2009 09 25: Corporate Structure of Mexican Cartels (2)
Posted by Maher on September 29, 2009
“Chairman of the Board” and symbolic figurehead: Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera
Two “CEOs” that divide up most lucrative plazas and manage operationally separate elements of the enterprise in distinct regional territories:
CEO Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada Garcia
CEO Ignacio “El Nacho” Coronel Villarreal
“Senior Managers” that act as “jefe de plaza” in various geographical locations important for receiving shipments, logistics centers, domestic consumption centers, distribution points, smuggling corridors, and US based distribution points:
Chief of Regional Plaza (DF/EdoMex/Morelos) Vicente “El Vicentillo” Zambada Garcia
Chief of Regional Plaza (DF) Jesus “El Rey” Reynaldo Zambada Garcia
Chief of Regional Plaza (BC/SO) Gilberto “El Gilillo” Higuera Guerrero
Chief of Regional Plaza (BC/SO) Teodoro “El Teo” Garcia Simental
“Functional Specialists and Managers” within the cartel that perform specific duties for keeping day-to-day operations of the enterprise profitable, discreet and disciplined.
Logistics Miguel Angel Guzman Loera
Security Chief of CEO Gustavo Inzunza Inzunza
Operations / Transport Victor Emilio Cazares Sanchez
Chief Financial Officer Jose Lamberto Verdugo Calderon
Chief Channel Officer Otto Herrera Garcia
“Local Managers” manage multiple functions at the municipal plaza level in 2nd and 3rd tier plazas. These positions are where future leadership is trained on the job and tested.
Security Chief of CEO and Badiraguato Plaza Manuel Alejandro Aponte Gomez
Distribution (US) in Los Angeles Plaza Ovidio Limon Sanchez
Production and Logistics in Culiacan Plaza Roberto “El Doctor” Beltran Burgos
Smuggling to US in Sonora Plaza Jose Luis “Mi Nino” Angulo Soto
Each CEO (major leader of a cartel) has an immediate team of personnel (many of which he does not share physical space) that performs many of the functions that a corporate business would, such as:
- Expansion strategy/programming
- Recruitment and personnel (including payroll)
- Internal control and monitoring (discipline and oversight)
- Taxation functions (extortion and collection from members and those protected by cartel)
- Money laundering
- Quality control (production process for drugs, human and weapons trafficking)
- Public Relations (promotion of goodwill at community level, interface with media, etc…)
It appears that recruitment is done with a number of criteria including but not limited to:
- Family connections (senior ranking because of familiar relations in cartel leadership)
- Externally related experience (lateral move from outside of cartel)
- Internally related experience (bottom-up ascent within cartel)
The above mentioned general categories for recruitment criteria are not mutually exclusive of each other and are often overlapping in their explanatory power for vertical mobility within Mexican drug cartels. Below scenarios using case evidence will be given to illustrate these multiple categories.
As a disclaimer, none of the categories used to describe varying commonalities in the structure and recruitment process of Mexican DTOs are causal by nature. Rather, these are general guideposts to describe recurring themes in Mexican DTOs to be used as conceptual frameworks for anticipating future structural arrangements and understanding those of the past.
CASE OF ISMAEL “EL MAYO” ZAMBADA GARCIA of the SINALOA CARTEL.
A good case study of both the internal and family evidence can be seen in observing the trajectory of Ismael Zambada Garcia “El Mayo”. Presently he is alleged to serve the [SINALOA CARTEL]. He was originally a low level hit man (sicario) in the GUADALAJARA CARTEL in the late 80s. Following the fractionalization of that cartel into three: SINALOA, JUAREZ and ARELLANO FELIX; Zambada Garcia followed the Carrillo Fuentes brothers to the Juarez Cartel during the early 90s, where he again served as a slightly more senior enforcer (probably something like a chief of security for an important plaza(s) – such as Mazatlan, Sinaloa. Initially Zambada Garcia was an ally of the ARELLANO FELIX cartel while working in Sinaloa for the JUAREZ cartel but this broke down as orders from the JUAREZ cartel leadership came in that he would orchestrate the killing of Ramon Arellano Felix and subsequently move to Tijuana to battle the AFO. Shortly thereafter – having proved his capabilities as an enforcer – he aligned with the SINALOA cartel to carry out chief enforcer duties with a gradual accumulation of power as a Chief of Plaza over various municipalities until he became a CEO in his own right.
