Mexican Drug Lords and Areas of Influence
Miguel Angel FÃ©lix Gallardo, known as âThe Godfatherâ was one of the founders of the Guadalajara Cartel.
He was one of the first drug lords to spread drug dealing on a large scale in Mexico. At first, he worked as âmadrinaâ for the federal police, meaning he worked as a police agent who carries out espionage or other clandestine services. During the 1960âs he worked as bodyguard for the Governor of Mexico, Leopoldo SÃ¡nchez Celisâ children, at the same time he started drug dealing. Gradually, he grew his organisation which trafficked poppy and marijuana in the states of Sinaloa, Durango, Chihuahua, Baja California, Jalisco, Guerrero and Nayarit.
During the 1980âs the Guadalajara Cartel emerged becoming the most powerful cartel, by that time Miguel Gallardo had made contacts with Colombian criminal gangs. In the mid-1980âs a United States DEA agent, Enrique Camarena, was tortured and murdered by the cartel. Following this incident, the Mexican government focused on dismantling the Guadalajara Cartel. Miguel Gallardo split up his territory in 1987, creating other cartels to make the complete dismantling of the organisation difficult.
The Mexican Public Prosecutorâs Office has recently revealed that there are currently 36 criminal cells linked to nine different cartels which operate in Mexico. Anotnio Luigi Mazzitelli, representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean presented a report âÂ¿Mafias en Mexico?â in 2016 where he describes the origins and growth of Mexican cartels. He declared that five of the Mexican cartels are weaker than before due to internal fighting: Los Arellano FÃ©lix, Familia Michoacan, Caballeros Templarios, Juarez Cartel and Los Zetas cartel. The other three have ensured stability and security, and the one left, CJNG, is the strongest cartel nowadays.
The Cartel of Jalisco New Generation (CJNG)
It is the most prominent cartel today in Mexico. They recruit finance experts and well-connected people who have a US visa or contacts in the European Union.
ORIGIN: It was originally one of the cells under El Chapoâs control for Jalisco, Colima, MichoacÃ¡n and Veracruz, however it is now one of the most powerful Mexican cartels. According to Panama Papers, the groupâs leader, âEl Menchoâ was under the command of Ignacio Coronel (Sinaloa Cartel lieutenant) whose death caused a split in his Jalisco-based organization, as âEl Menchoâ wanted to take his place, however, did not and therefore formed his own cartel. CJNG has taken advantage of the serious blows dealt to other drug cartels (Sinaloa, Caballeros Templarios and Zetas) by authorities.
LEADER: Led by Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, also known as âEl Menchoâ, former local policeman of Cabo Corrientes, a village on the coast of the Pacific Ocean.
Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes
CELLS: Associated with the Cuinis*, led by Abigael Gonzalez Valencia and his brothers (CuÃ±ados Mencho).
AREAS OF INFLUENCE: Jalisco, Colima, MichoacÃ¡n, Guanajuato, Nayarit, Guerrero, Morelos and Veracruz State.
CRIMINAL ACTIVITY: Extortion, drug dealing and fuel-theft. CJNG imports drugs from China, Argentina and Chile entering Mexico as medicine.
April 2015, CJNG assassinated fifteen police forces at Puerto Vallarta â Guadalajara road.May 2015, The Cartel of Jalisco New Generation took down a military helicopter with a rocket launcher killing nine soldiers.August 2016, the cartel kidnapped one of the sons of âEl Chapoâ in August 2016, Jesus Alfredo GuzmÃ¡n Salazar, 29 years old. Considered both him and his mother by the US government as operators of Sinaloa cartel
**Los Cuinis: principal associate of CJNG has dealt in cocaine and methamphetamines since the 90âs. Their leader was Abigail Gonzalez Valencia who was arrested last February at Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco State, he was Nemesioâs brother in law.
The Cartel of Sinaloa (CDS)
It is one of the largest drug-trafficking organization in the world. They seldom seek confrontation with the state. One of the groupâs features is that the majority of its members are relatives or locals, therefore they share values and ethics giving the cartel more cohesion.
