law Enforcement agents claim that “El 2” is responsible for the bodies that were found in black plastic bags in Colonia San Martin de las Flores de Abajo, in Tlaquepaque, and also the bodies that were hung from the bridges in Periferico, Zapopan. Both executions happened in July 8th.

El Karton in Italy

El Karton, was between 30 and 35 years old, and he was attacked in Periferico and Melchor Ocampo street, around 9:40 AM of Monday 28th, by a couple of individuals that were traveling on a black high powered motorcycle. They shot him around 5 times. The victim received 2 gunshots, one in the neck and another one in the shoulder.

After being attacked, he drove a couple of meters and crashed against 5 vehicles that were waiting on the traffic light. The crashed left 3 individuals with minor injuries. The paramedics took “El Karton” to a hospital, whoever he died minutes later.

The execution happened 350 meters away from the PGR Headquartes of Zapopan.

"Águilas del Desierto": Finding the Dying Mirants in the US Desert

Posted by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from the Guardian

“Los Aguilas del Desierto” / The Eagles of the Desert
Volunteer group that searches for the lost and /or the remains of Migrant Border Crosser

Missing in the US Desert: Finding Migrants Dying on the Trail North

By:Alex Hannaford
Aug 30, 2017

It’s relatively easy to spot bones in the desert. Bleached by the sun and set against the brown, sandy soil that’s peppered with sagebrush and mesquite, they almost glow white. Once you start looking it seems they’re everywhere. Mostly it’ll be a rabbit’s skull or the hip bone of a small mammal. Sometimes, though, they’ll belong to a human.

On April 22 , there were ribs, a shoulder blade, a clavicle, a piece of vertebrae and a jawbone. There was also a pair of dark-coloured trousers, size 9 Adidas trainers and a yellow wallet with a Tasmanian Devil cartoon on the flap. Inside was a photocopy of an ID card which read: Republica De Honduras. Filadelfo Martinez Gomez. Date of birth: 8 August, 1992.

This is America’s secret graveyard, where families are forbidden from visiting the final resting place of their loved ones, and often don’t know they are there at all.

Filadelfo died under a tree, most likely of dehydration, on the edge of a dried-out rainwater wash – one of many indents in the sand that snake down from the Growler Mountains here in southern Arizona. He was found 37 miles north east of the Mexican border town of Sonoyta, from where he’d come. There were some other bones scattered 600m to the east – and a skull, two miles west.

Filadelfo Martinez Gomez: DOB Aug 8, 1992

This is America’s secret graveyard, where families are forbidden from visiting the final resting place of their loved ones, and often don’t know they are there at all.

Last year, there were officially 322 deaths along the US border with Mexico. Human remains were found in the deserts and remote ranchland in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California. In the past decade there have been 4,205. It’s an estimation because these are just those they have recovered. There are probably hundreds more hidden under trees in that scorched Arizona desert alone.

All were migrants: men, women and children heading north for a better life, often carrying just the clothes they were wearing.

In Sonoyta, migrants are told by the “Coyotes”, human-smugglers they pay to help them cross, to “hug the granites” – the mountains that rise from the desert floor in a line northwards. They tell them they’ll need two litres of water for a two-day hike to get to the relative safety of the Arizona town of Gila Bend. From there they can hitch a ride on highway 85 north towards Phoenix and beyond. But the migrant trail from Sonoyta to Gila Bend doesn’t take two days. It takes 10. And you run out of water long before then.

Filadelfo’ s Honduran ID Card
Confirming his Idenity and DOB
Until there’s a DNA match, the bones found here on 22 April have officially been assigned a case number by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. They probably belong to Filadelfo, but for now he is simply 170422145. According to the postmortem, the cause of his death is undetermined: flesh can tell stories; skeletal remains offer up few clues.

The remains were discovered by Aguilas Del Desierto, the Eagles of the Desert, a group of 20 or so mostly Hispanic men (and some women) who live in California and Arizona. Each month Ely-Marisela Ortiz, who founded the organization in the summer of 2012, drives the 325 miles from his home in San Diego to the remote Arizona town of Ajo, on the edge of a vast desert wilderness known as Cabeza Prieta – Spanish for “dark head”.

For two days Ely’s volunteers search on foot in some of the most inhospitable terrain in the United States in the hope they’ll find migrants alive so that they can give them water and call for help. Often, though, they’ll find their bodies or bones. The only hope they have then is that they can successfully repatriate their remains with their families, giving grieving relatives some kind of closure.

Filadelfo was just 22 in June 2015 when he left his home in San Antonio de Cortez in Honduras. He’d always talked about leaving, but when he finally did he didn’t tell his parents he was going. His sister Olga knew; he asked her to make corn tortillas for his trip. “He just had the clothes on his back and a change of clothes in a backpack,” she told me over the phone, via an interpreter. “He said he’d buy food and water along the way.”

He took a bus to the nearby town of San Pedro Sula, then an overnight bus into Guatemala. From there he walked, hitch-hiked and rode buses, sleeping rough or in immigrant shelters. Every eight days he’d call his family. Eventually he made it to Mexico where he stayed for a year, making several attempts to cross the border, and sending what little money he could back home, including some for his niece, Olga’s daughter. That ended the day he walked into the desert of Cabeza Prieta.

Makeshift Grave Marker for a Dead Migrant w Symbolic Bottle of Water

The fourth of eight children, Filadelfo grew up in a poor, hilly, rural town in the north west of Honduras. His parents, Francisco Martinez Diaz and Alba Lydia Gomez Jacinto, worked in the cornfields and rice farms, and when Filadelfo wasn’t at school he’d help them out, working the land.

He loved listening to ranchera music, playing football with the neighbourhood kids and watching his favourite team, CD Marathón, play in the national league. Olga remembers when he was 10 years old he climbed a tree to cut branches with a machete for firewood when he fell and suffered a small cut on his arm. Olga was cleaning the blood off in the bath when their mother came in, saw the red water, and began screaming. “It was no big deal,” she said. “The water made it look worse. But we’d always laugh about that.”

When Filadelfo turned 13 he got a job milking cows, but Olga said he didn’t think he was making enough money and desperately wanted to help their parents. “He had heard stories people told about going to the US and planned to travel there with friends from San Antonio.”

On 18 June 2016, he called home to say he was about to walk into the desert. “I told him not to go; that he was doing fine in Mexico,” Olga said. “But he said one of his friends was going and he had decided to help him.” Olga choked back tears. “His last words were, “Take care of our parents,” and he told me if he didn’t call within two months, he was dead.”

The Infamous  Entrance to the Cabeza Prieta Wilderness 

It is just before 6am when I pull into the car park of the Circle K convenience store on the edge of Ajo, Arizona. Soon after, five or six trucks and SUVs arrive with large stickers on the sides saying “Aguilas Del Desierto”. Some of the volunteers have driven through the night from California to get here.