The story of Ismael Zambada Garcia is in no way meant to reflect the traditional trajectory of a Mexican cartel member but it does show that through a careful combination of functional skill, cooperation and betraying your principals at the right time – one can move from lower levels to the upper echelons of the cartel structure. He has also built his own durability into his ascent by continuously using his own subcontractors as enforcers throughout his career – whom he eventually turned into his own militia of enforcers – which gave him so much independent power. He also called on his family members (brother Jesus Reynaldo Zambada Garcia & son Vicente Zambada Niebla) to serve key functions in territory under his control. Attempts to capture or kill him have been stifled by his tactical approach – netting the capture of his son and brother over the past year but, not him. He is currently 61 and is believed to have received plastic surgery to avoid detection.
For more information on the Sinaloa cartel, its leadership and functional delegation please see both the MasterList and Timeline tabs in the latest Excel spreadsheet. Also, the Cartel Template Excel document (forthcoming) will have an overview of changes in the competitive structure of the Mexican trafficking environment including details about leadership and external shocks.
This category partially explaining a main motive for recruitment and promotion within the Mexican DTO structure originates from the inherent trust that often comes from the family enterprise of illegal smuggling. This is the oldest form of structuring and recruiting cartel employees that is most memorable observed in the Cossa Nostra hierarchical organized crime structure.
In Mexico this is manifested in the experience of the Tijuana Cartel (AFO):
Miguel Angel “El Padrino” Felix Gallardo was a leadership figure in the now defunct Guadalajara Cartel in the 1970s and 80s. He was arrested on April 9, 1989 but not before he had groomed his nephews of the Arellano Felix family organization in Baja California. Through recruiting his own family he had inherent trust, connections and physical places to conceal himself and his illicit activities in one of the most lucrative drug corridors in the world – the Tijuana Plaza.
Francisco Javier Arellano Felix, Benjamin Arellano Felix and Ramon Arellano Felix were just the first three of the ten Arellano Felix brothers/sisters to actively adopt leadership roles in the AFO activities after being recruited by their Uncle “El Padrino” to collaborate with the Guadalajara Cartel. When the Guadalajara Cartel began to weaken and collapse following the killing and capture of its key leaders the Arellano Felix organization (AFO) quickly became one of the strongest and most notorious in Mexico. Francisco Javier is widely known as the founder and/or capo of the organization with brother Benjamin Arellano Felix reputed as the brains of operational management. Ramon Arellano Felix was the enforcer and chief of security within this structure trained by his older brother Francisco Javier. Eduardo Arellano Felix was groomed through managing daily activities in Baja California so that when his older brother Francisco Javier was captured he assumed leadership. As different family members were killed or captured others were already internally recruited within the family to step up and assume leadership so as to not disrupt the business. This is no more apparent than in watching how the sister and former accountant for the AFO stepped into a leadership role following the extradition of Francisco Javier on September 16, 2006 and subsequent arrest of Eduardo Arellano Felix on October 26, 2008. She and her son, Fernando Sanchez Arellano, are now the alleged CEO figures of the Arellano Felix Organization.
Another example of the family based model is the Colima Cartel and its infamous Amezcua Contreras brothers.
With the benefit of an elaborate corporate model of international contacts and an insulated leadership structure made up nearly entirely of family members, this cartel was able to conceal the scope and precise locations of its activities for decades. An additional benefit of its first mover position in the industrial production of methamphetamine in Mexico was that it did not have to negotiate hard with the violent Colombian cartels for a percentage take on illegal exports. As this cartel has suffered from blows to its leadership and more fierce competition from the Gulf and La Familia cartels, it has allied itself with the Sinaloa cartel in order to provide protection to its key Manzanillo port plaza, meth labs throughout Mexico, and key smuggling corridors along the border.
An important consideration for the “family” model of cartel organization is that it has seemingly lost ground to the preferred and more successful cell-structure of Mexican cartels like the GULF over the past decade. Organizations that have organized themselves in the cell structure, following the non-traditional node structure of Al-Qaida, have been able to evade massive law enforcement operations against them and mitigate potential betrayal from captured members and/or opportunistic political patrons who eventually find it beneficial to sacrifice high-level cartel members for political gain.
