Are FARC Rebels Training Mexican Drug Cartels?

Republished from InSight Crime Written by David GagneTwo US intelligence officers have reportedly told a Mexican newspaper members of the Jalisco Cartel were trained by Colombian rebels, which if true could have significant implications …

Video: Narco shake down over "missing" marijuana, "Pagame mi mota"

Chivis for Borderland Beat by Shogun340

“Don’t play around with people of Matamoros”

What’s happening?

The aggressors are Zetas shaking down big guy over missing mota (marijuana).  It is taking place in Matamoros, Tamaulipas.  Z’s are demanding payment for missing drugs.  They threaten to kill his son if he doesn’t pay up.

Guy in print pattern shirt then begins batting practice on the big guy. Both with aluminum bat and fist he is beaten, big guy takes it, never falls, asks once to stop for a minute. It appears he is hit from head to legs but mostly on buttocks.

Chihuahua 30 dead in battle between La Linea and Sinaloa

Chivis for Borderland Beat

Site of  Sinaloa attack on military

A confrontation initiating at around 5 a.m. today  lasted over several hours, leaving in the balance causalities of 26 dead and 3 injured.

This information was provided by  the Chihuahua attorney general. (It has now been reported to be 30 officially dead).

The battle was in Las Vargas, Madera municipality, between La Linea and La Gente Nueva  (Sinaloa).  Several arrests were made.

A confrontation between the military  then ensued between the military who arrived on the scene, and gunmen assuming to be from Sinaloa Cartel.  The Sinaloa commando were attempting to rescue the injured and arrested members of the cartel. That confrontation occurred in the community of the Mesa del Huracán, municipality of Madera.

In just the past week in the same village, 2 policemen were killed and a clandestine grave was discovered containing eight bodies.

The ongoing dispute between the two cartels is over territory.

From last week…two policemen killed

Ex-Vice Pres of Guatamala at the Service of Los Zetas

Translated by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from Proceso

Roxana Baldetti

June 25, 2017

The case of Guatemalan ex-Vice President Roxana Baldetti, who was arrested in her country on corruption charges, turned around this month, when the United States requested her extradition … and she agreed to be extradited. This makes legal experts think that this is a maneuver that would allow it (Guatamala) to delay its process several decades. However, in her petition, Washington reveals that the former Guatemalan governmental functionary, allegedly, established a lucrative relationship with Los Zetas, whom she allowed to operate with total impunity in her country.

GUATEMALA CITY – The criminal case against Roxana Baldetti, the Guatemalan ex- vice president, took a turn on Wednesday, after an extradition request was received from the US government and confirmed the alleged links of former Guatemalan government official Hector Mauricio López Bonilla with Los Zetas who was arrested on June 11, 2017 and is being held in a Guatemalan jail. 

The file sent by the Department of Justice of the United States to support the request for extradition uncovered the alleged links of Baldetti with Los Zetas, a cartel that would have given the former more than $ 250,000 USD in exchange for being allowed to operate with impunity In Guatemalan territory.
In a statement announcing the extradition request, the Public Prosecutor’s Office (MP) reported that the US District of Columbia accuses Roxana Baldetti of “a conspiracy to transport illicit drugs and of criminal association.” A hearing was scheduled for Thursday June 15, in order to inform the ex-president of the reasons why the United States requires her extradition.
Baldetti was vice president in the government of Otto Pérez Molina, President of Guatemala, 2012-2015 when he resigned amid a corruption scandal but  went unpunished on corruption charges.
Hector Mauricio Lopez Bonilla
After the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), a United Nations-funded financial investigative group, revealed that Pérez Molina and Baldetti orchestrated a customs smuggling network known as La Línea, which defrauded the State of Guatemala for $ 3.8 million US Dollars, both were forced to resign, amid a strong wave of protests.
Both are currently in custody. Pérez Molina faces three criminal trials for corruption and Roxana Baldetti, four.
In the extradition request, the United States asserts that “Baldetti promised that as vice president, she would restrict the activities of the police forces to allow drug traffickers, who contributed to their election campaign in 2011, to use land, air and sea routes to transport drugs through Guatemala. “
The document cites several informants who assert that Baldetti met in Guatemala City with members of Los Zetas, including one identified in the file as “Witness 1”, who decided to collaborate with the US authorities.
According to the US Department of Justice, during those meetings, held during the 2011 election campaign, Baldetti negotiated an agreement with Los Zetas as part of which she would receive $ 250,000, a payment that became effective between November 2011 and January 2012, once elected.
To confirm that she had received the payment, Baldetti allegedly sent an individual who served as liaison with Los Zetas a video showing the reception of the money, video that was attached to the file and is in the hands of the MP and the Supreme Court of Justice .
“Witness 1″ directed deliveries of money and gifts to Baldetti’s agents because he believed Baldetti would allow Los Zetas cocaine trafficking through Guatemala,” says the file.
In addition to that payment, Baldetti allegedly requested and received armed security from Los Zetas for her campaign rallies in the northern entity of Huehuetenango between November 2010 and January 2012.
Elimination of a Rival:

“Witness 1” also states that in 2012 he requested Baldetti’s help to “eliminate a drug dealer associated with a rival Mexican cartel” and that in response the ex-president informed him that the narco had a current arrest warrant, with which Los Zetas they inferred that Baldetti “would solve the problem”.
Later the rival drug trafficker, whose identity is not revealed, was arrested.

In 2012 Guatemalan authorities arrested three high profile drug traffickers. The first was Horst Walther Overdick Mejia, associated with Los Zetas, arrested in April 2012 and extradited to the United States in December. He is accused of transporting 200 kilos of cocaine to that country.

The second was the Mexican Ramón Antonio Yánez Ochoa, who was arrested in Guatemala City in September 2012. He is accused of leading a structure dedicated to processing and producing methamphetamine and forfeiting precursors. He has been accused of transporting drugs between Mexico and Guatemala since 2009 and the US justice system requires him for drug trafficking offenses.
The third was Luis Fernando Castillo Velasquez, arrested in December 2012, appointed as part of a cartel led by Carlos Rubio Parra, alias “El Canche”. He was arrested in Mexico City on July 18, 2016, charged with transporting about 300 kilos of cocaine from Guatemala between February 2006 and October 2008, which were later transported to the United States.
According to Mexican authorities, Rubio was the intermediary between the Mexican and Colombian cartels and his base of operations was Mexico City. The US court has asked Mexico to authorize its extradition to face charges of drug trafficking in the United States.
Before the Court of Columbia formulated the charges against Baldetti and López Bonilla on February 22 of this year, the presumed links of the ex-president with the drug trafficker Marllory Chacón Rossell, La Reina del Sur, documented by the newspaper El Periódico, had already Generated suspicions about their involvement with drug cartels.
Chacón, designated by the US Treasury as the leader of an organization dedicated to drug trafficking and money laundering operating in Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama and supplying Mexican cartels, was sentenced in Miami on May 5, 2015, to 12 years of jail for possession of more than five kilos of cocaine with intention to distribute it in US territory. The Court substantially reduced the penalty for collaborating with the government in capturing other drug traffickers.
Guatamala’s Reina del Sur
Investigations published by El Periódico accused the Patriot Party, which brought to power Pérez Molina and Baldetti, to receive $ 2 million of the criminal structure headed by Chacon during the 2011 election campaign.
Accepts extradition:
On Thursday, June 15 Baldetti appeared in a videoconference from the Santa Teresa prison, at a hearing in which the Fifth Court of Judgment informed her of the request for extradition filed by the US court.
The ex-vice president, after hearing the indictment, said she would accept the voluntary extradition, which expedites the process.
However, Guatemalan lawyers say that under the terms of the extradition agreement signed between Guatemala and the United States, Baldetti can only be extradited once she has faced the four pending cases in Guatemala, which could take more than 40 years.
“There is no legal way for her (Baldetti) to leave without finishing her lawsuits here. As long as those processes are not solved through a conviction or final acquittal, she could not face the US justice system, ” says penitentiary David Pineda.
“Baldetti has to be well advised because to get to fight an extradition request when the judges always grants them would have no strategic value. Even if it was not well founded, no judge will deny it, being someone as marked as she is, and more if it is the United States,” added Pineda.
According to Pineda, in order for Baldetti to be extradited immediately, the MP would have to desist from legal proceedings against her, which would be “a bad precedent for Guatemalan justice.”
In the opinion of Carmen Aída Ibarra, director of the Pro Justice movement, a civil organization, it is unlikely that the MP will abandon the proceedings against Baldetti while Thelma Aldana remains in charge of the institution and CICIG stays in the country. However, this political landscape could change when Aldana is relieved of her position in mid-2018.
“The next year they will appoint a new attorney general and there will be a new correlation of forces. Senior officials, such as Otto Pérez Molina, involved in cases of corruption, are betting that the president (Jimmy Morales) choose a prosecutor favorable to their cause and terminate the mandate of CICIG or a different commissioner, ” Said Ibarra.
As for CICIG’s continued presence in the country, it is worth remembering that Donald Trump’s electoral victory in the United States, the main donor supporting the commission, implies a change in US foreign policy toward Central America, which could translate into less support for the work of the commission.