Ely-Marisela Ortiz, a quiet, stoic man with thick black hair and moustache, climbs out of a truck and unfurls a map, while volunteers, clutching gas station coffee and energy drinks, gather round. “Today we’ll be hiking for about 10 miles, in the shadow of a mountain,” Ely tells them in Spanish. “It’s going to be hard.”

The area they’re about to search is vast, encompassing federal land, the Barry M Goldwater military range and the Cabeza Prieta wilderness. The Eagles have received reports from two families saying their loved ones are missing – part of a group abandoned by smugglers 10 months earlier, somewhere along the migrant route between Sonoyta and Gila Bend.

“Always maintain a line of sight with the person to your right and left,” Ely says. “If you feel ill, let us know. If we find bones, don’t touch them. It is forensic evidence. If you see cartel members, don’t interact with them. If we find migrants alive, don’t crowd them.”

Thankfully for the Volunteer group “Aguiles del Desierto” and the family
another missing migrant who will hopefully be identified by DNA
For Ely, sending his team to search this particular route brings back painful memories. In the summer of 2010 the remains of his brother, Rigoberto, and cousin, Carmelo, were found here after they were both left behind in the desert by people smugglers. Rigoberto, an undocumented immigrant, was deported from the US, forced to leave his wife and children behind in Oceanside, California. The summer he lost his life he was trying to return to them.

Ely asked for help finding them from the Mexican consulate, immigration officials and human rights organisations, but he says no help came. Ultimately, it was a group like his who found them. Afterwards, Ely volunteered with that organisation before starting his own in order to put more boots on the ground.

He doesn’t take part in the searches any more, instead planning routes, raising money, and waiting with the trucks in case of an emergency. Last year he suffered from heat exhaustion out in the desert. “I thought about my brother at that moment,” he tells me. “I realised that was the same way he went, and at that point I knew the agony they felt at those last moments; when your body doesn’t respond any more you can’t take one more step.”

We drive along a dirt road for a few miles. Dust flies up from the truck tyres and for most of the journey we can’t see more than 10ft in front of us. We park at the side of the track and most of the volunteers grab walking sticks and put on yellow high-visibility jackets and snake gaiters – thick strips of canvas fastened around the ankles to absorb any bites from rattlers.

We begin walking, 20 volunteers, each 50 yards apart – an army of yellow fanning out across the silent, scorching desert. A lizard darts across the rocks as we pick our way across bullet casings and exploded ordinance on the military range, round ironwood trees and thorny mesquite. When we stop to rest, we have to sit on backpacks as the ground is rife with minuscule thorns that stick in your skin. I look around; this is the last thing Filadelfo would have seen.

A few months ago one of the volunteers found a mobile phone in the desert, near four different piles of human remains. “It was dusty but when we got home we managed to charge it up and it turned on,” José Genis, one of the organisers, tells me. There was no pass code and José discovered that the last number dialled was 911 – the call lasted 11 minutes. Eventually they got the recording of that phone call from police. José starts to well up. “I’m sorry. This is hard for me. The man was on the phone asking for water in Spanish, telling the operator he was dying. They forwarded the call to border patrol who told me they went out to search but couldn’t find him.”

Roberto Resendiz, a volunteer from near San Diego, radios to say he’s found something. When we get there there’s no mistaking what it is: a human skull. Roberto pulls two pieces of wood from his backpack, and a length of ribbon. He fashions a small cross and pushes it into the ground. Another volunteer seals off the area with tape while someone else snaps photographs of the scene. José pulls up the coordinates on a GPS unit and writes them down to send to the medical examiner later.

A Volunteer Searcher with the luxury of WATER
Within minutes, someone else radios to say they’ve found more remains, just 60m away. As I approach, the stench is strong. There’s a hip bone, bits of femur, a sock and some scraps of clothing. Under a nearby mesquite tree is a pair of black trainers, two water bottles and several pieces of ribcage. “It looks like an animal dragged him – probably a coyote,” someone says. Next to that is some charred desert grass; it’s likely he set it on fire so he could be found.

José calls me over. He’s found an ID card: Dennis Nunez, born 1986 in Honduras. Tomorrow, another volunteer, Cesar Ortigoza, will post a photograph of Dennis’s ID card on the Eagles’ Facebook page. He did the same with Filadelfo’s ID in April. Within five minutes, 200 people had shared the image. Within 24 hours, it had been seen by 1,500 people, one of whom posted it on the Facebook page for the tiny town of San Antonio de Cortés where Filadelfo lived. Then Filadelfo’s family got in touch.

One of the volunteers, Jason Bechtel, suddenly feels faint and almost passes out from heat exhaustion. He’s made to lie on a stretcher and we carry him to a shaded spot where José straps a portable blood pressure machine to his arm. It illustrates just how quickly and savagely you can succumb to the desert heat.

“Otra muerte,” one of the volunteers shouts. I understand barely any Spanish, but I know what that means: another death. A few metres away, lying under a creosote bush, next to a pair of trainers and two water bottles, is the body of a man. He’s probably been dead a week. His rib cage protrudes from what’s left of the skin on his chest; his black hair is still intact.

Flies hover around the cavity in his chest and the smell is unbearable. José cuts down the branch of tree so he can better access the body. He puts on a pair of rubber gloves, pulls his scarf up over his nose and mouth, and bends down on one knee to begin searching in the man’s pockets for identification, but there is none. “Please tell the British people that for some this is the end of the American dream, right here,” one volunteer, Pedro Fajardo, tells me.

Olga said Filadelfo’s family waited every day for his call. When a month passed and they’d heard nothing, she began to get really worried. “After two months I just kept hearing the words he had said and I knew he had died.” They are still awaiting the results of the DNA test by the Pima County Medical Examiner. But they are sure it’s him. “We feel liberated because we know now,” she said. “Having an answer is easier. It means a lot to be able to bury him in his home town of San Antonio.”

Back in the desert the sun sets once more on America’s secret graveyard. Soon, the coyotes will emerge from their dens and more migrants will attempt to hug the granites and reach Gila Bend.

Mocorito, Sinaloa: Nearly 3 Tons of Crystal at Narco Lab

Translated by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from RiodoceBy: Alejandro MonjardinAug 31, 2017A clandestine laboratory with 2710 kilograms of “crystal”, was located yesterday by members of the Secretariat of National Defense (SEDENA), while performing land re…

A Sea of Cocaine

Article from Reforma The map above represents cocaine seized by the Navy from January of 2016 to July of 201440 Seizures20 Tons of Cocaine50 % Seized from shipping containers

Acapulco: Mexico’s Murder Capital as Democracy Dies in Darkness

Posted by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from Wapo

Coroners remove a body from ColoniaBarranca de la Laja
The decapitated and dismembered corpse was buried beneath a floor

The faded resort city is a symbol of the skyrocketing violence in Mexico

Special Report By: Joshua Partlow 
Photos By: Michael Robinson Chavez

Aug 24, 2017
Republished in Proceso

Acapulco, Gro, Mexico: From the crescent bay and swaying palms, the taxi drivers of Acapulco need just 10 minutes to reach this other, plundered world.