Externally Related Experience
This category indicating motives for recruitment or promotion into leadership positions within Mexican cartels deals with those individuals lured into the organized criminal enterprise structure from a related professional career. This is a broad category including those with prior experience as public accountants, lawyers, public relations professionals, politicians, police officers, investigators, customs officials, soldiers, informational technology specialists and surgeons/doctors. Essentially, this category may include anyone that is corrupted by the cartel and gradually earns the trust of cartel leadership until they themselves are leading significant cartel activity.
A key example of this form of recruitment and promotion is seen in the ascent of the ZETAS from an enforcer group to the eventual mega-cartel that they are today.
Internally Related Experience
This category, as previously exemplified in the story of Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada García, explains recruitment and promotion within the cartel as a phenomenon of bottom-up confidence building and proving through doing. A parallel example of how this type of vertical ascension in organized criminal hierarchy functions in practice is to observe the ascent of many plaza leaders in the trafficking groups of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
In the movie “City of God” directed by Fernando Meirelles there is a scene that visually shows the procession of child recruits into the drug trade. Unfortunately, this pattern of ‘career’ criminality is not unique to Brazil and occurs similarly in Mexico. In a paper on child soldiers in Rio de Janeiro, Luke Dowdney of the non-profit organization Viva Rio illustrates the structure of drug trafficking organizations in Rio’s urban slums:
The above diagram illustrates the hierarchical (traditional) model of street level organization in Rio’s favelas or slums. Children are recruited into the criminal enterprise through serving as lookouts (olheiro) and messenger boys for older cartel members. As a child member grows older and earns the trust of those around him he may earn a chance to work as a street level seller (vapor) earning a small commission from his handler (gerente de boca). If that child member is not skilled at selling or generally uninterested he may then be asked to help with the physical breaking down of the drugs into street sale packages (endolador). On the same note, if the child member shows a particular flare for violence and discipline, he may be promoted to foot soldier (soldado). With age and experience one may ascend the criminal structure to the mid-management levels of the criminal enterprise until being noticed by the chief of plaza as a potential successor and/or appointed to manage the operations of new territories as a cartel expands. Although the Rio de Janeiro analogy is more appropriate for street gangs, it describes the general process of recruiting and promotion when there is no direct familiar bond or profession specific skill-set that a cartel member offers upon entry.
Children of the Drug Trade: A Case Study of Children in Organized Armed Violence in Rio de Janeiro, (Rio de Janeiro: 7 Letras, 2003) Link here: http://www.coav.org.br/publique/cgi/cgilua.exe/sys/start.htm?UserActiveTemplate=_en&infoid=1304&sid=107&from_info_index=41
Cartel Leadership, Promotional Logic and Functional Descriptions
Observations from some examples illustrate certain common functions within the cartel that appear in the career hierarchy. Below a brief description of these functions and evidence of lugartenientes and jefes that are associated with them will be detailed.
CEO: Executive level leadership of cartel functions and regional dominance over certain functions. In larger cartels this is a position that is somewhat insulated from day-to-day management and more appropriately geared toward coordinating strategic alliances with various elements of the supply chain, communicating with the functional managers and maintaining good relations with political and law enforcement protectors.
Examples of CEO:
Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera Sinaloa Cartel At Large
Amado Carrillo Fuentes Juarez Killed 07.03.1997
Francisco Javier Arellano Felix Tijuana Caught 08.14.2006
Juan Garcia Abrego Gulf Caught 01.14.1996
Osiel Cardenas Guillen Gulf Caught 03.14.2003
What the above CEO cartel leaders have in common is that after they reached a certain point in the criminal enterprise hierarchy, they insulated themselves from day-to-day operations. For example, “El Chapo” of the SINALOA cartel is reported as ailing from prostate cancer so he has fallen back from day-to-day duties and plays more of a ‘chairman of the board’ role in the cartel. There is no doubt that he is the symbolic leader of the SINALOA cartel and that he is equally the most wanted man in Mexico but, his capture would not terribly disrupt the daily operations of the SINALOA cartel. The two CEOs of the SINALOA cartel are currently alleged to be Ignacio “El Nacho” Coronel Villarreal – possibly operating in the Guadalajara (Jalisco) plaza – and Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada García – possibly operating in the Sonora, Baja California and northern Mexico. Both CEOs have been reportedly spotted in the Sinaloa state in places like Culiacan over the past year. It is quite possible that occasionally the leadership of the separate cells of the SINALOA cartel meet to coordinate and negotiate business but that otherwise the two factions maintain separate organizational units.
