Chiapas has witnessed a huge growth in the presence of organized crime in recent years, with competing cartels battling for control of routes to traffic drugs and migrants. Collusion between the Armed Forces, organized crime and paramilitary groups is by no means a new phenomenon in Chiapas. This situation is further complicated by the presence of the National Guard, whose control was recently passed to the Secretariat of Defense. The scenario takes on an even more sinister character in the light of recent citizen complaints to President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador claiming that the Sinaloa Cartel if being protected by the same bodies that are supposed to be fighting organized crime.
Members of National Guard and Army Protecting Sinaloa Cartel in Chiapas
Various citizen complaints claim that the governor, state officials, and members of the Army and National Guard are protecting the Sinaloa Cartel in the state of Chiapas.
Written by Anabel Hernandez.
The Mexican Army and the National Guard are protecting the Sinaloa Cartel in Chiapas, a state located on the border with Guatemala and which represents one of the most important points for cocaine trafficking from Central and South America. They do this with the complicity of the current governor Rutilio Escandon, of the official party Movimiento de Regeneracion Nacional (MORENA) and who has governed Chiapas since October 2018, along with Francisco Orantes Abadia, undersecretary of Public Security and Citizen Protection of the State; Roberto Yahir Hernandez Teran, director of the State Border Police, Jordan Orantes Alegria, Prosecutor of the State Attorney General’s Office, and Jesus Mendez Rojas, head of the State Ministerial Police.
This is reported in letters from citizens addressed to the president of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, and sent to the Attorney General’s Office (FGR), headed by Alejandro Gertz Manero. But according to the complainants, who sent me a copy of the various documents and with whom I spoke directly, the FGR has done nothing about it.
According to the complaints, this situation has caused the Frontera Comalapa municipality, located in southern Chiapas and bordering Guatemala, to become the center of operations for a powerful cell of the Sinaloa Cartel (CS) currently commanded by a drug trafficker whom no one has spoken about until now, known in the region as “Güero Pulseras”, originally from Sinaloa and sent directly by Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, leader of said cartel, to control Chiapas.
This criminal cell, they point out, controls parts of the municipalities of Frontera Comalapa, Tonala, Venustiano Carranza, Pijijiapan, Teopisca, San Cristobal de Las Casas and Tuxtla Gutierrez, capital of Chiapas. This area is key for drug trafficking and illegal immigrants.
It is stated that the presence of the Sinaloa Cartel has caused a brutal wave of kidnappings, extortion, disappearances, fuel theft, better known as “huachicoleo”, and homicides of the general population in the region.
“The Sinaloa Cartel has perpetuated itself in the state of Chiapas, counting on the protection of the state government, through its public security bodies, who are at the service of the aforementioned cartel, they also have the support of the Mexican Army, Navy and National Guard, now there are detentions, protection rackets, extortion, kidnapping, fuel theft, etc.”, they point out in one of the complaints addressed to Lopez Obrador last June.
“El Mayo Zambada himself appointed Güero Pulseras as the person in charge of the Chiapas turf, and indeed Güero Pulseras has safe houses in Tuxtla Gutierrez, San Cristobal de Las Casas, Teopisca, Pujiltic, Tonala, with the support of the Mexican Army and the National Guard”, another of the documents points out.
Last week, at the request of AMLO, the Chambers of Deputies and Senators approved that the operational, administrative and strategic control of the National Guard pass to the Mexican Army, illegally moving to the total militarization of public security, violating the provisions of the Constitution.
Various civil organizations in Mexico and even the UN have spoken out against this measure because militarization will bring about an increase in serious human rights violations and a restriction on the individual freedoms of citizens.
On September 15th, a group of women relatives of disappeared persons in Mexico protested “No to the Military Coup”, with a huge banner placed on the monument known as Estela de Luz in Mexico City, in commemoration of the Day of the Independence.
This is the second specific and concrete complaint that I receive about the alleged protection or negligence of the armed forces and the National Guard for the benefit of the Sinaloa Cartel.
Last week in this space, I published the complaint of the mayor of Sayula de Aleman in Veracruz, Lorena Sanchez Vargas, who assured me in an interview that her municipality and the municipalities of Playa Vicente and San Juan Evangelista, all governed by the MORENA party, are under the control of a group called “Los Chivos” that carries out criminal activities and is linked to the CS., and that this occurs with the presence and tolerance of the National Guard, which has a center of operations in Sayula.