Here, in a neighborhood called Renacimiento, a pharmacy is smeared with gang graffiti. Market stalls are charred by fire. Taco stands and dentists’ offices, hair salons and auto-body workshops — all stand empty behind roll-down metal gates.

On Friday afternoons, however, the parking lot at the Oxxo convenience store in this brutalized barrio buzzes to life. Dozens of taxi drivers pull up. It’s time to pay the boys.

When the three young gunmen drive up in a white Nissan Tsuru, Armando, a 55-year-old cabbie, scribbles his four-digit taxi number on a scrap of paper, folds it around a 100-peso note and slips it into their black plastic bag. This is his weekly payment to Acapulco’s criminal underworld — about $5, or roughly half what he earns in a day.

“They have the power,” said Armando, who identified himself only by his first name because he feared reprisal. “They can do whatever they want.”

A Cross rises above Colonia Santa Cruz  in Acapulco
As violence has risen, business owners and residents have fled, leaving abandoned storefronts and homes.

For each of the past five years, Acapulco has been the deadliest city in Mexico, in a marathon of murder that has hollowed out the hillside neighborhoods and sprawling colonias that tourists rarely visit. And yet, the term “drug war” only barely describes what is going on here.

The dominant drug cartel in Acapulco and the state of Guerrero broke up a decade ago. The criminals now in charge resemble neighborhood gangs — with names like 221 or Los Locos. An estimated 20 or more of these groups operate in Acapulco, intermixed with representatives from larger drug cartels who contract them for jobs. The gang members are young men who often become specialists — extortionists, kidnappers, car thieves, assassins — and prey on a largely defenseless population.

“They kill barbers, tailors, mechanics, tinsmiths, taxi drivers,” said Joaquin Badillo, who runs a private security company in the city. “This has turned into a monster with 100 heads.”

Mexico is halfway through what may become the bloodiest year in its recent history, with more than 12,000 murders i the first six months of 2017. June was the deadliest month in the past two decades of consistent Mexican government statistics.

There are many theories on why violence, which dropped for two years after the 2012 election of President Enrique Peña Nieto, has roared back: competition for the domain of captured kingpins; the breakdown of secret agreements between criminals and politicians; a judicial reform requiring more evidence to lock up suspected lawbreakers; the growing American demand for heroin, meth and synthetic opiates. Whatever the primary cause, the result has been terrifying — a disintegration of order across growing swaths of this country.

Violence is spreading to new places and taking many forms. In Puebla, south of Mexico City, a fight rages over the sale of stolen fuel. Beach towns such as Cancun and Playa del Carmen have been bloodied by drug killings. The battle for human-smuggling routes leaves bodies strewn along the migrant trail.

In Acapulco, the faded playground of Hollywood stars, where the Kennedys honeymooned and John Wayne basked in the clifftop breeze, drugs are no longer even the main story. This is a place awash in crime of all stripes, where criminals no longer have to hide.

Residents and tourists play in the Pacific Ocean at La Caleta, a popular Acapulco Beach
Hotel vacancies are higher and many establishments are in a state of disrepair.

The Spark:

When Evaristo opened his restaurant along Acapulco’s seaside strip 15 years ago, drugs were plentiful, and that was just fine with him. Acapulco has always been a party town, and became a transit point for U.S.-bound Colombian cocaine and the opium poppy that bloomed along with marijuana in the state’s highlands. The dominant traffickers were the Beltran Leyva brothers of the Sinaloa Cartel.

“What the Beltran Leyvas were doing was selling drugs,” said Evaristo, who identified himself only by his first name, for fear of reprisal. “But they left us alone.”

For Evaristo, and many other Acapulco residents, the city’s descent into lawlessness began with the events at La Garita. A brazen January 2006 shootout in that central neighborhood left flaming vehicles and bodies in the street and became part of the city’s lore, as much as the iconic cliff divers and the Hollywood stars who once passed through town.

That gun battle also made one thing clear: National-level cartels were active in Acapulco — in this case the Sinaloa cartel, allied with the Beltran Leyvas, and the expansionist Zetas. And they were willing to use tremendous violence against each other.  “That’s when all this began,”  Evaristo recalled.

Acapulco is considered one of the world’s most dangerous cities,
Beyond the iron fence in the foreground are the city’s most violent colonias.
Over the next decade, as then-President Felipe Calderón declared war on organized crime, Mexican security forces and their U.S. allies picked off cartel bosses and kingpins, splintering their organizations.

In Acapulco, the result has become a kaleidoscope of feuding criminals. After the killing of a powerful Beltran Leyva brother in 2009, rival factions emerged, with names like the Independent Cartel of Acapulco, the South Pacific Cartel and La Barredora. Contenders joined the fray from ascendant heroin-trafficking groups and crime organizations from other cities.

With the loss of all-powerful cartel bosses who had tightly controlled their criminal empires, drug gangs moved increasingly into other crimes, such as kidnapping and extortion.

Some 2,000 businesses have closed in the past few years, according to trade associations, driven away by crime and a withering economy. The bulk of the devastation has come in the poorer, inland neighborhoods, but the tourist strip has not been spared. Gone are Hooters and the Hard Rock Cafe, along with famed local spots such as El Alebrije nightclub and Plaza Las Peroglas, a shopping mall. An accountant whose clients included restaurant owners, doctors, and mechanics said that about 70 percent of them had closed their businesses in the past year because of extortion.

“Today, in Acapulco, this problem has given us mass psychosis,” said Alejandro Martinez Sidney, president of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce, Services and Tourism in Guerrero, which represents more than 8,000 businesses. “We are frozen, waiting for someone to come and demand our money.”

Last September, five gunmen walked into Evaristo’s restaurant, asking for the phone number of the owner. After he said he wouldn’t pay extortion, the men returned and put their guns to the heads of the staff, saying they would burn down the restaurant with everyone inside it, the restaurant owner recalled.

Since then, Evaristo has paid 40, 000 pesos per month (about $2,200).

He has cut back on advertising and maintenance to cover the payments. Two of his private security guards were riddled with bullets from a passing car one night in May and survived the attack. If this keeps up, he will close down.  “My life is at risk,” Evaristo said.

“The Tolerance Zone”
The once thriving Acapulco red-light district filled with nightclubs is now nearly abandoned

New Behaviors:

Mexico’s crime gangs have not just proliferated, they behave differently than in past decades. Cartels were once based on family ties and known for maintaining strict hierarchies that rewarded members’ loyalty with promotion through the ranks.

The newer generations of criminal gangs operate more like a “wheel network,” a web of contacts who ally at times but also work independently, said Cecilia Farfán, a scholar at the Instituto Tecnologico Autonomy de Mexico, or ITAM, who specializes in organized crime and is doing research in Acapulco.

If these quasi-independent cells get disrupted, the larger network can still function, and “the intelligence that a cell can provide to law enforcement or rival organizations is limited,” Farfán wrote in her recently completed dissertation.