Chief of Operations: The Chief of Operations in the largest cartels is often placed one step below the CEO and carries out many of the functions that a CEO does but for regional or local plazas. The COO is tasked with maintaining order in the plaza, making sure that product arrives from suppliers, negotiating prices on various levels of the supply chain and communicating performance to executives in the organization. Due to the amount of responsibility that a COO carries in the grand scheme of the organization, it is not surprising that often times these are the most likely candidates to betray a cartel and shift alliances. They have detailed information about the operating activities, intimate organizational intelligence, and a plethora of contacts that makes them one of the most valuable positions within the cartel. Is also makes them particularly vulnerable to capture and/or assassination attempts – these members are unable to insulate themselves from detection as easily as CEOs. It is not uncommon that before one becomes the COO they must serve plaza managing functions in a smaller more local capacity. One example of this is when a Sr. Manager of security or money laundering is given a small plaza to manage in addition to their daily functions to test their ability to perform plaza managing duties.
Examples of COO:
Teodoro “El Teo” García Simental Sinaloa Cartel At Large
Gilberto “El Gilillo” Higuera Guerrero Sinaloa Cartel Caught 08.25.2004
Francisco “El 2000” Hernández García Sinaloa Cartel At Large
Hector Alfredo “El Mochomo” Beltran Leyva Beltran Leyva Caught 01.21.2008
Rodolfo “El Nito” Lopez Ibarra Beltran Leyva Caught 05.19.2009
Vicente Carrillo Leyva Juarez Caught 04.01.2009
There is more variance in the professional trajectory of each COO than in that of the CEO.
Teodoro “El Teo” Garcia Simental is an interesting case because, as a native of Sinaloa, he was originally a foot soldier with the Arellano Felix organization in Tijuana. He began as an enforcer in especially the eastern Tijuana territories of Baja California and Rosarito beach areas where he was known to adorn his employees with replicas of police uniforms and murder partygoers to test the stomach of his own men. Throughout the nineties he earned a reputation as an effective deterrent from competing cartels and those pondering defection within the Tijuana cartel. This carried on until his ascent to lugarteniente status gave him the independence to begin capitalizing his illegal enterprise with kidnappings of wealthy individuals throughout northern Baja California (circa 2002 following the murder of Ramon Arellano Felix in February and the capture of Benjamin Arellano Felix in March). His actions brought negative attention from the press, the military and even some political circles that the Arellano Felix Organization was paying off. Furthermore, in light of the complications the AFO was facing, Benjamin Arellano Felix made a strategic alliance with Osiel Cardenas of the GULF cartel while in prison in 2003. As that alliance may have ostracized certain elements of Teodoro Garcia’s Sinaloa network he may have second guessed his loyalty to the AFO. Shortly thereafter the GULF-AFO alliance broke down in 2005, and disagreements between Fernando Sanchez Arellano and “El Teo” evolved into all out gunfights in the streets of Tijuana by 2006. As of late 2009 “El Teo” remains At Large with his reputation as a brutal enforcer and major COO for the Sinaloa cartel (to which he defected after the 2006 falling out with Fernando Sanchez Arellano) in the Tijuana, Baja California plaza. His deputy enforcer, Santiago Meza Lopez was captured on January 22, 2009 in Tijuana – serving a major blow to the enforcer apparatus surrounding Teodoro.
