Monday, November 11, 2019

Lalo, Former Juarez Cartel Member and US Informant - Interview

[2003 - 2004]
Guillermo Eduardo Ramírez Peyro, a.k.a. "Lalo", was a former Mexican Highway Patrol officer and a paid informant of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which is part of the Department of Homeland Security. "Lalo" also reported to the DEA. After infiltrating the Juárez Cartel, he worked with Heriberto Santillán Tabares and helped him murder people in Mexico. "Lalo" had foreknowledge of planned killings and claims that he informed his US handlers of the intended crimes. It has been asserted that US officials, including Johnny Sutton, the United States Attorney of United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, were aware of the murderous activities of the informant, but failed to intervene. Juanita Fielden, Assistant US Attorney, is a defendant in a lawsuit for wrongful death brought forward by families of victims of the "House of Death."

Buggs personally interviewed Lalo in a podcast.

This podcast contains graphic violence, discretion is advised.

Friday, November 8, 2019

The Routine Traffic Stop in Bernalillo County, New Mexico

From the Borderland Beat book - Chapter: "The Hometown Influence.

Take for instance an incident that happened in Albuquerque, my home of residence. In 2018 Bernalillo county deputies (BCSO) initiated a routine traffic stop of a vehicle that matched the description of one involved in a domestic disturbance call. The vehicle was pulled over after it swerved out of its lane of travel. There were three occupants inside the vehicle.  Two of them were Mexican nationals and the other man, the driver, was native of Albuquerque, NM. What happened next was something that should give law enforcement reason to be concerned.

The deputy noticed that one of the men appeared to be wearing body armor, saw what appeared to be large amounts currency in the center console and upon further examination, noticed a large number of weapons in the back floorboard.

The deputies would eventually find eight rifles, six handguns, night vision goggles, multiple sets of body armor, ballistic helmets, more than $33,000 in cash, and a small amount of cocaine in the vehicle.

Looking at the equipment, these men were ready to engage other armed targets, while travelling within the US. These types of traffic stops are common and routinely seen in Mexico.
These men were better equipped than the patrol deputies that stopped them at the scene and could have caused some heavy damage if they had chosen to engage the deputies. For the most part US patrol officers only carry side arms on them when conducting routine traffic stops and the long rifles found in the vehicle of the suspects could easily penetrate the soft ballistic armor worn by patrol officers in the course of their duty.

 Two of the rifles, including one fully automatic “machine gun” were confirmed to be stolen. The driver, Jesus Samaniego-Villa, and his two passengers were charged with possession of stolen firearms in state court, but the case was quickly handed over to federal prosecutors to avoid being botched up by the seemingly incompetent New Mexico state court system.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Monday, October 14, 2019

BB Podcast Episode 3

This is episode 3 of Borderland Beat Podcast. Enjoy and post your comments in the comment section.

Guest Overmex

Borderland Beat is a prominent English language narco blog which is considered a leading source for news on the Mexican Drug War. The blog was started in April 2009 by a single person who maintains his anonymity behind the screen name Buggs, and he remains the sole owner. It has been referred to and quoted in the New York Times,Small Wars Journal and the Houston Chronicle.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

A need for Bloggers

An excerpt from the Borderland BEat bool titled "a need for bloggers."

You can purchase the book HERE.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Borderland Beat Podcast Segment 1

This is episode 1 of Borderland Beat Podcast. Enjoy and post your comments in the comment section.

Borderland Beat is a prominent English language narco blog which is considered a leading source for news on the Mexican Drug War. The blog was started in April 2009 by a single person who maintains his anonymity behind the screen name Buggs, and he remains the sole owner. It has been referred to and quoted in the New York Times,Small Wars Journal and the Houston Chronicle.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

El de las 20 trocas - R5

El de las 20 trocas-Traviezos De La Zierra

Narco corrido of R-5

I looked for plebes with guts / to form my convoy /
and as Pancho Villa said / I have my crew ready for the Revolution.

"Mi saludos a mis amigos,
muchos se encuentran ausentes,
y eperamos tu regreso,
suavecita por los plebes,
tambien po los que se fueron.
Un abraso al jefe,
aqui estamos al pendiente,
defendiendo sus terrenos."


"My regards to my friends,
many who remain absent,
and we await your return,
easy on the youth,
also for those who left.
A hug to the boss,
here we are at your orders,
defending your territories."

~ GN ~

Friday, August 16, 2019

Borderland Beat Book Review by Robert J Bunker

SWJ El Centro Book Review - Borderland Beat: Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War
Book review by Robert J. Bunker
The Borderland Beat book focuses on more organized narco violence taking place in Mexico during the 2008 through 2013 era before the later cartel fragmentation due to kingpin targeting—when Alex Marentes was more directly involved with the blog. It draws its material via the site’s blog posts and the author’s professional (rather than academic) directed research. The book's cover is Mexican skull art based with elements of violence—bullet rounds, revolvers, barbed wire, pills, fire, and brass knuckles—combined together to create a narcocultura inspired skull.
Order book here:

Mexico’s drug war diary by By Conor Fay

Mexico’s Dug War Diary by By Conor Fay

Monday, August 5, 2019

The Massacre of Allende

Excerpts from Borderland Beat book - Chapter - The Massacre of Allende

On the afternoon of March 18, 2011, a caravan of 40 SUVs with dozens of gunmen on board belonging to Los Zetas entered the town of Allende, Coahuila, Mexico. They blocked the roads to the entrance of the town. They started tearing down doors from homes, killing people and making them disappear. Men, elderly, women, children, it did not matter to them, they were all the same.

"Things began happening in the evening. Armed men began arriving. They were going house to house, looking for the people who had done them wrong. At 11 at night there was no traffic on the streets. There was no movement of any kind," said a food stand vendor.

That day they drove in to town, they started shooting at homes and abducting anyone seen in public that included four older women and two children. The next day they went to the house of a person with the name of Garza, where they abducted a man, his wife and their young son.