US Coast Guard Cutter Brings 18 Tons of Cocaine into Port of San Diego

Republished From San Diego Tribune by Yaqui

Alameda Based Coast Guard Cutter Waesche

Additional Material from: 

The drugs brought ashore Thursday from the cutter Waesche (WAY-shee) were seized by the crews of eight Coast Guard cutters in the Eastern Pacific from late March through this month.

The Coast Guard says it has been focusing personnel and resources on known drug transit zones in the Pacific during the last two years.

In this photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Waesche, prepare to offload approximately 18 tons of cocaine at 10th Ave. Marine Terminal in San Diego on Thursday, June 15, 2017.

On lookout duty on the deck of the Coast Guard cutter Waesche, Seaman Danielle Sanchez remembers spotting what looked like a silver barracuda gliding low through waves off the Central American coast. 

It was after 2 a.m. on June 8, and Sanchez was nearing the end of her first sea patrol. It was a journey across 12,200 miles of the Eastern Pacific and it led her to a rendezvous with what counter-smuggling  agencies call an “LPV” — a low-profile vessel designed by drug cartels to ride low to the water, aiming to hide from Coast Guard helicopters and cutters.
      The Waesche stalked this LPV for nearly 100 miles.

“When we came up on them, we put the floodlights on them. It looked like a submarine. It was dark out, but it was super cool. Our boat crew was out there, both the small boat that’s hanging out on the side and the one on the fantail,” Sanchez said, pointing to the sleek interceptor vessel at the rear of the cutter.

The “Coasties” boarded the submerged boat — 54 feet long and only six feet wide — and detained four suspected smugglers and 2.79 tons of cocaine, the second-highest seizure at sea by the Coast Guard since October.

On Thursday at San Diego’s 10th Avenue Marine Terminal, the Alameda-based Waesche unloaded that seizure and 15 more tons of cocaine seized in 17 other raids at sea since March by it and the cutters Valiant, Hamilton, Confidence, Active, Mohawk, Campbell and Dependable.

Called the Western Hemisphere Transit Zone, the area that the cutters patrolled is vast — 6 million square miles, double the size of the continental United States. It runs from California down the western coast of Central and South America and then into the Caribbean Sea in an arc from Cuba to the Lesser Antilles, the string of islands south and east from Puerto Rico to Venezuela.

Counter-narcotics officials estimate that they seize about one out of every four tons of cocaine bound for the United States. About 69 percent of the haul is intercepted in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

Federal drug-enforcement officials believe about 90 percent of cocaine shipments to the United States go across the sea at some point in their journey north, but usually are offloaded and then smuggled across the land border with Mexico.
The Coast Guard’s strategy is to “forward deploy” cutters to the waters off Central and South America to nab smugglers soon after they take to sea. 

The Waesche alone interdicted seven narco-boats during its latest mission, capturing about $266 million worth of drugs, according to the cutter’s commander, Capt. James Passarelli. 

In one 60-hour span, the cutter captured four smuggling boats, reflecting an operational tempo that’s doubled for the Coast Guard since 2008.

“This is about taking down the networks,” Passarelli said. “These transnational criminal organizations pose a significant threat to us here at home and to our partners in Central and South America.”

In the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, the Coast Guard set a record for annual cocaine seizures — more than 221 tons worth more than $5.9 billion to the underworld.

Report: "Violence and Terror: Findings on Clandestine Graves in Mexico”

 Translated by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from La Jornada 

        More Than 1000 Clandestine Graves Found in Mexico, 
                Report Confirms and NGO’s Denounce

BY: Fernando Camacho Silva

June 22, 2012

Extra Material from TeleSurTV

Mexico City. Throughout the country there are more than a thousand clandestine graves, in which 2,114 human skulls have been found, according to the report Violence and Terror: Findings on Clandestine Graves in Mexico , carried out jointly by various academic and human rights organizations.
During the presentation of the study, Jorge Ruiz and Mónica Meltis, two of the authors of the paper, explained that the methodology of the analysis consisted of gathering hemerographic notes on the subject and data sent by the prosecutors of several states of the Republic , via transparency requests.
Ruiz said that only 12 state procuratorial offices provided information on the clandestine graves found in their territories (Nuevo León, Tamaulipas, Zacatecas, Sinaloa, Coahuila, Durango, Sonora, Oaxaca, San Luis Potosi, Campeche and Quintana Roo), meanwhile the others stated that they had no data on them or were not obliged to provide them.

Another point that draws attention is that prosecutors of some of the entities with the highest levels of violence in the country, such as Guerrero, Jalisco and Chihuahua, are among those who denied having information on the matter.

Likewise, the vast majority of state prosecutors did not give figures on how many bodies were identified, while federal agencies such as the Office of the Attorney General and the Ministry of National Defense provided incomplete numbers.
According to the study, the states with the largest number of clandestine graves are Guerrero (59), Jalisco (53), Chihuahua (47), Coahuila (45), Tamaulipas (40), Nuevo Leon (33) and Michoacán .
Also, the municipalities that concentrated the largest percentage of graves were Durango, Durango (21 percent); San Fernando, Tamaulipas (12 percent); Acapulco, Guerrero (6 percent); La Barca, Jalisco (5 percent); Juárez, Nuevo Leon (5 percent), and Taxco, Guerrero (4 percent).

The country’s decades-long, military-led crackdown on drug cartels has resulted in hundreds of “disappeared” people, with many that are missing or who have been murdered, having no known links to criminal gangs. 

Over 250 human skulls were discovered at the Colinas de Santa Fe area, near the Veracruz harbor. Earliest traces of the mass grave were found in August by the Colectivo Solecito, a grassroots organization of relatives of Mexico’s disappeared.