Criminals have begun to show less allegiance to a single organization — acting more like freelance subcontractors.

“They hire you for your expertise; they’re not going to develop you as a human resource,” Farfán said about how street-level criminals are used. “They’re not investing in you, and you’re not invested in them, either.”

The victims of Acapulco’s violence come in many forms: those caught in feuds between criminal bands; businessmen who don’t pay extortion; those who cross the invisible boundaries between drug gang territory. The situation has become so confused — with criminals staking out overlapping domains — that residents often complain about being forced to pay off two or three different groups. People die over mistaken identity or as bystanders.

Relatives and friends gather at an Acapulco funeral home where a wake was held for two young men
who were tortured and murdered in July.
Their grandfather says it was a case of mistaken identity
On one recent night, an overflow crowd waited silently on sidewalk benches outside an Acapulco funeral parlor. Gerardo Flores Camarena, 57, a hotel bartender, couldn’t stay seated. He paced back and forth in anguish as he spoke into his cellphone.

“The killers thought they were from another group,” he told a relative. “They got confused. Can you imagine: confused.”

The day before, his brother, Ricardo, 42, an ambulance driver, and Gerardo’s two teenage grandsons had been found in the trunk of their Nissan Sentra. They had suffered a type of torture known as the “tourniquet”: wires cinched around their necks to the point of suffocation.

A note left with the bodies said this is what happens to car thieves. But the Nissan had belonged to the family. “We feel powerless against what is happening in this city,” Flores said.

Gerardo Flores Camarena weeps at the morgue after identifying the bodies of his grandsons
“We feel powerless ” said Flores

A Continuing Slide:

When Mayor Evodio Velázquez Aguirre took office in October 2015, he said, the municipal police force was “totally out of control.”

Half the 1,500 officers had failed federal vetting and background checks. The police had spent much of 2014 on strike to protest salaries and benefits, leaving state and federal forces in charge.

The mayor said that his administration has provided the police with life insurance, housing, new cameras and vehicles. There is also a new, separate tourist police force with jaunty uniforms to attend to travelers.

“Acapulco is on its feet,” the mayor said in an interview.

But last year, there were 918 killings in the city of 700,000, the most murders of any Mexican city for the fifth straight year. During the first half of this year, the government numbers track slightly lower — 412, compared with 466 in the same period in 2016 — although the local El Sur newspaper lists 466 murders for the most recent period.

Adm. Juan Guillermo Fierro Rocha, the commander in Acapulco for the Mexican navy, which has a critical role fighting cartels, told El Sur this month that criminals are lashing out because they are “cornered,” and that he expects a decrease soon.

But Mexican authorities have failed for years to halt Acapulco’s slide.

Some 5,000 security forces are in Acapulco, and the coastal sliver of hotels and restaurants brims with federal and state police, soldiers, marines and municipal forces. This attention to the tourist strip, however, leaves the vast majority of the city exposed, residents say.

Mexican police have been hobbled by corruption for decades, and Acapulco has been no exception. Alfredo Álvarez Valenzuela, who oversaw the Acapulco police for five months until May 2014, told the Mexican newspaper Reforma last year: “The municipal police don’t work for organized crime; the municipal police are organized crime.”

But the problem goes beyond corruption. Mexican municipal police traditionally have had little training, low pay, poor equipment and little capacity to do investigations. Federal police and the army often lack street-level knowledge of cities and their crime gangs.

Juan Salgado, an expert on police reform at CIDE, a Mexican research center, said that police are reluctant to visit some neighborhoods in Acapulco because they are outgunned and frightened.

“I’m not sure if crime would increase if the whole municipal police department in Acapulco disappeared,” Salgado said. “They are so inefficient in stopping crime I don’t think it would make a huge difference.”

Meanwhile, many people refuse to press charges out of concern the information will leak back to their tormentors. That makes investigating crimes all the more difficult.

On a recent afternoon, a man wearing a cowboy hat and carrying an assault rifle stood in plain sight on the main boulevard in the Emiliano Zapata neighborhood, five miles from Acapulco Bay.

At his feet on the pavement lay another young man, barefoot and curled in the fetal position, his hair matted with blood. The man with the assault rifle kicked him repeatedly and savagely, then walked calmly back to his white pickup truck. A federal police truck rolled past, but it didn’t stop.

Police looking for spent shell casings at the scene of a homicide in
Acapulco’s Colonia Santa Cruz

Danger for Taxi Drivers:

Taxi drivers operate at the intersection of Acapulco’s troubles: They have a shrinking number of tourists as clients, and navigate more dangerous streets. Some have become part of the crime world themselves, working as gang spotters (voluntarily or under duress), or moving drugs or weapons in their cars. When a rival gang tries to take over a neighborhood, its members often kill taxi drivers “in an effort to blind the established organization,” Chris Kyle, an anthropologist and expert on Guerrero based at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, wrote in an affidavit for an Acapulco taxi driver applying for asylum in the United States.

Acapulco Taxi Driver:
 8 times more likely to be murdered than an average city resident

More than 130 taxi drivers were slain in Acapulco last year, making them about eight times more likely to get murdered than the average city resident.

Teens with guns often commandeer taxis in Renacimiento for hours or days. They burn taxis to enforce their warnings. Guillermo Perez, 40, a taxi driver, putters around the neighborhood in a 1995 Volkswagen Beetle, its windshield cracked and upholstery ripped out, leaving his newer car hidden at home. He no longer picks up strangers, driving only clients he knows.

“People are terrified,” he said.

Years ago, ferrying around tourists used to be enjoyable, he said, even lucrative work­ —$100 for a day shift, more at night. “It was so different: It was Acapulco,” he said. “People were out in the streets. We all lived from tourism.”

The wealthy can leave or build homes with elaborate security systems, but the poor are exposed. And so Perez, like many of the 20,000 taxi drivers in Acapulco, pays his weekly fee for protection, even though he receives none.

“If 100 pesos a week is what it costs to stay alive,” he said, “I’ll pay.”

New US Travel Warning Includes 15 Municipalities in Sinaloa

Translated by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from Riodoce

Additional Material: Whnt
Aug 24, 2017

The United States Department of State has recommended not to travel to 15 of Sinaloa’s 18 municipalities, because of the risk of “activities of criminal organizations in those areas. The shootings between rival criminal organizations or with Mexican authorities have taken place in streets and public spaces in broad daylight,” the statement said. The only unconstrained Sinaloa towns are Mazatlán, Los Mochis and Topolobampo.

Come to Mazatlan, Everything is Cool here.

Sinaloa (includes Mazatlan): One of Mexico’s most powerful criminal organizations is based in the state of Sinaloa, and violent crime rates remain high in many parts of the state. Defer non-essential travel to the state of Sinaloa, except the cities of Mazatlan, Los Mochis, and the Port of Topolobampo. Travel in Mazatlan should be limited to Zona Dorada, the historic town center, as well as direct routes to and from these locations and the airport. Travel in Los Mochis and Topolobampo is restricted to the city and the port, as well as direct routes to/from these locations and the airport.