The Zetas put them in a police car of the Allende police department and transported them to one of the ranches where they were holding people from during the weekend. When night came, it was the end for them. They were taken out to be executed.

The Zeta attack provided evidence of collusion with the local authorities. The 20 municipal police officers of Allende were instructed "not go out on patrol, not to respond to calls for help and to detain anyone with the name of Garza," so they could be turned over to Los Zetas.

The hitmen went to the mayor's office and demanded for the home addresses from the property tax records of all the properties of the traitors and their families. The mayor of Allende, Sergio Lozano, and his municipal police cooperated with Los Zetas, to include saying nothing about the disappearances and taking no action to stop it.

The Zetas destroyed and burned everything in their path; houses, ranches, businesses. For Allende and its residents, it was converted into an apocalypse scene, all in the name of hatred and revenge.
They killed and killed, and like cattle they loaded the bodies in the back of trucks.

A few miles outside of town, the gunmen descended on several neighboring ranches along a dimly lit two-lane highway. The properties belonged to one of Allende’s oldest clans, the Garzas. The family mostly raised livestock and did odd contracting jobs, including coal mining. But according to family members, some of them also worked for the cartel.

Now those connections were proving to be deadly. Among those the Zetas suspected of being a snitch was José Luis Garza, a relatively low-level cartel operative, whose father, Luis, owned one of the ranches. It was payday, and several workers had gone to the ranch to pick up their money. When the gunmen showed up, they rounded up everyone they could find and took them hostage. After nightfall, flames began rising from one of the ranch’s large cinder-block storage sheds. The Zetas had begun burning the bodies of some of those they’d killed.

That weekend of March 18-20, 2011, Los Zetas attacked 32 houses and seven ranches in Allende, in order to take revenge on Alfonso Cuéllar, Héctor Moreno and José Luis Garza. What they could, they demolished with heavy machinery.

On Saturday, March 19, the gunmen summoned several heavy-equipment operators and ordered them to tear down dozens of houses and businesses across the region. Many of the properties were in busy, well-to-do neighborhoods within sight or earshot of not only passersby but also of government offices, police stations and military outposts. The gunmen invited townspeople to take whatever they wanted, triggering a free-for-all of looting.

Allende was transformed in to a post-apocalyptic scene, full of destruction and deserted.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Black Hawks Over Rocky Point

Excerpts from Borderland Beat book - Chapter - Black Hawks Over Rocky Point

Black Hawk providing cover in Rocky Point
In the morning of December 18, 2013 special naval forces arrived at Las Palomas, in Puerto Peñasco, Sonora and started to secure the area, setting up a perimeter, evacuating civilians and reading their weapons on lock and load.

The shooting began immediately. The response of El Macho Prieto's bodyguards was so violent that the element of surprise was lost. The intervention of two American manufactured Black Hawk helicopters was necessary, whose .50 caliber weapons wreaked havoc on the cars of the sicarios.

Immediately several vehicles attempted to flee at high speed but were fired upon from one of the helicopters causing the trucks to catch on fire and crash in a small gazebo located at the exit of the condominiums. There were two casualties, one near the truck, another on the sidewalk. Federal Police would report that two Black Hawk helicopters fired at least 10 vehicles. The burned vehicles from the firepower of the two helicopters could be seen outside the condominium complex.

Macho Prieto on the left and one of his sicarios with AK-47
with high capacity drum magazine
Simultaneously, at the entrance of the condominiums there was another confrontation, that resulted in one sicario being killed found lying on the ground next to a AK-47 at his side that was equipped with a high capacity drum magazine.

There were more shots fired at the entrance to the hall of the condominiums, the walls of the building were left with bullet holes from bursts of gunfire and blood splattered on the walls and in the ground.

Inside the rooms the battle lasted a long time, at least two hours. Afterwards reinforcements of El Macho Prieto began arriving, and federal forces tried to stop them from reaching the Bella Sirena.

Macho Prieto
Two cars blocked the entrance so more cars with El Macho Prieto's reinforcements could not enter.

The other two bodies were left on the ground in the middle of the round-abound circle of the street, without police securing the scene, not even the yellow tape that is typically used to protect a crime scene. For hours, residents of Peñasco drove by the crime scene, took pictures and video with their cellular phones of the bodies and burned vehicles, and uploaded them on to social media.

One of the victims on the ground was none other than El Macho Prieto, except that his body was taken away by his people before police could secure the scene.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

They Killed El Ondeado

Excerpts from Borderland Beat book - Chapter - They killed El Ondeado

A few weeks later, on April 18, another Torres, this one the son of Manuel, Atanasio Torres Acosta, "El Tachio", was murdered by rival members of the Beltrán-Leyva Cartel. During the ambush attack Manuel Torres' daughter Alondra (aged 4) was injured along with his sister-in-law Sandra Rivas Heredia.  This happened right next to the building of the Health Ministry, in the Montebello residential district.

Police located one of the vehicles apparently used by the gunmen. A red Tsuru (Mexico's version of the Nissan Sentra), where they found AK-47 rifles with a message: "On behalf of your friend [Arturo] and his buddies Los Zetas. So you can remember, Manuel Torres." 

Manuel Torres went crazy with the death of his son, whose wake was held in one of his houses in the valley. That same night and the next day while they were keeping vigil over Atanasio's body, Manuel Torres was taking his revenge on young men that his gunmen were picking up and taking to his home for him to torture. The death of Anastasio marked the beginning of the cartel war in the state of Sinaloa. Manuel Torres became one of the most dangerous drug traffickers in Sinaloa where hundreds of deaths were attributed to his commandos.

Nothing stopped him. All over the city, headless bodies started to appear, mutilated, with messages alluding to Tachio's murder. No death, no limit, could contain his thirst for vengeance until his death.

The cartels were at war, but he was fighting his own war in the name of his son and the pain he had suffered.

At the place where his son was murdered, they started throwing decapitated bodies, one of them that of Barcelo Villagran, who had been the commander of the Ministerial Police and chief of the Centauro Group. They cut off both legs, decapitated him and cut open his back with a knife while he was still alive.