ORIGIN: Pedro Aviles Perez was one of the pioneer drug lords in the State of Sinaloa. He was killed during a skirmish with police in 1978. The second generation of Sinaloan drug dealers were Rafael Caro Quintero, Miguel Ãngel FÃ©lix Gallardo, Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo and JoaquÃn âEl Chapoâ GuzmÃ¡n. Miguel Ãngel FÃ©lix Gallardo, Rafael Caro Quintero and Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo founded Guadalajara Cartel. It was linked to Colombian cartels: Cali and MedellÃn cartel and Juan RamÃ³n Matta Ballesteros, also known as âDon Mattaâ or âEl Negroâ a drug dealer in Honduras who was the main intermediary between Mexican and Colombian drug lords. Guadalajara cartel is disarticulated nowadays
LEADER: Ismael Zambada GarcÃa, also known as âEl Mayoâ and Juan Jose Esparragoza Moreno, also known as âEl Azulâ. El Azul suffered a heart attack on February 2014, although it has been said that he is still alive.
Ismael Zambada GarcÃa
CELLS: Gente Nueva (operates mainly in Chihuahua and Sinaloa State), Los Cabrera (operates mainly in Durango and Chihuahua State), Cartel del poniente (also known as âLa Laguna and Los bardelesâ which operates in Durango and Coahuila State), El Aquiles (operates in the State of Lower California), El Tigre (operates in Lower California State), Del 28 (operates in South Lower California), Los artistas Asesinos (operates in Sinaloa as well as Los Mexicles considered as a sub-cell), Los Salazar and los Memos (operate in Sonora State).
AREAS OF INFLUENCE: Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Durango, Coahuila, Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sonora State.
CRIMINAL ACTIVITY: Drug trafficking, money laundering, kidnapping and bribery.
The Cartel of Tijuana New Generation
ORIGIN: The Guadalajara Cartel broke up into two factions in the 90âs: the Sinaloa Cartel and the Tijuana Cartel led by the Arellano FÃ©lix brothers (also known the cartel of Arellano FÃ©lix brothers, CAF, for its initials in Spanish). During 80s and 90s it was one of the most violent and prominent cartels in Mexico. Since 2016, it has aligned with CJNG in order to form: the Tijuana Cartel New Generation (CTNG, for its initials in Spanish)
LEADER: – Juan JosÃ© PÃ©rez Vargas, a.k.a R7 or âAmarilloâ or âel PiolÃn was arrested in Guadalajara, Jalisco State on September 20th, 2017.
Juan JosÃ© PÃ©rez Vargas
CELLS: El Cham, El Jorquera and el Quieto,
AREAS OF INFLUENCE: Lower California State.
Location of Lower California State.
CRIMINAL ACTIVITY: Money laundering, arm trafficking, kidnapping and drug trafficking. Since 2016, it is aligned with CJNG in order to form: the Tijuana Cartel New Generation (CTNG)
The Cartel of la Familia Michoacana:
ORIGIN: The founders were Carlos Rosales Mendoza and the second leader was Nazario Moreno âEl Chayoâ. La familia Michoacana Cartel came to foreground in the 90s as the Gulf Cartelâs paramilitary group
LEADER: 2010, JesÃºs âEl Changoâ Mendez, arrested. (leader after the death of Nazario Moreno Gonzalez)
Other known leaders: May 2017, âEl GÃ¼ero pelayoâ killed by police; July 2017, âEl Charcoâ, alleged leader of Familia Michoacana cartel in EDOMEX killed by police
CELLS: La Empresa and âLa Nueva Empresaâ (deserters)
AREAS OF INFLUENCE: Mainly in: Morelos, Guerrero and the State of Mexico (EDOMEX). Less presence in: MichoacÃ¡n, Nuevo LeÃ³n, Lower California, Coahuila, Jalisco State
CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES: Money laundering, racketeering, arms trafficking, counterfeiting, police impersonation and drug trafficking.
The Cartel of Juarez or the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes Organization(OVCF)
ORIGIN: It was founded in the 80s and is one of the oldest and most powerful cartels in Mexico. The founder was Rafael Aguilar Guajardo who was killed in CancÃºn in 1993. His lieutenant, Amado Carrillo Fuentes, also known âEl SeÃ±or de los Cielosâ assumed cartelâs control. He died abruptly in 1997 during plastic surgery.