Although the AMLO government and the Secretary of National Defense, Luis Crescencio Sandoval, affirm that militarization is the only solution to combat the violence and power of the drug cartels, the case of Veracruz and now that of Chiapas show that militarization has produced the direct or indirect protection of the Sinaloa Cartel, an organization with which the MORENA party has made narco-electoral pacts, as I have been pointing out since 2021.
Genesis of CS in Chiapas
For several decades, Chiapas has been a strategic area for the CS due to its proximity to Guatemala, since it is one of the main trafficking points for cocaine and immigrants from Central and South America.
For years, the most visible head of the CS in the state was Gilberto Rivera Amarillas, alias “Tio Gil”, who was arrested in Guatemala in 2016 and extradited to the United States in 2017 at the request of the Eastern District Court in Columbia.
“Mr. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, unfortunately we see how the country has become a narco-state encouraged by very high levels of the current government without putting behind the same practices of previous governments such as the PRI and the PAN, there is overwhelming evidence that proves this and despite the many complaints, the authorities are the same ones who commit these acts…”
It is stated that the former Attorney General of Chiapas, Raciel Lopez Salazar, who held the position from 2012 to 2018 during the governments of Juan Sabines, of the PRD, and Manuel Velasco, of the Green Ecologist Party, “was an unconditional” of “Tío Gil”. In 2018 he was a candidate for federal deputy for the PVEM and the PRI for the VII district of Chiapas.
According to the complainants, when drug trafficker Antonio Leonel Camacho Mendoza, alias “300” or “Bin Laden”, – chief of hitmen for the CS in the State of Chihuahua- was arrested in March 2022 in the capital of the state of Chiapas, he was with Raciel Lopez, Raciel Lopez Salzar’s son. It is claimed that “Bin Laden” was staying at the former Chiapas Prosecutor’s house.
The criminal file 15-cr-00189 opened in Columbia, of which I have a copy, confirms what the citizen complaint claims. It indicates that “El Tío Gil” was a powerful drug trafficker who trafficked tons of cocaine from Venezuela and Colombia to Mexico to be later transferred for sale. And according to the Columbia Court file, the Department of Justice paid bribes to authorities in Mexico for protection of officials from the Attorney General’s Office.
According to court documents, the bribes ranged from $50,000 a month to federal authorities in Mexico, $50,000 to prosecutors, and $25,000 to airport inspectors.
“Tio Gil” died in 2017 due to a terminal illness in a United States prison and was replaced in Chiapas by his son, Ramon Rivera Beltran, alias “Hijo del Tio” or “El JR”.
In 2018, Rutilio Escandon, from the MORENA party, was elected governor of Chiapas, and it is claimed that his administration has continued to protect the Sinaloa Cartel. Although the heads of the SSP and the Attorney General of Chiapas changed, Francisco Orantes Abadia, as undersecretary of the SSP, and Jordan Orantes Alegria, in the FGR, remained in the same positions, who have remained in those positions since the Sabines government, regardless of political party changes in government.
“Tio Gil’s son had escorts from the military and active elements of the State Secretariat of Public Security, for his protection; so much so that on June 7th, 2021, when he was executed, his escorts were also killed, who turned out to be active members of the state public security secretariat. However, it was learned that they manipulated the files and they supposedly had already been dismissed from the institution”, one of the documents says.
After his murder, Juan Isidro Rivera, alias “El Chilo”, was left in charge, but later “Mayo” Zambada himself sent the drug trafficker who until now had practically never been talked about and whose nickname is “Güero Pulseras”. Zambada is also accused of having allegedly paid three million dollars for the protection of his people.
As an example of the impunity they enjoy, on May 22nd last they carried out “a show of force with a convoy of approximately 16 armored trucks that passed through the municipality of Teopisca on May 22nd, 2022. In the newspapers they indicated that they were members of the CJNG, however they are members of the Sinaloa Cartel…”, according to the complaint filed.
It added: “El Güero Pulseras has an army of hitmen with 50-caliber mini-arms (a kind of machine gun), AK-47, 40-caliber grenade launchers, armored cars and houses to make monstros (homemade armored vehicles). The hitmen are from Sinaloa and Michoacan as it is known that they have ties with El Abuelo (Juan Jose Farias), leader of Los Viagras and staunch enemies of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel…”.