On the morning of October 16, 2012, three days after the death of Manuel Torres, at least three "narcomantas" (narcobanners) appeared throughout the city of Culiacán denouncing Ismael Zambada García of betraying and setting up Maneul Torres to be killed by the Mexican military.

Manuel Torres Felix was not even in the files of the PGR, much less in those of the State Department of Justice. In September 2008 under the Operation Sinaloa, the Mexican military located a safe house owned by Manuel Torres, where they confiscated several firearms, narcotics, radio communications equipment, and an armored vehicle. The Mexican military also found a photo of Manuel Torres accompanied by Misael Torres Urrea, nicknamed El M2, his nephew and son of Javier Torres Felix. Manuel Torres was placed on the most wanted drug traffickers list under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act by the U.S. government on June 1, 2011, along with Gonzalo Inzunza Inzunza (a.k.a. El Macho Prieto), another high-ranking lieutenant of the Sinaloa cartel.

A narcocorrido of the Movimiento Alterado subgenere, sung by the musical groups Bukanas De Culiacan, El Komander, Los Buitres de Culiacan, Los Buchones de Culiacan, Rogelio Martinez el RM, Los Nuevos Elegantes, Noel Torres, Erik Estrada, Oscar Garcia, and Los 2 Primos and titled Sanguinarios del M1 on YouTube ("The Bloodthirsty of M1") exalts Torres Félix for leaving decapitated and mutilated bodies in the trunk of cars as a message to his rivals. The lyrics of the song dedicated to Torres Félix start with the following:

With an AK-47 and a bazooka on our heads
cutting off heads that cross our path
We're bloodthirsty and crazy – We love to kill
Bullets fired and extortions carried out, just like the best of us
Always in a convoy of armored cars, wearing bullet-proof vests and ready to execute people.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Proceso Operativo Salim

Defiende Borderland Beat difusión de reporte secreto de la Armada



MÉXICO, D.F., (apro).- El sitio defendió hoy la difusión de un informe confidencial de la Secretaría de Marina remitido al Departamento de Estado estadunidense, en relación con el operativo efectuado el 9 de junio de 2010 en la colonia Roma de esta ciudad, donde encontraron explosivos y detuvieron a presuntos terroristas somalíes que supuestamente pretendían atacar la embajada de Estados Unidos en México.

En un escrito subido a su portal electrónico, el sitio menciona que la publicación del reporte les llegó a través de una fuente anónima y explica que decidieron divulgarla en el entendido de que sería casi imposible obtener una confirmación real del gobierno mexicano, por lo que dejó a consideración de los lectores sacar sus propias conclusiones en cuanto a la autenticidad de los documentos.

Ayer, la Secretaría de Marina (Semar) rechazó la autenticidad de los textos publicados, al señalar que “los impresos con sello de goma, el sello de agua que se aprecia en el documento, así como el formato del mismo no corresponden con los utilizados por esta dependencia del gobierno federal”.

No obstante, borderlandbeat.comapunta que los documentos de la Secretaría de Marina pueden ser significativos porque los sellos parecen auténticos.

Originalmente, añade, Borderland Beat publicó los documentos con otra fuente, incluyendo material de enlaces de la página web de U.S. Federal Criminal Complaints, y afirma que el texto se publicó con el propósito de dar a conocer las posibles amenazas terroristas islámicas dentro de México, a la luz de la trama iraní para asesinar al embajador de Arabia Saudita en Estados Unidos, que involucró a un informante de la DEA que se hizo pasar como integrante de Los Zetas.

Los documentos del “Operativo Salim”, aclara, se obtuvieron de una fuente anónima, e insiste que no se intentó obtener la confirmación por parte del gobierno mexicano, a sabiendas de que si los documentos son clasificados no se daría una confirmación oficial.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

JW Raw

JW RAW with M&M Ep. 85 - Borderland Beat Author Alejandro Marentes

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Robert J Bunker Book Review

SWJ El Centro Book Review - Borderland Beat: Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

By Robert J. Bunker


Borderland Beat: Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War
Alejandro (Alex) Marentes
Morrisville, NC: Lulu, April 2019
232 Pages
$19.04 Paperback; $6.99 eBook

The work Borderland Beat: Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War represents the first book (& ebook) to be published by this blog site. Borderland Beat is an informational and collaborative English language blog (drawing upon US and Mexican contributors) reporting on the Mexican narco wars. The blog is a contemporary raw feed of unassessed information. The Borderland Beat blog focuses on non-professional (volunteer) Spanish to English translations with less journalistic interpretation and/or detailed analysis linked to the contributions. The work joins in the same ‘digital blog/online journal to book’ publishing trend as seen with SWJ—El Centro (since 2012) and Blog del Narco (in 2013). 

The book is written (compiled) by Alex Marentes—a former active duty and reserve Marine and a thirty-year Albuquerque Police Department officer (retired)—who was born in Ciudad Juárez and lived there for the first ten years of his life. To his fans at the Borderland Beat blog, which he founded and owns, he is known by the pseudonym “Buggs” (in reference to Buggs Bunny the Looney Tunes character). The author was recently interviewed at Borderland Beat by the female blogger Chivis concerning the work, his past experiences, and motivations to initially create the blog.

The Borderland Beat book focuses on more organized narco violence taking place in Mexico during the 2008 through 2013 era before the later cartel fragmentation due to kingpin targeting—when Alex Marentes was more directly involved with the blog. It draws its material via the site’s blog posts and the author’s professional (rather than academic) directed research. The book cover is Mexican skull art based with elements of violence—bullet rounds, revolvers, barbed wire, pills, fire, and brass knuckles—combined together to create a narcocultura inspired skull. The work is 232 pages long and devoid of page numbers.  It provides no references, citations, or notes, other than one or two URLs, but is supported by the author’s website which has some sources and videos. The work contains numerous images of drug war violence (not sourced) and is divided into the following listing of impressionistic and interpretive themes (with somewhat more structure evident at the end of the work related to specific cartels and timelines). The titles of these themes (which follows an ad hoc capitalization protocol) are as follows:

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Tale of bus passengers forced to fight to the death

Excerpts from Borderland Beat book - Chapter - Tale of bus passengers forced to fight to the death 

In 2011 I posted a very controversial post in BB that got a lot of attention. The Zetas were known to hijack buses and execute the passengers. Police found hundreds of "narco graves" of people that had been executed and buried. Most of these deaths were people that had been abducted from buses. This was happening in the so called "Highway of death," Highway 101 in the state of Taumalipas. This highway travels from Cuidad Victoroa and Brownville, Texas, on the side of Mexico. The story started to make it's rounds on main stream media in both Mexico and the US.

