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Clash of the cartels: a guide ^ | March 28, 2009 | Ioan Grillo

Posted on 04/01/2009 6:27:36 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe

MEXICO CITY — As Mexico suffers from an onslaught of massacres, decapitations and execution-style hits, six major drug cartels have carved up the country into fiefdoms. Like the armies of authentic warlords, the cartels attempt to completely dominate their territories, controlling trafficking routes, local drug sales and other criminal enterprises. Clashing over disputed turf, the cartels all have carried out murders on an epic scale.

Sinaloa Cartel

City base: Culiacan (northwestern Mexico)

Kingpins: Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, Juan Jose Esparragoza (El Azul)

States in sphere of influence: Sinaloa, Sonora, Durango, Morelos, Chihuahua, Baja California, Mexico City, Quintana Roo, Yucatan

History: The Pacific state of Sinaloa gave birth to the Mexican narcotics trade when peasant farmers used its arid mountains to grow opium in the first part of the 20th century. The Sinaloa Cartel is said to have its roots in the early organizations that used houses in the state capital Culiacan to convert these opium poppies into heroin for the U.S. market. The cartel was quick to dominate the subsequent trades in marijuana and Colombian cocaine, and grew to be the size of Colombia’s notorious Medellin cartel by the mid-1990s. It is believed to be the Mexican cartel that has trafficked the greatest amount of narcotics throughout the first decade of the 21st century.

Of note:

The Gulf Cartel/The Zetas

City base: Matamoros (northeastern Mexico)

Kingpins: Osiel Cardenas (in prison in the United States), Ezequel Cardenas, Heriberto “The Executioner” Lazcano

States in sphere of influence: Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Coahuila, Veracruz, Tabasco, Oaxaca, Chiapas, Yucatan

History: The Gulf Cartel has its roots in a gang of bootleggers who smuggled liquor into Texas in the 1930s and then expanded into other forms of contraband. In the 1970s, gang leader Juan Garcia Abrego, the nephew of one of the founders, established the cartel as one of the major traffickers of marijuana and cocaine. In the 1990s, a unit of elite Mexican soldiers defected to the Gulf Cartel and became its band of enforcers. Known as the Zetas, they used paramilitary tactics and extreme violence to control a large chunk of eastern Mexico.

Of note:

Tijuana Cartel

City base: Tijuana (south of San Diego)

Leaders: Eduardo Arellano Felix, Enedina Arellano Felix

States in sphere of influence: Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sinaloa, Sonora

History: The Arellano Felix brothers originally worked within the Sinaloa Cartel, but broke off after the arrest of several major leaders in the late 1980s. By the end of the 1990s they had consolidated control of Tijuana and become the most high-profile cartel in Mexico. They were seriously weakened by the death and arrest of four major leaders at the beginning of the 21st century. But they are still the dominant force in the trafficking goldmine of Tijuana, which is home to the biggest border crossing into the U.S.

Of note:

Juarez Cartel

City base: Ciudad Juarez (south of El Paso)

Leader: Vicente Carrillo Fuentes

States in sphere of influence: Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Sonora

History: The Juarez Cartel has its roots in a gang of smugglers who moved narcotics over the west Texas border in the 1970s. Originally, they worked alongside the Sinaloa Cartel, but leader Amado Carrillo Fuentes broke away in the 1990s and was believed to have become one the richest men in Mexico before his death in 1997. Under the leadership of his brother Vicente, Juarez has become the most violent city in Mexico, with 1,600 murders in 2008.

Of note:

Beltran Leyva Organization

City Base: Culiacan

Leader: Arturo Beltran Leyva, alias “The Beard"

States in sphere of influence: Sinaloa, Sonora, Nuevo Leon, Morelos

History: The Beltran Leyva brothers were long-standing members of the Sinaloa Cartel. But in 2008 they broke with the other bosses, unleashing a bloody civil war in the state capital Culiacan. Since then they have become a powerful independent organization with a vast network of corrupt officials on their payroll and foot soldiers fighting in paramilitary units known as FEDA, a Spanish acronym for the Special Forces of Arturo.