Note the Proximity of Culiacan, Los Mochis, Mazatlan and Topo to BCS
The Travel Alert, which replaces the one issued on December 8, also includes the municipalities of Coahuila (except Saltillo, Bosques de Monterreal and Parras de la Fuente); Numerous locations in the State of Mexico; The Jalisco areas bordering Michoacan and Zacatecas; Michoacán (except Morelia and Lázaro Cárdenas); Some areas of Morelos; And the entire state of Tamaulipas.
In these areas, it is specified that US officials and their families are prohibited from traveling, and US citizens are asked to “avoid any non-essential travel.”

In the Travel Alert, which replaces the one issued on December 8, 2016, it establishes restrictions regarding travel and safety conditions for Baja California, Baja California Sur, Chiapas, Colima, Guerrero, Quintana Roo and Veracruz.

Although the restrictions are for its personnel in our country, it is called that “emphatically the citizens of the United States to read the Travel Alert in its entirety.”

The note also specifies that US officials are prohibited from “frequenting adult clubs and gambling establishments” in the states of Coahuila, Durango, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosi, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, Jalisco, Colima, and Nayarit.

The U.S. State Department has issued a warning for Americans planning to travel to Mexico. Americans have been victims of violent crimes, including homicide, kidnapping, carjacking and robbery in various Mexican states.

U.S. government personnel and their families are prohibited from personal travel to all areas to which the Department recommends “defer non-essential travel” in this Travel Warning. Employees are also not allowed to go to adult clubs or gambling establishments in the states of Coahuila, Durango, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosi, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, Jalisco, Colima, and Nayarit.

The State Department also warns that citizens have been murdered in carjackings and highway robberies. Those happen most often at night and on isolated roads. The carjackers are using roadblocks, bumping/moving vehicles and running vehicles off the road.

Kidnappings in Mexico take the following forms:

Traditional:  victim is physically abducted and held captive until a ransom is paid for release.

Express:  victim is abducted for a short time and commonly forced to withdraw money, usually from an ATM, then released.

Virtual:  an extortion-by-deception scheme where a victim is contacted by phone and coerced by threats of violence to provide phone numbers of family and friends, and then isolated until the ransom is paid.  Recently, hotel guests have been targets of such “virtual” kidnapping schemes.

The Mexican government has deployed federal police and military personnel throughout the country as part of its efforts to combat organized criminal groups. U.S. citizens traveling on Mexican roads and highways by car or bus may encounter government checkpoints, staffed by military or law enforcement personnel. 

In some places, criminal organizations have erected their own unauthorized checkpoints, at times wearing police and military uniforms, and have killed or abducted motorists who have failed to stop at them. You should cooperate at all checkpoints.

State-by-State Assessment: Below is a state-by-state assessment of security conditions throughout Mexico. Travelers should be mindful that even if no advisories are in effect for a given state, U.S. citizens should exercise caution throughout Mexico as crime and violence can still occur. For general information about travel and other conditions in Mexico, see our Country Specific Information.

Aguascalientes: Intercity travel at night is prohibited for U.S. government personnel.

Baja California (includes Tijuana, Rosarito, Ensenada, Tecate, and Mexicali): Exercise caution in the northern state of Baja California, particularly at night. Criminal activity and violence, including homicide, remain an issue throughout the state. According to the Baja California State Secretariat for Public Security, the state of Baja California experienced an increase in homicide rates compared to the same period in 2016. 

While most of these homicides appeared to be targeted, criminal organization assassinations, turf battles between criminal groups have resulted in violent crime in areas frequented by U.S. citizens. Shooting incidents injuring innocent bystanders have occurred during daylight hours. Due to poor cellular service and general road conditions, U.S. government personnel are only allowed to travel on “La Rumarosa” between Mexicali-Tijuana on the toll road during daylight hours.

New La Paz Malecon Icon
Baja California Sur (includes Los Cabos and La Paz): Criminal activity and violence, including homicide, remain an issue throughout the state. Exercise caution as Baja California Sur continues to experience a high rate of homicides.

According to Secretaría de Seguridad Pública del Estado de Baja California and Secretaría de Gobernación statistics, the state of Baja California Sur experienced an increase in homicide rates compared to the same period in 2016.

Puerto Cabo San Lucas

While most of these homicides appeared to be targeted, criminal organization assassinations, turf battles between criminal groups have resulted in violent crime in areas frequented by U.S. citizens. Shooting incidents, in which innocent bystanders have been injured, have occurred during daylight hours.

Campeche: No advisory is in effect.

Chiapas (includes Palenque and San Cristobal de las Casas): U.S. government personnel must remain in tourist areas and are not allowed to use public transportation.

Chihuahua (includes Ciudad Juarez, the city of Chihuahua, Ojinaga, Palomas, Nuevo Casas Grandes and Copper Canyon): Criminal activity and violence remains an issue throughout the state of Chihuahua and its major cities. If you plan to drive in the state of Chihuahua, you should limit travel to daylight hours on major highways and follow the recommendations below.

Ciudad Juarez: Exercise caution in all areas. U.S. government personnel are prohibited from traveling after dark west of Eje Juan Gabriel and south of Boulevard Zaragoza. Defer non-essential travel to the areas southeast of Boulevard Independencia and the Valle de Juarez region.

Within the city of Chihuahua: Defer non-essential travel to the Morelos, Villa, and Zapata districts, where the travel of U.S. government personnel is restricted.

Ojinaga: Travel via U.S. Highway 67 through the Presidio, Texas port-of-entry.

Palomas and the Nuevo Casas Grandes/Paquime region: Use U.S. Highway 11 through the Columbus, New Mexico port-of- entry. Nuevo Casas Grandes: U.S. government personnel are prohibited from traveling outside of city limits after dark.

Copper Canyon and other areas of the state of Chihuahua: U.S. citizens should defer non-essential travel.

Coahuila: U.S. citizens should defer non-essential travel to Coahuila, with the exception of Saltillo, Bosques de Monterreal, and Parras de la Fuente, because of the high incidence of violent crime, particularly along the highways between Piedras Negras and Nuevo Laredo. State and municipal law enforcement capacity is limited in some parts of Coahuila, particularly in the north. U.S. government personnel are allowed to travel during daylight hours to Saltillo, Bosques de Monterreal, and Parras de la Fuente, using the most direct routes and maximizing the use of toll highways. Between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m., U.S. government personnel must abide by the Embassy-imposed curfew and remain within Saltillo, Bosques de Monterreal, or Parras de la Fuente.

Colima (includes Manzanillo): U.S. government personnel are prohibited from intercity travel at night, from traveling within 12 miles of the Colima-Michoacán border, and from traveling on Route 110 between La Tecomaca and the Jalisco border. U.S. citizens should defer non-essential travel to this border region, including the city of Tecoman.