Ortiz, who is in charge of investigating the discovery, believes the skulls belong to victims of drug cartels. He is currently waiting for US $1.8 million dollars promised by the Mexican government to buy sample materials to identify the remains.

In March, Veracruz Attorney General Jorge Winckler Ortiz accused the Mexican Government of knowing about the mass grave of at least 242 bodies that were discovered in his state earlier that month.

“It is impossible for anyone to have realized what happened here, with the vehicles that were coming in and out, if not with the complicity of government authority,” Ortiz said and added: “I do not understand  how else.” HispanTV reports.

Despite having to depend on federal authorities who are believed to be “complicit” in the case, Ortiz continues to work independently with families to find answers.

“They give us just the bones but at least I have them. I can keep (them) somewhere … I can put a flower on (them),” Colectivo Solecito member Martha Gonzalez told CNN en Español. “And I can know that they are really there and resting.”

Veracruz, one of Mexico’s most violent states, is home to armed conflict between drug cartels Los Zetas and Jalisco Nueva Generacion. Within the last year, over 120 graves of suspected drug war victims have been discovered, Mexico’s Secretariat of the Interior .

Many believe Mexico’s federal government is involved in both recruiting members for these cartels and hiding the bodies of victims.

One day for example, policemen in Culiacan were filmed arresting eight young men before handing them over to what was believed to be an organized crime group. The incident echoed the circumstances that led to the disappearance of 43 students at the Ayotzinapa teachers’ college, which sparked international outcry more than two years ago.

In 2016, more than 20,000 homicides were reported across Mexico, the highest level registered since Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto took office in 2012.

                               Disappearances Still Rising in Mexico 2 Years After Ayotzinapa

“Despite this alarming estimate, Mexico has still not realized how serious was the situation of disappearances,” said CNDH state official Ismael Eslava, adding that over 80 percent of the cases were concentrated in 11 out of the 31 states in the country: Guerrero, Nuevo Leon, Veracruz, Zacatecas, Coahuila, Colima, San Luis Potosi, Durango, Jalisco and Sonora.

Most of them are related to confrontations between rival drug cartels, sometimes with the support of authorities, said the report, which based its conclusions on over 500 requests before state and federal courts to find their relatives.

Relatives welcomed the report as an improvement on the usual work of the CNDH, often criticized for reluctantly investigating the cases of disappearances or human rights abuses, especially when they involve local or federal authorities.

The relatives of the victims complained that they have to carry out the search themselves for their loved ones, as the state fails to guarantee justice. However, running such investigations usually exposes them to death threats and other risks.

Between 2007 and September 2016, a total of 855 illegal mass graves were found across Mexico according to the official estimate, while a staggering 30,000 people were reported disappeared, according to a report by the National Commission of Human Rights. 

Zeta leader sentenced to 7 life sentences in United States

Translated by Otis B Fly-Wheel for Borderland Beat from a Reforma articleSubject Matter: Marciano Milan Vazquez, El Chano, OrejonRecommendation: No prior subject matter knowledge requiredReporter: Mauro de la FuenteMarciano Milan Vazquez alias El &nbsp…

Ensenada: 4 bodies thrown on the highway

Ensenada: 4 Bodies discovered on the highwayI struggle to write these “headlines” sometimes.  How can I convey what happened, without sensationalism, but without bland casualness, similar to American local news anchors, who discuss atrocities, deg…

Autodefensas form in Quintana Roo

Translated by Otis B Fly-Wheel for Borderland Beat from a Reforma articleSubject Matter: AutodefensasRecommendation: No prior subject matter knowledge requiredReporter: Benito JimenezA group of businessmen of Quintana Roo integrated yesterday to auto-d…

Lucero Sánchez Arrested at Otay Mesa Border Crossing

Translated by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from Debate

   Lucero Sánchez arrested in California

The former legislator, who is linked to “El Chapo” Guzman, was arrested by the US Border Patrol and is accused of conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

Additional information from UPI
By: Ed Adamczyk June 23, 2017

Baja California.- Around 10:00 am today, June 16, 2017 Lucero Sánchez Lopez, former deputy for the 16th district of Cosalá,  Sinaloa, was arrested by elements of the border patrol  when she tried to cross with a Tijuana visa to San Diego, California from Mexico through the Otay Mesa Border Crossing in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico.
Francisco Verdugo, a lawyer for the former local deputy, announced that Sánchez López was charged Thursday June 22 with conspiracy to distribute cocaine.


“She was detained by the US government apparently accused of conspiracy, the reason for her presence is that she feels threatened in Mexico,” said her  lawyer.

According to Verdugo Fierro, the former lawmaker, Lucero Sanchez, traveled to the US because of threats from criminal groups and she seeks political asylum from the US Government

“Unfortunately, when she went to the United States, she stopped there at the Tijuana checkpoint, at Otay Mesa,” he said. Verdugo Fierro added that Sanchez Lopez was unaware she was the target of a U.S. investigation.

Sánchez López contacted her closest people around 6:00 pm today when her Visa was canceled by the U.S. State Dept. and she is being held at the disposal  of a district judge in San Diego.

Magistrate Judge Barbara Major ordered Sanchez Lopez held without bail because she is considered      a flight risk, reported KGTV-TV, San Diego, California. If convicted she is facing 10 years to life imprisonment.


She was detained by US agents accused of conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Prosecutors say they have wiretaps from 2013 and 2014 which indicate she communicated with drug cartel operatives about drug money.   They also are able to demonstrate that she was present when Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera notoriously escaped arrest in 2014 by running through sewers in the Mexican State of Sinaloa; after he fled his prison cell through a tunnel dug under his bathroom, states the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Lucero Sanchez Lopez traveled alone and without the company of her children, despite the fact that she wanted to apply for political asylum.  She has denied rumors of having an amorous affair with “El Chapo” Guzman in prison; or being his girlfriend.

Back in Mexico, Sánchez López continues with a process/legal case/amparo against her accused of falsification of documents which is before a Federal Judge based in Toluca, State of Mexico.

Lucero Sánchez López had met this week with two lawyers who take their case before the Third District Judge in Toluca, State of Mexico, to raise the need for her  to leave the country before she is besieged by criminal groups, which has led to the possibility of bringing her case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, said the lawyer of the former deputy.

Verdugo Fierro said that Sánchez López is in the Metropolitan Correctional Center of San Diego and until last night his lawyers had not communicated with the prisoner.

They also mentioned that they are awaiting the name of the lawyer who will go to the United States to hear her case, because until yesterday they had not been informed that Lucero Sánchez was being investigated by the US government, said the litigant who along with Rosalba Alarcón have been working on the case in Mexico since 2015.

“About last week she was in my office, we talked and it was when  she told me that she was afraid of the threats,” he added.
Among the comments made by the former deputy to her lawyers is that she had taken her children from Sinaloa out of fear that something would happen to them, and “they no longer live in Cosala, where she resided.” 

Kaplan: The mysterious gringo that escaped by helicopter

Translated by Otis B Fly-Wheel for Borderland Beat from a Sinembargo article

Subject Matter: David Joel Kaplan
Recommendation: No prior subject matter knowledge required

Other articles in this series by Humberto Padgett
Traconi the escape artist of La Tanga Rosa
The Grey Automobile Gang

David Joel Kaplan starred in what was known in 1971 as “the escape of the century”. As spectacular as the escape of El Chapo Guzman from Altiplano. David Kaplan was imprisoned in the Santa Martha Acatitla Prison, which was considered the most secure in the country, his escape was planned with milimetric precision by his sister.

