Thursday, May 31, 2007


Gulf Cartel captured: Osiel Cardenas, Juan Oscar Garza, Eleazar Medina Rojas.

The death of Amado Carrillo Fuentes in 1997, however, was the beginning of the end of the Juarez cartel.

The collapse of the Juarez cartel, the February 2002 death of Tijuana cartel leader and chief enforcer Ramon Arellano Felix, who was killed in a shootout with police in Mazatlan, and the March 14, 2003, capture of Gulf cartel kingpin Cardenas in Matamoros combined to spark the current period of unrest

Sinaloa's expansion efforts forced the Tijuana cartel to cede the plaza in the northwestern border city of Mexicali, while Sinaloa's move into Gulf territory in Nuevo Laredo made that town a war zone.

The Tijuana cartel was further weakened in August 2006 when its chief, Javier Arellano Felix, was arrested by the U.S. Coast Guard on a boat off the coast of southern California.

This current cartel war is being waged not only for control of the smuggling plazas into the United States, such as Nuevo Laredo, Mexicali and Tijuana, but also for the locations used for Mexico's incoming drug shipments, in places such as Acapulco, Cancun and Michoacan, and for control of critical points on transshipment routes through the center of the country, such as Hermosillo.

As a result, the Gulf cartel hired Los Zetas, a group of elite anti-drug paratroopers and intelligence operatives who deserted their federal Special Air Mobile Force Group in 1991. The Sinaloa cartel, meanwhile, formed a similar armed force called Los Pelones, literally meaning "the bald ones" but typically understood to mean "new soldiers" for the shaved heads normally sported by military recruits.

Los Zetas have formed relationships with former members of the Guatemalan special forces known as Kaibiles, and with members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) street gang.

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