Durango: Violence and criminal activity along the highways are a continuing security concern. U.S. government personnel may travel outside of the city of Durango only during daylight hours on toll roads. Between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m., U.S. government personnel must abide by the Embassy-imposed curfew and remain within the city of Durango.

The State de Mexico (includes Toluca and Teotihuacan): U.S. citizens should defer all non-essential travel to the municipalities of Coacalco, Ecatepec, Nezahualcoyotl, La Paz, Valle del Chalco, Solidaridad, Chalco, Ixtapaluca, and Tlatlaya due to high rates of crime and insecurity, unless traveling directly through the areas on major thoroughfares. Avoid traveling on any roads between Huitzilac, Morelos, and Santa Martha, the State de Mexico, including the Lagunas de Zempoala National Park and surrounding areas.

Guanajuato (includes San Miguel de Allende and Leon): No advisory is in effect.

Guerrero (includes Acapulco, Ixtapa, Taxco, and Zihuatanejo): Personal travel to the entire state of Guerrero, including Acapulco, is prohibited for U.S. government personnel. Self-defense groups operate independently of the government in many areas of Guerrero. Armed members of these groups frequently maintain roadblocks and, although not considered hostile to foreigners or tourists, are suspicious of outsiders and should be considered volatile and unpredictable.

Hidalgo: No advisory is in effect.

Jalisco (includes Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, and Lake Chapala): U.S. citizens should defer non-essential travel to areas that border the states of Michoacán and Zacatecas because of continued instability. U.S. government personnel are prohibited from personal travel to areas of Jalisco that border Zacatecas, intercity travel after hours, and from using Highway 80 between Cocula and La Huerta. U.S. government personnel are authorized to use Federal toll road 15D for travel to Mexico City; however, they may not stop in the town of La Barca or Ocotlan for any reason.

Mexico City (formerly known as the Federal District): No advisory is in effect.

Michoacan (includes Morelia): U.S. citizens should defer non-essential travel to the state of Michoacan, except the cities of Morelia and Lazaro Cardenas, and the area north of federal toll road 15D. U.S. government personnel are prohibited from traveling by land in Michoacan except on federal toll road 15D during daylight hours. Flying into Morelia and Lazaro Cardenas is permitted for U.S. government personnel.

Morelos (includes Cuernavaca): U.S. citizens should defer non-essential travel on any roads between Huitzilac in the northwest corner of the state and Santa Martha, the State of Mexico, including the Lagunas de Zempoala National Park and surrounding areas.

Nayarit (includes the Riviera Nayarit coast, including the cities of Tepic, Xalisco, and San Blas): U.S. government personnel may travel to Riviera Nayarit, San Blas, Santa María del Oro, Tepic, and Xalisco using major highways. Intercity travel at night is prohibited for U.S. government personnel. Defer non-essential travel to other areas of the state.

Nuevo Leon (includes Monterrey): U.S. government personnel may travel outside the city of Monterrey only during daylight hours on toll roads. Between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m., U.S. government personnel must abide by the Embassy-imposed curfew and remain within the municipal boundaries of San Pedro Garza Garcia or Santa Catarina (south of the Santa Catarina river). Travel to and from Monterrey airport is permitted at any time.

Oaxaca (includes Oaxaca, Huatulco, and Puerto Escondido): U.S. government personnel must remain in tourist areas and are not allowed to use public transportation in Oaxaca City. U.S. government personnel are prohibited from traveling on Highway 200 throughout the state, except to transit between the airport in Huatulco to hotels in Puerto Escondido and Huatulco, and they are not permitted to travel to the El Istmo region. The El Istmo region is defined by Highway 185D to the west, Highway 190 to the north, and the Oaxaca/Chiapas border to the east and includes the towns of Juchitan de Zaragoza, Salina Cruz, and San Blas.

Puebla: No advisory is in effect.

Queretaro: No advisory is in effect.

Another Day at Playa del Carmen 
Quintana Roo (includes Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, and Tulum): U.S. citizens should be aware that according to Government of Mexico statistics, the state of Quintana Roo experienced an increase in homicide rates compared to 2016. While most of these homicides appeared to be targeted criminal organization assassinations, turf battles between criminal groups have resulted in violent crime in areas frequented by U.S. citizens. Shooting incidents, in which innocent bystanders have been injured or killed, have occurred.

San Luis Potosi: U.S. government personnel may travel outside the city of San Luis Potosi only during daylight hours on toll roads. Between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m., U.S. government personnel must abide by the Embassy-imposed curfew and remain within the city of San Luis Potosi.

Sinaloa (includes Mazatlan): One of Mexico’s most powerful criminal organizations is based in the state of Sinaloa, and violent crime rates remain high in many parts of the state. Defer non-essential travel to the state of Sinaloa, except the cities of Mazatlan, Los Mochis, and the Port of Topolobampo. Travel in Mazatlan should be limited to Zona Dorada, the historic town center, as well as direct routes to and from these locations and the airport. Travel in Los Mochis and Topolobampo is restricted to the city and the port, as well as direct routes to/from these locations and the airport.

Sonora (includes Nogales, Puerto Peñasco, Hermosillo, and San Carlos):Sonora is a key region in the international drug and human trafficking trades. U.S. citizens traveling throughout Sonora are encouraged to limit travel to main roads during daylight hours and exercise caution on the Highway 15 corridor from Nogales to Empalme. Puerto Peñasco should be visited using the Lukeville, Arizona/Sonoyta, Sonora border crossing, and limit driving to daylight hours.
Zona Dorada Mazatlan, Sinaloa

Due to illegal activity, U.S. citizens should defer non-essential travel to:

The triangular region west of Nogales, east of Sonoyta, and north of Caborca (including the towns of Saric, Tubutama, and Altar). The eastern edge of the state of Sonora, which borders the state of Chihuahua (all points along that border east of Federal Highway 17, the road between Moctezuma and Sahuaripa, and state Highway 20 between Sahuaripa and the intersection with Federal Highway 16).
South of Hermosillo, with the exception of the cities of Alamos, Guaymas, and Empalme.  Defer non-essential travel east of Highway 15, within the city of Ciudad Obregon, and south of the city of Navojoa.

Tabasco (includes Villahermosa): No advisory is in effect.

Tamaulipas (includes Matamoros, Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa, and Tampico): U.S. citizens should defer all non-essential travel to the state of Tamaulipas due to violent crime, including homicide, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, extortion, and sexual assault. The number of reported kidnappings in Tamaulipas is among the highest in Mexico. State and municipal law enforcement capacity is limited to nonexistent in many parts of Tamaulipas. Violent criminal activity occurs more frequently along the northern border and organized criminal groups may target public and private passenger buses traveling through Tamaulipas. These groups sometimes take all passengers hostage and demand ransom payments.  U.S. government personnel are subject to movement restrictions and a curfew between midnight and 6 a.m. Matamoros, Reynosa, Nuevo Laredo, and Ciudad Victoria have experienced numerous gun battles and attacks with explosive devices in the past year.

Tlaxcala: No advisory is in effect.