LEADER: October 2014, Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, better known as âEl Viceroyâ was arrested. Todayâs leader could be Juan Pablo Lezema, part of La Linea cell (militant arm of Cartel of Juarez)
Juan Pablo Lezema
CELLS: Los Aztecas and La Linea (operate in Chihuahua)
AREAS OF INFLUENCE: Chihuahua
CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES: Human trafficking, kidnapping, transportation and distribution of drugs.
The Cartel of BeltrÃ¡n Leyva:
ORIGIN: It was part of the Sinaloa cartel until 2008. Its founder was Alfredo BeltrÃ¡n Leyva (a.k.a El Mochomo) was arrested in 2008. It lost power and presence in different regions however maintained some power due to long-standing alliance with Los Zetas Cartel.
LEADER: October 2014, Hector BeltrÃ¡n Leyva arrested
CELLS: Los Mazatlecos, el 2 mil, Los Granados, Los Rojos, La Oficina, Los Ardillos and the independent cartel of Acapulco. Fausto Isidro Meza Flores
AREAS OF INFLUENCE: Sinaloa State, Nayarit State.
CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES: Drug trafficking, money laundering, burglary, arms and human trafficking.
**South Pacific Cartel: Mexican cartel composed of remnants of the BeltrÃ¡n Leyva cartel. His main area of influence is the State of Morelos. It is an active cartel despite Julio de Jesus Radilla Hernandez and Victor Valdez, his leaders were captured.
The Cartel of âLos Zetasâ o Cartel del Noreste (CDN).
It is a cartel based on meritocracy, they reward members based on achievements. One of its features is that they act as an intermediary. They buy in advance poppy harvest and import drugs from different countries.
ORIGIN: When Osiel CÃ¡rdenas GuillÃ©n took full control of the Gulf Cartel in 1999, he noticed that he was immersed in a turf war. Therefore, he sought out Arturo Guzman Decena (a.k.a Z-1, a code given to high-ranking officials) to create a group of personal bodyguards. Eventually, this group became an armed branch of Gulf Cartel composed of army deserters from the Mexican Armyâs elite âGrupo AeromÃ³vil de Fuerzas Especiales (GAFE, for its initials in Spanish). GuzmÃ¡n Decena was killed in 2002 by Mexican army forces, Heriberto Lazacano (also known as Z-3) took the control of the Zetas still part of the Gulf Cartel. In 2010, Los Zetas split from the Gulf Cartel and gave birth to a new cartel composed mainly by deserters of Mexican army.
LEADER: Mars 2015, Omar TreviÃ±o Morales (aka Z-42), arrested October 2016, Gerardo ElÃas Matamoros Garza, leader in Nuevo LeÃ³n State May 2017, JosÃ© Enrique Mendoza RodrÃguez, alleged Zetas cartel leader June 2017, David Rodriguez Dominguez, also known as âel Padrinoâ alleged leader of Zetas in Oaxaca State captured September 2017, Rafa GarcÃa, leader in Nuevo LeÃ³n
CELLS: Grupo Operativo los Zetas and Fuerzas Especiales Zetas
AREA OF INFLUENCE: Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon and Coahuila State
CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES: Drug trafficking, bombing, torture, human trafficking, kidnaping, money laundering, racketeering, bribery and piracy.
The Gulf Cartel:
ORIGIN: It is one of the oldest cartels in Mexico. It has lost territory and influence over the past few years due to its rivals. It was created around 1984 by Juan Garcia Abrego who assumed control of his uncleâs drug dealing business. Juan Garcia Abrego was arrested and deported to the US in 1996. Nowadays there is a turf war for the control of Tamaulipas State and the State of Quintana Roo.
LEADER: September 2012 Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sanchez (aka El cossâ) arrested August 2013, Mario Ramirez TreviÃ±o (also known as X20â) arrested. April 2017, JuliÃ¡n Manuel Loisa Salinas, better known as Comandate Toro was killed May 2017, JosÃ© Antonio Romo LÃ³pez (aka âLa Hamburguesaâ) was arrested Todayâs leader is allegedly Petronilo Moreno Flores, also known as âcomandante Paniloâ
CELLS: Los Metros, Rojos, Grupo Dragones, Los fresitas, Ciclones, Los pelones y Talibanes, los 8-A, los gente del sierra, los emes.