Reporter: Humberto Padgett
A Bell helicopter fitted with a super-charged turbine, and piloted by an ex Vietnam vet was his vehicle to liberty.

Previously, like El Chapo in his escape from Puente Grande, he had tried to escape hidden in the pile of dirty clothes, the escape was foiled by someone giving up his plan.

Another escape idea by Kaplan was to hide in the false floor of a van owned by another USA prisoner called Church, who had been imprisoned for assassinating a Mexican policeman with his bare hands, this escape was also foiled.

These escape attempts proved fruitless until 18th of August of 1971 around 6:30 pm he achieved it, and like El Chapo, from under the noses of the guards.

Nine: Look Kaplan, its coming, you see it? The helicopter is close, Carlos i’m scared, Kaplan was trembling, a veteran of a dozen escape attempts.

Eight: 7600 inmates bar 2 were inside the dormitory passing the afternoon watching a film

Seven: The Bell helicopter with bubble cockpit descended through the rain into the interior of the prison, in the same manner that one really appreciates a girls when he has laid with her a long time, said the pilot.

Six: David Joel Kaplan, American, and Carlos Contreras, from Venezuela, leave their cell and head into the courtyard.

Five: Prison officers are confused, the helicopter is the same blue color as those used by the Federal District Police who come and go to the prison.

Four: Kaplan and Contreras run through the basket ball courts, its all or nothing now.

Three: Prison officers know something is wrong, the rain, the surprise, something is not right about the helicopter.

Two: The vigilante Cruz Victoriano raises his weapon and pulls the trigger, but the gun misfires.

One: Joel and Carlos acknowledge, the wide grin of Roger, a combat pilot vet from Vietnam with a reputation for being able to fly through a rainbow. The prison guards are stunned as the helicopter rises, the prison was considered the most secure in Mexico.

Zero: In ten seconds, at 6:35 in the afternoon of the August the 18th, 1971, he has accomplished the escape of the century.

The film  biography of Kaplan is so peculiar that it perked the interest of a porn film producer born in the Soviet Union, featuring strip clubs and teams of Cuban sicarios.

The film includes a dead body, who he is accused of murdering, Luis Vidal Jr., with brown eyes instead of blue eyes like the real person.

The murdered mans wife claimed that the dead man was her husband and that he was also recognized by a waitress who saw in the Continental Hilton, where he stayed before disappearing.

When his wife was asked about how his eye color had changed she answered, “surely someone took my husbands eyeballs and put them in someone else”.

The mysterious of Vidals death and the prosecution of Kaplan, his business partner is recounted in the book, Kaplan Fuga en diez segundos, by Eliot Asinof, Warren Hinckle and William Turner, published in Spanish by Lasser press in 1973. There also exists and autobiography about Carlos Contreras, cellmate and fellow escapee with Kaplan, called La Fuga del Siglo, or the escape of the century, published by Carnel in Venezuela, also in 1973.

Also Sinembargo has possession of the prison records and antecedents of Kaplan.

The most accepted version of Joel David Kaplan is that he was agent undercover for the CIA, and arms trafficker, and a family member of business empresarios with political interests in Cuba, from where they left after the revolution in 1959. For his part, Vidal Jr. was the son of Spanish businessman with friends in the Caribbean and in particular the Domincan dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, who was godfather to Vidal Jr.

On October 22nd, 1971, two boys found a pack of dogs devouring a corpse, which was later identified as Vidals.

After a trial plagued with irregularities, and beyond the propaganda in the biography written by Asinof, Hinckley and Turner in favour of Kaplan, the American and partner of Vidal was arrested, presented by the Mexican press as a murderer, tried and sentenced in 1964 to 27 years in prison for the crime of homicide, and three years for vidals clandestine burial.

Why did the Mexican system act with such ferocity against the wealthy American, in this epock at a quiet moment of the Cold War, it is speculated that Kaplan was a victim of his Uncle, a sugar and molasses magnate, Jacob M Kaplan, whose connection with the CIA, who was funding Latin American regimes which was widely known.

It was said that Kaplan was part of the assassination plot against John F Kennedy, and a drug smuggler with the knowledge of participation in the business of politicians at all levels.

At the end of the sixties and the start of the seventies, the penitentiary of Santa Martha was responsible for, according to former prison officers, the dissapearances of dozens of students and communist dissidents of the times, who were cremated in a smelting furnace that existed there.

To a high class American Jew, the Mexican jail was supposed to be the closest thing to a mediaval dungeon. Kaplan together with other prisoners from Lecumberri, they were transferred to Santa Martha, at that time outside of Federal District, with confinement in cells rather than dormitories.

These sites were called ZO or zones of oblivion, and its existence lasted until at least the middle of the last decade, at the start of the government of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

In Kaplan, fuga en diez segundos, he is described as a having dull, plaster-white skin with a musty smell typical of someone who has lived in confinement without sun or fresh air, but in the same book there are constant references of the benefits he received, thanks to the definitive corruption of the Mexican prison system, better food, unlimited conjugal visits, poker nights, a cell shared only with the Venezuelan who accompanied him on his escape, and bottles and bottles of whisky and rum.

In September of 1967, the Supreme Court Justice of the Nation denied the appeal of Joel David Kaplan, if the gringo wanted to leave Mexico, he would have to escape. The idea of escape became as ever present in his mind as the air in his lungs.

He conceived a plan to fake appendicitis and agreed with an ambulance driver, his departure and delivery, outside of Mexico City, to a group of two American women and a lame Canadian with whom he would travel to the North looking like tourists. The ambulance driver accepted a payment of 75,000 pesos. The plan failed when the Ambulance driver was fired at work for being drunk with drink he bought with Kaplans money.

His next ruse was, after giving bribes of 100,000 dollars, he would be pronounced dead and his corpse taken out of jail in a body bag, outside his body would be substituted with another actually dead person and he would flee to Peru. He asked for money from his Uncle, executor of his fortune who it turned out would not release the funds.

Judy, David’s sister joined in his escape plans. He sought help from CIA ex-agents, ex-lieutenants and deserters of the Cuban regime, and distributed thousands of dollars in any number of ideas that included even burning down the penitentiary.

Something more viable happened in October 1970, when a young Mexican couple acquired some land in the plain of the former Lake of Texcoco, a land that was turned into a chicken farm, just 200 metres from the cell of Kaplan. Instead of increasing the number of chickens, the amount of land increased. The plan was to dig a tunnel that was only foiled when they ran into volcanic lava which was impossible to dig out clandestinely.

Judy Kaplan won the support of Victor Stadter, a former world war 2 fighter pilot and smuggler of everything from Capuchin Monkeys to influences gained in the most ostentatious brothels of Latin America.

Something that was especially interesting about Stadter, a proud descendant of Prussians and organized crime on the continent; this American was forged as one of the largest carriers of illegal goods flying his own planes, from Guatemala to Texas, a couple of decades before Carillo Fuentes earned the nickname Lord of the Skies.

Kaplan devised another plan that involved him being hidden inside a truck compartment. Another American called Church worked inside the prison building truck compartments which were sold by the prison to private businesses. After Kaplan had given up 50,000 pesos of the 100,000 agreed, Church gave him up.

Another idea was to get a transfer to the prison in Cuernavaca arguing health reasons, the need to breathe clean air at a lower alititude. The prison in the capital of Morelos is described at that time as a prison without doors, in which the prisoners were allowed to go to the city, enjoying great freedom.