This was published by the Houston Chronicle and Atlantic Wire:

"The cinematic nature of one reporter's take on violent new extremes in Mexican drug wars begs for scrutiny. Prefacing a Senate call to reduce arms trafficking to Mexico by a few hours, the Houston Chronicle's Dane Schiller described the chilling account of a member of the Zetas cartel who asked only to be referred by the apparent pseudonym "Juan" that combines Scarface, Saw and, unexpectedly, Gladiator:

If what he says is true, gangsters who make commonplace beheadings, hangings and quartering bodies have managed an even crueler twist to their barbarity. Members of the Zetas cartel, [Juan] says, have pushed passengers into an ancient Rome-like blood sport with a modern Mexico twist that they call, "Who is going to be the next hit man?"
"They cut guys to pieces," he said. 
The victims are likely among the hundreds of people found in mass graves in recent months, he said.

Over the past few weeks, authorities have discovered a number of mass graves in and around San Fernando in the northern Mexican state of Tamaulipas. The road between the state capital Ciudad Victoria and Brownsville, Texas runs through San Fernando, and locals now call it either "the highway of death" or "the devil's road." The highway is often empty now as many bus companies cancelled routes after repeated kidnappings from buses hijacked by the Zetas and other cartels. 

According to Juan's account and local authorities, the kidnappings served as a means for recruiting new gang members, but intimidation techniques have gotten out of hand.

Houston Chronicle’s Dane Schiller points to Borderland Beat, a blog run by a former law enforcement officer in the Southwest United States, who published a more detailed account of the death battles in April. We talked to the blog’s founder, Alejandro Marentes, who explained that a writer sent him the story which had been published on a blog in Spanish, and Marentes translated and republished it on Borderland Beat. After the post got some pickup on the internet, Marentes added this editor’s note: “To this point we have not been able to confirm its validity, we publish it for information purposes and for you to formulate your own conclusions.”

It's easy to see why some readers might find the story unbelievable. From the post on Borderland Beat:
With that he ordered several of his men who were sitting inside another SUV to bring the sledgehammers and the men gave a sledgehammer to each man. "Ok listen up assholes, the trick is this, we are going to pair you in twos, and you are going to fuck up each other with the sledgehammers, and the one who survives will join us in our work and you get to live, while the one who does not survive, well you get fucked," he said sarcastically making his men laugh out loud.
The passengers were stunned by the instructions from a narco who resembled more a nazi than anything else, they could not believe this was happening to them. Everyone grabbed their sledgehammer and took their position with their pair. They stared at each other with a look of pure fear. "Ok, fuck each other up," ordered El 40. […]
[After the fight] Comandante 40 gathered all the Zetas and said, "that is all for fun and game for tonight cabrones. Bring me all the winners" and they brought all the men who had killed their partner with the sledgehammer and El 40 said," Welcome to the Special Forces of the Zeta, the other military."
It’s hard to get any type of confirmation from anything that’s happening there,” Marentes told The Atlantic Wire. “We have some people in Mexico that have good contacts, but many times we have a hard time.”

Marentes continued by describing a lack of journalists on the ground in the San Fernando area. Most journalists don’t dare enter without police or military protection, but even then, many are threatened if not attacked. We contacted Dane Schiller, the Chronicle reporter, to find out more about how he found his source, he asked not to be interviewed. “I don’t want to make the story about me and my efforts,” Schiller said in an email.

However, the original report is written like fiction. Victims from bus kidnappings–many of whom are illegal immigrants passing through Mexico to the United States–have reportedly been rescued from gang members, but there’s no indication that the post’s author was one of them. (Besides the fact, that they survived the tell the tale, if it’s true.)

We asked Marentes, who’s been covering the cartel wars for years, his gut feeling on whether the reports of gladiatorlike battles could be true based on precedent in the Mexican drug wars. “The story’s realistic,” Marentes said. “All you’ve gotta do is look at what’s going on with the brutality of the violence over there–I can see that happening very easily over there.”

 Buy from Lulu
Buy book from Lulu

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

From the Al-Qaida Playbook

Excerpts from Borderland Beat book - Chapter - From the Al-Qaida Playbook 

At around 7:30pm on July 15, 2010 two vehicles stopped in the middle of the streets of Bolivia and 16 de Septiembre, in downtown Ciudad Juarez. This area was always congested with commuters and people shopping. It is also close to the tourist district of the city. This day was busy as usual.

Several people got out of the vehicles and placed a man on his knees in the middle of the road who was wearing a Ciudad Juarez police uniform. The man had his hands tied behind his back and was already injured from a gunshot. This caught the attention of the many people that were on foot on the sidewalk and also the people in the heavy traffic on the road.

Suddenly, while the policeman was placed on his knees, they shot him in the head while everyone looked in horror. The men then drove away in one of the vehicles while leaving the other at the scene.

They also left the policeman in the middle of the street after taking several gunshots at close range to his head. Some people rushed to the scene, this included a doctor who happened to be in the area.

This resulted in a heavy response from the federal police and rescue personnel. Moments after the federal police arrived to investigate, a bomb detonated on the vehicle that had been left behind. The blast killed the doctor instantly who got the full force of the bomb, a civilian who was a musician that happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Also killed in the blast was a federal police officer that was inspecting the car with the explosives.