Francisco “El 2000” Hernandez Garcia is a top COO for the Sinaloa cartel and has as storied a history as any current fugitive of justice in the Mexican DTO can have. “El 2000” or “El Panchillo”, began as a low level operator for a faction of a unit called LOS NUMEROS who worked as Sonora based criminal business in charge of smuggling contraband and humans across various points of the Sonora-Arizona border. Specifically, he was in charge of smuggling cocaine and marijuana into Arizona and California via this lucrative drug smuggling corridor. LOS NUMEROS, reportedly led by the Enriquez Parra brothers, were contracted by the Beltran Leyva brothers who were leading a business unit of the SINALOA cartel. By the nature of the location of the Sonora plaza, Hernandez Garcia had to also deal with brokering a gentleman’s agreement for non-violence with the JUAREZ cartel. It is not entirely clear why Hernandez Garcia chose the SINALOA cartel over the BELTRAN LEYVA organization but it probably is linked to the reliability of the Colombia connection and other supplier connections that the SINALOA cartel promised him. Although it became clear by 2007 that the alliance between the BELTRAN LEYVA and the SINALOA cartels had ended, it is reasonable to estimate that Hernandez Garcia had already worked out a deal with the SINALOA cartel around the time he was linked to the 2005 kidnapping and killing of award winning border reporter Alfredo Jimenez Mota (April 2005). It is suspected (by the SIEDO) that Hernandez Garcia ordered the hit on Raul Enriquez Parra as retribution for his decision to kidnap and kill Jimenez Mota – which led to an increased military presence and international attention on this key drug smuggling plaza. The costs associated with increased law enforcement and the witch-hunt for Jimenez Mota’s killer led to cartel justice and (alleged) federal payoffs to quiet down the plaza. Regardless, the plaza heated up and increased competition and revenge killings led to a cycle of violence that continues in 2009 – with Hernandez Garcia presently a fugitive of the law.
Hector Alfredo “El Mochomo” Beltran Leyva was a top lieutenant in the Sinaloa cartel before the split between BELTRAN LEYVA and SINALOA in early 2007. At that point his previous loyalty to “El Chapo” Guzman became a liability that led to rumors that “El Chapo” himself informed on the precise whereabouts of Hector Alfredo leading to his arrest in Guzman’s hometown of Culiacan, Sinaloa where it is believed Beltran Leyva was vying for its share of the lucrative plaza. Detained January 28, 2008.
Rodolfo “El Nito” Lopez Ibarra had worked his way up in the Beltran Leyva organization to the point where he foolishly believed his was an untouchable in charge of the Monterrey plaza (one of the most lucrative domestic consumption areas in Mexico). He was captured de-boarding a private airplane on his return from a baptism with a plane full of guns, drugs, money and women. Detained May 19, 2009.
Vicente Carrillo Leyva of the JUAREZ cartel is one of the branded “narco-juniors” that grew up with an affluent lifestyle, received premium education and adeptly mixed his legitimate and illegitimate businesses together using illicit gains to capitalize his otherwise legitimate business endeavors. The ascent of Carrillo Leyva is clearly a result of his familiar ties as son of Amado Carrillo Fuentes and nephew of Vicente Carrillo Fuentes. Detained April 1, 2009.
Chief Channel Officer: A rarely discussed but infinitely important function within DTOs is that of the conduit, middleman, peacemaker, broker of deals, strategic alliances and supplier and distributer relationships. The Chief Channel Officer does all of the above and often more. Any member who maintains the relationship with the key suppliers (such as a Colombian connection) is a very powerful leader within the cartel and be considered a CCO. Also, any member who brokers cooperative agreements with rival cartels, sharing agreements for plazas and/or protective services can also be considered a CCO. By nature of the high degree of bargaining power, the natural affinity for networking and maintaining contact with rivals and suppliers, CCOs are inclined to switch alliances and/or begin independent enterprise if given too much power.