The transfer never took place because enough palms could not be greased to make it happen.

Next Kaplan hired a makeup artist from the USA. A hairdresser in New York designed a wig for $700 that would fit Kaplans head, who in the infirmary of Santa Martha, would take a drug that mimicks the symptoms of malaria. The make up artist would arrive as a nurse to the infirmary and the two would change identities of each other so Kaplan could make good his escape, and the make up artist would be freed after proving he had been drugged by Kaplan, when the time came to execute the plan Kaplan actually was sick, too sick to carry out the plan and escape.

To flee by air? At the time it probably seems the worst of most of his hair-brained schemes. It was an idea born in the mind of Kaplan, according to the research of Asinof, Hincle and Turner, and the idea came about because of his knowledge of operations of the US Army in Vietnam that extracted prisoners taken by  the Vietcong behind enemy lines.

Stadter contacted an old Texan friend, an Irish descendant by the surname Orville and nicknamed Cotton, who was working as a crop sprayer and who could contact the helicopter pilot, Roger Hershner, a fighter pilot in Vietnam and 29 years of age.

While Kaplan knew many of the details, they organized the escape. Kaplan had taken a photograph of the landing area for the dimensions of the space. The images were no good, but Stadter managerd to infiltrate a real estate agent from his family mascarading as a criminologist, and to whom the director of the prison provided a guided tour.

Kaplan decided to include Carlos Contreras Castro in the escape, a Venezuelan drug dealer who managed to disconnect the alarm from the watch tower, which was referred to as the control tower.

Roger took off at 5.53 of the afternoon of August 18th, from Pachuca, Hidalgo. He arrived at Sant Martha Acatitla at 6.35.

The escape was named “The escape of the Century”.

Kaplan, successful in his escape by helicopter, opened up this method of escape from prisons. Two years after him, three members of the IRA escaped from a prison in the UK, once a companion of the terrorists kidnapped a helicopter pilot and forced him to fly it in the escape.

Since then there have been 42 escape attempts using this method, 30 of these have been successful. The last recorded was on June 7th 2014, in a Quebec prison where three men that fled were returned a few weeks later.

In 1975, Charles Bronson played Nick Colton in Breakout, a pilot hero in the rescue of a US  prisoner in a dirty and corrupt Mexican dungeon.

It will be possible to see the escape of Kaplan, a CIA Agent, thanks to the film “The Fourth Company”, a Mexican thriller directed by Amir Galvan and Vanessa Arreola and that will be released in the last quarter of 2016.

Galvan and Arreola used an identical helicopter to the one used by Kaplan, the Bell with dragonfly body and transparent bubble canopy. They filmed in Santa Martha penitentiary and the scene of Kaplans escape was filmed in the actual courtyard he escaped from in 10 seconds. Many of the smaller bit parts in the film were played by inmates of the penitentiary.

The film is a fiction resulting from years of documentary research and addresses the existence of a group of car theives, all housed at Santa Martha, who leave the prison every night to rob Grand Marquis automobiles. The criminal operation is directed by the police of Federal District, then in the hands of Durazo.

One would think that for a command of prisoners of the DF Penitentiary, better known as Santa Martha Acatitla, who have an opportunity to go out and operate on the streets of Mexico City in the late seventies, is an event that dazzles.

After leaving and entering the prison, commenting in an interview with Arreola and Galván, directors of The Fourth Company. The Fugue of the Century, where Joel Kaplan and his cellmate, Carlos Contreras, rose in a helicopter in the 10 seconds that gave them freedom forever, produces fascination equally in many free men, in the inmates of the present and in the short-lived survivors of “the fourth company,” the squad of prisoners and in turn notable football players, whose story the filmmakers recover in a film that will bear the same name and which is released in the winter of this year.

Where the flight of the”Chapo is already the precocious aspirant to be the great escape in Mexico this century “, says Galván. The Fourth Company is a Mexican film of recent production where the loss of innocence of a young man and the self-governments in prison, twist a little known but as real and surprising history as the current self-government in 65 percent of the prisons of our Country-control in the hands of criminals in detention, of which specialists comment.

 In our history we take Kaplan’s escape as an allegory, as an astonishing symbol of freedom, absence of pressure, and presence of individual expansion and solidarity with others.The escape is one of the episodes that we recreate in the Penitentiary of the DF, the same place where the historical story of the fourth company originates during the six years of López Portillo.

“We achieved this thanks to the collaboration and support of both the population of inmates and authorities of the Government of the Federal District (GDF) during the management of Marcelo Ebrard and, well, the heart beats in a singular way when it is necessary to recreate a flight in a jail where a helicopter went down and when it took up took two prisoners and left a third that stayed, and is still remaining, because Raymundo Moreno Reyes, the oldest prisoner, close to serving half a century in the national prison system and who is part of our cast.

Raymundo is called Burrorero because he sold the milk of his donkey, and this one, according to him, is the third film in his filmography. Raymundo arrived at the old prison Lecumberri when he was 21 years old, and in the sixties he was transferred to the Penitentiary. On the afternoon of August 18, 1971, 6:35, he looked up at the sky and saw him arrive and go to the Kaplan helicopter.

Shoot out in the centre of Cancun ( video)

Translated by Otis B Fly-Wheel for Borderland Beat from an El Debate articleSubject Matter: Shoot out in Cancun tourist districtRecommendation: No prior subject matter knowledge requiredA fierce shootout was registered in the commercial centre of Culia…

Narcoterrorism and the KKK Model: Inside the Rise of Latin America’s ‘Gangster Warlords’

Posted by Chivis Martinez for Borderland Beat- 
Note: BB friend Doc Bunker sent this in from Daily Beast thinking our readers would be of interest.  Also noted in the article is another BB friend Ioan Grillo….Paz, Chivis

Cartels are getting their swagger back in Colombia, drug-war violence is skyrocketing in Mexico, Central American countries like El Salvador and Honduras are now saddled with some of the highest homicide rates in the world, and parts of Brazil are open battlegrounds. So just what’s behind the angry ride of the apocalypse through this hemisphere?

What we’re seeing is the rise of insurgencies that have no ideology beyond greed, but wage guerrilla wars as fearsome as those of the past that claimed to represent the poor and oppressed.

Bogota thought it had just ended its 50-year-old civil war with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)—but surprise!—the drug-fueled killing goes on. Other rebel groups remain defiantly active, and there are signs that the FARC peace accords might not be a done deal just yet, as attacks persist.

One of the reasons FARC commanders can’t convince units to stand down is because those guerrillas in the mist are still running lucrative cocaine production operations. Meanwhile, other narco-traffickers in the Andean nation are firmly on the comeback trail. Add it all up and Colombia is churning out more coca now than it did back when Pablo Escobar was blowing up planes and running for congress, with production at a whopping 710 tons in 2016.

As for Mexico, a recent study makes the case that the current infierno de violencia is now the second-worst conflict in the world behind Syria. In El Salvador the murder rate is 81 per 100,000, with Honduras lagging just behind, making them the deadliest countries per capita in the Americas. As in certain parts of Mexico, the security crisis is so severe in El Salvador that citizen militias called autodefensas are taking up arms to fight the gangs themselves.

The loss of state control to violence-crazed, paramilitary outlaw and vigilante groups across Latin America is an ominous sign, indicative of a twisted new species of conflict that experts say is already impacting U.S. interests.

The “Crime War” Next Door

In his original, superbly researched, and well-titled book, Gangster Warlords: Drug Dollars, Killing Fields and the New Politics of Latin America, author Ioan Grillo characterizes the conflicts roiling the region, flat out, as “crime wars.”