Of note:

La Familia Michoacana

City base: Apatzingan (Central Mexico)

States in sphere of influence: Michoacan, Guerrero, Mexico State, Morelos, Nuevo Leon

Leaders: Unknown

History: The shadowy Familia Michoacana appeared in 2006, unleashing violence in central Mexico in alliance with Los Zetas. They have since broken away to form a separate cartel that has expanded rapidly into surrounding states. They are notorious for trafficking crystal meth, but have also moved into kidnapping and extortion rackets.

Of note:

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Front Page News
KEYWORDS: aliens; cartelguide; drugcartels; drugwarconsequences; gulfcartel; juarez; mexico; sinaloa; thankprohibition; wod

1 posted on 04/01/2009 6:27:37 PM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
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To: Tailgunner Joe

its nice to know that our government will welcome another 30 million refugee’s from Mexico when its government collapses.

2 posted on 04/01/2009 6:35:51 PM PDT by GeronL (
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To: Tailgunner Joe

....the CIA needs to terminate with extreme prejudice the heads of these organizations

3 posted on 04/01/2009 6:44:25 PM PDT by STONEWALLS
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To: SwinneySwitch


4 posted on 04/01/2009 7:38:47 PM PDT by calcowgirl ("Liberalism is just Communism sold by the drink." P. J. O'Rourke)
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To: Tailgunner Joe; 1_Inch_Group; 2sheep; 2Trievers; 3AngelaD; 3pools; 3rdcanyon; 4Freedom; ...

Cartel Primer...Ping!

5 posted on 04/01/2009 8:58:49 PM PDT by HiJinx (~ Support Our Troops ~ ~)
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To: Tailgunner Joe

The enemy to the south

6 posted on 04/01/2009 10:34:29 PM PDT by dennisw (0bomo the subprime president)
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To: Tailgunner Joe; GulfBreeze; rellimpank; AH_LiveRight; BGHater; nbhunt; La Lydia; jafojeffsurf; ...

Primer ping!

If you want on, or off this S. Texas/Mexico ping list, please FReepMail me

7 posted on 04/02/2009 6:00:02 AM PDT by SwinneySwitch (Mexico - beyond your expectations.)
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To: Tailgunner Joe
Forgot one:

Demopublican Cartel

City base: Washington, DC

Leader: Harry Reid (who may be a figurehead) and many other prominent politicians.

States in sphere of influence: All 50.

History: The Demopublican Cartel has its roots in a gang of ambitious late 70's-early 80's American politicians who concocted the "War on Drugs" as an innovative fund-raising and government growth scheme. Direct involvement with the Mexican cartels remains difficult to prove, however dark rumors of direct campaign contributions persist to this day. It is certain, however, that the Demopublican Cartel benefits greatly from the violence carried out by its southern partners, and it has worked tirelessly to maintain the legal environment and open borders needed for the drug business to remain lucrative for all parties involved.

Of note:

8 posted on 04/02/2009 7:49:46 AM PDT by Mr. Jeeves ("If you cannot pick it up and run with it, you don't really own it." -- Robert Heinlein)
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To: Tailgunner Joe

Actually, the growing of opium poppies dates farther back than the 20th century.

In the 19th century many Chinese came to the Americas and ultimately to the United States via Mexico. They worked on the railroads of course and other manual labor jobs. In fact they brought down the wrath of Mexican poor because they were ‘taking jobs that Mexicans wouldn’t do.”

Many of them died in the Desert of Death as it came to be known as they were being smuggled into the U>S once the Anti-Asian immigration laws came into effect.

That immigrant smuggling route is still being used today.

9 posted on 04/02/2009 7:14:42 PM PDT by wildbill ( The reason you're so jealous is that the voices talk only to me.)
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