Examples of CCO:
Ignacio “El Nacho” Coronel Villarreal SINALOA At Large
Miguel Angel Beltran Uriarte SINALOA Caught 12/20/2006
Otto Herrera Garcia SINALOA Caught 6/21/2007
Eduardo “El Lalo” Gonzalez Quirarte JUAREZ At Large
Victor Emilio Cazares Salazar SINALOA At Large
Ignacio “El Nacho” Coronel Villarreal of the SINALOA cartel is probably the most striking case of a CCO that used his position as a conduit to cut out his superiors to initiate his own successful criminal enterprise at the cost of his former partners – in this case BELTRAN LEYVA. He is currently a CEO for the SINALOA cartel but was formerly a primary Colombian connection (through the Norte del Valle cartel in the area surrounding Cali, Colombia) for Arturo Beltran Leyva in the SINALOA cartel. He is rumored to have cut out “El Barbas” out of a cocaine deal which spawned the breakdown of cooperation between the Beltran Leyva business unit from the greater whole of the SINALOA cartel, leaving “El Nacho” in control of his own business unit of the SINALOA cartel. The feud began around January 2008 and has led to bloodletting in the states of Sinaloa, Sonora, Chihuahua, Durango, Jalisco and Nayarit. Disagreements between the BELTRAN LEYVA and SINALOA cartels began with issues of distrust between Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera and Arturo, not directly with Ignacio Coronel Villarreal. Despite this, Coronel’s role as a CCO with BELTRAN LEYVA meant that he alone attempted to cut them out of their lucrative supplier relationship in Colombia and therefore required a show of force (death) as payback. Eventually, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is believed to have informed (via another conduit) on Hector Alfredo “El Mochomo” Beltran Leyva to begin the elimination of this cartel from rival status in his hometown of Culiacan, Sinaloa on January 21, 2008. This led to the revenge killing of Guzman’s son, Edgar Guzman Beltran on May 8, 2008 as he exited a shopping mall in broad daylight in Culiacan, Sinaloa.
Miguel Angel Beltran Uriarte was a key lieutenant in the SINALOA cartel serving primarily as a Colombian connection until his capture on December 20, 2006. He was in charge of purchasing and turning over drugs from Colombia, Panama, and Peru among other source countries. In addition, he was also charged with setting up clandestine processing labs in Mexico (specifically Jalisco and Sinaloa) where he collaborated with Ignacio “El Nacho” Coronel Villarreal in supplying the ‘Pacific Route’ of drug trafficking into the United States. Also, Beltran Uriarte is suspected to have served as the direct contact of Valerio Palma Salazar, the brother of Hector Luis “El Guero” Palma Salazar formerly of the Guadalajara cartel.
Otto Herrera Garcia was probably one of the most successful Chief Channel Officers until his capture on June 21, 2007 and his eventual extradition to the United States on February 15, 2008. Herrera Garcia, a Guatemalan native, was the Colombian connection for the SINALOA cartel with a direct contact with the Orejuela brothers of the CALI CARTEL. He used El Salvador, where he undoubtedly had a network of criminal and political contacts, as a staging base for shipments of cocaine coming from Colombia en route to Mexico. In April 2004 he was captured in Mexico but escaped from jail in 2005 while awaiting extradition to the United States. He then hid out in Colombia with the assumed protection of his Colombian contacts for two years until the Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad (DAS) cornered him in Colombia. He offered each of his captors US$700,000 to look the other way and let him remain free but was extradited from Colombian custody in 2008.
Eduardo “El Lalo” Gonzalez Quirarte of the JUAREZ cartel served as a go-between for now imprisoned former drug-czar General Rebollo and the JUAREZ cartel. Rebollo protected the JUAREZ cartel and went after the AFO in cooperation with Gonzalez Quirarte, who allegedly arranged to have subordinates testify against members of the AFO to net convictions. Despite his involvement in coordinating political and law enforcement protection for the JUAREZ cartel’s activities in Mexico and beyond he was not seriously pursued by authorities until 2002 when the US Treasury Department froze his assets. He has maintained a leadership role in the cartel setting up contacts throughout South America where it is believed he may be hiding (i.e. Argentina).
Victor Emilio Cazares Salazar is a key lieutenant in the SINALOA cartel and has evaded capture throughout since before 2004. He is suspected to coordinate activities within the FEDERATION at the senior level and control a substantial amount of cocaine transport and distribution within Mexico.[i] His ties with Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada Garcia, now of the SINALOA cartel are alleged to run from Badiraguato, Sinaloa to San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora along his key smuggling route for the SINALOA cartel.[ii] He is known to have direct contact with distributors throughout the United States including storage facilities on the US border, safe houses in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago and, wholesalers throughout the United States. Without the expressed permission of “El Mayo” it is unlikely that Cazares would be able to continue his enterprise at its current scale (especially considering the major setback from the DEA netting over 700 arrests from his operating apparatus in 2007).