“Crime groups and the gunmen they command in Mexico and Central America are not like the traditional insurgents of 20th-century Latin America in that they don’t have a clear ideology whether it be Marxist or Islamist,” Grillo tells The Daily Beast by phone from Mexico City.

“But they do act in ways that go way beyond regular criminals or even the mafia in terms of confronting security forces,” he says. These bandit battalions can involve “martial forces of up to 500 people in ground battles with light infantry weapons, including RPG-7 rocket launchers, which they use to shoot down helicopters.”

While outfits like the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico, Colombia’s FARC, or the Salvatrucha gangs of El Salvador “do control territory in certain ways, [they] don’t see themselves really trying to defeat the central government,” according to the British-born Grillo, who has spent more than a decade reporting from crime-war conflict zones across Latin America.

Instead of trying to take over the state apparatus, as ISIS has done in parts of the Middle East, “cartels and gangster warlords look for weak governments that they can bully and corrupt into allowing them to have as much power they want.” They don’t need to set up schools and run waterworks, but they do “put violent pressure on the government to achieve certain things,” such as unfettered control over narcotics production zones or shipping routes.

These are “groups whose power is based on violence, who are often led by psychopathic individuals, with a tremendous capacity for violence,” many of whom can be “heavy drug users themselves,” Grillo adds. But he also points out that there’s a distinct and nasty method to the madness, which marks “criminal insurgents” as distinct from common, garden variety scofflaws:

“They’re well-armed killers obeying instructions and working within a structure,” Grillo says. It’s “a big and complicated problem,” he concludes, and “national security [can be] threatened.”

“Narcoterrorism” and You

Dr. Robert J. Bunker, a security consultant who teaches at Claremont Graduate University, sees eye to eye with Grillo on the threat posed by the cartels and their criminal cousins. And he uses the term “narcoterrorism” to define the tactics they employ.

Narcoterrorism “represents a form of psychological warfare—many times utilizing extreme forms of torture and victim dismemberment—that is meant to intimidate and coerce” rival crime groups, authorities, and local populations, Bunker writes, in an email to The Daily Beast.

Bunker, who has also taught at the U.S. Army War College, says Mexican cartels in particular pose a “major threat” to the United States, involving “creeping institutional corruption along the American side of the border.”

One of the major frontier flashpoints of late is the Mexican city of Reynosa, just across the border from McAllen, Texas. The turf war between the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas for control of Reynosa has claimed about 50 lives since the dust-up began in April, and American citizens allegedly have come under fire as well.

Mexican journalist Emmanuel Gallardo, who specializes in crime war coverage, says the Gulf Cartel is the top dog in Reynosa, in part because of a willingness to swell their ranks with “very young sicarios (hitmen), many of them just teenagers, who have no education” or job prospects.

He describes zones of mob rule within the city where “everything is controlled by the Cartel del Golfo, even the Jefe de Manzana (Block Chief), and the municipal leaders.”

Their opponents, the Zetas, were originally formed by disgruntled dropouts from the Mexican army. Although they’ve been somewhat weakened by clashes with authorities, Bunker still calls the Zetas “the poster children of narcoterrorism” who are “special forces trained, extremely ruthless, and highly competent in psychological warfare techniques.”

Recent reports indicate that smugglers are increasingly able to penetrate the U.S. without even breaking a sweat, as hundreds of border agents accepted some $15 million in bribes over the last few years (and those are just the ones who got caught).

“Mexican border plaza cities and crossing areas controlled by the cartels are able to generate ‘zones of corruption’ that can potentially extend along the trafficking corridors northwards,” Bunker writes. “The U.S. can readily handle violence directed at it, but the undermining of governmental trust among its citizenship is an entirely different matter.”

Know Your Enemy

Writer Ioan Grillo points out that many of the countries embroiled in mass-scale crime wars share certain common traits, such as “governments which are corrupt, with largely dysfunctional justice systems, and high rates of impunity.”

Economics also plays a role, according to Grillo, as most of these violence-wracked nations are also known for “divided populations with high rates of poverty, a few rich people, and a struggling middle class.”

While Bunker agrees that there are similarities in the symptoms that lead to explosions of well-organized crime groups, he also notes distinct differences from region to region:

“The Mexican cartels are far more sophisticated” than their counterparts, he says. Some of those groups can “field tactical units that possess armored SUVs, body armor, and infantry small arms that include assault rifles and grenade launchers, [and] 50 Cal sniper rifles.”

The Maras plaguing Central America “are far less militarized—more representative of violent street and prison gangs. They operate more at the handgun, shotgun, and rifle armament level but have been known to utilize IEDs,” Bunker says.

Then there is Colombia. According to Grillo, the conflict there is more of a hybrid that blends powerful cartels with a “more traditional Marxist insurgency, a more traditional war.”

Bunker concurs. “The FARC is an interesting case. They have guerilla training and access to infantry small arms.” With disarmament deadlines delayed, and the peace process uncertain, FARC foot soldiers have taken to sharing the lessons they learned in five decades of anti-government operations.

Reports coming out of Mexico claim FARC fighters have been schooling cartel sicarios there, and “we are seeing some numbers of their former fighters now going over to local Colombian and Brazilian street gangs to tactically train their members and provide new enforcer capabilities,” says Bunker, who has also advised Congress on security concerns.

The favelas (ghettos) of Brazilian cities have long been home to powerful gangs like the Red Commandos, which specialize in local narcotics trafficking. More recently, violence has flared up in the northern Amazonas state, as crime groups, often run by imprisoned leaders, battle for control of a drug “superhighway” near the regional capital of Manaus.

Taken altogether, Bunker sees the rise of these forces as part of a new, worldwide trend, one that “exists outside of the modern Clausewitzian paradigm of state-on-state conflict,” he adds.

“What most people do not realize is that what we are seeing take place with the cartels and narcos is but one component of a larger global struggle. Engagements with al Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq, Syria, and other countries represent yet another component of the wars now being waged [by insurgents] against the modern state form.”

Criminal Insurgencies, Civil Wars, and the Klan

While the criminal insurgencies in places like Colombia and El Salvador are certainly capable of deadly violence, the Mexican cartels are the most virulent of such groups operating in Latin America. There were 23,000 homicides in Mexico last year, making it the second-deadliest conflict zone in the world after Syria, and ranking it ahead of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Even more disconcerting is the fact that most of the bloodshed in Mexico results from small arms fire, with few casualties resulting from airstrikes or the use of artillery.

The soaring death toll (the murder rate has gone up now for the last three years in a row, increasing by at least 50 percent in one out of three states since 2016), has some observers wondering at what point Mexico’s “crime war” might slip into full-blown civil war. And it’s not just a question of semantics.

“If we can’t figure out how to categorize things we can’t figure out how to respond,” says Greg Downs, a University of California, Davis professor of history, in a phone call with The Daily Beast.

Downs points out that the phrase “civil war” carries an unpleasant stigma, since the phrase can grant unwanted legitimacy to the other side. During the early days of the fighting between the Union and the Confederacy, he says, it was called “revolution” or a “rebellion,” and the terminology “didn’t really harden into ‘Civil War’ for another 40 years.”

The author of the highly acclaimed After Appomattox, says that “virtually all [civil conflicts] include insurgencies and widespread criminal activity. They’re all wrapped up together.” Concrete definitions are “always going to be unclear in the moment.”