AREAS OF INFLUENCE: Tamaulipas State.
CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES: Drug trafficking, money laundering, extortion, kidnapping, robbery, bribery and hate crimes.
The Cartel of Los Caballeros Templarios (Knights Templar Cartel):
ORIGIN: It was founded in 2011 by Nazario Moreno GonzÃ¡lez, Enrique Plancarte SolÃs and Servando GÃ³mez Martinez (also known as âLa Tutaâ) with the remnants of the Familia Michoacana after Nazarioâs death (2010)
LEADER: February 2015, La Tuta arrested
June 2017, Ignacio RenterÃa Andrade also known as âEl cenizoâ alleged leader of both Familia Michoacana and Knights Templar
CELLS: Los Tena (leaded by Fernando Cruz Mendoza âEl Tenaâ) and el Gallito leaded by Homero GonzÃ¡lez RodrÃguez
AREAS OF INFLUENCE: Tierra caliente, geographical and cultural region which comprises municipalities of MichoacÃ¡n, Guerrero and the State of Mexico.
CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES: Drug trafficking, money laundering, kidnapping, racketeering, arms trafficking, robbery
Ruben Mosso, AngÃ©lica Mercado â Milenio Newspaper â 3rd July 2017
âJalisco Nueva GeneraciÃ³n, de cÃ©lula de El Chapo al cartel mÃ¡s poderoso de Mexicoâ – Zorayda Gallegos â El PaÃs Newspaper â 13 May 2017
âEl cartel Jalisco Neuva GeneraciÃ³n secuestrÃ³ a un hijo del Chapoâ Claudia Altamirano – El pais Newspaper – 17th august 2016
âAsi fue la matanza de 15 policias en Jaliscoâ- Pablo de Llano – El PaÃs Newspaper â 10 April 2015
âCaos en Tamaulipas tras la muerte de dos jefes del narcotraficoâ -El Pais Newspaper â 25 April 2017
âLos 24 criminales mexicanos mÃ¡s buscadosâ – Luis Pablo Beauregard â 15 january 2016
âCae el Tio, uno de los principales lÃderes de los Caballeros Templariosâ Paula Chouza â 27 january 2014
âLos mapas que muestran los radicales cambios de influencia territorial de los cartels del narcotrÃ¡fico en Mexicoâ â Alberto NÃ¡jar â 11th July 2017
Â¿Quienes son los jefes del Cartel de Sinaloa? – Debate Mexico newspaper – 10th May 2017
âMarina de MÃ©xico recuperarÃ¡ el control de los puertos del paÃs! â Parker Asmann â Insight Crime â 20th June 2017 URL: http://es.insightcrime.org/analisis/infantes-marina-mexico-recuperaran-control-puertos-pais
âDeadly violence continues to climb in Mexico, where an ascendant cartel is strengthening its grip on powerâ â Christopher Woody â 23rd May 2017 http://www.businessinsider.com/violence-in-mexico-and-spread-of-jalisco-new-generation-cartel-cjng-2017-5
âDetienen a lÃder del CDN en NL y a otras 12 personas, entre ellas un policÃa en activeâ â Luciano Campos Garza â El proceso news site â 20th September 2017
âDetienen al lÃder del Cartel del Noreste en Nuevo LeÃ³nâ â Luciano Campos Garza â 3rd October 2016 – URL: http://www.proceso.com.mx/457234/detienen-al-lider-del-cartel-del-noreste-en-nuevo-leon
âThe evolution of Mexicoâs Cartelsâ â Stratfor Worldview â 25th February 2013 â URL https://worldview.stratfor.com/article/evolution-mexicos-cartels
âPor quÃ© los cartels del narcotrÃ¡fico en que se parecen a las grandes multinacionales financierasâ â Alberto NÃ¡jar â BBC Mundo âURL http://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-america-latina-39035737
âDomina Mexico cÃ¡rtel de Jalisco; anÃ¡lisis de la ONUâ â Leticia Robles de la Rosa â 15th April 2017 – URL http://www.excelsior.com.mx/nacional/2017/04/15/1157778