Veracruz: U.S. government personnel must remain in tourist areas and are not allowed to use public transportation. Road travel should be limited to daylight hours only.

Yucatan (includes Merida and Chichen Itza): No advisory is in effect.

Zacatecas: U.S. government personnel may travel outside the city of Zacatecas only during daylight hours on toll roads. Between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m., U.S. government personnel must abide by the Embassy-imposed curfew and remain within the city of Zacatecas.

Mexican Troops Sieze 140 LBS of Fentanyl Near US Border

Posted by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from CBS News

Extra Material: La Zeta
Aug 23, 2017

MEXICO CITY — Soldiers in northern Mexico say they have seized a surprisingly large stash of the powerful opioid fentanyl from a truck near the U.S. border.

The Mexican Army’s Second Military Zone said late Monday that soldiers at a highway checkpoint found over 140 pounds of Fentanyl on Saturday packed in plastic-wrapped bricks hidden behind sheet metal in the insulated floor of a truck trailer.

Soldiers also found three bags containing almost 30,000 pills, apparently also containing fentanyl. The driver and a youth accompanying him were detained.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says fentanyl can be 50 times more potent than heroin.

Kilos of Taped Heroin Bricks Inside the Trucks Rear Doors

The army said the truck was heading from Mexico City to Tijuana when it was stopped at checkpoint in San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora near Yuma, Arizona.

To put Saturday’s seizure in perspective, the Mexican Defense Department ( SEDENA) said that in the previous 4½ years, its total seizures of Fentanyl had amounted to 106 pounds and about 36,000 Fentanyl pills.

Another truck was found further west along the border carrying 60.6 pounds (28 Kilos) of heroin. That
tractor trailer was on the mountainous La Rumorosa Grade just south of the US / Mexico Border between Tecate and Mexicali, Baja Ca.

Joint work between the State and Federal Police Forces were involved and one man detained.

The bricks of heroin were packed inside the insulated back doors of the truck.

Federal Police at Security Checkpoint
While opium poppies are grown in Mexico, Fentanyl is often imported from China and smuggled into the United States. However, more and more clandestine labs are producing Fentanyl on Mexican soil with precursor chemicals.

Precursor Chemicals for Fentanyl and Methamphetamine Production

"Los Rojos" and "Los Ardillos" Busy Displacing Citizens in Chilapa,Gro

Translated by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from Milenio

Special Report By: Melissa del Pozo

Aug 21, 2017

After two months of exile, Margarita López has returned home. Her  home, in Ahuihuiyuco, municipality of Chilapa, Guerrero, looks “more unkempt,” she says. Her husband died, the dogs were eaten, and two horses disappeared. “That’s what we were going to eat, now that we owe money,” she says, feeding the few chickens that survive him.

Margarita’s family left their home on June 9, when criminals warned the inhabitants that they would kill any settlers in this region if they stayed on. The threats rained down on them in papers that they threw in the plaza in front of the church, the Zocolo of Ahuihuiyuco. Then, psychosis spread through social networks and on June 10 Ahuihuiyuco and Tepozcuautla were deserted. More than 580 families moved.

“Living outside is very expensive, that’s why we returned,” says Margarita. “I left with my two daughters-in-law, one of my grandchildren and all my children, we left everything, the little we have.”

“First some boys were dead, they left them here at night and then all the people started to leave and I went and told my children, let’s go, why should we would stay here alone? What about the crooks or if  there was a confrontation,” recalls Mrs. López, who makes mezcal in one of the two rooms of her house made of sheets of metal and wood. 

For three years, the Municipality of Chilapa has been land without law. The dispute is over the cultivation and transport of the poppy crop and its derivatives between two criminal groups, “Los Ardillos” and “Los Rojos”, and has claimed the lives of more than 500 people, according to the organization Siempre Vivos, and a similar number have disappeared.

 Its director, Jose Diaz Navarro, says that crimes are increasingly bloody. “We talk about people who are dismembered, they cut them up  and are  left in bags. Most of the time they are men or women who did not want to work for one or another criminal organization.”

Diaz joined the group in the wake of the disappearance of his brothers Hugo and Alejandrino in November 2014. Since then he has documented the disappearance of people in the municipality, week after week. ” In just these four days I was informed that we already have five people missing in Chilapa and another in Zitlala, but the authorities do nothing, the criminals continue to control everything and they are free, even the plaza boss,” he explains.

“Los Ardillos” have managed to take control of Zitlala, Ahuacuotzingo, Atlixtlat, José Joaquín de Herrera, Quechultenango, Mochitlan, Tixtla, Apango and the municipal head of Chilapa. All communities before were in the possession of “Los Rojos”. The advance of “Los Ardillos” is attributed, according to Diaz, to the protection of that was enjoyed during the  last  tenure of the local Government officials.

Bernando Ortega, Celso’s brother, “La Ardilla”, founder of the organization, was leader of the PRD bench in the local Congress. He has also been mayor of Quechultenango.

“The Ardillos” have taken over the economy, they also extort money from the city council, merchants and  take over businesses, that’s why it’s organized crime,” José explains: “And if someone refuses to collaborate with them, they threaten them. The good ones or the bad ones “. People from other communities have the same thing, but more with “Los Rojos”. Then there are  the people in the middle.

Hence, many of the inhabitants of these communities live with permanent threats and, as in Ahuihuiyuco and Tepozcuautla, leave their homes. Senora Gabriela has lost three of her relatives. Two years ago, her  uncle and her  cousin were kidnapped. “Since November 2015 I do not know about them, they took them because they did not want to work with the bad guys,” she says in anonymity.

Last May, Gabriela’s brother disappeared. “The next day we went, we left town, with what we had, only with important documents.  The fear, the deaths, the disappearances, when nothing happens in the immediate family, because it has more value, but relatives began to disappear.”

Gabriela, her mother, two of her brothers, her husband and her two children, one and five years old, paid 2,000 Pesos to rent a house in Chilapa for three nights. “I had no bathroom facilities nor light/electricity and with 2,000 Pesos we could eat two weeks, my two children and I,” says Gabriela.

Impossible economically, Gabriela and her family took refuge with relatives in another state of the Mexican Republic. A week ago they decided to return to Tepozcuautla. The money was gone. She and her family live in a modest house, too. Like Margarita, her family harvests maize, beans, tomatoes and chile. When they got home, their dining room table was gone and some plastic chairs they had paid for.

They were left without part of their meager rural patrimony: their pig and their hens had disappeared.

Manuel Olivares, director of the José María Morelos and Pavón Human Rights Center, explains that as Gabriela, the 580 families who left these communities did so in a disorganized way, the first 300 in May and the rest after the public threats, between June 7 -10th. 

“Those who are returning, do so in total anonymity and with much fear.”

 On June 14, Guerrero Coordination Group spokesman Roberto Heredia reportedly claimed that the displaced had returned to these communities and were  enjoying all the security guarantees by sending military and state police to these regions. However, the census of the Centro José María Morelos y Pavón showed that not 50 percent of the villagers have returned to their homes.