Several people were injured including a cameraman form Channel 2 that captured the explosion on video. The vehicle with the explosives appeared to be a Ford Taurus. Inside the vehicle there were traces of C-4 explosives and a cellular that was apparently used as a trigger.

It turned out that the police officer that had been executed in the middle of the road was not a police officer after all. They had dressed a man in police uniform and executed the man to lure the federal police officers to the proximity to the car bomb.

The Mayor of Cuidad Juarez, José Reyes Ferriz, confirmed that the execution of the man dressed in police uniform was merely a ploy to lure federal police officers to the location of the car bomb.

The bomb being detonated in the streets of Ciudad Juarez.

Sicarios belonging to La Linea talk to the media about crime and, 
how they created the plot to lure federal police and how they planted the bomb

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Calderon takes on the Cartels Syndicate

Excerpts from Borderland Beat book - Chapter - Calderon takes on the Cartels Syndicate 

Coronel Julián Leyzaola was very aggressive in his fight against organized crime. Many times, he was seen at crime scenes or leading operations.

Incidentally, Leyzaola would eventually also become the chief of police in Ciudad Juarez and he would try to reform the municipal police like he tried to do in Tijuana.

This really peaked my interest in learning of the extent of corruption from the municipal police departments in Mexico. Most had no choice, it was either "plata o plomo." You are with us or against us.

Cartels were known to instill fear in the local police department by threatening families, not to mention the amount of money spent in bribes was a lot more lucrative than their salary. The bribe and corruption activities among the local police is a staple of the Mexican police norm, it had always been like this. Everyone knew this, even the US tourists.

The border between El Paso (population: 600,000) and Juárez (population: 1.5 million) is the most menacing spot along America's southern underbelly.

On one side is one of the safest cities of its size in the United States, with only 15 murders so far in 2008. On the other is a slaughterhouse ruled by cartel bosses where the death toll this year is more than 1,300 and counting.

"I don't think the average American has any idea of what's going on immediately south of our border," says Kevin Kozak, acting special agent in charge of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's office of investigations in El Paso. "It's almost beyond belief."

"The majority of the people detained and the bodies found are not from Ciudad Juarez. It is an intense battle between these two groups (Juarez and Sinaloa cartels). The level of violence has reached new levels. Retaliation between the groups has become more violent and terrorizing," said Reyes Ferriz, who is the Mayor of Ciudad Juarez but lives in El Paso .

Dismemberments and beheadings have become a common method of retaliation. A government source told about a case where a relative of a drug cartel member was tied to two trucks and stretched until his arms where ripped apart.

The dead are mostly unknown obscured figures in the underground world of the drug trade but are also innocents caught in the crossfire, make up a long procession of clients for busy coroner and daily material for the media sources and blogs (we can hardly keep up). But the mayor down plays the effect on the general population.

Ciudad Juarez police chief Julián Leyzaola directing an operation during a shootout.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Michoacan–Tierra Caliente

Excerpts from Borderland Beat book - Chapter - Michoacan–Tierra Caliente

In 2009 La Familia Michoacana declared war against Mexican President Felipe Calderon through a letter delivered a warning. The following is a segment of the message from La Familia Michoacana, reacting after the death of their leader Nazario Moreno González.

"Beware Felipe Calderón, pray to your holy saint because we come with the blessing of our God. Our God Nazario, may God rest his soul. This will not stop until Familia Michoacana dies. We are going after Calderon and all his fucking family, our groups are ready in Michoacan."

On July 14, 2009, La Familia Michoacana tortured and murdered twelve Mexican Federal Police agents and dumped their bodies along the side of a mountain highway along with a written message: "So that you come for another. We will be waiting for you here." The federal agents were investigating crime in Michoacán state; President Calderón, responded to the violence by dispatching additional 1,000 Federal Police officers to the area.

The infusion, which more than tripled the number of Federal Police officers patrolling Michoacán, angered Michoacán Governor Leonel Godoy Rangel, who called it 'an occupation' and said he had not been consulted. Days later, 10 municipal police officers were arrested in connection with the slayings of the 12 federal agents.

By December 2010, the streets of Michoacan were set ablaze, burning vehicles blocked the highways.  Black smoke could be seen from miles away, it was a war zone. The smell of burnt tires and gun powder permeated the air.  As bullets ricochet off the pavement, screams of panic could be heard as helicopters flew overhead.  Outnumbered and out gunned the criminals began to vanish into the hills surrounding Apatzingan, taking their dead with them.

It would go down as one of the fiercest battles the drug war had seen, lasting several days.  This was to be the last stand of the once mighty La Familia Cartel and their leader Nazario aka "El Chayo" or "El Mas Loco" Moreno Gonzalez.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

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Excerpts from Borderland Beat book - Chapter -Back Home

The key to surviving a hit from a cartel is to be prepared beforehand, take all necessary precautions and be armed to the teeth for a massive counterattack.  I also wondered if I was overreacting to things and was overthinking the situation.

This made me think of a situation that I came across in the desert on the west side of the city several years ago in a remote area known as Pajarito Mesa. This area is a popular place for people who dump trash and also, many people go there to target practice. I was driving around looking for interesting things to photograph. I could hear gunshots in the distance echoing in the canyon. Someone was target shooting. I though, it might be a cool idea to photograph someone actually target shooting. I drove to the sound of the gunfire. I saw two late model pickup trucks that were backed up against a hill and it appeared that about three men were armed with long guns. They were shooting at some paper targets and bottles propped up on a wooden pallet.

I immediately noticed that some of the men were nicely dressed in western wear, similar to what I have seen from men that are from the northern part of Mexico (Sinaloa, Chihuahua). Three of them had ak-47s. They saw me and smiled. They were Mexican nationals as they spoke to me in Spanish. They become nervous and they started putting their weapons away. The whole scene also made me nervous. I did not even ask if I could photograph them, I just greeted them in a friendly way and drove away. The scene just did not seem right to me, but I could not pin point what seem out of place at the time. This was an area where people go shooting all the time and I had seen my share of people armed with long rifles, including ar-15s and such. But this just seem different, I just could not figure it out.

