The mid-February arrest of Sinaloa cartel (Sinaloa Federation) drug lord Joaquin Guzman has set off concern that a new cartel turf war is about to develop. Such a conflict would have two dimensions: an intra-Sinaloa cartel struggle and an escalation in the on-going turf war Sinaloa is waging with its competitors (especially Los Zetas cartel). The Sinaloa cartel is regarded as one of the top drug smuggling organizations in the world and Guzman has been called Mexico’s top narcotics kingpin. However, some government investigators said that fears of an intra-Sinaloa war may be overstated. Before his arrest, Guzman had already turned over day to day control to two senior deputies. Meanwhile, media have reported that in 2010 Guzman directly threatened the life of Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto. At the time Pena was governor of the state of Mexico. Allegedly, Guzman accused Pena of protecting members of the Beltran Leyva cartel.
March 4, 2014: Government announced that 390 officers who will serve as commanders in the new Gendarmerie (paramilitary police organization) have begun training in Colombia and France. The gendarme force is supposed to begin operations in July 2014 with some 5,000 officers. The Gendarmerie will operate as a component of the Federal Police.
A 400 strong army/police task force raided an iron ore depot and ten other metal and mineral holding yards in Michaocan state. The depot and other sites were controlled by the Knights Templar cartel. The depot was located at the seaport of Lazaro Cardenas. The operation included the arrest of six Chinese citizens on immigration charges. The navy took control of Lazaro Cardenas in November 2013 in an attempt to end the Knights Templar control of the iron ore trade. The cartel was also extorting money from shipping companies and trucking companies using port facilities. The task force seized nearly 120,000 tons of mineral ore, with a value of $16 million. The task force also seized 124 pieces of heavy machinery that officials claimed belong to the cartel. Drug cartels in western Mexico developed connections in China’s chemical industry when they began producing large quantities of methamphetamine. Officials indicated the Knights Templar leveraged these connections to sell iron ore to China.
March 2, 2014: Several hundred people in Cuilacan (capital of Sinaloa state) demonstrated against the arrest of Joaquin Guzman. This was the second major demonstration in the city protesting Guzman’s detention. Police ordered the crowd to disperse by but the demonstrators refused. The police then began arrested over 100 demonstrators. Several of the people arrested told investigators that they had been promised $50 for participating in the demonstration.
February 26, 2014: Over 1,000 people gathered in Culiacan (capital to Sinaloa state) to protest the arrest of Sinaloa cartel drug lord Joaquin Guzman.
February 22, 2014: Marines and police arrested Sinaloa drug lord Joaquin Guzman Loera (nicknamed Shorty) in Matzalan (seaport in Sinaloa state). The U.S. Drug enforcement Administration (DEA) provided key intelligence for the operation. The task force also seized 97 rifles, 36 handguns, 2 grenade launchers and a rocket launcher as well as 43 vehicles. Security forces had raided several buildings in the city of Culiacan (Sinaloa state) earlier in February. Several men identified as bodyguards working for Guzman were arrested in that raid. The raid in Culiacan targeted Guzman but he evaded that raid and escaped to Matzalan. Guzman was regarded as the most powerful drug lord in Mexico. Guzman began working with the Guadalajara cartel in the 1970s. He formed the Sinaloa cartel (also called the Sinaloa Federation) in 1989, after the Guadalajara cartel fractured.
February 20, 2014: The government condemned the February 18 U.S. Border Patrol for killing a Mexican citizen in an incident on the Mexico-California border. Mexico believes the Border Patrol should not use lethal force to stop a border crossing. The Border Patrol said the illegal migrant had thrown rocks at the agent who was pursuing him.
February 18, 2014: Police in Mexico City found two dead (and butchered) bodies inside plastic bags. The murders are apparently related to a turf war between gangs in the city.
February 16, 2014: Security forces arrested two men suspected of belonging to the Basque (Spain) terror group. ETA. The two men, identified as Itziar Alberdi Uranga and Juan Jesus. Narvaez Goñi are accused of being part of a terror cell which murdered 18 people in 1992. The Summer Olympics were held in Spain in 1992.
February 14, 2014: Officials at the national oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) stated that the company is very interested in producing natural gas from Mexico’s “tight gas” (shale gas) deposits. The company intends to develop expertise in advanced horizontal drilling techniques and hydraulic fracturing (fracking).
February 12, 2014: Several hundred members of local defense groups (community self-defense militias) continue to occupy Apatzingan. Police, soldiers and the self-defense groups entered the city on February 8. The city had been under the ctonrol of the Knights Templar cartel. The local defense groups are from towns and villages in the area around Apatzingan. The self-defense groups are beginning to acquire impressive arsenals, to include AK-47 assault rifles. That stands to reason. The militia members are picking up equipment dropped by cartel gunmen or stored in cartel weapons stockpiles.
A cartel gunmen who worked for Los Zetas cartel told a U.S. federal court in El Paso, Texas that he and his hit team murdered more than 800 people in various gang and cartel operations in and around Ciudad Juarez (Chihuahua state). Most of the murders occurred in 2009 and 2010, during the Juarez bloodbath. Jesus Ernesto (El Camello, The Camel) Chavez Castillo, a member of the Barrio Aztecas gang, began testifying on February 6. He claimed that his group would intentionally butcher the bodies of their victims. The hit team would behead particular victims because beheadings got more news media attention. The Zetas trained him to be a hit man in the town of Torreon. He was testifying against his former Barrio Aztecas gang leader, Arturo Gallegos Castrellon who is charged with the March 13, 2010 murders of two U.S. consulate employees and a Mexican national in Ciudad Juarez (Chihuahua state). According to Chavez Castillo, the Zetas believed that the U.S. consular officials were helping the Sinaloa cartel. The Barrio Aztecas (also called Los Aztecas) committed the murders on contract (murder for hire) for the Juarez cartel and Los Zetas. The gang has branches in Texas and Mexico. U.S. security officials refer to Barrio Aztecas as a cross-border syndicate. Allegedly, the gang was originally formed inside a Texas prison.