He goes on to mention a popular, 19th century term for these murky, low-grade, seemingly endless wars: “Mexicanization,” which was coined to describe “how countries fell into cycles [of violence] they could never escape from.”

Yet he stops short of calling Mexico’s current crisis a civil war, at least by the textbook definition of the phrase.

“Insurgency lies in this in-between state—a civil war is a claim of sovereignty. Are the cartels making the claim of a shadow state? Or is it the kind of older question of who makes the law where I am?”

Looking back through history, Downs draws an analogy between the narcos plaguing Latin America today, and groups of racist militias that roamed the South during the Reconstruction Era.

The cartels, he says, are “much closer to the Klan than to the Confederacy. The Klan didn’t want [to] write laws, but they believed they could make the law.”

How to Win (or Lose) a Crime War

So what can be done to end Latin America’s crime-war conundrum?

For Gangster Warlords author Grillo, the struggle needs to take place “on a global level.”

In part, he advocates international drug policy reform in order to reduce the thug armies’ profits from black market narcotics.

Grillo also suggests changing “the reality of ghettos which are outside the system [and] of helping these areas” with education programs and social work.

Mexican reporter Emmanuel Gallardo says that, in his country, the first step is for the state to clean up its act, and eliminate “corruption and impunity” for criminals.

“Here in Mexico if you have enough money and you commit a crime you just pay and are let go,” Gallardo tells The Daily Beast. “With money you can do whatever they want. You can kill a journalist if you want, and no one is going to stop you.”

Like fellow journalist Gallardo, Grillo also sees that building “real justice, law enforcement they can trust, real security for people,” may be the most challenging hurdle of all. 

“The justice system has a lot of problems in the U.S., but it’s still largely functional in that people who commit murder go to jail,” Grillo says, contrasting it to the situation in Mexico “where most people who commit murder don’t go to jail.”

Less than 3 percent of homicides result in a conviction in Mexico, according to the Wilson Center, and other crime-war wracked countries in Latin America have similarly low rates.

Security consultant Bunker says local and state authorities are often simply outmatched:

Because the narcoterrorist groups “engage in both corruption and coercion, neither police nor military responses on their own are sufficient,” he says. “Police do not possess combat capability and the military does not possess anti-corruption and investigative capability. This is why these groups are so hard for states to deal with—they are literally evolving into nation-state killers.”

Bunker recommends “integrated law enforcement and military” forces which can be used “together or separately as appropriate to the threat…”

Civil War historian Downs worries that, in the absence of serious social reforms, even such a unified strategy won’t be enough: “With overwhelming force, states can break up an insurgency,” but criminal insurrections “don’t tend to come in ones—they come in groups.”

That raises a “dispiriting lesson from Reconstruction,” he says, referring to the Union Army’s futile attempts to quash the Klan. “It’s hard to keep it from turning into whackamole.”

Despite the difficulties, Downs warns against a policy of “acquiescence” whereby certain regions are abandoned to insurrectionists in order for state actors to achieve “stability at the cost of democracy.” And he likens the plight of freed people in the post-Reconstruction South to the struggle faced by poor campesinos and indigenous populations in many parts of Latin America today where “gangster warlords” often hold sway.

Cartels want to be left alone “to rule their fiefdoms, not for symbolic reasons,” but for economic ones, Downs adds, “to make money” and “assert control over the laboring population.”

That kind of criminal control—that new brand of narco-feudalism—helps explain why the “Pale Rider,” Death, is running roughshod over so many parts of Mexico, and Central and South America.

The failure to win the crime wars, Downs says, means nothing less than “surrendering democracy to oppression.”

Real Stories of Mexico’s Disappeared: Carlitos and the Search Among Human Remains for His Missing Sister

Posted by DD Republished from MxJTP
Written by Javier Valdez   
Feb. 8, 2017
Originally Published in La Jornada (Sp)
DD;  From time to time I will be posting stories written by Javier Valdez during his short life  to insure we keep our memories of this brave journalist  and his work alive. 

Around 60 search party members from 11 states in Mexico look for missing or disappeared people in the towns of El Quelite in Mazatlán and Sataya in Navolato. Photograph by Javier Valdez. Published in La Jornada.

 Culiacán, February 8, 2017—Carlitos says that he loves his sister and that he is not going to leave her unprotected. At his tender age he already feels guilty for something he did not do, for having failed to take care of and protect Zoé Zuleika. She has been missing for a year.
Carlitos – that’s what we’ll call him – is barely eight years old and he searches for missing people: a searcher of human remains who carries a small staff and pickaxe. His grey and black striped sweater keeps him from the morning chill. He is Mexico’s youngest searcher of the disappeared.
When you ask him what he is going to say to his sister when he sees her again, the boy answers: 
“That I love her; that I am going to protect her.”
 Around the Navolato community of San Pedro, in the deciduous forest, the little one looks among whoever’s human remains, but really he’s searching for his sister.
With blows from his staff and still more from his pickaxe he looks for Zoe like someone who knows he will find her. His lively, black eyes light up like fireflies and he smiles when he thinks about her.
The last time he saw her, he remembers, was a year ago in his father’s truck, in Soledad, a town in San Luis Potosí.
He says that when he finds her he is going to protect her, including from his father whom he suspects took her. Carolina Gómez Rocha, 40, is mother to both children. She comes from San Luis Potosí, and she searches for missing people, even though she realizes it is unlikely she will find Zoé in the state of Sinaloa.
“I do these searches to strengthen the families who are here searching, not to find my daughter. I know that she is alive. I am her mother and my heart tells me so. I am here to support the cause. It has been an immense experience, and yes it does help me, it strengthens me, ”  she says. She’s a few yards from the Culiacán River, between the sand sifters and the cornfields.
She has four children: 8, 18, 20, and Zoé, 6. The youngest worry her and give her hope. 
The day Zoé disappeared Carolina’s family had gone to a party. They went at the insistence of her father in law.
The girl, who was already tired, fell asleep in her father’s truck. A few minutes after midnight they decided to leave but the young girl was not there anymore.
Safety Belt
Carolina and even Carlitos suspect his father. He does not ask about the girl. He has not joined in the searches or gone to the authorities even after they filed the criminal complaint. Her husband’s family acts just the same: indifferent. That’s why they don’t dismiss the idea that they have Zoé or know where she is.
Less than a kilometer from where the search party is looking, the prosecutor set up a roadblock. Two women police officers approach, ask questions in a friendly way, and allow or deny entry. Few get close. Further on, where they are conducting the search, there are four federal police patrol cars. They have dogs with them, dogs trained to search for human remains, and experts with their kit.
About thirty members of the Third National Search Party have come together to excavate and ask questions. This search will last two weeks. A Catholic priest is participating, as are many young women and several members of the Marabunta organization. Most of them wear white shirts with black text: Where are they?
According to statistics from the state prosecutor, around 2,200 people disappeared in Sinaloa during the last six years, the period when Mario López Valdez was governor. His term ended last December.
Some searchers look near the heavy machinery. Others go to another site in the truck belonging to the prosecutor’s forensic team. Still others seek shade under the poplars.
They laugh. They poke risqué fun at the young priest, circling in on each other. Even during the search there is time for fun yet memories still weigh heavy.
They are more than 60 searchers from 11 states. Right now they are looking for human remains in two graves: in El Quelite in Mazatlán, and in Sataya, Navolato. They have managed to unearth one body. It still has not been identified.
Some yards away, in an overgrown corner, Lucas, the police dog, digs again and again. So much so that it looks like he’s playing. The agents say he lifts his ears and his tail goes straight and he goes stiff when he finds human remains. He doesn’t do any of that today.
There’s Carlitos. With his staff and his pickaxe. Sometimes he wants to leave and attaches himself to his mother’s skirt. The two bob through the mess of dry branches, big leaves and uneven earth. It looks like they are crossing a swamp but they emerge clean.
After his sister disappeared, the boy went through a bad time at school. He enjoys math: but his grades went from 9s and 10s to 6s and 7s.
He carries himself aggressively. He locks himself in his room. He throws himself on his bed and cries, all the while clutching a photo of Zoé. He speaks to her. He cries over her. That’s why he goes to therapy. He falls down and he gets up. Here he raises his staff and plunges it into the ground.
– When you speak with your sister, what will you tell her?
– I will tell her I love her and I miss her and that I will protect her. That I can take care of her. That I won’t let my father leave her in his truck.
Award winning Mexican journalist Javier Valdez Cárdenas was murdered on May 15, 2017 just after leaving Ríodocea newspaper he helped establish in Culiacán, Sinaloa. He was 50 years old. He published this story in La Jornada on February 8, 2017. His most recent book (previously published in Spanish as Levantones), appears in English translation and with an introduction to Sinaloa by Everard Meade as The Taken: True Stories of the Sinaloa Drug War,  published earlier this year by University of Oklahoma Press.