Chief of Security or Enforcer: An extremely important role in DTOs, especially in the contemporary structure where violent standoffs and professional assassinations are more and more commonplace; the Chief of Security is in charge of protecting the major assets of the cartel (starting with the CEOs and executive leadership). Oftentimes, the Chief of Security and leader of Enforcer groups acquires his initial expertise and network while serving in the municipal police, federal police or military. Enforcers often lead teams of hitmen to carry out revenge killings, political assassinations, property destruction, kidnappings and other violent acts. It is rather common place that these naturally violent individuals are well connected in local and federal law enforcement circles and use those connections to facilitate their day-to-day functions. Furthermore, the enforcer and security functions have been adjoined with public relations functions recently as cartels use careful execution of violent acts and media coverage and/or Youtube to spread fear among the Mexican populace.
Examples of Chief of Security/Enforcers:
Jorge Eduardo “El Coss” Costilla Sanchez Gulf At Large
Miguel Angel “El Z-40” Treviño Morales Gulf At Large
Omar Ibarra Lozano Beltran Leyva Caught 6/26/2009
Edgar “La Barbie” Valdez Villarreal Beltran Leyva At Large
Arnold “El Minsa” Rueda Medina La Familia Caught 07/11/2009
Armando “El Madera” Farias Alvarez Millennium Killed 03/19/2007
Jorge Eduardo “El Coss” Costilla Sanchez is a major operator of the GULF CARTEL who defected from the municipal police in Matamoros. It is likely that he began working with the Gulf Cartel when he was a mid-level officer in the police department helping protect certain activities for the GULF and also providing key intelligence to the cartel operators so that they could avoid detection and gain a competitive edge on rivals. Municipal police have often been known to carry out hits, kidnappings and even deal drugs in their own right (both on and off duty). Costilla Sanchez eventually left the municipal police and became a full-fledged member of the ZETAS by 1999 where it is reported that he participated in a border standoff with US federal agents from the DEA and FBI. He later cultivated his own band of enforcers called LOS SIERRA and is suspected to run the Matamoros Plaza for the GULF/ZETAS alliance in addition to being one of the top enforcers for the cartel.
Miguel Angel “El Z-40” Treviño Morales was one of the 30+ members of the elite Special Forces group trained to combat narcotics traffickers recruited by the GULF CARTEL in the mid to late nineties. The origins of the ZETAS is found in the GAFEs or (Grupo Aeromovil de Fuerzas Especiales) that defected after receiving the highest level of elite training available in the world and access to a plethora of weaponry and international contacts. Treviño took his training and his connections and acted as a gatekeeper for the Nuevo Laredo Plaza in Tamaulipas during the late nineties and the early part of the 2000s. His functional duties as Chief of Security and as a leader of enforcers from the ZETAs unit tasked him with exacting ‘taxes’ on other smugglers attempting to use the Nuevo Laredo Plaza for transport into the US as well as exacting revenge and other hits to keep ZETA/GULF control in the region. After the plaza began to heat up post 2006 the whereabouts of Treviño have become less clear with some suspecting that he is running things from afar in Guatemala after having established contacts with intermediary smugglers there and some mercenaries for hire as well (see Kaibiles).
Omar Ibarra Lozano of the BELTRAN LEYVA cartel defected from the Secretaria de Seguridad Publica de Nuevo Leon from a low paying law enforcement (first-responder) job to the payroll of the BELTRAN LEYVA unit of the SINALOA cartel estimated around the turn of the century. In little time he had recruited and trained his own enforce unit called the ‘FEDAS’ numbering approximately 400 members for Arturo Beltran Leyva. Partially as a reward for his efforts he was promoted to the COO spot for the San Pedro Garza Garcia municipality in the Nuevo Leon state in addition to his enforcer duties. Shortly after his promotion in 2009 he was captured on June 26.