Later on, when I started to learn more about Mexican sicarios and cartel members from Sinaloa, I wonder if they were cartel members? This possibility is not far fetched considering the proximity to the border and the large amount of the Mexican community living in the state. Based on what they were wearing, the late model pickup trucks, Mexican nationals and their behavior, just made me wonder.

Cartels would have no problem reaching out to me for sure.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Highway of Death

Excerpts from Borderland Beat book - Chapter -The Highway of Death

Highway 101 travels through the state of Taumalipas. The highway is a perilous journey that is used by Zetas to plant their seed of terror. People tell stories of mass killings of immigrants, primitive graves of people buried after being executed and buses getting hijacked only to have the passengers dragged out only to meet their ultimate ending in the most horrifying manner ever imagined. The road is so dangerous that no one dares travels at night and tourist had to be escorted by police cars.

There are many stories on Borderland Beat of people being killed after they got snatched from their buses and hundreds of decomposing bodies found in the area of Highway 101 in San Fernando, Tamaulipas.

Mexican authorities were constantly extracting bodies from mass graves in the state of Tamaulipas not far from the US Hundreds of corpses have surfaced following reports of passengers being pulled off buses in the area by gunmen and disappearing, state prosecutors said Thursday.

Most of all the bodies were found in pits along the township of San Fernando, Tamaulipas, where security forces located the graves while investigating reports of attacks on buses now blamed on the brutal Zetas drug gang.

During most of 2010, the San Fernando municipality had suffered from constant confrontations between Zetas and members of the Gulf Cartel. General Miguel Angel Gonzalez, Commander of the Eighth Military Zone based in Tamaulipas, said that this isolated town is very important because "it is a node where several highways, strategic for drug smuggling come together."

Los Zetas took control of the San Fernando region and imposed their rules. The group's high command, El Lazca and El Z-40, appointed Salvador Alfonso Martinez Escobedo, La Ardilla, as chief of the area. He in turn placed a former soldier, Edgar Huerta Montiel, El Wache, as lieutenant for San Fernando, along with Martin Omar Estrada Luna, El Kilo, who, in practice, acted as the area chief.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Mexico: Operativo Salim

Excerpts from Borderland Beat book - Chapter - Mexico: Operativo Salim

So here it was, possibly classified proof from the Mexican government themselves that perhaps the original story of an Islamic terrorist named Ahmed had indeed plotted bombings of the US embassy in Mexico City.

I spoke with Borderland Beat contributors Gerardo and Ovemex about the information we had obtained and we agreed to do further research with the full intent to go public on Borderland Beat. With their contribution, we went public, posting the information on Borderland Beat (BB) on October 13, 2011 under the title “Mexico: Operativo Salim” We also shared all the classified documents and suspect information we had obtained from Pedro.

“A couple of days ago we received information from an anonymous person telling us about information that this person wanted to share with us. Without giving it any thought we said sure.

We received some documents that appear to be official and did not appear to have been published anywhere else. One particular document that caught our attention was a Naval Ministry intelligence report stamped June 10, 2010. 

The Mexican classified documents leaked to me contained pictures and lists of objects found during a search warrant.

In addition to the above described document, we also received a copy of an official voter ID with the name of Arturo Hernandez Hernandez that appears to be the alleged Ahmed described in the document.

First and foremost, we want to make it clear that we have no way to confirm the validity of these documents, but we present it for the content it represents, readers must form their own conclusion as to the validity of such document.

However, other documents stamped Confidential Naval Ministry that were received from the anonymous source were shown to a member of Mexico's security establishment who confirmed their validity."

(The book provides further detail of the documents and further backlash from the outcome of the post on BB)
Needless to say, this post in Borderland Beat blog went viral in Mexico and started to make the rounds in main stream media in Mexico. Televisa had Millennuim news anchor Joaquin Lopez Doriga reported on television that the US government had actually leaked the information of "Operation Salim" and that it was confirmed to be false by the Mexican authorities. He failed to tell the truth, that in fact it had been exposed by Borderland Beat and the classified documents had been received by an anonymous person named Pedro as documented in the Borderland Beat Blog.

This was all over Mexico, making national news, being talked in social media and I am sure it got someone’s attention here in the U.S. from the federal government. I was an active law enforcement officer with the City of Albuquerque, and I started to think that perhaps I should let my chain of command know what was going on. I had confided much of the information to my associate and close friend, although he did not have much interest in the matter.

I decided to let my immediate supervisor  know that an unknown source had been sending me Mexican classified information about cartel activity.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Edgar Valdez Villarreal, La Barbie

Excerpts from Borderland Beat book - Chapter - Edgar Valdez Villarreal, La Barbie

Edgar Valdez Villarreal (born August 11, 1973) also known as La Barbie, is a Mexican-American, born and raised in the United States.

Valdez allegedly worked for several years as a cartel lieutenant before rising to a leadership position in an enforcement squad called Los Negros. Following the death of cartel boss Arturo Beltrán Leyva (BLO) in late 2009, Valdez was engaged in a bloody and protracted gang war for control of the BLO cartel, employing techniques such as videotaped tortures, decapitations of his adversaries, that resulted in over 150 deaths.

In August 30, 2010, he was arrested by the Mexican Federal Police at a rural ranch near Mexico City on charges related to large scale drug trafficking with the Beltrán-Leyva Organization Cartel. He was facing charges in both Mexico and the United States.

Based on the fact that his capture by Mexican federal police was completely without violence or casualties, there was a rumor that he made a deal to turn himself in and receive favorable treatment in exchange for providing intelligence on his rivals. On November 2010, the Mexican government agreed to extradite La Barbie to the US and was subsequently sentenced by the US government to 50 years in prison.

Today, Mexican drug cartels are splintered and spread out on a wider range as a result of in fighting and a power vacuum left by arrested or killed drug lords.

La Barbie" Hunting Zetas
This is what La barbie said about Los Zetas when asked during his arrest while being presented to the media: "(Yes the Zetas are a danger) they do not respect anyone, because the truth is they are filth, for me not even their mother wants them."