Seven CDS Members Arrested in LA with Drugs, Cash, and Arms

Translated by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from Zeta

By: Carlos Alvarez for Zeta
June 10, 2017

Extra Material from DOJ/ U.S. Attorney’s Office,
FBI Press Release, June 8 2017
and Jammed Up

Seven alleged members of the Sinaloa Cartel were arrested Thursday during a police operation in Los Angeles, California, the US Justice Department said in a statement.

The Presumed leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, “El Mayo Zambada”, and Former  leader “El Chapo” Guzman Loera
“El Chapo” Guzman has been extradited to New York where he faces a 17 Count Indictment,  Charged with running a Transnational Criminal Enterprise

The men are part of a total of 22 people wanted by police for allegedly being responsible for importing hundreds of kilograms /multi TONS of methamphetamines, cocaine and heroin from Tijuana to San Ysidro, authorities said, including the Office of the Federal Prosecutor in Los Angeles.

DEA Agents and Local Authorities Seizure of over $6 Million USD of Narcotics

Of the total of 22 people, Fernando Madueno Sánchez is already in prison and the remaining 14 are fugitives. Authorities believe they are in Mexico. Meanwhile, those arrested were charged with crimes of drug trafficking,  money laundering, and illegal weapons.

In addition, US authorities identify Jeuri Limón Elenes, who is among the 14 fugitives as the main ringleader of the group serving the Sinaloa Cartel in Los Angeles.
The court documents indicate that Limón Elenes, who is also identified with the aliases of ‘Prude’, ‘Rzr’, ‘Fox’ and ‘Royal Nuevo’, had the collaboration of his mother, Maria Ernestina Limón Elenes, 64, who was arrested Thursday at her Azusa home in northeast Los Angeles County.
Others were in charge of transporting the drugs to the San Gabriel Valley area in eastern Los Angeles County where it was stored in stash houses until it was distributed by a network of cartel associates throughout the country.
The operation was part of an investigation involving several federal agencies and local police for a period of more than two years, which included wire-tapping. The street value of the narcotics seized was estimated to be more than 6 million dollars, as well as 33 firearms, 3 vehicles and 1.3 million dollars in cash in vacuum sealed bundles.

During the two-year investigation by federal agencies; the FBI, DEA, ICE, IRS Criminal Investigations, US Marshals, the LA Joint Drugs Strike Task Force and the Azuza, CA Police Dept have carried out 14 significant seizures drug seizures totaling 290 pounds of methamphetamine, 280 pounds of cocaine and 30 pounds of heroin. Some packets of cocaine were marked with the figure of a scorpion.

Cocaine Packages Marked with Scorpion Symbol

Officials said that the co-conspirators laundered the illicit proceeds back to the Sinaloa Cartel leadership back in Mexico, according to the indictment. The US Attorney has charged the defendants with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. 

The indictments are the latest setback for the Sinaloa Cartel, which has been beset by high-level arrests on both sides of the border.

Earlier this week, DEA officials announced the arrest of several suspects involved in a high volume California to Delaware Sinaloa Cartel cocaine trafficking enterprise; yet law enforcement officials have yet to indicate whether the two investigations are linked.

Partial Weapons Seizure

“We are committed to stopping the illegal flow of narcotics into our country and operations like the Strike Force will continue to have a significant impact on protecting Americans from the scourge of drugs and the violence that often accompanies drug trafficking,” said acting US Attorney Sandra Brown, quoted in the statement.

 “The indictment and today’s arrests demonstrate the Strike Task Force’s ability to reach both sides of the border, impacting the Sinaloa Cartel by disrupting their drug supply chain and neutralizing key players in the organization,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge David J. Downing. “We’ve sent a message to the cartels – they won’t be allowed to operate freely in Los Angeles or conduct business as usual.”

 The 19-count indictment specifically charges the defendants with being members of a conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. The indictment contains 14 counts alleging possession with the intent to distribute narcotics. One defendant also is charged with illegally possessing seven handguns while engaged in drug trafficking activities.
         The seven defendants arrested today are:
  • Julian Rocha, also known as “JRoc,” 33, of Azusa, who is charged with being a Los Angeles-based purchaser of Mexican narcotics;
  • Froilan Villarreal, also known as aka “DeL MoNtE,” of Azusa, who allegedly illegally possessed seven firearms when authorities seized large quantities of cocaine and methamphetamine from is El Monte residence;
  • Oscar Arredondo, 53, of Bakersfield, an alleged drug transporter who was arrested in the Eastern District of California;
  • Maria Ernestina Limon Elenes, 64, of Azusa, an alleged facilitator and the mother of lead defendant/fugitive Jeuri Limon Elenes;
  • Antonio Orozco, also known as “El Sr.,” 45, of Long Beach, who allegedly transported narcotics across the international border;
  • Martin Ruiz Saldana, of Santa Ana, who allegedly received narcotics from Villarreal; and
  • Audrey Rose Urrea, of Chula Vista, who allegedly attempted to transport narcotics across the international border and who was arrested this morning in the Southern District of California.

In addition to the narcotics and weapons offenses, the indictment includes a charge of conspiracy to launder money that alleges the drug trafficking organization used the United States banking system to launder drug proceeds by making multiple cash deposits into purportedly legitimate accounts to disguise the origin of thousands of dollars of illicit funds.

‘When drug traffickers amass large quantities of cash from narcotics sales, they often attempt to legitimize these ill-gotten profits through the use of banks and financial institutions,’ said R. Damon Rowe, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation. ‘This joint investigation demonstrates our efforts to ensure that the banking industry will not be abused by large-scale narcotics traffickers, but will be operated in a fair and honest manner to promote the public interest.’

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

If they are convicted in this case, all of the defendants would be subject to potential sentences of life without parole in federal prison.

Fierce Battle in Guamuchil Leaves Six Dead

Translated by Otis B Fly-Wheel for Borderland Beat from El Debate and Riodoce articlesSubject Matter: Sicario Gun BattleRecommendation: No prior subject matter knowledge requiredThe confrontations between delinquent groups from Guamuchil and Mocorito, …