 “The people who have returned have not done so in safety because there are  no health services, there are no services at all, businesses are closed, there is nothing and while people are afraid there are signs that there is a latent risk even with the presence of the Army,” says Olivares.

The health centers are closed in both communities and the school cycle started with few teachers. Those displaced by fear, some of them, are  beginning to return. They just ask for protection.

Military and Sicarios shoot it out in Tamaulipas (Video)

Translated by Otis B Fly-Wheel for Borderland Beat from a Milenio articleSubject Matter: Sicarios vs Military confrontationRecommendation: No prior subject matter knowledge requiredReporter: Milenio DigitalElements of the State Police and Military had …

Veracruz: Journalist in Mexico’s protection program, shot and killed

material From La Jornada

9th Journalist killed in mexico this year

He was in Mexico’s protection program, yet reporter Candido Rios and two other men died after being shot by  unknown assailants in Veracruz, local police said in a statement.

The correspondent of the Diario de Acayucan  and founder of  La Voz de Hueyapan  Ríos was gunned down late Tuesday by a commando when he was outside an Oxxo store located in the town of Juan Diaz Covarrubias, municipality of Hueyapan de Ocampo, Veracruz.  

Ríos Vázquez became the ninth journalist murdered in Mexico so far this year and the 20th was incorporated into the program for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists of the Ministry of the Interior, because he had received several threats.

According to police reports,  Ríos was outside the commercial establishment with the former police inspector of Acayucan Victor Acrelio Alegria and a driver,  when several subjects used high-powered weapons against them.

Alegría, was killed at the scene, and the driver  died while being transferred to a hospital. 

With undercover Instagram account, DEA nabs alleged Bay Area drug dealer

Original article available at East Bay Times
Written by Nate Gartrell

OAKLAND — While a Hayward man allegedly was posting pictures of Xanax, pot, and guns for sale on Instagram, Drug Enforcement Administration agents were busy taking screenshots.

Last week, federal authorities made their move, arresting 20-year-old Marcos Hatch on charges of trafficking alprazolam, a drug used to treat anxiety. He faces five years in prison, but court documents indicate that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is reviewing the case to recommend federal gun charges be filed as well.

Marcos Hatch, seen here in one of the numerous Instagram photos that have now become evidence in a federal drug trafficking case. (U.S. District Court Records)

According to a DEA affidavit released Friday, authorities came across Hatch’s Instagram account while researching another suspected drug dealer named Christian Vanleer. It all started when an undercover Oakland policeman requested to follow Vanleer on Instagram and he accepted, unwittingly allowing the feds access to his pictures and follower lists.

Police also requested to follow some of Vanleer’s followers, including one named “triggerplayornoplay” (sic), who was later identified as Hatch, according to federal agents.

Authorities then began monitoring Hatch’s account day-to-day. They identified about 20 pictures advertising prescription painkillers and Xanax, and believe he used the hashtag #Holla to invite customers to purchase illegal drugs.

In other pictures, other users would do business with Hatch in the comments section. For instance, one user commented on a picture of marijuana, “How much for (an ounce)?” and Hatch replied, “200,” according to federal agents.

Other photos showed stacks of U.S. currency, including one where authorities say Hatch showed his face. It was hashtagged #Takenpenitentiarychances (sic), an indication that, “(Hatch) obtained the large amount of money shown by selling controlled substances, and he was taking a chance that if he got caught, he would be arrested and go to jail,” a federal agent wrote in the affidavit.
In April, more than a month before Hatch was arrested, authorities were given a search warrant to his account and began electronically monitoring his personal messages. They say he had numerous conversations involving the purchasing or selling of handguns and prescription drugs.

On May 16, authorities searched Hatch’s home and seized numerous guns, including an AK-47 in Hatch’s bedroom. They found small amounts of various drugs, clear plastic baggies, scales, and other evidence of drug sales, according to the DEA.

Meanwhile, Vanleer, as it turned out, was being investigated for his alleged role in an unrelated Bay Area drug trafficking ring centered in Discovery Bay, and headed by a man named Oscar Escalante. Authorities say its members distributed heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana and prescription pills all over the Bay Area and beyond.

Court documents say federal agents seized hundreds of thousands in cash, dozens of guns, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition when they raided stash houses and marijuana grows associated with the ring. The 2016 case against Escalante, Vanleer, and 14 other defendants is still pending.

U.S. Gov to El Chapo’s “Legal Dream Team”, no promises we won’t go after your fees

by Chivis Martinez for Borderland Beat

Before they get into the case the new legal team of El Chapo Guzman wanted assurances from the United States government not to go after their paid fees in a form of forfeiture.  On Friday August 11th, the feds sent a letter to the court addressing this and other issues.  [read the letter below in the included scribd document.]

“Certain private counsel have contacted the government and advised that they have obtained signed retainer agreements from the defendant. These attorneys, however, have sought prospective, written assurance that the government will not seek, at any time, to forfeit any legal fees collected by them for their representation of the defendant. In response, the government has advised private counsel that it will not grant a blanket, prospective assurance that it will forgo forfeiture of any and all funds received from the defendant for his legal fees. The government also advised that, should an actual forfeiture issue arise with respect to attorney fees, the parties can address the issue at that time. Therefore, the government respectfully requests that the Court deny the defendant’s request to set a deadline to provide the aforementioned assurance as moot.”

The answer: sorry, no guarantees that we will not go after your paid fees.

At a federal court hearing on Monday,  U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan advised  Chapo’s legal team, that if they  took the case, there was no guarantee that prosecutors wouldn’t later seize their fees if they it could been demonstrated that the funds came from his organized crime empire.

Judge Cogan stated; “I’m not going to pressure the government to create a carve-out for counsel fees,”

There is a point of law, that defense monies but be “clean”.  That is why high profile narcos, who qualify being included in the “Forbes wealthiest”  lists, have  used public defenders and do not have a high powered, densely staffed legal team.

In effect, funds they have, or have invested must be proven to not have been acquired through an unlawful  manner or through criminality.

Ditto for any funds used to pay legal fees.  For example from family funds will be scrutinized.  And for that matter if Carlos Slim or Bill Gates suddenly had a mental lapse and wanted to fund Chapo’s defense, he could, but then every aspect of his personal wealth would be subject to government eyes.  Not likely to happen.

A bright spot for the diminutive capo, was that family members were in the courtroom.   Although he was not allowed to speak to his family, he smiled and waved acknowledging their presence.

Tomorrow Chapo will be allowed to visit his sister, the first visit by any family member he has been allowed.  Other than his visits from his legal team, he has been allowed no visitors.  Even his attorneys have had to visit “no contact”, with a glass partition between them.

In a press conference after Monday’s hearing Chapo’s tentative attorney Jefferey Lichtman said,  “We are looking forward, desperately, to come into this case and fight for Joaquin Guzman. … The guy has a constitutional right to the best counsel he can get”.