According to some the friends and foes of Edgar Valdez Villareal "La Barbie" who have given testimony to the PGR and also some that are in the witness protection program have said that La Barbie was one of the most efficient hunters of Zetas. La Barbie was described as a criminal master mind who had full control of airports and was also good in counterintelligence from within his criminal group to help him discredit public officials.

Those who knew him and later some who testified in legal proceedings with federal prosecutors of SIEDO gave information that sicarios under his leadership conducted routine executions, even of innocent people, without hesitation and some of which included the 24 farmers and masons from La Marquesa.

This video shows the moment La Barbie was arrested in a ranch near Mexico City on August 30, 2010

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Other Contributors

Excerpts from Borderland Beat book - Chapter - Other Contributors 

There were many other contributors that I know decided to move on to better things in life, recapturing their personal life, before it got snuffed by the dark side of reporting on brutal, violent narco life in Mexico.

The longest collaborator is Chivis, who has a huge knowledge of the Mexican Drug Cartels. She took over the management of Borderland Beat and is still active running the blog today.
El Semanario wrote this at the time when things were getting started on BB on the reporting of the narco world in Mexico in an article titled “Uncensored.”

“This dangerous empty space of information is being filled, for the good or for the bad, by the blogs. A former policeman and Texas marine, who conceals his real identity under the pseudonym "Buggs" (madman, in the slang of the lower class), is the founder of Borderland Beat ( A popular blog that almost never censures anything and that mixes macabre videos and photographs with graphic information of main stream media sources. This weekend he posted the pictures of the alleged criminals from San Fernando that the Mexican press felts was too risky to report. For the American cyber audience that it has attracted because it's being written in English, unlike the Blog del Narco that is written in Spanish. (Borderland Beat) has become a source of must-read source for law enforcement, judicial officials, military and in particular the general public.”

The ride on working on the Borderland Beat Project had just began and it was going to be a bumpy ride, something that I never expected.

Friday, March 8, 2019

The Blog and the Contributors

Excerpts from Borderland Beat book - Chapter - The Blog and the Contributors

"So the drugs don't reach your children,
we are killing them for you,"
Federal Government.
Borderland Beat collaborators and staff devote a lot of personal time and effort in providing vital information about the Mexican drug cartels to loyal readers without earning a cent.

I have never personally met any of the contributors face to face, although I became good friends to some of them. Some I knew better than others. Everyone’s identity was hidden using a pseudonym name, but some confided to me in some of their personal information and I knew a little bit about them. For example, I would talk to Illiana, mostly about the drug cartels, but sometimes about our happiness and fears.

I remember when she covered a story where the military had shot at a family that went through a military checkpoint and killed two little boys in the state of Tamaulipas. They were on a vacation travelling to the beach to spend Easter ("El Día de la Coneja" for Two Little Boys). I remember her taking it really hard, and she did because it was personal. Illiana lived in the area where the incident occurred. She started her article by saying, “I cried today.” She went on to say:

“Well damn, it turns out the boys were actually killed by Mexican military forces, the same ones who are supposed to be here to protect us from the bad guys. 

This whole thing is so sad, especially because we are talking about innocent children, who were just looking forward to going to the beach to hide eggs for Easter. How can this be happening? 

This is not the first time Borderland Beat has covered the death of innocent bystanders killed by military forces, last month the Editor of this blog wrote a report entitled "The Mexican Drug War’s Collateral Damage." I really don't want to repeat a lot of what has already been said, but really, something needs to be done. 

Just so you know, La Jornada and El Milenio, which are national media sources, ran with the story, but the local media outlets did not publish shit, nada! They totally suck, who are they working for? 

The people should stop buying their worthless newspapers or watching their lame news on TV. 

God receive these two young boys in heaven because they have already been in hell for Easter Sunday! 

Today they are in the garden of God hunting for eggs on el día de la coneja. 


Thursday, March 7, 2019

A need for Blogs

Excerpts from Borderland Beat book - Chapter - A need for Blogs

In essence, the cartels are killing information by killing the messenger. Social media has played a huge role in reporting on the cartel violence in Mexico. This has resulted in organized crime targeting bloggers as well as those who try to remain anonymous for their safety. Borderland Beat has led this fight in reporting about cartels, and the contributors have for the most part remained safe by being anonymous. There were some bloggers from other blogs that were identified by the criminal element and ultimately executed in Mexico. This became an issue for some bloggers, especially the ones living in the Mexican crime regions. This was an item with some of the contributors on Borderland Beat:

After the discovery in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico on November 9, 2011 of the body of the fourth blogger to be killed in the space of a month, for posting online information about drug cartels, The Daily Dot, MSNBC and Der Spiegel each produced an article outlining the dangers such internet activity posed.

For comment, The Daily Dot and MSNBC turned to Borderland Beat administrator "Overmex," while Der Spiegel interviewed Borderland Beat contributor "Gerardo." In the interviews, the two bloggers reiterated their determination to continue reporting on the ongoing drug war, and not to be intimidated by the drug cartels' threats.

Quoting from an article in Bloomberg Businessweek: "To protect contributors, the editors of the blog Borderland Beat, which has a reputation as one of the most reliable sources of information on Mexico's drug violence, say even they don’t know the identity of some of the site's major contributors. Posts are often passed through intermediaries to protect secrecy. "They could be journalists, cops, politicians, maybe even cartel members themselves," says one of the blog's editors, who uses the nickname Buggs." 

For me personally, as the founder and main contributor of Borderland Beat, it was extremely difficult to maintain my anonymity. I was a little bit concerned, but for me it was not very personal or direct, like it was for the collaborators reporting from Mexico.

For one, I live in the U.S., although the cartels could very easily reach out and touch me, even in the U.S. if they really wanted to. But it was a little more complicated than that. I was an active law enforcement officer in the U.S. and was armed 24/7. There was one time, during the time all bloggers were receiving threats, when I did an interview with a media outlet that had discovered my identity. It was reported by KRGV News from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, and ultimately published in Borderland Beat on September 16, 2011 titled, “Cartels Threaten Social Media Users in Mexico.”