The municipal president of Teopisca, Ruben de Jesus Valdez Diaz, spoke out against the presence of the criminal group and was murdered last June.
The CS vehicles that were used in the criminal parade, it is stated, “are stored on properties in the community of Puljiltik, and were escorted by the National Guard itself after the parade in Teopisca…”.
National Guard and Army, CS Escorts
“El Güero Pulseras arrives directly at the offices of the Coordinator of the National Guard in the roads sector, Captain Reinel Martinez Aguilar, who receives the sum of one hundred thousand dollars a month so as not to bother the members of the Sinaloa Cartel”, they say in the complaint filed.
I was able to corroborate that Martinez Aguilar is the owner of the GN station in San Cristobal de Las Casas. He has also been head of the 12th Section of the Military Police in Chiapas.
The current coordinator of the GN in the state is General Manuel Garcia Morcillo.
In the citizen’s complaint, it is stated that the address where the homemade shields of vehicles used in the criminal actions of the CS are made is Calle 20 Poniente Sur number 2089, Penipak neighborhood in Tuxtla Gutierrez. Drones with explosives are also being prepared there “which is being reported due to the extreme danger that is about to occur due to the complacency of all authorities at all levels of the State.”
They also denounce that in the town of Chamic, in the municipality of Frontera Comalapa, there is a group of hitmen from the CS who have established checkpoints; “This point is the most important for the Sinaloa Cartel because at this point they control the entry of drugs…” The narco-checkpoints, they affirm, “are just 300 meters from the military checkpoint known as El Jocote with the complacency of military personnel”…“it is known that the military authorities protect this group through existing bribes that pay a quota to the same commanders of the battalions such as the 15 RCM (Motorized Cavalry Regiment), 91 and 101 Infantry Battalions.”
According to the complainants, due to the events described, the FGR opened the investigation file FED/SEIDO/UEITA-CHIS/000274.
The Coming War
In the many-cited complaints it is noted that a training center has been installed in Chamic where the CS is recruiting undocumented Cubans, Haitians, Guatemalans and Hondurans to train them in weapons handling.
The population that lives in the municipalities that according to the complainants are under the yoke of the CS in Chiapas exceeds one million people. Last June, in San Cristobal de Las Casas, one of the territories reported to be in the hands of “El Güero Pulseras”, a group of armed men took control of the public market in broad daylight for at least five hours and shot into the air using high-powered weapons, terrorizing the population.
I have tried to confirm the statements made in the complaints through other channels. What I can confirm is that intelligence sources from the Secretary of the Navy assured me that currently the groups with the greatest presence in Chiapas are CS and, in second place, the New Generation Jalisco Cartel.
Indeed, as the complaints indicate, although the GN has been present in Chiapas since 2020, crime continues to increase. From 2020 to 2021, the Crime Prevalence rate in Chiapas increased 13 percent, becoming one of the five states with the highest increase in the entire country according to the report of the National Institute of Statistics and Geography dated September 2022.
Likewise, the index of perception of insecurity of people over 18 years of age reached the highest point in the last ten years in 2022. In 2012, 37.9 percent of the population said that Chiapas was unsafe, now 72.6 percent of the inhabitants say so, according to INEGI.
“The people are fed up with these corrupt drug police and kidnappers,” say the complainants, who this Thursday even took their complaints to social networks like Facebook.
“If they don’t present a solution, in a few days confrontations will begin against these corrupt policemen, who we no longer know if they are policemen or employees of Güero Pulseras, and a hunt will also begin against the kidnapper Güero Pulseras and his people from the Sinaloa Cartel. This class of kidnappers will not be allowed to continue scaring the population with their detentions, kidnappings and murders”, warn the complainants.
If the claims of the complainants are confirmed, it makes it clear that the National Guard does not have the capacity or the integrity to have a monopoly on public security in Mexico and that, on the contrary, leaving all control in its hands could generate more violence and selectively empower certain criminal organizations such as the Sinaloa Cartel.
Originally published at https://www.dw.com/es/miembros-de-la-guardia-nacional-y-ej%C3%A9rcito-protegen-al-cartel-de-sinaloa-en-chiapas/a-63223566. Translated by Schools for Chiapas.