Edgar “La Barbie” Valdez Villarreal of the BELTRAN LEYVA cartel earned his reputation as a brutal enforcer within this cartel through both his individual capacity for violence and his skill at organizing hit squads like LOS NEGROS and LOS PELONES through third-parties or under his own direction. The creation of LOS NEGROS was a direct response to the emergence of LOS ZETAS serving the GULF cartel in the late nineties. Also, he commanded police investigator William Castillo, who is alleged to direct LOS PELONES – another paramilitary enforcer group.
Arnold “El Minsa” Rueda Medina of LA FAMILIA cartel in Michoacan was the alleged right-hand man of Nazario “El Mas Loco” Moreno Gonzalez (CEO) of La Familia. Rueda Medina was the known head assassin of LA FAMILIA in Michoacan and is rumored to have collaborated closely with Servando Gomez Martinez, the alleged head of public relations for this uniquely structured cartel. Following the detention of Rueda Medina on July 11, 2009 a week long killing spree ensued where his comrades attempted but failed to break him out of prison – resulting in the killing of multiple local and federal law enforcement officials as retribution.
Armando “El Madera” Farias Alvarez was the head enforcer for the MILLENNIUM cartel allied with the JUAREZ and SINALOA cartels during the time of his death on March 19, 2007. At that time the FEDERATION was fighting the GULF cartel for dominance of the ‘Pacific Route’ from Michoacan to Sonora into the United States. Armando is the brother of Juan Jose and Uriel who are all suspected to have been involved in smuggling methamphetamines through the cartel’s connection with the infamous Chinese smuggler Zhenli Ye Gon.
Finance or Accounting Officer: Is the functional position requiring a variety of duties including but not limited to payroll, accounting, inventory tracking, cash flow management, illicit money laundering and payoffs. No single duty is an easy task in itself and the chief financial or accounting officers often have to delegate portions of these responsibilities to partners, family members or ‘legit’ accounting experts. The nature of money laundering requires front companies, crooked accountants, lawyers, banks, investment opportunities and a way to smuggle ill gotten gains from foreign countries into Mexico.
Examples of CFOs:
Javier “El Mamado” Martinez Perez Millennium Killed 01/08/2007
Saul “El Ingeniero” Saucedo Chaidez Arriola Marquez Caught 02/24/2004
Valerio “El Vale” Palma Salazar Sinaloa At Large
Dimas Diaz Ramos Sinaloa Caught 08/12/2009
Gerónimo “El Primo” Gamez Garcia Beltran Leyva Caught 01/29/2009
Saul “El Ingeniero” Saucedo Chaidez of the ARRIOLA MARQUEZ cartel (now defunct) and originally of Tepehuanes, Durango was one of the principal money launders of the nineties in Mexico. He was not only tasked with logistically coordinating the shipments and payments for multi-ton loads of cocaine from the Cartel del Norte del Valle but, he was also extremely skilled at laundering illicit proceeds into agribusiness (over 800 head of cattle) and real estate.
Valerio “El Vale” Palma Salazar of the SINALOA cartel is a key money laundering player for this cartel staying below the radar and formerly serving brother Hector Luis “El Guero” Palma Salazar and probably either one of the remaining three main leaders of the SINALOA cartel.
Dimas Diaz Ramos of the SINALOA cartel was a lieutenant level operator working directly with Nazaro “El Chayo” Moreno and Ramon “El Llavero” Moreno Madrigal of LA FAMILIA in the Sierra of SINALOA to transport drugs from Badiraguato (SIN) to Mexicali (BC) and San Luis Rio Colorado (SON). Assumed money laundering duties following the death of Jose Lamberto Verdugo Calderon – who performed this function directly for Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada – and was arrested with five other suspects in Culiacan, Sinaloa on August 12, 2009.
Gerónimo “El Primo” Gamez Garcia of the BELTRAN LEYVA organization was such a senior level money laundering operator for his cartel that following his arrest on January 29, 2009, enforcers attempted to free him during transport to another prison resulting in the deaths of six federal police among others. His clout as a money launder was multiplied by the fact that he also served as a key conduit with the Norte del Valle cartel in Colombia meaning he has access to not only the revenues but also the ear and trust of the merchandise providers in Colombia. With what appears to be ample competition for connections to the Norte del Valle cartel in Colombia, the competition for trusted contacts in Mexico is probably fierce – fierce enough to wage a full out war on law enforcement when they detain a key operator like “El Primo”.