Bloggers and social media users in Mexico aren't letting the cartels intimidate them. They continue to blog, tweet, and post information about the drug war. Two people were found hanging from a bridge this week in Nuevo Laredo with a warning to social media users.

Alex Marentes, the blogger who runs a website called Borderland Beat, knows he and his bloggers in Mexico could be the next target. He says his mission is more important than the risk.

The pictures are brutal. The words are brazen. They're a warning to social media users and bloggers. The note mentions three blogs and signed with a Z, perhaps for Zetas. 

“This is the first time we've seen a direct possible tie to cartels targeting bloggers,” says Marentes.

Monday, March 4, 2019

The Narco Corrido Culture

Excerpts from Borderland Beat book - Chapter - The Narco Corrido Culture 

A Narcocorrido (Drug Ballad) is a type of Mexican music and song tradition which evolved out of the norteño folk corrido tradition. This type of music is heard on both sides of the US–Mexican border. It uses a danceable, accordion-based polka as a rhythmic base. The first corridos that focus on drug smugglers—the narco comes from "narcotics"—have been dated to the 1930s. Other music critics have compared narcocorrido music to Gangster Rap. 

Between 2006 and 2008, over a dozen prominent Mexican musicians, many of them connected to the narcocorrido genre, were murdered. The violence came in the midst of the Mexican drug war. Experts and musicians themselves say that the murders can be explained by many Mexican musicians’ proximity to drug traffickers.

The most popular musicians killed were Valentín Elizalde and Sergio Gomez, the lead singer of Chicago based Duranguense band K-Paz de la Sierra. On December 2007, both men were nominated posthumously for Grammy Awards in the banda category.

In the third season of The Shield, the episode entitled "Safe", a narcocorrido is found. It was a song about an unrequited love, and the man killed her. However, several bodies are found, from meth lab exposure. Later evidence proves that she is alive and living with the boyfriend, so the narcocorrido turned out to be fake. In real life. Detectives have used corridors lyrics to close cases from stories that are found to be true.  But many times, it is hard to establish if a corrido is a fable or something related by a narco from true accounts.

The second season episode, Negro Y Azul of Breaking Bad opens with a narcocorrido about events within the show's story played by Los Cuates de Sinaloa.

Creel in the Sierra Tarahumara Country

Excerpt from Borderland Beat book - Chapter - Creel in the Sierra Tarahumara Country  

The incident was recorded in the early morning of March 15, 2010 in Creel, Chihuahua Mexico where they have been previous major mass executions.

For over two hours heavily armed sicarios took over the town in a large convoy of trucks blocking streets and setting up road blocks. The video clearly records the faces of the thugs, even when they are using cocaine almost at hands full from a plastic bag. You can also see how they beat and terrorize passing drivers who happened to drive by in their vehicles by the crime spree.

Another portion of the video shows two gunmen intercepting a car and sequestering the driver. Later in the video, the men shoot two people in an SUV.

In the video, gunmen are shown approaching the passenger side of a vehicle to receive what appears to be an order for the killings. A man holding a large gun in the passenger seat also is seen taking a white substance and putting it in his nose several times.

In some of the most shocking footage, armed men are seen running across a field before reaching the doors of a housing complex and opening fire into the doors and windows of the residence.

All the details of the killing of tens of mercenaries on board a dozen trucks were recorded by the State Police and for good reason people questions why the authorities did nothing to pursue the murderers. The state authorities are moving and zooming the video cameras for 90 minutes while the sicarios walked around with long rifles and proceeded to terrorize the public and target people for execution, in the meantime the authorities watching all this did nothing to stop them.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

The Curse of Cusarare

Excerpt from Borderland Beat book - Chapter - The Curse of Cusarare 

As Everest approached the curve I noticed that he had moved to the center of the lane because there was a person in a yellow jacket riding a bicycle on the right side real close to the edge of the steel guardrail.  Everest approached the curve with his motorcycle on the center of the yellow line of the road and he was gaining on the bicyclist.  As he accelerated and leaned into the curve he came side-by-side of the person on the bicycle. Suddenly the bicyclist made a quick left turn toward the middle of the road and right into the path of Everest and his motorcycle.

Everest didn't have time to react and t-boned the bicyclist straight on. There was a loud crashing sound, and the bicyclist flew 20 feet through the air as a result of being hit by a motorcycle at full speed. Everest and his bike went down on the right side. The impact and momentum of the crash propelled Everest over his bike and he slid on the pavement about 15 feet in front of his motorcycle.

 I  looked for a safe place to park my bike. It seemed like everything was in slow motion; every movement was fluid as I stopped my bike, placed the kick stand down, turned the key to shut off the engine, dismounted, and took off my helmet and placed it on the ground.

Everest's motorcycle was on its right side, still in the middle of the road, and Everest was on the ground on his side facing away from me. He was the first person I was able to reach. He still had his helmet on but his face shield was gone.

I called to him but got no response. He was not moving at all. I got really close to him, called out his name about four times but still got no response. I opened one of his his eye lids and noticed that his eye was also not responsive. I immediately started to feel for a pulse on his right wrist but I wasn't certain there was one. My own heart was racing fast and I was breathing hard because I had run to get to Everest.

I was breathing too hard, and that wasn't helping me. I was a trained first responder and I knew I had to calm down if I was going to be of any help. But the problem is, a crash or catastrophe is never easy when it involves someone you know. Somehow I calmed down and was finally able to detect a pulse from Everest.

Then I ran toward the other person and realized that he was a small Indian boy about 10 years old. His whole body was shaking in spasms and his eyes were wide open and fixed up to the top of his head. His mouth was open and he looked like he was going into shock. Blood streamed down his face and I knew he had some sort of head trauma. Both the boy and Everest were in the middle of the highway and I knew I had to do something.

I looked behind me to see if there was any traffic coming but there was only the empty highway and another blue sign announcing the approach to Cusarare.